The Saker blog now also in Russian!

ДОРОГИЕ РУССКОЯЗЫЧНЫЕ ДРУЗЬЯ!
Читайте блог Балобана по-русски щелкнув на эту ссылку:


http://www.vineyardsaker.ru/

The Saker Blog now also in French!

AMIS FRANCOPHONES!
Vous pouvez maintenant lire le blog du Saker en Français en cliquant sur ce lien:


http://www.vineyardsaker.fr/

The Saker Blog now also in German!

ALLE UNSERE DEUTSCHEN FREUNDE!
koennen jetzt den blog des Sakers auf Deutsch lesen - bitte hier anklicken:


http://www.vineyardsaker.de/

The Saker Blog now in Oceania

TO ALL THE SAKER FRIENDS IN OCEANIA!
you can now also visit the Oceania Vineyardsaker Blog by clicking on this link:


http://www.vineyardsaker.co.nz/

The Saker Blog now in Serbian

TO ALL THE SAKER FRIENDS IN SERBIA!
you can now also visit the Serbian Vineyardsaker Blog by clicking on this link:


http://www.thesakersrpski.rs/

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Absolutely crucial statement by Foreign Minister Lavrov (*MUST READ*!)

Note: Finally the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs found the time, energy and personnel to translate this most important statement. They even posted it (thanks to Jonathan Jarvis for the pointer!). And if you detect irritation on my part you are correct - I am frustrated with how incompetent Russians are in anything relating to public information. Anyway,

I have bolded out what I consider to be the most important statements made by Lavrov that day.  I would just like to add the following:


1)  Lavrov is considered very much a "moderate" and his language has always been strictly diplomatic.  So when you read Lavrov, just imagine what folks in other Russian ministries are thinking.

2) Lavrov makes no secret of his view of the USA and of his plans for the future of our planet.  When you read his words, try to imagine what a US Neocon feels and thinks and you will immediately see why the US elites both hate and fear Russia.

3) Finally, Lavrov openly admits that Russia and China have forged an long-term strategic alliance (proving all the nay-sayers who predicted that China would backtstab Russian wrong).  This is, I would argue, the single most important strategic development in the past decade.


4)  Finally, notice the clear contempt which Lavrov has for a pseudo-Christian "West" which dares not speak in defense of persecuted Christians, denies its own roots, and does not even respect its own traditions.

Friends, what we are witnessing before our eyes is not some petty statement about the Ukraine or sanctions, it is the admission by Lavrov of a fundamental "clash of civilizations", but not between some wholly imaginary "Christian West" and Islam, but between Christian Russia and the post-Christian West.

Russia did not want this conflict.  Russia did everything in her power to prevent it.  But the West left Russia no choice and Russia now openly declares her willingness to fight and prevail.


The Saker
-------

Remarks by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the XXII Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, 22 November 2014

I’m happy to be at this annual Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy (Russian abbreviation SVOP). It is always a great pleasure for me to meet people and feel the intellectual potential, which enables the Council, its leaders and representatives to respond to global developments and analyse them. Their analysis is always free from any hysteria, and its members offer well-grounded and solid arguments, taking a step back, since those caught in the midst of events can hardly adopt an unbiased perspective. We are inevitably influenced by the developments, which makes your observations, analysis, discourse and suggestions even more valuable to us.

As far as I know, this year’s Assembly will focus on prospects for accelerating domestic growth in Russia. There is no doubt that concerted efforts by our society as a whole to bring about comprehensive economic, social and spiritual development are a prerequisite for making Russia’s future sustainable. That said, by virtue of my professional duties, I have to focus on foreign policy issues, which are still relevant for the Assembly’s agenda, since in this interconnected, globalised world, isolating internal development from the outside world is impossible.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin provided a detailed analysis of the international developments at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi, as well as in his interviews during his trip to Asia. For this reason, I won’t offer any conceptual observations, as everything has already been said. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you some considerations based on our day-to-day foreign policy efforts. It is not my intention to deliver a comprehensive or clear outlook, since at this stage all forecasts are provisional, no matter who makes them. Moreover, diplomats seek to influence developments as they unfold, not contemplate them.

Naturally, I will start with Ukraine. Long before the country was plunged into the crisis, there was a feeling in the air that Russia’s relations with the EU and with the West were about to reach their moment of truth. It was clear that we could no longer continue to put issues in our relations on the back burner and that a choice had to be made between a genuine partnership or, as the saying goes, “breaking pots.” It goes without saying that Russia opted for the former alternative, while unfortunately our Western partners settled for the latter, whether consciously or not. In fact, they went all out in Ukraine and supported extremists, thereby giving up their own principles of democratic regime change. What came out of it was an attempt to play chicken with Russia, to see who blinks first. As bullies say, they wanted to Russia to “chicken out” (I can’t find a better word for it), to force us to swallow the humiliation of Russians and native speakers of Russian in Ukraine.

Honourable Leslie Gelb, whom you know all too well, wrote that Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU had nothing to do with inviting Ukraine to join the EU and was aimed in the short term at preventing it from joining the Customs Union. This is what an impartial and unbiased person said. When they deliberately decided to go down the path of escalation in Ukraine, they forgot many things, and had a clear understanding of how such moves would be viewed in Russia. They forgot the advice of, say, Otto von Bismarck, who had said that disparaging the millions-strong great Russian people would be the biggest political mistake.

President Vladimir Putin said the other day that no one in history has yet managed to subjugate Russia to its influence. This is not an assessment, but a statement of fact. Yet such an attempt has been made to quench the thirst for expanding the geopolitical space under Western control, out of a mercantile fear to lose the spoils of what they across the Atlantic had persuaded themselves was the victory in the Cold War.

The plus of today’s situation is that everything has clicked into its place and the calculus behind the West’s actions has been revealed despite its professed readiness to build a security community, a common European home. To quote (singer/song-writer) Bulat Okudzhava, “The past is getting clearer and clearer.” The clarity is becoming more tangible. Today our task is not only to sort out the past (although that must be done), but most importantly, to think about the future.

Talks about Russia’s isolation do not merit serious discussion. I need hardly dwell on this before this audience. Of course, one can damage our economy, and damage is being done, but only by doing harm to those who are taking corresponding measures and, equally important, destroying the system of international economic relations, the principles on which it is based. Formerly, when sanctions were applied (I worked at the Russian mission to the UN at the time) our Western partners, when discussing the DPRK, Iran or other states, said that it was necessary to formulate the restrictions in such a way as to keep within humanitarian limits and not to cause damage to the social sphere and the economy, and to selectively target only the elite. Today everything is the other way around: Western leaders are publicly declaring that the sanctions should destroy the economy and trigger popular protests. So, as regards the conceptual approach to the use of coercive measures the West unequivocally demonstrates that it does not merely seek to change Russian policy (which in itself is illusory), but it seeks to change the regime -- and practically nobody denies this.

President Vladimir Putin, speaking with journalists recently, said that today’s Western leaders have a limited planning horizon. Indeed, it is dangerous when decisions on key problems of the development of the world and humankind as a whole are taken on the basis of short electoral cycles: in the United States the cycle is two years and each time one has to think of or do something to win votes. This is the negative side of the democratic process, but we cannot afford to ignore it. We cannot accept the logic when we are told to resign, relax and take it as a given that everyone has to suffer because there are elections in the United States every two years. This is just not right. We will not resign ourselves to this because the stakes are too high in the fight against terror, the threats of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and many bloody conflicts whose negative impact goes far beyond the framework of the corresponding states and regions. The wish to do something to gain unilateral advantages or to endear oneself to the electorate ahead of another election leads to chaos and confusion in international relations.

We hear the daily repeated mantra that Washington is aware of its own exclusiveness and its duty to bear this burden, to lead the rest of the world. Rudyard Kipling spoke about “the white man’s burden.” I hope that this is not what drives Americans. The world today is not white or black, but multi-coloured and heterogeneous. Leadership in this world can be assured not by persuading oneself of one’ exclusiveness and God-given duty to be responsible for everyone, but only by the ability and craft in forming a consensus. If the US partners committed their power to this goal, this would be priceless, and Russia would be actively helping them.

However, so far, US administrative resources still work only in the NATO framework, and then with substantial reservations, and its writ does not reach beyond the North Atlantic Alliance. One proof of this is the results of US attempts to make the world community follow its line in connection with the anti-Russian sanctions and principles. I have spoken about it more than once and we have ample proof of the fact that American ambassadors and envoys across the world seek meetings at the highest level to argue that the corresponding countries are obliged to punish Russia together with them or else face the consequences. This is done with regard to all countries, including our closest allies (this speaks volumes about the kind of analysts Washington has). An overwhelming majority of the states with which we have a continuing dialogue without any restrictions and isolation, as you see, value Russia’s independent role in the international arena. Not because they like it when somebody challenges the Americans, but because they realise that the world order will not be stable if nobody is allowed to speak his mind (although privately the overwhelming majority do express their opinion, but they do not want to do so publicly for fear of Washington’s reprisals).

