The Rus warlords Oleg of Novgorod and Sviatoslav I of Kiev launched several wars against the Khazar khaganate, often with Byzantine connivance. The Schechter Letter relates the story of a campaign against Khazaria by HLGW (Oleg) around 941 (in which Oleg was defeated by the Khazar general Pesakh; this calls into question the timeline of the Primary Chronicle and other related works on the history of the Eastern Slavs.
Sviatoslav finally succeeded in destroying Khazar imperial power in the 960s. The Khazar fortresses of Sarkel and Tamatarkha fell to the Rus in 965, with the capital city of Atil following circa 967 or 969. A visitor to Atil wrote soon after the sacking of the city: “The Rus attacked, and no grape or raisin remained, not a leaf on a branch.”
Putin’s delusional accusations regarding Nazism in Ukraine better fit description as the “Paranoid Delusional Narcissistic Reflection of Motivation” than any dominant or significant political stance held in modern Ukraine, and the same may better inform Russians and the residents of EU/NATO of the character of his insanity than any truth about international affairs.
Cause: Aid and Compensation for the harms and indignities imposed on those trapped within the Soviet-controlled German Democratic Republic and subject to enslavement and punishment at the hands of the state’s secret police, the Stasi (Ministerium für Staatsicherheit).
We mere humans just don’t own time. For atheists, time is just a fact of life.
We do, again, and each as representative of Homo Sapiens sapiens, and for better or worse, own our memories.
It has been our species’ great misfortune to find always some portion of our numbers made to suffer at the hands of others.
Forget “God, Nature, and the Universe”. The earthquake, hurricane, tsunami, and volcano would seem possessed of physics and entirely dispossessed of conscience except that some of us believe that in the presence of one or the other, divine providence destroyed our lives or saved them.
Degradation, dehumanization, enslavement, subjugation, subjection, and other such evils–those are different, and in the history of our species, one sees the chains and whips changing hands by turns, and, sigh, we may feel ourselves lucky if wielding the whip . . . but then nothing lasts beyond bearing except a number of nefarious processes that we perhaps have not wrestled sufficiently into the past. So here we may acknowledge that we don’t get to erase our bad memories; we don’t get to retrieve the dead; we may or may not have some revenge on our tormentors–and if it was ourselves that held the keys and snapped the whips, our day–we know it secretly–has come–or will.
I believe it in the tendency of our species to develop awareness, compassion, conscience, consciousness, empathy, greater integrity and reason, and at the end of every dastardly era, great human sensibility and wisdom.
I was asked not long ago to help promote the cause of the internally displaced in place of the once Soviet-controlled and Communist German Democratic Republic.
Imagine, if you will, going to sleep in one dismal but predictable awful cultural, legal, political, and social circumstance and waking the next day without a country–and afterward a “democratic open society of the west” that prides itself on compassion but hasn’t much in place for you–and then years later when it does . . . you’re no more important in it than you were in the other place.
Perhaps one’s personal circumstance has become more bearable , the powers that be more polite, and amends for the insufferable past made with good will whether or not sufficient to quells bad memories and the residuals in nightmares.
I have found in overview–remember my analytical discipline: collect, select, and opine–that East Germany’s internal migrants, all of whom went to sleep in one place in time and woke up in another entirely–have not been overlooked but perhaps underserved in the regions of cultural and economic development. In the Soviet way, they had been locked down in time, suffocated, surveilled, deprived of normal human political and social processes, and subject to deliberate state-driven control, diminishment, and, ultimately, erasure.
How would even the most benevolent of modern societies “compensate” for that experience?
Well . . . there is today the business of living well enough to create and enjoy better memories in freedom and with at least a modicum of privacy (although the “modern” appear to have some new horrors on the horizon, e.g., massive intrusion via data sifting) as well as dignity and security.
Now and then, I haul out Qualities of Living (QOLs) a conceptual alternative to thinking about power as an expression of grandiose narcissistic ambition with accompanying control and influence ascribed to a potentate absolute or constitutional. What if power were more often the power to bring extraordinary improvement to geopolitical space in the many dimensions to be appreciated by the inhabitants of a given space?
After 1990 “the whole software of life changed” for east Germans, says Markus Kerber, a bigwig at the interior ministry. Short-term pain was inevitable. Average labour productivity in the east was 30% of that in the west. Kohl’s decision to exchange Ostmarks at a 1:1 rate for Deutschmarks made swathes of firms uncompetitive overnight. Those that survived struggled with the western rules they had to import wholesale. By one estimate, 80% of east Germans at some point found themselves out of work.
Perhaps the Treuhand could have proceeded more gently, some argue today.
Cultural and economic adjustment, development, inclusion with some foresight and vision may turn out the key that will finally fix the past in the past where it needs to be. In this day, however, quite a number of cultures, groups, and just plain people have taken up the causes of yesterday, exhumed and tallied abuses, ranted high and low for justice, but the best all may do is not relive what’s gone and take pains–whatever it was–not to see it happen again.
In the 1970s the MfS changed its secret police activities and began increasingly to use “softer” methods. The GDR leadership did not want to compromise its attempts to gain international recognition: persecution and repression were to be concealed. The MfS now focused more on preventive surveillance and so-called “psychic demolition”. It used manipulation and targeted rumours in its attempts to systematically intimidate individuals or groups, to ruin their reputations, isolate or criminalize them. Friendships were destroyed, and professional careers ruined without the victims even realizing why.
However, the change in methods did not lead to any let-up in the repressive pressure exerted by the MfS. And the aim also remained the same: to prevent the development of non-conformist or dissident ideas and behaviour.
The rest of the group agreed that the destruction of trust was one of the most painful legacies of their experiences in the GDR. The dense informer network meant that everyone spied on one another. Many did not find out who had informed on them until decades later, when they requested their Stasi file.
So in the 1970s, the masterminds at Stasi School — formally known as the College of Legal Studies — decided on a new, more subtle tactic of repression, a way of stamping out rebellion without the overt use of force.
Instead of pounding their suspects into submission, they would send them mad. And so began the policy of Zersetzung.
The word meant disintegration or corrosion or decomposition. Today we would call it ‘gaslighting’ — playing with someone’s mind and self-worth until any resistance crumbles and he or she becomes either compliant or apathetic.
Six phases of postwar immigration to Germany can be distinguished (see table 2; see also Martin 1991; Münz and Ulrich 1993; Rudolph 1994; Seifert 1995). The first phase was dominated by the immigration of Germans: expellees, citizens of the GDR, other ethnic Germans
Born into poverty in pre-World War I Berlin, Mr. Mielke joined the Communist youth movement at age 15, and his career epitomized the grimness of Communist rule in East Germany, where assassination, kidnapping, execution, denunciation and intimidation were used to achieve and maintain power under the long, menacing shadow of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Mielke and the ministry for state security kept the 16.5 million people of East Germany obedient to Communism and repressed dissent for more than 30 years. Not only did the ministry pursue an effective campaign against those it regarded as enemies of the state, but its army of 90,000 agents and 260,000 informers finally turned East Germany into a country that spied on itself.
I don’t know, but both alone and in community we most naturally make ourselves comfortable and secure if, when, and where we can. “Living well” with agency, autonomy, dignity, efficacy, freedom, inclusion beats all of the alternatives, and living well with some thoughtful planning for ourselves, our own, and others . . . I would call that repair and profound improvement.
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.
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.
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?