The whole liberal world order appears to be falling apart – nothing is as it once was. When Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea and started the bloody conflict in Eastern Ukraine in 2014, many considered him to be the major cause of global destabilisation. Nobody could have known that just a few years later the US President, of all people, would seriously challenge the current international order. Donald Trump questions free trade just like he questions the Western set of values or NATO. This has massive consequences – not just for us Europeans.
Politico (“Munich Insecurity Conference”), caught a comment on Turkey that seems to BackChannels positively surreal given the distance President Erdogan has created between the potential of a democratic Turkey and the reality of an Islamist sultanate:
“We will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries,” he said, in an apparent reference to Turkey’s plan to buy the Russian S-400 missile defense system. “We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East.”
Pence may have been taking sideways aim at Nord Stream 2, a perhaps more delicate matter than the selling of Russian defense missiles to a “NATO alley” for the purpose, one might suppose, of defending itself from the seller.
Let’s start with “East v West”, i.e., “Moscow v Washington” -> “Feudal Absolutism (and Totalitarianism) v Modern Democratic Liberalism” -> and on this blog, “Medieval v Modern”:
As Venezuela’s political crisis is unfolding, the unwavering support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his allies for the embattled Nicolas Maduro has been a wide-discussed theme in international media. For some, by standing by Maduro against the “U.S.-backed coup ”, Turkey is only paying its respects to the Venezuelan president, who expressed solidarity with Erdoğan during the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016. Interestingly, Venezuela was among the first countries to back Turkey during the botched coup attempt in Turkey. Maduro’s immediate support to Erdoğan came at a time the Western allies of Ankara were slow to show their reaction over the coup attempt.
What in the hell is Turkey doing in NATO (FB Presence in Part)?
You tell me.
They know how to hang together.
For the time being, some Venezuelans have figured out that money has meaning, and they have gone to ground, literally, to dig up gold that they sell to the Venezuelan state (who else?) and the state sells on to . . . Turkey!
Facilitating the transport of gold is Turkish Airlines, it said, noting, ”On New Year’s Day, 2018, Venezuela’s central bank began shipping gold to Turkey with a $36 million air shipment of the metal to Istanbul. It came just weeks after a visit by Maduro to Turkey. Shipments last year reached $900 million, according to Turkish government data and trade reports.”
— appears to have decided to start over with the Treasure of the Sierra Madre — i.e., with some portion of the people digging up wealth — gold — from out of the ground.
Hey, it’s money.
Oh — it’s also capitalism.
From Business Live:
The scale of Venezuela’s current social, economic and political crisis is so severe it is difficult to comprehend. Hyper-inflation has decimated the national currency and crippled the economy. Oil production — which accounts for 95% of the country’s export revenues — has halved since Maduro took power in 2013 and the industry has been further weakened by the collapse of the price of oil in 2014.
In 2018, the economy contracted by 18% and by the end of the year inflation had soared to 1-million percent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted inflation will increase to 10-million percent by the latter half of 2019. These are dizzying figures but they only reflect one part of the complex situation Venezuela is facing.
Yada yada yada — fodder for dozens to hundreds to thousands of articles avoiding reference to the Soviet / Post-Soviet disaster now 26 years past the dissolving of Russia’s Communist passion play — and the world’s tragedy.
Off the cuff —
Zimbabwe tells the story of a dictatorship that personally reintroduced cholera to its people — and Mugabe made it possibly by denying a rival funds for sanitation chemicals (you may look that one up yourself unless the editor here goes all OCD on you).
Syria — with the help of Moscow and Tehran, Bashar al-Assad has succeeded in barrel bombing half of his state (or more) into deeply depopulated oblivion. While one may thank Mother Nature — oh, and ourselves — for the global warming damaging Syria’s agricultural economy, the necessity, eventual of mass migration may have been met with kindness and international cooperation.
BC guesses not.
Where else would you like to go in the still medieval worlds of “political absolutism”?
BC imagines power quite intoxicating if it can do to innocents what is depicted in the above video.
MOSCOW/LONDON (Reuters) – Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro has sought OPEC support against U.S. sanctions imposed on his country’s oil industry, citing their impact on oil prices and potential risks for other members of the producer group.
The Organisation for the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and top oil producer but non-member Russia will not create a formal combined body as originally planned, Reuters hasreported. In a draft document, the countries said they aim to set up an alliance rather than a formal organisation when they meet on April 17-18 in Vienna.
