After the dissolving of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, some KGB elite found themselves driving cabs, i.e., out on the streets, stripped of power and privilege. It didn’t take long for part of that set to determine to regenerate themselves, perhaps through their former networks (I’m mythologizing but keeping to milestones in the greater narrative arc), and set about taking revenge against the west.
9/11/2001 – I would call the event a Russian “Reflexive Control” operation by proxy against NATO. Whatever the truth of the matter, it provoked the proud flesh of a wounded west into a far rightward motion, i.e., the “New Nationalism”. In France, and with Putin’s blessing, Marine Le Pen picked up on the pride.
I’ll add another one or two touchstones here.
2011 – the Arab Spring and desertification lead to protests in Syria against a callous regime quick to respond with violence to any challenge of its authority. The same had also a mighty lever in enjoining the “War on Terror” against any enemy it wish to call a terrorist. Spillover: mass migration -> NATO, starting with Turkey, the same became a stimulus for greater nationalism accompanied by xenophobia. Most affected: Hungary, Italy, Poland, and the United States.
In the listing of years as the perhaps KGB penchant for clever aggression, the whole has gone with the “ones” — 1991; 2001; 2011; and if the invasion of Ukraine had been squeezed in right, 2021.
Putin’s Russia has been cooking on all of the medieval burners, numerology somewhat included, and, indeed, NATO has now to catch up with the array of conditions and threats fashioned by Moscow since the end of the Cold War, and Moscow, representing the Russian “Mafia State”, has some advantages given European and North American appetites for every illicit good and service moving around the planet. It and its buddies among dictators and thugs view the west both as turned toward nationalism (sadly true in part) and morally degenerate — but in Ukraine it has drawn a response remarkably different from what it had imagined. The key to that has been its criminality and barbarism. The cruelty displayed over time and across the post-Soviet Russian space of interest has been effective as regards inspiring hate for everything associated with Moscow. Whether the New Nationalists, Le Pen included, view themselves as part of the problem in light of Putin’s behavior, we shall see. One thing they won’t want will be domination by the Stalinist Russian.
Karen Dawisha detailed how the Soviet nomenklatura prepared in the mid-1980s for the demise of their state and what would have been their fall from grace but for plans to capture the state’s assets for themselves.
Husband and wife Andrew Nekrasov and Olga Konskaya documented in part how former KGB driving cabs determined to return to their former status in power as politically criminal agents with the master who seems today busy with trying to steal back a state that had gotten rid of its Moscow puppet. Once again, Moscow’s premier secret police–from Okhrana to Cheka to FSB–have succeeded in destroying goodness and justice in Russia (the west may be only waiting for the Russians to figure out how they have been themselves once again enslaved).
David Satter has made a mission of convincing the world that Putin’s ascent to power was predicated by the KGB’s false flag bombing of apartment buildings over which the fingers would point toward Chechen Rebels. Given the Kremlin’s penchant for absurd lies, barbaric acts elsewhere, and dramatic political theater and reputation for Orwellian perceptual control across time, I’ve been convinced.
According to John Schindler, the KGB had terrorist Ayman al Zawahiri of hijacker coordination fame as a guest over the winter of 1996-7, which makes sense of a timeline that fits with the KGB’s “recovery” of its less savory powers a little earlier in the mid-1990s (do watch the Nekrasov documentary for what happened in the gap between the “end of the Cold War” and the launching of revenge for the Soviet loss in Afghanistan and subsequent bankruptcy).
Aside, those fond of serial coincidences may enjoy looking up Felix Dzerzhinsky’s birthday and taking into the consideration the role of “1” in the dissolving of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, the September 11 attack on the United States in 2001, the start of civil war in Syria in 2011, predicated in part on fighting “The Terrorists” (together with the west), and now the Russian Invasion of Ukraine here in 2021.
Hey, wait a minute!
(“Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps”).
Motivating terrorists to blow up the World Trade Center while working with western security to eliminate terrorism . . . that’s pretty slick, but it fits with the temperament of the damned that have also sustained the Middle East Conflict and countless other “frozen conflicts”– as well as dictatorships — worldwide, and it also helps answer the question as to why the west has bent backward so often for so long in the interest of sustained peace beneath the black cloud of mutually assured nuclear destruction.
So here we are with a monster dredged from fascist, feudal, and medieval quarters that now razes with blunt force and fire a modern state aspiring to a democratic, free, honorable, and peaceful future. While we have done more than stand by and watch–we have been responding to our more stranded neighbor–we haven’t faced the full criminal scope of the Russian President’s magical narcissistic beliefs and his related and wholly destructive behavior. Deluded and drunk in power, President Putin lies to himself and to Russia, and yet no one will either dare interfere with his course, and, quite possibly, no one knows how.
Have conditions in the west to become “existential” to do as Ukraine has been doing?
With that speed, inspiration -> political punditry -> launch (something, anything, hope it works) has become a very short cycle. ***
Got to jump down turn around and send a missive flying Go to jump down turn around and compose again . . . . *** So it goes.
