This story posted today on YouTube turns out as much about OSINT detective work from within Russia as about the internal brutality of the politically criminal and thoroughly kleptocratic regime of Tsar Vladimir the Small.
Tweeted earlier this morning —
While the United States has its own Russian infection with Trump’s own anti-democratic and demagogic and delusional fascist nationalist base, he has yet to turn American national and state military defense and police security services into his own personal goons, Americans on the way to mid-term elections are not waiting for him or his cult to amass that kind of power. Trump represents a diminishing base of corrupt or diminished or greedy Americans who crave his “power” — his appearance of it, in any case — in relation to their own damaged psyches and penchants for absolute and sadistic personal and political control — under cover of Christian zealotry, no less — of all that surrounds themselves.
On January 24, 2020, the Foreign Agents Registration Act unit of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice received from Christopher M. Kise, now the lawyer representing Donald John Trump in his defense in relation to the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s holding documents stamped as Top Secret/Secure Compartmented Information (TS/SCI), FARA registration #6787. In the form, Kise had listed as his principle Reinaldo Munoz Pedroza, the Attorney General of Venezuela appointed by the dictator Nicolas Maduro. At that time, Pedrozo had been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for undermining democracy in Venezuela and related election interference.
News of Kise’s registration as a foreign agent broke two days ago, and as interesting as that may be, the development of public and official interest in both the Conflict of Interest implied and the breathtaking scope of potential national security compromises–all those boxes of TS/SCI data!–appears slow. However, this by Ben Meiselas showed up on YouTube this morning:
For Trump’s base, the idea of achieving patriotic honor in association with his support appears belied and eroded by not only the former president’s authoritarian, belligerent, and obstreperous character but his connections–and one step removed is not far enough–to the tools, literally, so it would seem in the case of Mr. Kise, of at least one dictatorship. While it would seem fair for President (for Life) Maduro to have representation in the United States, the same would seem more than heinous for Trump to share with him the same lawyer.
Should the Kise-Trump story take down almost-candidate-(again) Trump, it would make a nice bookend for Trump’s first big yellow caution flag: Paul Manafort.
To make sense of the president’s pardon of Paul Manafort, it helps to understand the man Trump selected to run his 2016 campaign. On one hand, it seems inconceivable that an American presidential candidate would choose as his campaign manager someone whose last job was political strategist to a dictator in Ukraine who had recently been overthrown in a popular revolution. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. Paul Manafort made a fortune helping tyrants and would-be tyrants appear legitimate. He was the ultimate symbol of the corruption of democratic political systems. His evolution from establishment wonderkid to handmaiden to dictators is a story of how corruption perverts democracies.
With his latest hire in lawyers, Trump has only confirmed what all Americans, much including his base, must now see, i.e., the darkest of fallen real princes by contemporary business and class standards, a man who cannot keep himself separate from America’s enemies, Russian criminals, and assorted (other) dictators.
What American and the world witnessed 21 years ago was an Islamic terrorist attack on two breathtaking office buildings symbolic of western business and political order. At the time, as one country-western singer-songwriter noted–Alan Jackson – “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”–an ordinary American couldn’t tell the difference between Iraq and Iran.
Perhaps that absence of American and more generalized global political sophistication has changed.
As flesh swells where stung, BackChannels views the September 11 attack on America’s homeland as the installation of the “New Nationalism” to come to the United States and infect several other EU/NATO states–Hungary, Italy, Poland, Turkey–with reversions to dalliance and inroads by authoritarian power.
In addition, I have come to view “9/11” as a primarily KGB-guided Reflexive Control Operation designed to goose patriotism in the west by sparking a war with Radical Islam (mission accomplished!) while inducing the “New Nationalism” in EU/NATO as well as drift and permit for Ultra Nationalist efforts in the same that were to form up and return modern states to deeply conflicted feudal-medieval polities (the democracies most degraded thereby: Hungary, Italy, Poland Turkey, and the United States).