Many reasonable analysts understand that there is a widening gap between the global ambitions of the US Administration and the country’s real potential. The world is changing and, as has always happened in history, at some point somebody’s influence and power reach their peak and then somebody begins to develop still faster and more effectively. One should study history and proceed from realities. The seven developing economies headed by BRICS already have a bigger GDP than the Western G7. One should proceed from the facts of life, and not from a misconceived sense of one’s own grandeur.

It has become fashionable to argue that Russia is waging a kind of “hybrid war” in Crimea and in Ukraine. It is an interesting term, but I would apply it above all to the United States and its war strategy – it is truly a hybrid war aimed not so much at defeating the enemy militarily as at changing the regimes in the states that pursue a policy Washington does not like. It is using financial and economic pressure, information attacks, using others on the perimeter of a corresponding state as proxies and of course information and ideological pressure through externally financed non-governmental organisations. Is it not a hybrid process and not what we call war? It would be interesting to discuss the concept of the hybrid war to see who is waging it and is it only about “little green men.”

Apparently the toolkit of our US partners, who have become adept at using it, is much larger.

In attempting to establish their pre-eminence at a time when new economic, financial and political power centres are emerging, the Americans provoke counteraction in keeping with Newton’s third law and contribute to the emergence of structures, mechanisms, and movements that seek alternatives to the American recipes for solving the pressing problems. I am not referring to anti-Americanism, still less about forming coalitions spearheaded against the United States, but only about the natural wish of a growing number of countries to secure their vital interests and do it the way they think right, and not what they are told “from across the pond.” Nobody is going to play anti-US games just to spite the United States. We face attempts and facts of extra-territorial use of US legislation, the kidnapping of our citizens in spite of existing treaties with Washington whereby these issues are to be resolved through law enforcement and judicial bodies.

According to its doctrine of national security, the United States has the right to use force anywhere, anytime without necessarily asking the UN Security Council for approval. A coalition against the Islamic State was formed unbeknownst to the Security Council. I asked Secretary of State John Kerry why have not they gone to the UN Security Council for this.

He told me that if they did, they would have to somehow designate the status of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Of course, they had to because Syria is a sovereign state and still a member of the UN (no one excluded it from UN membership). The secretary of state said it was wrong because the United States is combating terrorism and the al-Assad regime is the most important factor that galvanises terrorists from around the world and acts as a magnet attracting them to this region in an attempt to overthrow the Syrian regime.

I believe this is perverse logic. If we are talking about precedents (the United States adheres to case law), it is worth remembering the chemical disarmament in Syria when the Assad regime was a completely legitimate partner of the United States, Russia, the OPCW and others. The Americans maintain talks with the Taliban as well. Whenever the United States has an opportunity to benefit from something, it acts quite pragmatically. I’m not sure why the ideologically-driven position took the upper hand this time and the United States chose to believe that Assad cannot be a partner. Perhaps, this is not so much an operation against the Islamic State as paving the way for toppling al-Assad under the guise of a counter-terrorist operation.

Francis Fukuyama recently wrote the book, Political Order and Political Decay, in which he argues that the efficiency of public administration in the United States is declining and the traditions of democratic governance are gradually being replaced with feudal fiefdom ruling methods. This is part of the discussion about someone who lives in a glass house and throws stones.

All of this is happening amid the mounting challenges and problems of the modern world. We are seeing a continued "tug of war" in Ukraine. Trouble is brewing on the south border of the EU. I don’t think the Middle Eastern and North African problems will go away all by themselves. The EU has formed a new commission. New foreign actors have emerged, who will face a serious fight for where to send their basic resources: either for the continuation of reckless schemes in Ukraine, Moldova, etc., within the Eastern Partnership (as advocated by an aggressive minority in the EU), or they will listen to the Southern European countries and focus on what’s happening on the other side of the Mediterranean.

This is a major issue for the EU.

So far, those who are not guided by real problems, but rather by a desire to quickly grab things from freshly turned up ground. It is deplorable. Exporting revolutions – be they democratic, communist or others – never brings any good.

State, public and civilisational structures are actually disintegrating in the MENA region. The destructive energy released in the process can scorch states that are located far beyond this region. Terrorists (including the Islamic State) are claiming a national status. Moreover, they are already beginning to create quasi-governmental bodies there that engage in the administrative work.

On this backdrop, minorities, including Christians, are banished. In Europe, these issues are deemed not politically correct. They are ashamed when we invite them to do something about it together at the OSCE. They wonder why would we focus specifically on Christians? How is that special? The OSCE has held a series of events dedicated to keeping memories about the Holocaust and its victims alive. A few years ago, the OSCE started holding events against Islamophobia. We will be offering an analysis of the processes leading to Christianophobia.

On 4-5 December, OSCE ministerial meetings will be held in Basel, where we will present this proposal. The majority of EU member states elude this topic, because they are ashamed to talk about it. Just as they were ashamed to include in what was then the EU constitution drafted by Valery Giscard d'Estaing a phrase that Europe has Christian roots.

If you don’t remember or respect your own roots and traditions, how would you respect the traditions and values of other people? This is straightforward logic. Comparing what’s happening now in the Middle East to a period of religious wars in Europe, Israeli political scientist Avineri said that the current turmoil is unlikely to end with what the West means when it says “democratic reforms.”

The Arab-Israeli conflict is dead in the water. It's hard to play on several boards at a time. The Americans are trying to accomplish this, but it doesn’t work for them. In 2013, they took nine months to sort out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will not go into the reasons, they are known, but they failed at this as well. Now, they asked for more time to try to achieve some progress before the end of 2014, so that the Palestinians wouldn’t go to the UN and sign the Statute of the International Criminal Court, etc. Suddenly, it transpired that negotiations on Iran are underway. The US State Department dumped Palestine to focus on Iran.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and I agreed to talk on this subject some time soon. It’s important to understand that you can’t keep the problem of the Palestinian state deeply frozen forever. Failure to resolve it for nearly 70 years has been a major argument of those who recruit extremists in their ranks, “there’s no justice: it was promised to create two states; the Jewish one was created, but they will never create an Arab state.” Used on a hungry Arab street, these arguments sound quite plausible, and they start calling for a fight for justice using other methods.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi that we need a new version of interdependence. This was a very topical statement. The leading powers must return to the negotiating table and agree on a new framework that takes into account the basic legitimate interests of all the key parties (I can’t tell you what it should be called, but it should be based on the UN Charter), to agree on reasonable self-imposed restrictions and collective risk management in a system of international relations underpinned by democratic values. Our Western partners promote respect for the rule of law, democracy and minority opinion within countries, while failing to stand up for the same values in international affairs. This leaves Russia as a pioneer in promoting democracy, justice and rule of international law. A new world order can only be polycentric and should reflect the diversity of cultures and civilisations in today’s world.

You are aware of Russia’s commitment to ensuring indivisibility of security in international affairs and holding it in international law. I won’t elaborate on this.

I would like to support the point the SVOP has been making that Russia won’t succeed in becoming a major, successful and confident power of the 21st century without developing its eastern regions. Sergei Karaganov was among the first to conceptualise this idea, and I fully agree. Taking Russia’s relations with the Asia Pacific countries to a new level is an absolute priority. Russia worked along these lines at the Beijing APEC meeting and the G20 forum. We will continue moving in this direction in the new environment created by the upcoming launch of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) on 1 January 2015.

We have been treated as “subhumans.” For over a decade, Russia has been trying to establish partnership ties with NATO through CSTO. These efforts were not just about putting NATO and CSTO “in the same league.” As a matter of fact, CSTO is focused on catching drug dealers and illegal migrants around the Afghan border, and the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the backbone of the international security forces, which, among other things, were tasked with fighting the terrorist threat and eliminating its financing schemes, which involve drug trafficking. We tried everything: we pleaded and then demanded real-time contact, so that once NATO detects a caravan transporting drugs and is unable to stop it, it alerts us across the border, so that this caravan could be intercepted by CSTO forces. They simply refused to talk to us. In private conversations, our NATO well-wishers (and I actually mean this in the positive way) told us that the alliance can’t view CSTO as an equal partner for ideological reasons. Until recently, we saw the same condescending and arrogant attitude with respect to the Eurasian economic integration. And that despite the fact that countries intending to join the EAEU have much more in common in terms of their economies, history and culture than many EU members. This union is not about creating barriers with anyone. We always stress how open this union is expected to be. I strongly believe that it will make a significant contribution to building a bridge between Europe and Asia Pacific.