Sources for the first tweet date back to the Putin-Trump bromance of 2016 and the Republican chorus of denials over Russia’s onslaught of methods of perceptual channeling and control that were to be popularly known as “Active Measures”–>
It’s impossible to miss Russia’s criminal anger and resentment of the modern world in its aggression against the west as its secret police and other elements got to their feet in the shadows of the “End of the Cold War”. Out to the edges of the former Soviet spheres of conflict, control, and influence, an habitual penchant for Absolute Power and the endorsements of political theater and terrorism became fixtures of political behavior in Chechnya and Syria as well as Afghanistan (Russian arms and materiel were to support the Taliban all the way back to Kabul).
To this day, Russia’s leadership has shown the world nothing of modern compassion, conscience, constructive ambition, empathy, or humanity while demonstrating only the feudal-medieval barbarism and rapacious destructiveness and greed of the police state it has become and that it intends to impose on Ukraine and the west.
Start with what cannot be found outside of the mind of the malignant narcissist, i.e., the traumatic memory of “Narcissistic Mortification”. Diminishment. Humiliation. Shame. Whatever it was–a bullying theft on the street; an instance of sexual abuse by an authority or other overwhelming power; a “Jack and the Beanstalk” beat down by a parent–would have set off two related processes: covering over the moment and making of it either a terrible personal secret not to be shared or, perhaps, a complaint to shadow and ruin the life (for Putin, one might choose the former option, i.e., compartmenting the trauma); and splitting off the invention of a noble and undamaged self abetted by deceit in the creation of an heroic personal theater.
Most of us toughen up some with psychic injury, adjust our behavior to avoid a repeat experience or engage from a position of greater determination to prevail with dignity and strength. We’ll talk back to the nasty, speak truth to power, or dare introduce the bully to punishment as we produce greater force or response in relation to the presence of the same.
Chin up, in other words, and walk a little taller.
The malign might demand greater compensation in the way of power and emotional assurance. It may not be how they are or might be as ordinary persons that matters: it’s how they look–how others may perceive them–as extraordinary personages that matters most, for deep down they are still hiding their own humiliation and the dreaded fear of its return.
And how may one hide the truth?
Lie about it.
And how may one control the perception of others?
Create around or before them sufficient convincing theater to get them to do as one’s image may demand.
Punks have an easy list at their disposal: cheat, deceive, lie, and steal.
Get her a ring–who cares how you do it?–if it comes to that.
The personal and smaller matters lend themselves to convenient chicanery.
The corrupt and evil among politicians know more difficult strategies: big lies, deflections; false accusations, false flags, false presentations.
Where Putin lives, notch it up with military, paramilitary, and secret police forces tasked to manage state-devised compromise and reflexive control operations as well as total perceptual control buttressed by the methodical elimination of all of the sources of competition and criticism.
And should anyone in the darkness and shadows fuck up . . . cover it up–practice helps–and lie about it.
And should anyone possessed of integrity observe and report what has taken place, well, there are ways in which politically criminal and ruthless power may choose to defend its good image while in fact engaged in the most execrable evil.
A Few Reflections on Putin’s KGB Manual Updated to Support State Capitalists
I’m sure there are other similarly clever methods for developing bear hugging personal relationships and influencing nations, quietly, and from behind the curtains, and as sources, insights, and opportunities develop, I may add to the above useful instructions.
The West had perhaps thought the Cold War over on December 25, 1991 with the announcement at noon of the Soviet Union’s dissolving itself in bankruptcy, but here with are with a post-Soviet KGB/FSB President Putin in power who while demonstrating his idea of logical reasoning repeatedly proves himself barbaric, inhuman, and irrational and only best in his expression of unhelpful and wholly destructive madness. He appears to have no insight as regards his own malign and narcissistic disorder, but his army knows it, his generals see it, his inner circle suffer for it and none appear able to stop him.
For Ukrainians, who are but the latest to catch Tsar Putin’s cross-hairs, the question comes up as to why EU/NATO so far refuses Ukraine offensive weapons sufficient for controlling its air space. The Atlantic Council circulated a germane answer in the form of a survey of experts and simple chi-square chart, and this morning when both plea and question came up on Facebook, I felt bound to respond.
From the Awesome Conversation
In what follows, I’ve added URLs where they would be otherwise absent in plain text.
Out of laziness, perhaps, I’ve chosen to plant surprises, helpful ones, in the URLs and forego the creating of standard reference (a “Related Online” section has been otherwise a BackChannels desktop publishing tradition).
Here’s the thinking regarding NATO’s official avoidance of war with Russia beneath the black cloud of Mutually Assured Destructed attached to any exchange of nuclear weapons and related and possibly out of control (worse: computer-controlled, according to Putin) escalation.
Unfortunately, cluing in the world to yesterday’s news and Russia’s blood-and-soil religious fantasia might be easier.