Given Vladimir Putin’s malignant narcissism and Russia’s related self-absorbed messianic (“special truth”) civilizational narcissism, the Russian state may and must be treated as an irrational medieval polity obsessed with its own paranoid want of control and power that has spread corruption and disinformation throughout EU/NATO and the world, frankly, and that has sought also to monopolize basic resources, energy and food foremost, and occupy strategic military regions (like the Black Sea and the North Pole) with and from which it may blackmail and intimidate the world.
Of course, that’s the way the world works, isn’t it?
Or is it not?
Whether it is or not, it is today the west that has the freedom and humanism as well as the obligation, and responsibility to defend Earth herself–and humanity itself and its evolution, no less–and do so by bringing Russia’s barbaric feudal-medieval totalitarianism–sustained by a criminal and most rapacious and self-indulgent KGB/FSB and its leader–to its natural close.
If the west refuses the work, then we may expect to see Russia expand its chaos-and-control program and its related sphere of human disposal, enslavement, rubble, and suffocation without limit.
In the United States, it would seem the Federal state has some retrograde constituencies, politicians, and now Supreme Court judges who would rather not have a credible and mighty democratic republic but rather a collection of backward and parochial cesspools operating along callous and ignorant–or ignorant and sadistic–lines of power, and at that the kind of power accustomed to imposing suffering on others in the name of religious righteousness and related malign and narcissistic will, for religion serves often as a cover for hypocrites, their abuses, and the crimes.
In Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, there was no real reason–forget the hair-splitting with the Constitution: the earlier Roe v Wade had been affirmed and reaffirmed across more than 50 years of equally contentious debate–but that involving the political lust for power and magically-thinking Christian zealotry. What I refer to in general as the “American Medieval Christian Front”–there are a lot of organizations that may be included in the nation’s “Far White Right” and “Christian Nationalist Movements”–has proven that America’s extraordinary secular-humanist democracy (start with Thomas Paine‘s writing) may be degraded and perverted in purpose by a medieval mob fully willing to impose its will on less passionate others, i.e., ordinary Americans of many faiths, quite absent of any consistency in reason.
Putin’s Trump naturally played the medieval card and in packing the Supreme Court left an odious present that fairly gutted common faith in the protections of the Constitution. In effect, the former president returned power to the kind of people–and the kind of scoundrels–who didn’t really like it in the first place.
Soviet/Post-Soviet Russia and Attempted “Positive Channeling”
The Cold War Is Over
The cold war of poisonous Soviet-American feelings, of domestic political-hysteria, of events enlarged and distorted by East-West confrontation, of almost perpetual diplomatic deadlock is over.
The we-they world that emerged after 1945 is giving way to the more traditional struggles of great powers. That contest is more manageable. It permits serious negotiations. It creates new possibilities–for cooperation in combating terrorism, the spread of chemical weapons and common threats to the environment, and for shaping a less violent world.
The Cold War may not have ended quite as well as the hope and optimism displayed and promoted in the west had promised and, to a large extent, operationalized. In fact, Western-launched investment and cooperation were set in place with earnest good feeling all the way to the ferocious eruption of civil war in Syria in 2011, after which it appears detente served to defend western stability. Ten years later — and do note the significant years 1991, 2001, 2011, 2021/2 — the invasion of Ukraine transformed any sense of enforced balanced in power that the west had believed in into plain containment and push-back through a western-leaning alley.
Within the Soviet/Post-Soviet sphere, I have used the following references to suggest the Big Picture “narrative arch of history”–i.e., the 30 years of taking revenge for the Soviet Army’s retreat from Afghanistan and the dissolving of the Soviet Union that followed three years later:
No intellectual somersault should be needed to connect 9/11 with the heightening of awareness and focus on Islamic Terrorism worldwide as well as with the concurrent development of western patriotism, nationalism, and xenophobia that would in turn become the “New Nationalism” in EU/NATO, the foundation for the strengthening of politicians on the Right and movements further to the Right in support of authoritarianism, isolationism, cultural chauvanism, racism, revolution, and terrorism.