I can’t fail to mention Russia’s comprehensive partnership with China. Important bilateral decisions have been taken, paving the way to an energy alliance between Russia and China. But there’s more to it. We can now even talk about the emerging technology alliance between the two countries. Russia’s tandem with Beijing is a crucial factor for ensuring international stability and at least some balance in international affairs, as well as ensuring the rule of international law. We will make full use of our relations with India and Vietnam, Russia’s strategic partners, as well as the ASEAN countries. We are also open to expanding cooperation with Japan, if our Japanese neighbours can look at their national interests and stop looking back at some overseas powers.

There is no doubt that the European Union is our largest collective partner. No one intends to “shoot himself in the foot” by renouncing cooperation with Europe, although it is now clear that business as usual is no longer an option. This is what our European partners are telling us, but neither do we want to operate the old way. They believed that Russia owed them something, while we want to be on an equal footing. For this reason, things will never be the same again. That said, I’m confident that we will be able to overcome this period, lessons will be learned and a new foundation for our relations will emerge.

The idea of creating a single economic and humanitarian space from Lisbon to Vladivostok can now be heard here and there and is gaining traction. Germany’s Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has said publicly (while we have been saying it for a long time) that the EU and the EAEU should engage in dialogue. The statement President Vladimir Putin made in Brussels in January 2014, when he proposed the first step by launching negotiations on a free-trade zone between the EU and the Customs Union with an eye on 2020, is no longer viewed as something exotic. All of this has already become part of diplomacy and real politics. Although this is so far only a matter of discussion, I strongly believe that we will one day achieve what is called “the integration of integrations.” This is one of the key topics we want to promote within the OSCE at the Ministerial Council in Basel. Russia is about to assume BRICS and SCO presidency. The two organisations will hold their summits in Ufa. These are very promising organisations for the new age. They are not blocks (especially BRICS), but groups where members share the same interests, representing countries from all continents that share common approaches regarding the future of the global economy, finance and politics.

The Scotsman who took a shrapnel wound for Russia

Yup, I managed to get two mistakes into one title yesterday:  Graham Phillips is not English, but Scottish, and his would was caused not by a bullet, but by shrapnel.  The good news is that he is doing well, here he is making a short statement from the hospital.  And, yes, for those who might wonder, he is speaking in Russian, not English, even if his Russians does sound very, very English :-)  And since he basically says that he is okay and needs some rest, there is no transcript needed in this case.

Cheers,

The Saker

The Englishman who took a bullet for Russia

I have been aware of the numerous reports by Graham Phillips from Novorussia and I knew that he had been kidnapped by Ukrainian goons not once, but twice.  What always touched me in his reports was the visible fondness of the Novorussians for Graham, and in this video below you will see them calling him "Gremchik".

Not even Graham (terrible!) British accent could be an obstacle for the respect and affection the Novorussians showed him (and in this video, they are clearly upset and distressed at the fact that he got hurt).  I know that Graham did not truly "take a bullet for Russia", but that he probably took it for the cause of honest journalism and I would say for the Truth.  But I am also quite sure that for the Novorussians it was "our Gremchik" who took a bullet for "us".

In my opinion President Putin should bestow the medal "for bravery" to Graham just as he did to that other fantastic reporter, Anastasia Popopva, for her truly heroic reporting from Syria.

Check out the video of how Phillips was wounded below.

He took a shrapnel wound to his lower back and his life is not in danger.

I wish him a prompt recovery and I hope that his work will finally get the recognition it deserves.  And even if his courage and integrity are never recognized in the West, his example proves one more time that there is this "other West" which is not hostile to Russia at all and which is principled and honorable.

The Saker

Monday, November 24, 2014

Today meatspace won. See you tomorrow

Dear friends,

Today has been a really bad day in meatspace for me.
I need to bounce back and a night of sleep.
I will get back to you all tomorrow.

I have authorized all comments today (as I don't feel like reading them), including even one from a Ukie propagandist who wrote them with the hated CAPS on, but whatever - who cares?

I will try to get things rolling tomorrow.

Sorry about that, 

The Saker

Q&A with the Saker by Controinformazione in Italy

Dear friends,

I was recently contacted by Anacronista from the website Controinformazione in Italy and we agreed to do a short Q&A which was published today here in Italian. I am posting the original English text of our exchange below.

Cheers,

The Saker
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Anacronista: Today the contrast between Russian and US foreign policies is striking: on one side moderation, common sense, respect for sovereign states; on the other side coups d'etat, threats, sanctions and lies. Is the contrasting behaviour of the two powers due to incidental political calculations or to a different underlying view of life?

The Saker: The first thing to point out is that Lavrov and Putin are extremely well educated men who come from elite institutions: Lavrov from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Putin from the former external intelligence directorate of the KGB. They are far better educated that modern US diplomats. In the past the US also had distinguished diplomats like James Baker, but now they are either total idiots (like Psaki) or arrogant liars (like Powers). The second this is that the USA truly does not have a "diplomacy". After all, US "diplomacy" is just a combination of demands, promises, threats and bombings which do not require any real diplomatic skills. Third, Russia has greatly suffered from the costs of empire, both under the Czars and under the Soviet rule. As a result, Russia does not want to be an empire, or a super power, or a world policeman or a hegemon. All Russia wants is to be a *normal* but, and this is important, a *truly sovereign* country. In order to achieve that Russia has a few basic fundamental rules she really believes in:

  1. Turn your enemies into neutrals, your neutrals into partners, your partners into friends and your friends into allies. The US can only conceptualize two categories: vassals and enemies.
  2. Security is always and necessarily collective. If your neighbor does not feel safe, then you also are not safe. The US only feels secure then it can threaten everybody, as a result of which, everybody feels threatened.
  3. International law really matters to the Russians. Why? Because they want a multi-polar world and that, in turn, mandates that the "rules of the game" (international law) be upheld. The US wants a unipolar world which, therefore, has no need for international law.
  4. For Russia, the use of military forces is the last resort and a failure of diplomacy. For the US the use of force is an integral part of what it calls "diplomacy"
What we are dealing with here is a deep civilizational conflict. These are two fundamentally incompatible views of the world, two mutually exclusive civilizational models which cannot coexist, much less so collaborate.

Anacronista: What are the substantial differences, if any, between Western capitalism and Russian capitalism? Is Russia run by "markets"?

The Saker: No, Russia has a deeply dysfunctional economy. First, Russian interest rates as so high as to completely inhibit most credit for the creation of small to medium size companies. In fact, interest rates in Russia are higher than the profitability of entire sectors of the economy. Second, a huge amount of Russian money leaves Russia every year into offshore accounts and is then returned to Russia in form of "foreign investments". Combine that with the fact that most Russian corporations are incorporated outside Russia (in the UK typically) and you will immediately conclude that the entire economic/financial system in Russia is designed to prevent Russia from diversifying the Russian economy and get off the "energy needle". Russia is also poorly regulated, has a very erratic taxation system, very limited government investments and corrupt courts (hence the use of arbitrage). The Russian market has clear signs of being an oligopoly and this is a major inhibitor to the real potential of the Russian society. Some economist say that the Russian economy is barely turning at 2/3-1/2 of its true potential.

On a very different level I would also note that true capitalism has never been part of the Russian culture. Russian culture is far more collective and Russian people are not inspired by worldviews which offer little besides hopes of self-enrichment and the monetization of everything. Russian culture has always been social and social justice is an ideal which still is strong in Russia today while unbridled greed is frowned upon.

Anacronista: In Western states, money creation and management are in the hands of private banks such as the FED and the ECB. How does it work in Russia?

The Saker: Russia also have a Fed-like Central Bank which can only print Rubles in amounts corresponding to the purchase of dollars. This is a crazy idea. Officially, the Central Bank has a mission to keep the Ruble stable, but in reality all it appears to care about in inhibiting inflation which is a very bad idea, especially in times of recession and sanctions like today.

Anacronista: Does Russia plan to extend industrialization and modern infrastructure to all its territory?

The Saker: In theory yes. There are plans to re-industrialize and re-develop Siberia, the Russian Far East, Crimea and other regions. Again, in theory there is an import-substitution program being worked upon to begin developing indigenously that which was imported in the past. Major investment programs have been announced to modernize the infrastructure, especially the roads, airports, railways, etc. On paper these programs look terrific, but as long as the Russian Central Bank continues to choke down the Russian economy and the Medvedev Government continues to sabotage Presidential decisions I am not very optimistic.