To such elites, all of whom fall on the spectrum of Western Educated Industrialized Rich and Democratic, WEIRD for short, Putin represents an atavism whose motivations they cannot understand. The Kremlin strongman adheres to a distinctly throwback view of international relations where the use of force is normal, and countries protect their national interests unapologetically, with all the instruments of national power. Putin’s wholehearted embrace of religiously-infused nationalism, which boasts a venerable history in Russia, leaves WEIRDs befuddled yet has real resonance among average Russians. Western doubts that the former KGB man has “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” miss the point, but then the West has never understood Russian Orthodoxy very well. No matter what Putin really believes, his public embrace of religiously-grounded national conservatism provides his regime with an ideological anchor, one which happens to view Ukraine’s subservience to Russia as a spiritual as well as geostrategic necessity.
Perhaps EU/NATO should have seen this coming with the truth about 9/11 (i.e., where terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri spent winter 1996-7 courtesy of the KGB) and the reflexively controlled “New Nationalism”.
Okay, no biggie, but Butina most certainly chose to target with her charms a most conservative institution representative of not only America’s heartland but its gun-and-hook and healthy outdoor and clean living heart.
From major flag-bearer of democracy Anne Applebaum:
in the 21st century, we must also contend with a new phenomenon: right-wing intellectuals, now deeply critical of their own societies, who have begun paying court to right-wing dictators who dislike America. And their motives are curiously familiar. All around them, they see degeneracy, racial mixing, demographic change, “political correctness,” same-sex marriage, religious decline. The America that they actually inhabit no longer matches the white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant America that they remember, or think they remember. And so they have begun to look abroad, seeking to find the spiritually unified, ethnically pure nations that, they imagine, are morally stronger than their own. Nations, for example, such as Russia.
The Cold War–the west’s struggle against Russia’s Soviet Union and its Communist Party–has been regarded as having ended on December 25, 1991 in relation to the bankrupting of the state in relation to its defeat in Afghanistan in 1989.
With relation to America’s national security interests and international peace, what arrangements were made between the United States and Russian security cultures in 1992?
I have no answers for that.
America’s wacky political paranoia, however–more for entertainment than righteous cause, some portion of Americans has loved The X-Files, made pilgrimage to Area 51, and bought in on UFOs–has also produced a notorious anti-Constitutional Administration (2016-2020) — with its Head of State fully entangled with Russian money — and has done so in defense of lost eras and lost powers.
What happened back there — in 1992, perhaps — to bring us to this passage with a now former authoritarian American president steaming in the wings while a deeply disturbed and piratical Russian power in the figure of one Vladmir Putin makes a mess of modern Ukraine?
I have been breathing for 15 seconds after the last question mark, and I still don’t know. 🙂
However, we of EU/NATO geopolitical space have seen in action Russia’s Active Measures, Cyber Warfare, related Destabilization Measures, Hybrid Warfare, and the twists of a “New Nationalism” accompanied by authoritarianism and mafia drift in Hungary, Italy, Poland, Turkey, and the United States (add France in the making of a big deal about Marine Le Pen) — and on this day a warning and perhaps a bid from Russia presaging nuclear warfare.
What are the obligations–ethical, moral, and legal–attending the watching of a crime in process that may be stopped by main force followed by extraordinary strength in defense?
First, the rescuer must survive the disaster too! 🙂
Then comes the business well known to those for whom the preemptive strike has been a requirement, not an option.
As I chatype and type, Russia’s invading assets would seem to be racing toward NATO on rails in Belarus and out on the highways and streets of Ukraine . . . in other words, out in the open.
For all intents, post-Euromaidan Ukraine has demonstrated steadfast devotion to becoming part of the western assembly of open democracies bound beneath credible constitutions and related rule of law while Putin’s Russia has chosen the stance opposite, i.e., a state devoted to a capricious dictatorship and rule of force.
Marina Agaltsova, a lawyer with the Russian human rights group Memorial, said those who did protest were extremely brave, adding that “Russians are deeply terrified of arrests and court trials over rallying people to go out and protest.”
Human rights activist Marina Litvinovich urged Russians not to cry and “not to be afraid, but to just come out and say that they are against the war,” in comments on social media. Calling on people to protest is an offense under Russia’s restrictive laws.
Perhaps I urge fools to rush in, and NATO is no collection of fools, although one may one note the post-9/11 turns toward authoritarianism or polarization in Hungary, Italy, Poland, Turkey, and the United States. Nonetheless, as Putin’s Push comes to shove, the reaffirmation of the security compact appears accomplished. The question at hand would seem to be not “If” but “When” as regards the timing of an engagement. BackChannels may assure readers of this much: Putin, as often as he may get away with this simple dance, will offer NATO hope as regards relief from attack–and then he will take it away. Brutally. Time and again.
So why wait for the monster to finish ravaging Ukraine and positioning his forces on NATO’s eastern flank before stepping into to end that dark carnival of carnage and destruction?
Putin practices treachery, he deceives, lies, and steals through the betrayal of trust: would it not be fit, would it not be best, to play him in kind?