BC would add to the list of Moscow’s sphere-of-influence failures — well what is one to expect of criminal mercenaries and politicians!? — Crimea, Ukraine, which has been battle torn torn for five suffering years under Moscow’s false pretenses. From Michael MacKay via his Radio Lemberg:
Almost five years after the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine in Crimea, Putin’s army is still on the attack. The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are bombarding and assaulting Ukrainian defenders in Donbas, as they have been doing continuously since April 2014. Yesterday, February 10, was typical in that the Russians violated the Minsk Agreement ceasefire in every sector of the battlefront.
The “Grand Game” may be over, but the war between the Medieval of Mind and the Modern Possessed of Conscience and Empathy, the foundations of Democratic Humanism and the above-board distribution of power supporting the best reasoned rule-of-law has just begun.
Iran and other producers have opposed a tighter partnership, fearing it could be dominated by Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to officials in the cartel. Riyadh and Moscow are the world’s top two oil exporters. A Russian Energy Ministry spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment.
(The story, what with Bloomberg’s “Tic-Toc” and much else in the Mainstream Media fray, has been moving too fast for BackChannels normally placid quasi-academic treatment, bibliography and all. Inline reference and plain old bald URL’s suit in the making of points).
Just so you know, Putin’s recent purchase of a part of Venezuela’s oil resources is part of his (Moscow’s) 49 percent stake in CITGO.
And what does Putin really want: a world beset and bloodied by a revanche in feudal absolutism wandering around intoxicated by supporting and conflicting medieval worldviews.
Venezuela’s President on deck appears less proud about extensions of Yankee democratic good will while altogether more practical:
BackChannels will not beat the majors, but it may yet make some points. Herewith, three videos posted on YouTube within the last 24 hours –>
That last: political criminals!
For other glorious examples of Soviet Communist and post-Soviet socialist era success and the success of other feudal elites propped up by their mafia and military, BackChannels suggests spending time online involved with Syria — political disaster of the 21st Century! — and Zimbabwe (with Robert Mugabe gone, the state appears on the cusp of positive / responsible change).
BackChannels has heard Venezuela describe as ” a dictatorship of corrupt soldiers who traffic with oil, drugs and weapons. They have kidnapped the country. Maduro does not dare confront them and has been kidnapped in the government palace pretending to be president.”
Perhaps Venezuela’s now defecting soldiery will put a stop to her suffering at the hands of military and political criminals.
In the Party I was beginning to see many people of a different stripe. During the war period I saw how opportunism and selfishness engulfed many comrades. They wore expensive clothes, lived in fine apartments, took long vacations at places provided by men of wealth. There was, for one, William Wiener, former treasurer of the Party, manipulator for a score of business enterprises, who wore Brooks Brothers suits, smoked expensive cigars, and lunched only at the best places. There were the trade union Communists who rubbed elbows with underworld characters at communist-financed night clubs, and labor lawyers who were given patronage by the Party by assignment to communist-led trade unions and now were well established and comfortable.
Communist Party USA leader Bell Dodd’s 1954 remark as relayed by Wikipedia may have special resonance today in the socialist’s disaster continuing to unfold — or perhaps preparing to fold — in Venezuela.
While it had been one thing to share Venezuela’s good fortune and wealth with the public, perhaps especially with massive revenues pumped out of the ground, it has been another for the socialist government to suppress the private ownership of productive ideas and resources while utterly failing to diversify a national economy with the intent to forestall a one-market boom-or-bust (it busted) disaster.
For BackChannels, the cite-quote-cite-quote method has grown tiresome, so the reader may take this post as a reference page but with the suggestion that Maduro’s now patently criminal junta — access the OCCRP and InSight Crime reports cited in reference — may choose to loot and flee the country having proven themselves unable to judiciously and responsibly govern the same — or, in the manner demonstrated by Assad in Syria, they may enjoy being carved up by similarly predatory trade partners.
BackChannels’ humanism in relation to economic development would counsel the damping of dogma in the search for a good mix of private incentives for economic diversification x public policies and programs fit to constituent needs for “basics” plus psychological enthusiasm, fitness, and growth. From the same stance, the messianic self-aggrandizement associated with dictatorships would be viewed as damaging and limiting the greater public experience and potential for good things, starting with community-wide and personal security.
(For related exploration or some meditation on dictatorship, this blog offers portals for “Malignant Narcissism” and its own proposed concept, “Facsimile Bipolar Political Sociopathy“. Neither would differentiate between Far Left and Far Right authoritarianism or kleptocracy — and it would place both as more appropriate in the operating environments of the feudal world and fit to related medieval worldviews associated with “political absolutism” and sovereignty. Wherever placed x space x time, the absence of conscience looms large with dictatorships and the related criminality associated with power becomes glaring and, eventually, beyond bearing).