Anacronista: What is Russian view on immigration and integration: how does Russia manage the many ethnicities that make up the immense Federation and the new arrivals from abroad?

The Saker
: There are many tensions around this issue and lot's of disagreements. Historically, Russia has always been a multi-ethnic state thanks to which 180 different ethnic groups have survived in Russia (compare that with the USA!). Even the so-called "Russians" (roughly 80% of the people) are almost always with very mixed ethnic roots. To be "Russian" is not an ethnic/racial thing. Even Orthodoxy tends to categorize people by their worldview and values and not their biological roots. There are, however, real cultural and religious differences which create tensions: poorly educated and heavily criminalized minorities from the now independent ex-Soviet republics and Wahabi Islam which is very closely connected to terrorism. In response to these two problems, the Kremlin introduced three main policies: support for local economies in depressed regions, support for local law-enforcement and support for traditional Islam (which in the former Soviet Union is never Wahabi). There are also problems with Chinese immigrants but these are mainly local and not nearly as severe as those with immigrants from the South (Caucasus, Central Asia).

Anacronista: Drugs, family crisis, social disintegration: to what an extent is Russia affected by the evils that trouble the West, and how is it planning to heal them?

The Saker:
Russia also has all the problems you list, including drugs, dysfunctional families and social disintegration. The main difference in with the West is that these were at their worst in the horrible 1990s when, as the local joke says, every boy wanted to be a criminal and every girl wanted to be a prostitute (not literally true, of course, but partially true nonetheless). Since Putin came to power these problems have begun a slow but steady process of improvement whereas in the West things are still getting worse with every passing day. The main factor is that the Russian society which in the 1990s wanted to emulate the West has now grown disillusioned and even disgusted with the West and as a result of the the entire western civilizational model is being rejected. A lot of Russians are returning to their historical, civilizational and religious roots (Orthodox Christianity and Islam) while others are looking towards an original "Russian" social/civilizational model. While there is definitely still a class of people who want to be like Europeans, the Ukrainian slogan "the Ukraine is Europe" would have zero traction in Russia. If anything, the western hostility and hypocrisy towards Russia has convinced the vast majority of Russians that the West hold no promise for Russia. I estimate that the pro-western population in Russia is at no more than 5% of the total.

Anacronista: Classics are more and more neglected in Western education, thus alienating the youth from their heritage and traditions. What is the relationship between the past, the present and the future in Russia?

The Saker
: Very interesting but also very painful question. The Russian past has been very tragic, especially in the 20th century. But even before that. There are still Russians who - like Alexander Solzhenitsyn - say that the deep roots of the Russian Revolution can be found in the 18th century reforms of Peter I. I tend to agree with that. The Russian civilization has been more or less oppressed for no less than 300 years. Yet, Russian cannot simply reject 300 years of her history, take a time machine and return to the Russia of Alexei Mikhailovich. But neither can Russia simply endorse everything which was done in the past 3 centuries. There is a small movement of National-Bolsheviks who basically say that every Czar was good, and Lenin was good, and Stalin was good, and more or less everything Russian is great. But that is nonsense and this ideology has no future. And yet, Russians are also deeply attached to their roots and believe that somebody with no past has no present and no even real future. So the quest is on for a criteria, a worldview, a unifying ideology which would allow Russians to separate the good from the bad and, hopefully, keep the good. I think that nobody in Russia wants yet another revolution or a "Russian Maidan". So rather then revolution, evolution is the order of the day. But Russia needs an evolution towards higher ideals then just greed, profit, wealth and comfort. So far, no real solution has been found to that problem. If you carefully read the program statements of Putin, he does offer a consensus vision which roughly 80% of Russians support: respect for tradition, respect for individual freedom, social solidarity, national sovereignty, respect for the family and the social collective, a quest for social and economic justice and a general endorsement for traditional religions (Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism). That is, of course, only a beginning, but I personally find it a reasonable and healthy one.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

On conspiracy theories and credibility

Dear friends,

I am noticing with some dismay that some (many?) of you are still firmly the mental clutches of the "conspiracy theories" logical fallacy.  The reactions to Koenig's articles about Ebola and HIV are typical of that kind of logical derailment.  So it is hight time that I state a few basic assumptions of this blog.

1) A "conspiracy theory" is, a priori, a good thing.  Why?  Because the world is chock full of conspiracies.  What is a conspiracy? It is a secret plan of a group of people.  Does any of you really believe that with 16+ "intelligence" agencies in the USA there are not thousands of conspiracies hatched every day by tens of thousand of professional people just here, in the USA?  Don't you know that corporations conspire too?  What do you think antitrust laws are all about?  Do you know that the criminal code is also full of conspiracy crimes?  So here is the deal: if you want to understand what happens behind the smokescreen thrown before you by the corporate media and government official you HAVE TO spend most of your time looking into conspiracy theories.  Put simply - if you reject conspiracy theories you are blind.  Period.

2) I don't give a damn about my "credibility" or the "credibility" of my blog.  I don't deal in "credibility".  "Credibility" is an "argument of authority" which assumes that something coming from "A" is credible because it comes from "A".  This is not what I want for this blog.  In the Saker community I want everybody to be critical of everybody and everything and to only judge an arguments in its own merits (or lack thereof).  If tomorrow Poroshenko or Joe Biden write a good piece I would not hesitate to publish it.  Not because I endorse it (I only endorse what I write!), but to foster an intelligent discussion.  In other words, "credibility" is something attached to an argument, not a person.

3) In order to reject a hypothesis we have to first look into it.  Unless we develop an 1984-like automatic rejection without analysis capability, there is no way for your to evaluate a thesis without being exposed to it.  A hypothesis is just that - a "maybe" or "what if".  If it passes a preliminary stage of acceptance, and if it becomes formalized, it becomes a theory.  Then, that theory can be tested, in particular in its ability to predict.  Only then can it be proven false.  In the case of Ebola and HIV all I hear is side "A" claiming that it was created by the US government while side "B" says that this is not so.  In the meantime, NOBODY is offering any kind of halfway intelligent discussion of the hypothesis.  Instead the hypothesis is dismissed prima facie as a "conspiracy theory".  Those who do that apparently fail to realize that if, as this hypothesis states, the US government had something to do with the creation of HIV or Ebola then by definition this was a conspiracy and, again, by definition only a conspiracy theory could help prove that.

What is wrong with you guys?!  Has basic logic just become extinct?!

4) Last but not least - this blog is about *freedom of thought*, something sorely needed in our single-thought and completely monolithic society.  I feel that freedom implies the freedom to make up you own mind and therefore to be exposed to something which is wrong or untrue.  All of the media and 95% of the blogosphere is busy trying to establish "credibility" like a dog peeing in the four corners of a room to establish its territory.  I say let them aspire to "credibility" if they so chose - I aspire for *freedom*.  I want this blog to be a place where people can present odd, "heretical", rejected, crimethink and otherwise persecuted ideas.  Let them come here, present them, and if you disagree with them - tear them apart with facts and logic, be ruthless, don't leave them a place to hide from your merciless analysis.  But don't rejected them without that, without this "trial by comments" in which all of us are jurors.

It just so happens that I remember some very well informed people telling me in the late 1980s early 1990s that HIV had all the signs of having been engineered.  Is there a reason to reject such a hypothesis prima facie?  Not if you know anything about the history of biowarfare research, especially by the US government.  That I know for sure. But I personally have no opinion about HIV and no opinion about Ebola.  Frankly, I don't have the time to form an opinion about them (oh yes, I don't consider having an opinion a "right" of some kind.  Having an opinion is the result of a painstaking and long process of analysis at the end of which you sometimes, not always, end up with an opinion).  To be very honest, I don't particularly care.  But I care that others care and that is why, I posted these articles by Koenig because I know for a fact that others (which shall remained unnamed) have chickened out from posting them, probably for reasons of "credibility".

I don't care much about this specific topic, but I do care, immensely, about the intellectual freedom of this blog.  And I will never, ever, let considerations of "credibility" stand in the way of this blog's intellectual freedom.  There are plenty of really, truly, totally "credible" and "respectable" blogs out there.  Somebody got to be free and non-respectable and I very deliberately chose to be part of that "fringe lunatic conspiracy theorist" with "zero credibility" which does not let the society's doxa tell me what I should, or should not, post.

