How much more should any authentically patriotic American need to here or see?
If America’s yawing Ship of State — still fresh on the Internet Ocean — needs a bit of swing away from the Far (White) Right, it may be getting it as so many Republicans consistently display themselves as bullying, disingenuous, and altogether untrustworthy talkers.
“She understood that corruption was the ‘Achilles heel,’ so to speak, of Ukraine,” a former State Department official who knows Yovanovitch told CNN Thursday prior to the release of the complaint. “And so Masha, by doubling down on corruption and making it kind of her leitmotif of her tenure as ambassador, was doing exactly what she should have been doing and what US policy has been in Ukraine for quite some time.”
Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch had been doing her job as prescribed by law, and yet President Trump chose to have her removed and out of his way.
Sworn in as ambassador to Kyiv in August 2016, Yovanovitch has been at the forefront of U.S. efforts to help stabilize Ukraine’s shaky economy and push reforms to root out endemic corruption.
She’s also been at the forefront of U.S. backing for Ukraine in its ongoing fight with Moscow over Russia-backed fighters battling Ukrainian government forces in eastern regions since 2014.
Yovanovitch drew attention in early March when, weeks before Ukraine’s March 31 presidential election, she called on Kyiv to fire the country’s special anti-corruption prosecutor. The speech was notable not only for its timing but also its bluntness.
Lutsenko alleged that she made a “do-not-prosecute” list and disseminated it in Ukraine, an accusation that she strenuously rejected and which Lutsenko himself retracted.
Lutsenko is himself deeply implicated in the Ukraine scandal and has been accused of colluding with Giuliani to launch investigations in Ukraine into Trump’s political enemies, specifically Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
The Washington Post has a December 2018 piece on those who have been fired or positioned to resign from their posts in relation to President Trump’s decision-making or handling. Causes cited range from attempts to damage the Mueller Investigation to dismissal for abuse of Department funds for personal security and travel. Be that as it may, disruptions involving America’s Justice and Security systems may be most disturbing, from the firing of James Comey at the FBI to the resignation of General Jim Mattis as Secretary of Defense.
Perhaps President Trump listens to his inner voices and no one else’s — and now he has few educated, experienced, and powerful others of the first rank to whom to listen.
Over time and with energies dispersed by curiosity and a great range of interests — the editor cannot “track” the whole world and every dimension of it 🙂 — BackChannels has kept folders for others now absent from the Trump Administration: John Bolton, Dan Coats, Nikki Haley, and Sue Gordon (“the highest-ranking career intelligence official in the country” according to CNN’s Samantha Vinograd in her analysis, “Sue Gordon’s departure is bad news for Trump and country” [CNN, August 12, 2019]). Conclusion: Trump has been either abandoned by or removed quite a few of America’s best and brightest in the assessment of threats domestic and foreign.
With the dismissal for Marie Yovanovitch, President Trump has notably removed a most dedicated, experienced, patriotic, and well prepared and talented diplomat of note and, above and beyond those attributes, one possessed of great integrity and spine.
Listen to the high notes: Arms Deals, Trade Deals, Expanding Markets.
Mentioned: Turkey’s participation in the building of the F-35 air frame. While that mention may score points with the less informed public, Turkey’s participation in NATO defense manufacturing in relation to the American fighter jet program has created heat and a now discomfiting defense relationship. The following description of the depth of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 Program tells why:
Eight Turkish companies make parts for the fuselage, landing gear and cockpit displays of the aircraft, according to Lockheed Martin. Some of them have been producing F-35 parts since 2004. For example, Fokker Elmo manufactures 40 percent of the F-35’s electrical wiring and interconnection system.
These companies are set to do $12 billion in work on the F-35 program over the life of the jet, according to USNI News.
The move — which in early 2020 would end contracts with major Turkish defense contractors such as Turkish Aerospace Industries, Roketsan and Tusas Engine Industries, among many others — is just one of many steps the U.S. Defense Department intends to take to strip Turkey from the F-35 program, according to a June 6 letter from acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
On the F-35 matter, the White House noted in July, ” Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible. The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”
Freedom House metrics involving civil liberties and political rights rates Erdogan’s Turkey as “Not Free”. On the matter of Freedom of Speech, a matter that President Trump has baldly attacked with the accusation “Fake News!” aimed at America’s responsible mainstream media, Erdogan’s state has made itself notorious for the inhibition and jailing of Turkey’s journalists. Wikipedia’s “Censorship in Turkey” tells that story.