Bella Dodd, by the way, would renounce Communism toward the end of her journey and again embrace the Catholicism with which she had been born.
What is clear from our investigations is that the following institutions are staffed at the higher echelons by individuals we believe are, or have been, engaged in criminal activity: The Vice Presidency, the Ministries of Interior (Ministerio del Poder Popular del Despacho de la Presidencia y Seguimiento de la Gestión de Gobierno), Defense (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Defensa), Agriculture (Ministerio del Poder Popular de Agricultura Urbana), Education (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Educación), Prison Service (Ministerio del Poder Popular para el Servicio Penitenciario), Foreign Trade and Investment (Ministerio de Estado para el Comercio Exterior e Inversión Internacional), Electricity (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Energía Eléctrica), the National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivariana), the Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Bolivarianas), the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional – SEBIN) and PdVSA.
The penetration of so many key institutions, and the fact that they constitute the state’s main organs in the fight against organized crime, means that Venezuela cannot even contain organized crime, let alone effectively fight it. With so many state actors with interests in criminal activity, be it fuel smuggling, the black market sale of food and medicines or the trafficking of cocaine, this factor alone suggests that Venezuela qualifies as a mafia state.
Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has come under intense scrutiny for suspending his country’s Chief Justice just weeks before a general election, a move that critics have attacked as tyrannical and unconstitutional.
Buhari defended his decision on Twitter, saying corruption allegations against Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen — who has been accused of failing to disclose bank accounts in foreign currencies — are “grievous.” But the move was labelled a “coup against democracy” by the President of the Nigerian Senate, and prompted an outcry from the country’s major opposition party, which halted its presidential election campaign temporarily in protest.
In addition to the latest imbroglio involving Nigeria’s chief justice, a matter not overlooked by the U.S. State Department, Buhari has been accused of permitting Fulani gang raids against Christian farming villages (whose firearms have been confiscated in advance by the state — in Nigeria, urban thugs may own arms illegally — who’s to know? — while farmers are made to provide easy targets for burn-and-shoot raiders armed with AK-47s and gasoline) and of packing his highest-level security offices with Muslims, and so in essence channeling power and wealth to the Muslim community while slowly displacing Christian power.
BackChannels asked its Nigerian source for suggestion as to who would make a better — more balanced, higher integrity — politician, now or in the future, for Nigeria’s leadership. The names returned were Fela Durotoye, Jimi Agbaje, Kingsley Moghalu, and Oby Ezekwasili. The Nobel Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka was mentioned as well, but BackChannels suggested he may well remain Nigeria’s soul in letters and perhaps the natoin’s most influential intellectual. With context, here is what Soyinka had to say (in the Daily Nation) about this month’s Nigerian Presidential Elections (February 16):
Mr Buhari, 76, came to power in 2015 and is seeking a second term in the February 16 vote. His main challenger is 72-year-old Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me make my position quite clear because I don’t want any ambiguity; I, Wole Soyinka, will not be voting for either,” he was quoted in local media as saying on Thursday at a forum in Lagos.
Herewith some starting reference to good-for-Nigeria political personalities as mentioned by BackChannel’s source. The bolded names have been linked to their respective Wikipedia pages; tweets, news, and news headers remain recent; note: Oby Ezekwasili has dropped out of the Presidential race to help swing her fan base vote to a candidate better positioned, perhaps, to beat the incumbent President Buhari; Omoyele Sowore, not mentioned in casual conversation, has been added by BackChannels for showing up fast on this subject — Nigeria’s upcoming elections — on the web.
In a 2013 interview with The Punch Newspaper, Agbaje talked about how he began in politics: “It had to do with the Moshood Abiola/Bashir Tofa presidential election”, he said. “I saw the annulment as a personal insult and an assault on the Nigerian people. This led to my first entry into what I would call activism, working with other concerned professionals” such as Prof. Pat Utomi, Dr Ayo Ighodaro, Asue Ighodalo, Billy Lawson, Oby Ezekwesili, Tola Mobolurin and Hassan Odukale. Jimi was in one form of resistance group or the other which ultimately led him to join the socio-political organization, Afenifere where he served as national treasurer.
The campaign convoy was on its way out of the palace, when the hoodlums, numbering about 40, chased and threw stones at Agbaje’s vehicles.