:-P

The Saker

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Observations on President Putin’s call upon US not to meddle in Russia affairs

by Peter Koenig

Press TV reports on 22 November 2014 that President Putin, speaking at a forum of the All-Russia Peoples' Front in Moscow on 17 November, said “They [the US] want to subdue us, want to solve their problems at our expense. No one in history ever managed to do this to Russia, and no one ever will.”

This is certainly no exaggeration. Russia has not only a solid trade and monetary alliance with China which already today bypasses the western dollar dominated western system, Russia is also one of the key members of the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which met last September in Dushanbe, Tajikistan to expands its current membership (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) by including India, Pakistan, Iran and likely also Mongolia. Turkey, hosting a strategically crucial NATO base, wavering between east and west, has wanted to become an SCO member for quite a while. Turkish-speaking SCO governments would likely to support their petition. This would clearly be a huge conflict and blow to the western powers, particularly Washington – and may not go ‘unpunished’.

The expanded SCO would control some 20 percent of the world’s oil and half of all global gas reserves. On top of that, the bloc would represent about half of the world’s population. The SCO and BRICS together would cover more than half the world’s population and control about a third of the globe’s GDP.

The issuance of a joint new global currency either by these countries at once or step by step is almost a certainty. The question is when. Given the disastrous course of western economies, such a new currency and monetary system is not far off. It would gradually replace the (petro) dollar for world trading as well as a reserve currency. The latter has already started. Ten years ago about 90% of world reserves consisted of dollar denominated securities. Today this proportion has shrunk to 60% - and – to the ignorance of most of the world – is steadily declining.

According to the IMF, reserves in other currencies in emerging markets have shot up by 400% since 2003. From August 2013 to February 2014, South Korea increased its yuan holdings 25-fold.

So – Mr. Putin’s seemingly ‘bold’ statement is very much supported by facts. The western predatory economic system is decaying fast. Russia and China are already today prepared with an alternative. They are working actively with the other BRICS and SCO countries to prepare a solid larger scale alternative currency and monetary system, free from the FED, Wall Street, the IMF and the BIS (Bank for International Settlements).

----------

Epidemics and Pandemics

On a seemingly unrelated matter, a new phenomenon is emerging. From the outset it looks like detached from the east-west economic power struggle. But it may be all but detached from the western faltering economy.

It is the threat of deadly pandemics that seem to emerge at the same time – and all are under control of the UN and its specialized organization, WHO which is assisted and advised by a number of international laboratories whose identifications largely escapes common knowledge. Most of the epidemics, potential pandemics, started in Africa, which is home to about 60% of the world’s remaining natural unrenewable resources – and which are sought by the western and Northern Hemisphere’s elite for their continued comfort and well-being.

Ebola broke out a few months ago in West Africa – Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and has since spread to Mali and Nigeria. Ebola is not a new disease. It has been reported and observed in Central Africa and former Zaïre in the seventies. WHO disposes of antidotes or vaccines. However, the US Department of Defense – which incidentally also has a research program on biological warfare – has contracted a Canadian laboratory two years ago to test and develop an Ebola vaccine in specially built hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Since the new Ebola outbreak in July 2014, more than 5,000 people have been killed according to WHO.

A couple of days ago it was reported by WHO that in Madagascar a plague epidemic had claimed the lives of at least 40 people since August 2014. – The bubonic plague, also called Black Death, was considered to be basically extinct since it killed a third of the European population in the 14ht Century, although a less virulent form may still be present today. No major outbreaks have occurred since 1904, when a Plague epidemic killed about 3% of Bombay’s population, when antidotes where not yet available. Today’s version can apparently fairly easily be suppressed with antibiotics and pesticides. – So – why is it still killing people in Madagascar? And why has the news become available only now?

A few weeks ago the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus was newly discovered in the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Out of seven recent cases of Bird Flu in Egypt, two died. In 2009 thanks to a WHO false flag alarm, Europe bought hundreds of millions of H5N1 vaccines – a bonanza for the pharmaceuticals – a scandal for WHO that has deeply tarnished the organization’s image. In countries like Switzerland, people who showed any indication of a cold were practically force-vaccinated.

Aids – the HIV virus, also a Pentagon biological warfare experiment –broke out in the 1980’s, likewise in Africa, spread to Haiti from where it was ‘imported’ to the US and the rest of the world. Today it is, though incurable, under control. But a new strain could easily be designed to make current drugs impotent.

All of this looks like a concerted effort by the power elite to (i) keep populations in check; justify Marshall law at a whim to oppress any potential uprising, for example against a new wave of organized theft of the western predatory greed economy; and (ii) to gradually help reduce world population – a target that the elite has strived for since the end of WWII – it’s also one of the key objectives of the Bilderberg Society as voiced by many power figures, like Bill Gates and on several occasions by Henry Kissinger, arguably the worst war criminal still alive.

People could be easily quarantined by Presidential Executive Order under the guise of protecting the population at large from a pandemic – for which most likely vaccines and antidotes have been clandestinely developed as part of the biological warfare program – to protect the elite – and other strains for the public at large possibly laced with the very disease they pretend to prevent. Once Washington gives the order, say for force-vaccination, or Marshall Law – the European lackeys would simply follow suit; an easy way to keep populations under control, while the western financial system could run their final deed – depredation of the remaining social safety nets and public savings.

Again – on the dismal western economic scenario and the pandemic threats to the world, Mr. Putin’s harsh words to the US, a warning against interference in Russia – are but a signal for Washington to reckon with a vigilant Russia (and China) – vigilant vis-à-vis the impending collapse of the western monetary system, and vigilant vis-à-vis the west’s massive military and biological warfare threats.

Worth a thought? – And worth massive publication, so people may connect the dots.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, the Voice of Russia, now Ria Novosti, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

Україна - це Європа (the Ukraine is Europe)!

First Maidan anniversary (the Ukraine is Europe indeed)

The US, Canada and the Ukraine refuse to condemn the heroization of Nazism

It is often argued whether the Ukrainian junta is Nazi or not.  I would strongly argue that even though Poroshenko did not come out, make a Nazi salute and declare "I am a Nazi" all the signs point to the conclusion that the regime in Kiev has its ideological roots in the Nazi past.  The latest example of that "filiation" can be found in this absolutely amazing event last week:  only three countries - the US, Canada and the Ukraine voted against a UN Resolution condemning the heroization of Nazism.  The EU was not much better: it abstained.  This development is so crazy, so insane, that it is important to have access to the original document which was voted on.

Here is the full text of the Resolution:

http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N14/604/26/PDF/N1460426.pdf

You can also get this text from here:

http://www.mediafire.com/view/94n40m3x00dr355/N1460426.pdf

Here is the official voting record:

http://www.un.org/en/ga/third/69/docs/voting_sheets/L56.Rev1.pdf

To me, this is disgusting beyond belief.  Here we have two countries who try to positions themselves as the most pro-Israeli on the planet (the US and Canada) and the EU which has even passed laws making not only Nazi propaganda illegal, but jailing those who would dare investigate the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis (the so-called 'Holocaust').  And yet these putatively anti-Nazi and "democratic" countries are now refusing to condemn the heroization of Nazism not so much because they particularly like Nazis, but because they want to "protect" the Ukrainian junta.  As for the Ukrainians themselves, they have suffered more from Nazis then any other country or ethnic group, and yet they also refused to condemn the heroization of Nazism.  This makes a mockery not only of all their so-called principles and values, it also is an act of obscene disrespect for the millions of Ukrainian murdered by the Nazis.  There is one good thing about all this: it shows clearly and unequivocally how much the western elites truly hate Russia and that this hate clearly trumps any other considerations or values.

Russian disgust

For the past few days, or weeks, really, I have seen more and more signs of total Russian disgust with the West.  If, in the past, Russian diplomats and politicians were mostly trying to sound polite, now they are openly expressing their disgust.  For example, they are now openly saying the Europe does not have a foreign policy or an opinion, that Europe is just a subservient colony of the US.  As for the US, the Russians are now openly saying that this entire Ukrainian crisis was just a pretext and that the US are really out there to submit Russia.  Putin said that openly last week, adding that nobody had every succeeded in subduing Russia and neither would the USA.  This goes further than words, Russia has already announced that she was going to boycott the 2016 Summit on Nuclear Security.  This became known when the Russian informed the other members of this Summit that Russia would not participate in its preparatory work.

Sergei Lavrov also made a remarkable speech today, but since the pathetic website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not even bother providing a translation on the same day,  we will have to wait before I can post it here.

The Saker

Official - China Recognises Crimean Referendum

by Alexander Mercouris

"OFFICIAL - CHINA RECOGNISES CRIMEAN REFERENDUM"

This is the clear meaning of the statement TASS reports that a senior official of the Chinese Foreign Ministry has made. 