On Facebook and Twitter, I have now and then posed the rhetorical question, “In which world do you wish to live: Medieval or Modern?
The feudal-medieval realm of absolute and exclusive power often commanded by brutality on one hand and excessive unaccountable reward (but without power) on the other?
Or democracy or constitutional monarchy in which power has been attenuated by balancing the interests of the powerful and wealthy of the state with the views and powers of elected legislatures and courts, including high courts, nominated and confirmed through elected representatives?
If you’re of the 21st Century and cognizant in relation to its other issues, the most clear, reasoned, and responsible answer to “medieval or modern?” would seem that of rejecting the “charms” of the medieval mode.
For the most part, our species leans — and needs must lean — forward into the future.
Alas, some portion develops elaborate fantasies about a yesteryear in which their ancestors were great in battle and at leisure in wealth, perfectly comfortable with the degradation and enslavement of others to keep themselves as if gods deeply admired and always obeyed. These days, those who try to impose that archaic, delusional, and ugly-for-others reality on the space around themselves encounter in the west resistance loaded with derision. Those who may accept it where they have been made to feel they must have only to feel their own souls diminished, enslaved, and rendered meaningless.
In the family . . . it might work, but most people may remove themselves from an oppressive family and have the protections of the state to forestall recapture.
Within and surrounding an entire state: disaster!
Cited Above (Inconsistently) or Also Related Online
“First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” Putin said. “As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.
“The epidemic of collapse has spilled over to Russia itself,” he said, referring to separatist movements such as those in Chechnya.
As a blogger drifting along the contours of institutions and media concerned with defense and national security, I’ve encountered two primary challenges: how to condense, distill, and package strong material for public overview and impact; and, sigh, how to give the “pebble” sufficient weight to get a firm small wave bouncing back and force across the Internet pond.
You haven’t been on my specific poli-sci/poli-psy/poli-spy tour, but the clues in events and personalities don’t reside only my mind: they are all here on the web. My guess: the knowledgeable, say at GCHQ or NSA, have already put them together (well, those cats have got to have better resources and more interesting conversations), but the ordinary public appears to me to be struggling with what has happened–and with what may be happening if it doesn’t come to grips with a strong true representation of cultural and political reality.
Premise-Thirty Years Revenge for ’89 and ’91
I believe Bolshevik criminal elements within the Soviet KGB wasted little time prying their way back into power and prestige sufficient to bend the Russian Federation’s democracy and justice to their own will and for their own ends (ref.: Nekrasov documentary on Litvinenko, Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case AKA Poisoned by Polonium: The Litvinenko File).
In addition to focusing on self-enrichment and power, the cohort appears to have been bent on vengeance for the Soviet Army’s defeat in Afghanistan in 1989 and the dissolving of the Soviet Union itself at noon on December 25, 1991, an implication drawn by the manner of Vladimir Putin’s ascent to Russia’s presidency, his legendary affection for Felix Dzerzhinsky, Joseph Stalin, and Soviet Era Russia, and the inadequacy expressed through his “malignant narcissism” (see “Liar, Thief, and Tyrant”, February 20, 2022, on this blog) and related devotion to supporting his own Russian messianic heroic image through artifice (because that’s all he really has). The emperor may have no clothes but neither Russians nor the west are dwelling on that as he has Russia focused on his greatness (or else!) and everyone else his destructive threat.
Moscow’s Development of the East-West Rivalry Narrative
I believe conventional western financial and political leadership took the familiar tack of wanting to help the defeated get back on its feet through the extension of capital, the hand of cooperation, and patient tolerance or understanding for the Russian travail that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Only at the turning point of the Syrian Civil War (2011) did western detente return to play–and then containment. Today, for having accepted the position of responding to Russia’s initiatives and rollout of its own and quite evil narrative arc, EU/NATO have found themselves in various ways somewhat compromised; a little incoherent about corruption, legacy, power, and realpolitik in each state’s own way (for related review, have a look at authoritarianism or nationalism in Hungary, Italy, Poland, Turkey, and the United States) ; and finally brought to face once again a most dangerous confrontation with Moscow and its criminal Soviet-post-Soviet character now on full display in the ethnic cleansing and “rubbling” of Ukraine.