Erdogan has a card to play against Europe, as he confirmed in a speech on October 10. That card is a refugee card, the threat of a flood. There are 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey. “Come to your senses,” he told the EU in that speech, given to his party in Ankara. “I will say this once again: If you try to label our current operation an occupation, our job becomes easier: We will open the gates and send the 3.6 million refugees to you.”
Despite this threat, several EU nations have responded to Operation Peace Spring, imposing arms embargoes on Turkey. These nations include Germany, France, Sweden, and Finland.
BackChannels has long maintained a quick reference list for copy-paste relay of Moscow’s post-Soviet play in the narrative around Islamic Terrorism. It begins with David Satter’s account of the “Moscow Apartment Bombings”, back-fills with Anna Politkovskaya’s observations on the Russian Army’s brutalizing of Chechen villages, moves through Ayman al-Zawahiri’s whistle-stop in Russia (published in Business Insider), and ends near the U.S. military observation of Russia’s supplying the Taliban (today) with arms and materiel. Here it is*:
Moscow’s persistent Orwellian (and paternally authoritarian) character may come through as it dawns on the reader that the state appears to manipulate its public with something like “KGB Theater” (again, read David Satter on the “Moscow Apartment Bombings”).
The production of “The Syrian Tragedy” well displays the form as Bashar “The Butcher” Assad chose to barrel bomb Syrian noncombatants while al-Qaeda types gathered in his space and eventually distilled into “ISIL” or, today “Islamic State” — see https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/12/09/syria-assad-isil-background/ for related argument and the basis for it in references.
Basically, BackChannels believes Assad — as flanked by Putin and Khamanei — chose his enemy, i.e., an “enemy preferred” or a dumb foil he knew he would beat (with Russian assistance), and which victory would redound to his glorious (malign and narcissistic) appearance.
By choosing amity with President Erdogan, President Trump has stepped into the Great Neo-KGB Theater of History, but with one immense issue: a spirited American public and system in part armored against the dawning of totalitarian control and related debasements and indignities. In lieu of the Soviet Communist project that gave up the ghost on December 25, 1991, the (E)State Capitalism — the making and hoarding of money by any means no matter what the costs to humanity — associated with Vladimir Putin appears to be working — and Americans (and the North American and European presses) seem slow to catch on.
*Mixed formatting has to do with the editor’s interest, purpose, and time–for the blog: okey dokey; for a monograph some time in the future, Chicago rules.
My general impression has been yours, i.e., PKK fighters accepted some “rebranding” to make their image palatable to the west in their fight for survival against Islamic State. However, here is what the web turned up in related (swift) research:
The PKK launched with Soviet guidance and support in the late 1970s. Wikipedia nailed it in these two sentences: “The PKK was founded in 1978 in the village of Fis (near Lice) by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan and in 1979 it made its existence known to the public.The PKK’s ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent Communist state in the region, which was to be known as Kurdistan.”
The political tone of the community has been in the direction of “democratic confederalism” — inclusion and input have been part of what nascent “Kurdistan” promoted when it played up the Rojava Experiment.
From the New Internationalist —
“There is no doubt that theirs is a shared ideology, one that has been formulated by their joint leader, Abdullah Öcalan, now in his 21st year of incarceration in a Turkish prison. But the PYD’s organizing principle is democratic confederalism: a system of direct democracy, ecological sustainability and ethnic inclusivity, where women have veto powers on new legislation and share all institutional positions with men.”
Within the short time since forming Rojava’s democratic experiment, child marriage, forced marriage, dowry and polygamy were banned; honour killings, violence and discrimination against women were criminalized. It is the only part of Syria where sharia councils have been abolished and religion has been consigned to the private sphere.”