The fact that China recognises the Crimean referendum means that de facto (and surely before long de jure) China has recognised Crimea's unification with Russia.  Note also that the official has expressed support for Russia's Ukrainian policy.


This is the clearest statement from an official source (as opposed to the news media) of China's position viz the Ukrainian crisis that China has made to date.  Because it is made by an official rather than a minister it has gone almost unnoticed.  However that is how China works: statements of this sort are first floated in the media, then made formally but at a relatively low level, following which they become uncontested policy.  Suffice to say that it is inconceivable that the official in question would have spoken out in this way without clearance from the very highest levels of the Chinese government and the fact that in his conversation to TASS he actually quotes comments made by Xi Jinping in telephone conversations with Putin puts that question beyond doubt.

I have always felt that the Chinese dimension in influencing Russia's Ukrainian policy is consistently underestimated.  I am sure that every single step Moscow has taken since the start of the Ukrainian crisis has been discussed and coordinated with Beijing at the highest possible level.  We should not make the mistake of thinking that the only conversations between Putin and Xi Jinping are those that are officially or publicly  reported.  The Chinese do not want to be seen taking an active or public role in the Ukrainian crisis - which formally speaking has nothing to do with them - but given the importance of China's support for Russia and the importance of Russia to China, it is a certainty that the two sides have been working closely together with each other and that they are discussing every aspect of this crisis all the time.  Knowledge that he has China's support is one reason for Putin's confidence in his dealings with the US and the Europeans.

The need to coordinate with Beijing does however place certain constraints on Moscow's actions.  Again I am sure that one reason amongst many why Russia has been wary of intervening actively in the Donbas or of formally recognising the various votes there is because it knows that doing so too obviously or too hastily would not be welcome in Beijing.  

China is traditionally very wary of independence declarations (a policy restated with specific reference to the Ukraine by the official quoted by TASS) not because it is worried about Xinjiang or Tibet (where the situation is fully under control) as the west alleges but because it does not want to create a precedent for Taiwan.  

Again I do not think many people especially in the west but also in Russia understand what a sensitive issue for China Taiwan is.  Suffice to say that a key reason for the Sino Soviet split of the 1960s was precisely Mao  Zedong's anger at what he correctly saw as a lack of support from Moscow over Taiwan.

That does not mean Novorossian independence will not happen or that either the Russians or indeed the Chinese are reconciled to the results of the Maidan coup or to the survival of the present regime in Kiev.  Both countries perceive the sort of staged US backed "revolutions" that the Maidan coup was, as a direct challenge and threat to themselves.  Both countries are almost certainly agreed that the results of the coup in a key Eurasian state must be reversed. Note how the official, in the clearest possible sign that he is speaking on behalf of the Chinese government, quotes a previously unreported but very revealing remark Xi Jinping said to Putin in one of their telephone conversations, that "there is no smoke without fire".  No guesses who or what that refers to.  

However the joint policy of reversing the effects of the Maidan coup is going to be done incrementally, step by step, for many reasons of which China's concerns about Taiwan are just one. 

Anyway, to those who think there is some division between Beijing and Moscow both over the Crimean issue and over the Ukrainian crisis generally, this statement from an official of the Chinese government should finally and once and for all put that question to rest: there is none.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Before hitting the road :-)

Dear friends,

I am about to hit the road and do what I like most: jump in the car with my wife, leave everything behind, and spend a couple of days in the Florida wilderness.  God willing, we will be back on Friday.

In the meantime, I want to leave you with a few short notes:

1) Podcast: there definitely was some kind of glitch in the 2nd part of the podcast and I had no time to detect it.  Lesson learned: it was a mistake to leave the post with questions open until Friday 18000 GMT and hope to get the podcast ready my Monday.  The next time around, I will leave three days to post questions (Monday-Wednesday) and then I will use the remaining time (Wednesday-Sunday) to prepare the podcast for release on Monday.  From now on and until the new blog is up, I will release on Soundcloud, Mediafire and Youtube.

2) My "homophobic video": from a comment posted today I realized that some of you had not realized that the person sitting next to the cop is not a a woman at all but, to quote the official dogma, a person manifesting a "normal and natural variation in human sexuality and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects".

3) These past couple of weeks I have been bombarded with people accusing me of endorsing Šešelj or of "discrediting" or even "abandoning" Strelkov.  What these critics apparently fail to understand is that I can discuss somebody's views or situation without necessarily endorsing or betraying that person.  As it happens, I have no personal opinion whatsoever about Šešelj and I have the utmost respect for Strelkov.  My view of the world and of people is not binary, black or white, and I like to freely analyze and discuss ideas, situations and personalities.  If you are too stupid to cope with that kind of diversity of approaches, then I suggest you avoid my blog like the plague because I sure intend to continue to do that.

4) The "Putin is weak and beaten" chorus is not letting up.  I personally explain that by too much exposure to the corporate media which is constantly presenting Putin as beat, isolated, humiliated and otherwise broken.  Since these comments never come with fact based and logically presented arguments, I don't see the point if trying to refute them.

5) Novorussia: today Foreign Minister Lavrov spoke during a Q&A at the Duma and he also mentioned the possibility that the economic blockade of Novorussia by the Nazi regime in Kiev (which basically stole the money of the people of Novorussia) could be a prelude to a Ukrainian attack.  I am personally convinced that the recent statements of Putin and Lavrov about this possibility are designed to prepare the public opinion of Russia and, to some degree, the EU to situation in which Russia might have to intervene to stop such an attack.  The situation right now is extremely dangerous, but not hopeless as I am sure that there is a lot of pressure put upon the junta and its US bosses by Russia and other countries not to attack.

6) US elections: I am not a US citizen, so I don't get to vote anyway.  If I did, I still would not vote.  The choice of a lesser evil is still a choice for evil.  It is also a de-facto endorsement of the legitimacy of the system.  Can I recommend to those interested in this issue to read an old post of mine entitled "USSR 1974 - USA 2007: back to the future"? 

Okay, that's it for today.  I am off to my beloved wilderness with wifey.  See you all in a couple of days!

The Saker

The Trial Of Radovan Karadžić Enters The Final Phase

Note from the Saker: I have recently posted an excellent analysis by Stephen Karganovic of the legal farce or "judicial persecution" of Vojislav Šešelj by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague. I was so impressed by this article, that I asked Karganovic if he would agree to update me, and my readers, about the situation of Radovan Karadžić. Karganovic kindly agreed and he sent me the article I am posting today. Considering some of the comments elicited by the previous article I sadly have to remind you all of two things which I consider self-evident:

1) To describe the gross violation of basic legal norms and civil rights of an accused person does not necessarily imply an endorsement of that person's views, actions or character.  For example, do denounce the murder by a lynchmob of Muammar Gaddafi does not imply an endorsement of his policies or character.

2) In today's world, it appears that *nobody* has the intellectual honesty or courage to give the accused Serbians at the ICTFY a fair hearing or even to express concern about the total lack of respect of even basic legal norms in their trials. I refuse to "forget" or "not notice". I shall not be a bystander and I shall not give in to the social pressure to conform.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to Stephen Karganovic for is superb analysis of these two trials.

The Saker

*******
The Trial Of Radovan Karadžić Enters The Final Phase

by Stephen Karganovic

The Prosecution and the Defence have filed their final submissions in the trial of Radovan Karadžić, former president of the Republic of Srpska, which was concluded on 2 May 2014. The trial was conducted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague. A total of 195 Prosecution and 238 Defence witnesses were heard. The prosecutor, Alan Tieger, has asked for life imprisonment, the maximum sentence, for Dr. Karadžić who stands accused of genocide, crimes against humanity (persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, etc.), and violation of the laws and customs of war. Dr Karadžić was the political head of the Bosnian Serb state during the 1992-1995 ethnic conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and, as President, he was commander-in-chief of its armed forces.

While during the lengthy trial the prosecution focused on a variety of imputed crimes, the main charges against Dr. Karadžić concerned “ethnic cleansing” of the Muslim and to a lesser extent Croatian population, the siege and bombardment of Sarajevo by Serbian forces, and events in Srebrenica following its capture by Serbian forces in July of 1995.

In his three-day summary of the evidence which began on 1 October, Karadžić reiterated his innocence of the charges outlined in the indictment. “I am not guilty,” he proclaimed. “This court has put on trial not me, but the Serbian people.”