Russia and Russia’s leadership may have a “special” narcissism and enormous compensating vanity, but I am certain that among nations and their full collection of political experiments that it has no “special truth”, for at every opportunity, Moscow has supported criminals, dictators, fanatics, and terrorists–and it has through its Active Measures and destabilization operations put to work similar elements in its targets.
The poster displayed in this tweet appears to have been a gesture of support from within Russia following Trump’s 2016 election win. One may take it as a comment on the medieval mentality and related methods popular with both leaders and their respective followers.
Donald John Trump as Malignant Narcissist
The steps and terms-of-art I’ve picked up in relation to “Malignant Narcissism” have been these, and while practically self-explanatory, academics and analysts have spent serious verbiage on each. I’ll step in most informally to convey the gist.
Narcissistic Mortification: experiences of humiliation or shame to the extent that the identity and self feel damaged, impotent, and small. The discomfort–for what it is to do to the person–may be considered remarkable.
Covering/Splitting: “Covering” refers to the hiding of the damaged self and the packing away of an awful experience; “splitting” refers to the creation of an heroic undamaged self to be both asserted and defended at all costs. With “MaligNarcs”–expressed through authoritarian, dictating, and sociopathic manipulation–the appreciation or recognition and respect for normal boundaries and limits fade before the objectives of the self in hiding damage and asserting extraordinary power.
Control of the Experiences and Perceptions of Others: most well known: “gaslighting”. However, add deceptions and lies without ends or limits. Whatever works . . . works.
Messianic Delusions of Grandeur: Although the MaligNarc creates the chaos–no different from the fireman who sets the fire, so he may show up and put it out as a hero–the vision is to stand astride the same heroically saving his class, creed, gender, race, and religion from all who would diminish any part.
Unlimited Narcissistic Supply: adoration and love unlimited.
According to psychologist John Gartner, Trump clearly exhibits four key symptoms of malignant narcissism — the “most destructive” personality type — including paranoia, narcissism, antisocial personality disorder and sadism. “
This type of leader pops up all throughout history, and they’re always extraordinarily disruptive,” Gartner told AFP, noting that the same label has been applied to Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini.
“What is so strange is that we’re not used to seeing this type of leader in America.”
Medieval leaders love mobs, also secret gangs, behind-the-curtain deals with other “nobility”, dumb but loyal armies, and the idea above all of being as if gods, blessed by religious power, and free to define the law of the lawless land–and in Russia’s absolute “patrimonial authoritarianism”, apparently free to treat persons and property as alike and to destroy either at will and with impunity.
Modern leaders do all they can to minimize and eliminate that mentality from their districts, regions, and states, for the modern world in every facet relies on complex cooperation and the integration of large systems. It may help if they’re devoted to the health and well being of their respective constituencies and not solely the representatives of one patrician class or another.
Thematic on this blog has been “Medieval v Modern”, and, of course, it or I, or the same 🙂 , has posed the question, “In which world do you wish to live? Medieval? Or Modern?”
As the European Union and NATO see more clearly what Moscow has “accomplished” with its barbarous medieval ambitions (or delusions) over the past 30 years of support for the post-Soviet but still Soviet spheres of control and influence–and, finally, in the so-far “ethnic cleansing” of Ukraine–both will have to determine to take apart the Putin’s Olde Regime and nurture in its place a modern Russia that Russians too (as it dawns on them what has been and is being done to them and their children) might appreciate and embrace. In this passage where every day is agony for Ukrainians and an eternity for diplomats and politicians, that day’s on a seemingly far horizon, but it’s there and will become more visible with time. So-called “leaders” like Putin and Trump have made themselves impossibly archaic and in cultural, ethical, and moral terms, if not financial (yet), bankrupt.