There were minor injuries involving shattered vehicle window glass, and tear gas was used to disperse the mob according to the above piece published yesterday in Sahara Reporters. How the hoodlums were organized and by whom? That would be something to know and report. For the time being, the news tells of the tone of elections in a wealthy oil producing nation sadly rife with corruption.
BackChannels has referred here and there to corruption as the cancer of states. Where the Transnational Crime Organizations are strongest and bribes to the powerful would seem to be working, the money gets laundered and into the topside economy, which essentially may make the public unwittingly dependent on a growing criminal sector. Around the world, for better or worse because it’s just a fact of life at this point, public money that may be quietly, surreptitiously pried into private pockets would seem to be moved away from public community development and other services. The only way to get the brakes on nefarious processes — organized crime, embezzlement, and skimming — is to bring to power more modern politicians and their better associates in military and paramilitary services.
In one direction, the state sinks, and the end — or political hell — will look something like Venezuela at this hour, i.e., broken, starving, beneath common dignity and freedom; and in the better direction, the state grows a healthy economy, ordered and with funds available for all ordinary operations and the most helpful of public and social services. One may hope for Nigeria that the personalities who would be most ambitious and competent on the public’s behalf will rise to their occasions and prevail over the unerringly corrupt, nepotistic, and toadying of the breed.
BackChannels believes that at the end of WWII, Stalin acquired some part of the middle east that Hitler and the Ottoman Empire had lost. There must have been Nazi agents waiting for arrest or work or both. There had been certainly Arab families or powers who had been aligned with Hitler through Amin al-Husseini, and with the big war over and a two-state offer for the Palestinians and Israel on the table, the same were presented with a choice: peace (and responsible governance) or war focused on the destruction of Israel.
Whether the Soviet Union believed its own rants about the Jews or just wanted to sell and increase its influence through the promotion of anti-Semitic invective pleasing to some Arab ears, BackChannels doesn’t know.
What BackChannels does know is that Soviet arms and diplomacy helped maneuver the Arab states into a disastrous war, after which it had to keep its hooks in the region. Pan-Arab Nationalism got its strong bump up (1950s) , and the dictatorships served to block the spread of democratic western liberalism into the region (as much advanced by Israel’s establishment). The KGB’s grooming of Arafat, the establishing of the PLO, and Arafat’s rise from within would follow in the 1960s as would the wholesale development of “state-sponsored terrorism” through the Andropov years.
Fly over all that history, and we’re here today with the same “gift” from Russia, the Soviet Era and once Soviet-engineered “Middle East Conflict” that has for remnant the wreckage of old middle east dictatorships — Iraq and Libya at least — and the horror of what has been left — Syria in flames and ruins, ALL of it at the hands of its own leader; Iran environmentally damaged (it did that itself) and economically crippled by way of its own aggression and medieval barbarism.
So this morning started with a comment about moderate and peace-seeking Israelis and Palestinians approaching these issues but with the politically repressive elements born in the Soviet Era or conveyed by it through time armed, entrenched, and powerfully intimidating. The conversational partner noted that for the many participating in the talk, ” . . . place and time are all wrong . . . .”
The morning’s first response:
One may recognize “too soon” but those with casualties may be more sensitive to “too late”.
So, forward in this conversation.
Given the so many Jews involved in middle east peace activities, the onlooking Palestinian Diaspora of the west, the truth about the Moscow business plainly spreading across the web (the story of Russian Influence through Disinformation is just moving across the web these days), you would think someone would figure out that “the west” was not quite the enemy as promoted in the imagination).
Three things make us feel better — basic income; close family — and if not the one in which we’re born, then the friends we make; and general and personal security. Perhaps the Israelis and Palestinians who understand that have mutual regard and a few old problems in common.
On Medieval Divisions and Modern Multicultural Democracies
Next: a rhetoric assertion to the effect that multiculturalism has died (in South Africa) and with the implication that the medieval divisions having to do with race and religion — and by extension clans, tribes, and states — were resurgent and, by inference, all that the world has to look forward to is the greater chaos and misery of war already too well known.
The “Rainbow Dream” that Mandela had has NOT died in South Africa!
White South Africa left a legacy of now archaic land ownership arrangements, and some are upset about the state’s update or reforms to allow the state to implement policies beneficial to all South Africans.
The state’s related economics — there are too many poor! — and extended state security resources have produced conditions for brigandage — theft and murder — at least, and the aggrieved cast that in racial terms.