Although not a lawyer but psychiatrist by training and representing himself in the proceedings, as the trial advanced Dr. Karadžić’s proficiency increased noticeably. While in his 876 page final submission he addressed meticulously every item presented in the prosecution’s case, in the concluding remarks he focused mainly on refuting the three charges which were at the heart of the prosecutor’s indictment.
  1. There was never a policy or “joint criminal enterprise” to expel Muslims from Serb areas of Bosnia;
  2. The shelling and sniping in Sarajevo was in response and proportional to outgoing fire and attacks by the Bosnian Muslim forces from the militarized city, and the most dramatic of these events, like Markale, were staged by the Muslims to obtain international intervention for their side; and
  3. He had no knowledge that prisoners from Srebrenica would be, were being, or had been executed and the number of such executions has been exaggerated.
The defendant argued forcefully that while large-scale movement of each of the three ethnic populations (Muslim, Croats, and Serbs) to areas where their co-nationals constituted the majority or were under the control of their armed forces is undeniable, that is an inherent characteristic of most ethnic conflicts. The prosecution, Karadžić claimed, failed to present any evidence of a plan or policy on the Bosnian Serb side to expel members of the other ethnicities from territory under its control. Quite the opposite, numerous orders were issued to troops and authorities under Karadžić’s command prohibiting ill-treatment of Muslim and Croat non-combatants.

Radovan Karadžić
The siege of Sarajevo, as expected, was a very contentious issue during the trial. Karadžić reiterated the position of the Serbian side that while Muslims had a strong presence in the city, the surrounding countryside was mainly populated by Serbs. As a result, there was no “siege” in proper military terms but merely holding the line of demarcation between the respective territories of the two communities. Karadžić was largely successful in demonstrating that, contrary to agreements reached at the beginning of the war concerning its demilitarisation, Sarajevo contained significant and well-equipped Muslim military formations which conducted offensive operations against Serbian forces throughout the conflict.

One of the highlights of the defence case was undoubtedly the meticulous and competent dismantling of the story line constructed around Markale market bombings, with considerable civilian casualties, allegedly carried out by Bosnian Serb forces in February 1994 and August 1995. These bombings were significant in psychologically turning world public opinion against the Serb side and, additionally, served as pretexts for the military involvement of NATO forces on the Muslim side, thus helping to tip the military balance in the war.

Karadžić’s defence reinforced doubts that virtually from the start were circulating widely that the Markale massacres were a classical “false flag” operation conceived and carried out by the Muslims, perhaps with Western intelligence assistance. It was, he argued, designed to incriminate the other side, and not a war crime deliberately committed by Serbian forces. Forensic and eyewitness evidence produced by the defence left intact very little of the prosecution’s case with regard to Markale.

Turning to Srebrenica, while asserting that the prosecution offered no evidence to link him to the planning, execution, or knowledge of any crimes committed there in the aftermath of the Serbian takeover in July 1995, Dr. Karadžić vigorously disputed the standard narrative. His position was that the prosecution claim of 7,000 to 8,000 executed prisoners was an impossibility because the prosecution failed to produce evidence that more than about 3,500 Muslim POWs were ever taken captive in that military operation. Furthermore, according to evidence presented by the defence, a large number of Muslim losses were in fact combat deaths sustained during Muslim army 28th Division’s breakout from Srebrenica to Tuzla and were therefore legitimate casualties which cannot be imputed as war crimes.

Dr. Karadžić’s position is that up to 1,000 Muslim prisoners of war were probably executed after the fall of Srebrenica on 11 July 1995, but that – setting aside revenge killings – the executions had neither an official nor premeditated character and were carried out by rogue structures outside of the Bosnian Serb military chain of command. Karadžić did not deny that a massacre of prisoners took place, though on a far smaller scale than alleged in the indictment, but asserted that neither the military nor the political authorities of the Republic of Srpska were involved in it.

On the issue of “genocide,” which is particularly complex from the legal standpoint and sensitive morally, Karadžić maintained that the evidence does not demonstrate any intent, prior to the 11 July 1995 takeover of Srebrenica, to exterminate Muslims as a group protected under the Genocide Convention. Moreover, he referred to much contrary evidence produced at the trial indicating that captured prisoners were being treated regularly into 13 July, thus again refuting the existence of prior genocidal specific intent. Subsequently, groups of prisoners were shot at various locations, but the prosecution failed to link those events to state or military policy. According to Karadžić, it would be just as reasonable to view these murders as revenge by local Serbs for the atrocities previously committed by Muslim army forces using the UN-protected Srebrenica enclave as a launching pad for military operations against Serbian civilians in the surrounding areas.

In any event, Karadžić argued, the object of a genocide – even if there was the intention to commit it – could only have been Bosnian Muslims as a whole, not a comparatively negligible percentage of Muslim residents and refugees in a small town. However, no evidence was presented that a crime of such scope or nature was planned or committed either on the national or the municipal level.

The Karadžić trial (and the mostly parallel trial of Bosnian Serb army commander, General Ratko Mladic) is the last in the series of Hague show trials since the Tribunal was established and began its work in the mid-1990s. In an important sense it encapsulates the spirit and methodology of ICTY. Inequality of resources between the huge Prosecution staff and the tiny Defence team is blatant. The Chamber regularly granted Prosecution requests and blocked those of the Defence. The Prosecution deprived the Defence of thousands of pages of potentially exculpatory evidence during the trial without provoking the slightest effort on the part of the judicial Chamber to correct that outrageous procedural and substantive injustice. Defence request for access to important evidence for independent forensic verification, such as DNA data that allegedly supports the prosecution’s version of the number of Srebrenica victims, was flatly denied by the Chamber. And the list goes on and on…

The unequal conditions in which the trial was conducted leave little doubt that the judges will go to great lengths to look at the evidence and its significance from the Prosecution’s point of view. With respect to the formal outcome of the Karadžić trial, it is practically certain that the judges are highly unlikely to take the politically risky step of disregarding the prosecution’s recommendation of life in prison for Radovan Karadžić.

That being settled, the larger issue is how the verdict will be framed and what reverberations it will have on the Bosnian political scene.

Karadžić’s close collaborator, Bosnian Serb National Assembly President Momčilo Krajišnik, was initially accused of genocide, but in the verdict that charge was dropped by the court for lack of evidence. In Dr. Karadžić’s case, whether or not he is found guilty of genocide (it being understood that in light of Tribunal’s jurisprudence, there are in any event plenty of crimes in the indictment that the court could use to rationalize life imprisonment, if it so chooses) is bound to have considerable impact on local Bosnian politics. It would add considerable impetus and an apparent legal justification to the persistent Muslim demand for the dissolution of the Republic of Srpska as a “genocidal entity.” It would also provide a quasi-judicial basis for collecting from Republic of Srpska’s taxpayers huge civil indemnity judgments that individual Muslim “victims” have obtained in various courts for abuses suffered at the hands of Serbian forces during the Bosnian civil war.

There is also another important potential effect of the Karadžić judgment that is certain to have an impact on the Serbian Democratic Party (SDP) in the Republic of Srpska, which he founded. While Karadžić was in hiding and later at the Hague, his party, once considered a bastion of Serbian nationalism, was taken over by a new cadre of pragmatic politicians eager to avoid confrontations with Western powers and ready to make political accommodations in return for Western support to replace current pro-Russian Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik. SDP’s candidate lost the 12 October election to Dodik, but the party still has considerable influence with the support of about one-fourth of the electorate. It is rumored in Banja Luka, the Bosnian Serb capital, that the new SDP leadership has agreed to redesign party ideology to make it more acceptable to Euro-Atlanticist mentors, similarly to the way that operation was performed a few years ago in neighbouring Serbia by former nationalist Radicals Aleksandar Vučić and Tomislav Nikolić.

According to well-informed sources, again, current SDP leadership were warned by Western interests that by the time the Karadžić trial is over they would be well advised to fully transform their traditional image. Otherwise, their “extremist nationalist” and, after the Karadžić verdict, quite possibly also “genocidal” party might simply be banned by the High representative in Sarajevo who, after all, is the real ruler of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Resistance in France - suppressed, but not broken

It has been a very long while since I have written about the popular resistance movement in France embodied by the philosopher Alain Soral and the humorist Dieudonne.  
[Sidebar: for those who have missed these articles, they can be found here:
These are just a few examples, use the search option for more]
My purpose today is to update you on what has been happening to the only meaningful anti-system Resistance movement in France.

Soral and Dieudonne
The first thing to say is that the state repression against Dieudonne got much more vicious: both of them are now being sued for huge amounts of money. The list of lawsuits filed against Alain Soral now takes a full page on his website and the total sum for which he is being used is a stunning 489 292 Euros.  I don't know the exact figures for Dieudonne, but I do know that attempts are being made at seizing both his home and his theater in Paris.