Truth be known: neither Putin nor Trump has anything–apart from a little money or laundering service–to offer anyone.
Criminally insane, mad, off the rails, and in the manner of the Malignant Narcissist and Thug in Charge, Russia has lost all sense of boundaries and limits. Putin’s Russian Circle of Thieves has taken from the Russian People their dignity, economy, freedom, and security; it has marched into battle enslaved conscripts and either criminal or leveraged (both) officers.
I’ve made the case on this blog that the “end of the Cold War” became in its underlying reality a struggle for revenge on the west for the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan (shorthand: “’89”) and the dissolving of the Soviet Union in bankruptcy (“’91”). We are now about 30 years out (1992-2022) from Vladimir Putin’s most traumatic political memory (the fall of the SU) and very near direct war against what has become a politically absolute, criminal, and rogue state held in the grip of real mafia and political thugs.
How Close the Prospect of War with Russia?
How Free are the Russian People Under Putin?
Might There Be Some Practical Motivation for Russia’s Conquest by the Destruction of Ukraine?
Excluding Russia’s gas reserves in Asia, Ukraine today holds the second biggest known gas reserves in Europe. As of late 2019, known Ukrainian reserves amounted to 1.09 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, second only to Norway’s known resources of 1.53 trillion cubic meters. Yet, these enormous reserves of energy remain largely untapped. Today, Ukraine has a low annual reserve usage rate of about 2 percent. Moreover, more active exploration may yield previously undiscovered gas fields, which would further increase the overall volume of Ukraine’s deposits.
A Note on the End of the Cold War and Russia’s Persistent Imperial Vanity
I’ve no idea what CIA, GHCQ, NSA, et al. have been doing, but I’ve cause to believe I’ve both found and uncovered The Dots, fuzzy and large though they may be. Here they are:
Motivating Zawahiri to team up with Osama Bin Laden to work on fireworks for 9/11?
Addressing Islamic Extremism (and Osama Bin Laden) may have been something Moscow and Washington thought they might work on together.
Wishing not to repeat myself nor dull the reading with definitions (“Active Measures”, “Destabilization Operations”, “Hybrid Warfare”, etc.), it may do to stop here but with the observation that Russia’s barbaric behavior in Syria starting in 2011 may have also set the stage not only for the invasion of Ukraine but added emphasis to its various nuclear-related civilizational, existential, and political threats: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has no conscience.
Regarding the term “Mafia State” as applied to Russia
These newly established enforcers formed the seedy underbelly of Russian society that expanded upon the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the move towards free-market practices. Since his rise, Vladimir Putin has incentivized gangsters to do his bidding in a new way. Rather than overt collusion, the Russian government, as ABC puts it, “make[s] its views known” and allows gangs to operate within the guidelines set forward by Putin.
As the European Council on Foreign Relations notes, more and more crime networks tangentially linked to Russian actors have appeared all over Europe. Multiple politically convenient assassinations or assassination attempts have been made on anti-Russia figures by gang members who have been accused of being Russian assets. The Russian government, via the Russian mafia, has dabbled in ventures ranging from hacking to money laundering.
The west handled the “end of the Cold War” as if the key elements in “east-west rivalry” had been resolved and returns to the previous state of affairs could be dulled through cooperation, peace, and prosperity.
As much has proven over time an horrendous goof however noble the intents.
Putin & Co.’s Russia presents as nothing less than a most barbaric, criminal, and self-centered enterprise bent, enthralled, and maddened by its own destructive capability, narcissistic paranoia (see “Paranoid Delusional Narcissistic Reflection of Motivation”) and grandiose messianic delusions.
This with Russia’s criminal political enterprise persistent through Putin more from the Bolshevik camp than the Romanov will end in Russia internally–or from without but with consideration for The Russians en masse and for the world’s Modern International Standards in cultural comportment, development, integration, law, technology, and trade, all of which Putin & Co. have chosen to degrade and destroy without putting up anything at all that could be called Good.