American moderates and progressives would recognize the development of a social democracy — not unlike what we in fact of evolved into, i.e., a modern place with modern laws and cares. That would seem what the Trump Administration has chosen to abandon with a few teary-eyed remarks about America’s soldiery and his (narcissistic paranoid) bent toward American isolationism (after the United States leading the development and defense of democracy in the world since the end of WWII).
Opposed by the PKK and part of the character of Kurdish political incoherence: the Kurdish Democratic Party —
“The KDP has been described as a tribal, feudalistic, and aristocratic party which is controlled by the Barzani tribe.”
Method #1: detect and amplify any present national, racial, or religious suspicion into self-righteous anger and resentment — and crank it up;
Method #2: develop and deploy appropriate agitprop and agent provocateur — and for the Devil’s sake, don’t worry about anything having to do with ethics, ideals, principles, or values: in fact, dispense with the possession of conscience altogether and reduce all complexities — also, all cultural richness and intercultural relations to two essential dimensions: will and survival.
Method #3: Prepare the violence to come: arm convinced militia and move the same toward perceiving slights or promoting provocations, for either will serve the dual purposes necessary for the inhabiting of a renewed medieval world governed by feudal arrangements in support of “absolute power” (to be shared between political criminals and similar life forms).
Method #4: In hybrid, highbrow, and lowest manner, infiltrate target organizations and states for purpose of abetting their destabilization, perpetuating disinformation, and for ultimately exploiting legitimate business and labor for gain leveraged by bribery or extortion / reward for cooperation and threat for independence in either thought or action.
Centrist leaders across Europe hope the fallout from the “Ibiza scandal” will be felt beyond Austria in the European parliament elections this week, in which populist, nationalist and far-right parties have been forecast to make gains.
Strache’s apparent eagerness to embrace corruption is in stark contrast to the “drain the swamp” rhetoric populists routinely deploy in their attempts to portray politics as a battle by decent ordinary people against a venal elite. The FPÖ is a key member of an alliance of European nationalist parties led by Matteo Salvini of Italy’s League.
BackChannels has embedded with many posts the key word or phrase, “medieval v modern”, and that has worked for the editor, but what has emerged in Russia, Turkey, Hungary, and elsewhere also could be called a “Reactionary Conservatism” that fits with the anti-democratic and piratical renewal of feudal absolute power. Where such has succeeded, so far, the same has devolved into patently criminal cronyism.
NATO stepped up its game in Russia’s “Near Abroad” in response to the post-Soviet (and cynical) near destruction and depopulating of Syria; Russia’s invasion and annexation of the Crimea (and installation of another Moscow-sustained “Frozen Conflict”), and the dictatorship’s continued support for terrorism (for Afghanistan’s Taliban challengers to state authority; for Hezbollah, the global transnational crime operation); and for its “Active Measures” meddling in EU/NATO territory.
Generally speaking, The Bear has been a bullying, cowardly, and disingenuous force on the world’s stage, persistently authoritarian, underhanded, and totalitarian, and NATO has made itself popular to states wishing to be not so broadly . . . played.
Welcome to Cyprus
Fifteen years ago, NATO welcomed seven new members into the Alliance, expanding its borders eastward from the Baltic to Black Seas. As NATO reaches its seventieth birthday, it could now be time to look toward adding a new member: this time in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The end of the Cold War (Dec. 25, 1991) failed to sustain western-leaning government in Moscow. Yes, the Cold War was over; the habits of Russian paternal authoritarianism were not. With the ascent of Vladimir Putin to power, Moscow continued to act as a beacon of hope to dictatorships intent on remaining unfettered in their brutality, corruption, and criminality in relation to the ginning of their wealth.
NATO has stood fast against Putin’s rush to sink the world in a renewed feudal morass informed by vanity and absent of conscience, such being the nature of his own malignant narcissism.
Cyprus, of course, lists among the world’s frozen conflicts.
In Damon Wilson’s analysis for the Atlantic Council, the time seems ripe for unification: “Cyprus remains the only European Union member who is not even a member of the Alliance’s Partnership for Peace program, due entirely to the outstanding reunification problem. Immediate NATO membership for a reunified island, however, would automatically embed, and therefore replace, a joint Greek-Turkish-British security guarantee within an Alliance commitment to the entire island without any need for alternative mechanisms.”
Yes, but . . . .