Next to that financial repression, the "minutes of hate" against Dieudonne and Soral have now become a quasi-permanent fixture in the French media and the doubleplusgoodthing blogosphere: they are accused of Nazis, anti-Semites, homophobes and, of course, the inspiration of various terrorist movements.  Dieudo is also accused of being a crook.  Some individuals do not shy away from overtly racist slurs like the Rabbi Rav Dymovisz who said that Dieudonne proves that Darwin was right and he is the living proof that some humans are descendants from monkeys "most probably a gorilla".

There have been even numerous attempts to censor both Soral's books and Dieudo's shows, including efforts in the French State Court, but these have run into that pesky problem that French law does not foresee political censorship.  Hence the two tricks most used have been the standard accusation of anti-Semitism and "risk of trouble to the public order".  In reality, of course, both Soral and Dieudo are completely non-violent and their ideology is one of reconciliation and equality, not hatred.  They, however, have been attacked physically many times, but the police has always denied them any protection and their aggressors have walked away with, at most, a gentle little slap on the wrist.  Since Soral and Dieudo are, of course, losing most of their lawsuits, it appears inevitable that prison sentences will inevitably replace fines because they will be tried as "repeat offenders".

And yet, for all these efforts by the French 1%ers to crush them, the popularity of both men has continued to steadily grow, but mostly in the disenfranchised classes and the immigrant communities.  Diedo only plays to full theaters while Soral's books are best-sellers.  As for their websites, they have more viewers than the national TV channels.  The French elites, however, including the putatively freedom-loving intelligentsia, prefer to look away as if not noticing what is taking place or, worse, then join into the chorus of the 'official' ideological lynchmob.

Still, Diedo and Soral are not giving up the struggle.  They have even decided to form a Equality and Reconciliation (E&R) party.  These men are smart and they know that they cannot win, but what they can do is get two things which the state desperately tires to deny them: a platform and money.  Becoming a party can get them both.

In the past Soral and Dieudo have supported the short-lived Anti-Zionist Party which did remarkably well considering the political reality in France, but make no mistake, in this case "remarkably well" means single digit figures or less.  There is absolutely no reason to believe that their new party will do any better, at least visibly.  This is why:

There are really two "Frances" today: one, the official, visible one, appears to be one of consensus, of democracy, of relative well-being.  The other, the "invisible one", is one of deep alienation, of rage, of despair and of revolt.  And these two Frances are not always were one would expect them to be found.  For example, in the very same French police which is used by the state to persecute Dieudonne and Soral the popularity of both men is very high.  The same goes for the military, the fire departments, and a host of other government agencies.  Likewise, even though neither Dieudo or Soral are Muslim (both are Christian Latins, though in the case of Soral this is more of a cultural affinity), they get a great deal of support from the Muslim immigres in France who understand and respect their message.

As for the French "Far Right", it mostly dislikes them, often with no less intensity then the rest of the Establishment.  The problem here is a generational one.  If Dieudo and Soral both respect Jean-Marie LePen and if both of them are still close to him both ideologically, they both have accused the National Front of having basically joined the Establishment, of having been co-opted and corrupted, and they have strongly criticized the anti-Muslim stance of Marine LePen.

The second ideological struggle which is taking place is that Dieudo and Soral are also on the offensive against a French author named Eric Zemmour whom they accuse of being a fake dissident.  Zemmour recently wrote a book entitled "The French Suicide" in which is strongly criticizes almost all French policies and politicians since 1968 and in which he, a French Jew, openly criticized the use for petty political purpose of the Nazi persecutions of Jews.  He even went as far as to declare on national prime time TV that Petain had saved French Jewry.  Among his many theories, Zemmour is also known for declaring that Islam is not compatible with the French republic and that immigrants should be assimilated.  This is were he enters into a direct conflict with Dieudo and Soral.

They accuse him of being the new "Bernard Henri Levi", the new "official ideologue" who is now in charge of Islam-bashing in the name of French patriotism. Their proof? That Zemmour is constantly invited to all the major talkshows on French radio and TV whereas they are quasi officially blacklisted.

Eric Zemmour
Frankly, I think that in this case they are simply wrong.  First, I do not agree with Zemmour's view of Islam at all, but to say that he is simply wrong or mistaken does not imply that he is being used.  There is a very simple explanation of why he is being invited everywhere: he is not Soral or Dieudo.  Really, his views are very similar to the ones of Soral on many topics, you can think of him as a "Soral light", and that is precisely why to invite him to the official media makes sense for the Establishment: it is a safe(r) way to "prove" that there still is freedom of speech in France and that even a "quasi-Soral" gets airtime.

Zemmour is a brilliant man and speaker, he is also a formidable debater who, unless he is shouted down, usually makes minced meat of his opponents while keeping a smile all along.  Zemmour is also very direct and, in my opinion, intellectually honest man, and I don't see him at all as the next "BHL" or somebody who is corrupted by the system.  However, I also think that Zemmour is completely wrong about Islam and, even more importantly, wrong about France.  The France which is would like to see is one which is gone forever and though he does not really deny that, he also does not want to accept it.  In a way, he reminds me of Strelkov, many of whose views I share, but who appears to me to lack the realism needed to get things done in the modern world and the reality of today's Russia.  Whatever may be the case, Zemmour, who is usually associated with the French far Right, is also a target of Dieudo and Soral.

Thus it is completely wrong to classify them with the "Right".  In fact, both of them admire Jean Marine LePen and Georges Marchais, the charismatic leader of the French Communist Party until 1994.  The issue for them is not one of "Right vs Left" but one of real opposition versus selling out to the system.

Neither Soral or Dieudo have ever endorsed the political program of the National Front or the Communist Party.  What they did do is praise these two forces for being truly revolutionary (in the literal meaning of the word - wanting change) and not a fake opposition.  But if under Marchais and Jean-Marie LePen the Communist Party and the National Front were truly speaking "for the masses", then after their retirement both parties turned into tools for the elites.  I fully agree with that analysis.  This is why I say that today the only real opposition in France is E&R.

As for Zemmour, he is a nostalgic of the past and therefore neither a revolutionary nor a supporter of the current system which his views can only mildly annoy, but not threaten.

Can Dieudo and Soral, unlike Zemmour, threaten the system?

I strongly believe so.  But in the long run only.

For one thing, they are appealing to the disenfranchised masses which are, by definition, the majority.  The rest of the political scene in France only appeals to the elites.  Second, while the Establishment tries as hard as it can to create fake non-issues (homosexual marriages) while obfuscating the vital ones (poverty and exploitation), E&R brings the real problems to the forefront of its discourse.  Furthermore, while the official (Masonic) French ideology is both anti-Christian and anti-Muslim E&R is pro-Islam and pro-Christian.  This is why the key slogan of E&R is "la gauche du travail la droite des valeurs" (the Left of Labor and the Right of Values) meaning that its economics are very similar to those of traditional Socialist parties whereas its ethics and morals are more typical of the ones of religious conservatives (Zemmour, by the way, would disagree with both, even though he likes to quote Marx and defends Christian ethics).  In fact, I would argue that the ideas of Soral, Dieudo and E&R appeal to moral categories taken straight out of Christian, Islamic and Marxist traditions and that they recombine and adapt them to modern realities.  This is, I think, very, very interesting stuff, especially for me since this is also what I see happening in Russia.

Solzhenitsyn and Putin
Resistance to Empire can take many forms. Sometimes, this resistance is armed, as in the case of Hezbollah.  Sometimes this resistance is purely ideological, as was the case with Gandhi.  But sometimes, it begins on the purely ideological level and eventually becomes incarnate in a very material way.  For example, I would argue that today's continuator of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's ideas is Vladimir Putin.  And yet, Solzhenitsyn will be remembered as possibly the biggest foe of the KGB whereas Putin was an officer in that organization.  These are the amazing paradoxes of history which show over and over again that the power of ideas is far stronger than the power of the state and its institutions.

Today, Soral and Dieudo are in a position very similar to the one of opponents in the former Soviet Union.  Sure, the methods have changed, and there is no GULag in France (for the time being), but the French courts are now clearly used to silence dissent.  How long until they begin being used to sent thought-criminals to jail?

Soral, Dieudo are typically French phenomena and so is their resistance.  But they are also part of a much larger planetary Resistance to Empire.  They are part of the same struggle as Evo Morales, Ali Khamenei, Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping.  Just like these men, they are not always right, and we don't have to endorse all of their views.  But I think that is is vital to recognize them as fellow resistants and, therefore, comrades.

The Saker