To better manage its issues, the people of South Africa recently ejected another corrupt communist aristocrat — the kind that take money from their people and immensely aggrandize themselves in the manners known to dictators.
From The Guardian, here’s a glimpse into how Jacob Zuma “managed” South Africa:
Cheer up: South Africa may avoid the Zimbabwean meltdown at the hands of a nominally communist narcissist (Robert Mugabe, who has been deposed in the past year or so by his own military) and continue its independent development as a modern multi-racial, multi-tribal democracy.
Humankind may never see an end to war, but it may see it diminished. The drawing down would be a real gift to Israelis and Palestinians alike.
This coming December 25 will mark the 26th year out from the dissolving of the Soviet Union (1991) toward a feudal and perhaps Orwellian politics (i.e., continuous war between three nuclear-armed giants and proxies within their spheres of influence all the way down — or, alternatively, the day may be closer to the end of the end of a long argument between the medieval world habituated to “absolute power” — power unquestionable with its brutality — especially toward the innocent — exercised with impunity — and the modern one in which democratic power is so for being checked, subject to criticism, distributed and balanced structurally (Administrations; Courts, Legislatures) and popularly (via free and fair elections).
According to civil rights groups, however, the Kremlin’s account of anti-Russian persecution is a dark fairytale – “entirely fictional”, as one put it. It is, they say, a made-up scenario scripted in Moscow for state TV, and now played out on the ground by pro-Russian activists and bussed-in professionals. Russian propaganda has been extremely effective, they add. Many trust Russian state TV rather than what they see on the streets, which are strikingly bereft of fascists.
“There’s no discrimination against Russian-speakers actually,” Yevgeny Zakharov, from Kharkiv’s human rights protection group, said earlier this week. Zakharov said support for the idea of Kharkiv following Crimea and joining Russia was low – 15% according to the latest survey. He believes last week’s bloody shoot-out was deliberately provoked. “This [Kremlin] campaign is being conducted very aggressively. The idea is to give the false impression that Russians are being humiliated and Kharkiv wants union with Russia,” he said.
Banks, as founder of Leave.EU, wanted Bannon’s data firm Cambridge Analytica to devise a plan in late 2015 for raising funds in the US that would support the unofficial Brexit campaign, according to the correspondence.
The emails are likely to be scrutinised in the US where Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has interviewed Bannon a number of times.
It would seem all paths back toward the renewal of feudal political absolutism in the authentically democratic free world lead back to Moscow (and now perhaps Beijing as well).
Without Putin’s permit, Assad’s Sadnaya Prison would not exist. The memory of that obscenity will burn in history long after the “eye doctor” has succeeded in more fully destroying his own estate.
The Interpol stories involving Russia and China: which despot would wish himself to be policed?
Which despotic elite should be entrusted with the coordination policy of the world’s basic global policing element?
And how well will the west stand when it has itself been riven by the renewal of feudal governance?
The EU may impose sanctions on Hungary for adopting laws against the development of civic society, that’s according to MP Volodymyr Ariev, who is also vice-president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, chairman of the PACE Committee on Culture, Education, Science and Media.”In Hungary there are very serious problems with the European Union, with Brussels. They stem from those very anti-democratic laws that were passed by the Hungarian authorities, in particular against civic society, against the Soros University, public organizations, and not only that. Now the EU is on the path toward imposing sanctions on Hungary,” Ariev told Pryamiy TV channel.
EU / NATO has effectively lost Turkey as a partner for democracy, and it has seen democracy seriously degraded in Hungary as well. While BackChannels has thought it politic to lay off the United States in similar regard, the “Fake News!” President has made that tack similarly difficult. He has degraded the media (for many, America’s “Fourth Estate”); taken a hard run at the Department of Justice (Comey firing; effort to degrade or derail the Mueller Investigation; the out-of-order appointment of Matthew Whittaker as Acting Attorney General); and packed the court with the appointment of an at best marginally acceptable (Senate confirmation vote: 50 to 48) “old boy” of a lawyer.
Politics Medieval v Politics Modern and Democratic?
The barbaric and feudal politics of the world’s civilizational past would seem to be getting its claws into the world’s future and dragging it backward.
Steve Bannon, former political strategist for Donald Trump, said he plans to work closely with the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban in the run-up to next year’s European Parliament elections. Mr Bannon revealed that he had visited Budapest to speak to the far-right leader and his aides in meetings not previously made public.
The political operative also suggested Hungary would make an ideal home for “The Movement” – his new campaign group aimed at electing right-wing nationalists in Europe.