Feudal Absolutism v Modern Democracy: Turkey’s Islamist Leader
Our minarets are our bayonets
Our domes are our helmets
Our mosques are our barracks
We will put a final end to ethnic segregation. No one can ever intimidate us.
If the skies and the ground were to open against us
If floods and volcanoes were to burst
We will not turn from our mission.
My reference is Islam.
If I am not able to speak of this
What is the use of living?
Cyprus would be more easily unified if the Turkish President were an authentic NATO leader. However, in BackChannel’s humble opinion, by apologizing for the downing of two Russian jets overflying Turkish airspace, Erdogan made himself part of Putin’s new feudal estate — the estate of post-Soviet dictatorships responding to Moscow.
Not so noble that New Nobility.
While pressure has been applied — okay, infant terrible, Russian S-400 Surface-to-Air missile defense or American F-35s — from whose jets do you intend defense of, say, your Islamic principles. . . or of Turkish Stream? — results, so far, appear indefinite.
Ah well, every family has a conflicted, selfish, and troubled member.
Perhaps the baggage is only getting in the way of the journey, for the Turkish government speaks in glowing terms of the state’s relationship with NATO: “Ever since our NATO membership in 1952, the North Atlantic Alliance has played a central role in Turkey’s security and contributed to its integration with the Euro-Atlantic community. Turkey, in return, has successfully assumed its responsibilities in defending the common values of the Alliance.”
There would seem to be some discrepancy between Turkish idealpolitik and its president’s realpolitik.
Another Neo-NATO President: Hungary’s Viktor Orban
Written into existence by James Kirchik:
Most of the international criticism directed at Hungary over the past nine years has focused on domestic indicators such as the rule of law, separation of powers and press freedom. Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been remarkably blunt about his designs for Hungary, citing China, Russia and Turkey as models. After an election in April widely deemed free but not fair, he sounded a triumphal note, declaring that “the era of liberal democracy is over.”
The indicators of reversion to the feudal mode and its medieval blood-and-soil worldviews, including the idolatry associated with the “Great Leader” may be the same across afflicted states: the boast of a gloriously romantic history; contempt for and manipulation of the press, previously free and independent; renewal of anti-Semitic tropes accompanied by tolerance for Far White Right extremism (in Hungary, that would be Jobbik); transfer of powers to family and with it the growth of associated business alliances (open nepotism and cronyism); xenophobia; fear of George Soros 🙂 : the democratic state succumbs to the will of the President (for Life!) who then treats the assets of the same as if they were of his very own feudal estate — and so they become exactly that.
In every way, Orban’s illiberal Hungary — or the illiberal Orban’s captive state — fits with the renewal of — or renewed drowning in — feudalism in more than one or two NATO states..
Russia may not have need for plowing tanks into EU/NATO targets where “Active Measures” and the leveraging and seduction of deeply narcissistic state leaders may suffice for the perversion of NATO values — those supporting the democratic and liberal humanism that have been the hard fought and won treasures of western civilization — in targeted space. No sane child of the post-WWII west would think continuous conflict, political absolutism, and the wars of all against all the natural fate of western states, but that’s what has drawn near.
While NATO may be militarily on its game and strong, the system has shown its weakness in the egotism — the malignant narcissism — of several of its leaders (add another but lesser figure in Jeremy Corbyn, a perhaps unwitting son of Soviet Era cant and today’s piper of Far Out Left — and anti-Semitic — attitudes and beliefs — and then note his xenophobic complements occupying the British Far White Right).
May God smile on them all 😉 — but it is NATO that defends them, and if the same or similar come into power, then what would it be that NATO found itself actually defending?
From the deposing of old generals to the defeat of a pro-democracy coup, Erdogan’s story has unfolded and been met by the west even more slowly — but at least, finally, met.
What of others?
Nonetheless: Happy Birthday, NATO. May you and the full suite of pro-democracy institutions and moral entrepreneurs worldwide advocate for and defend authentic democracies, related responsive and responsible governance, and forever human dignity and freedom and the many good dream and rights given to mankind.
This ugly truth about us explains what has happened to Brett Kavanaugh. Initially he was hated for being a Republican nominee for the Supreme Court, but it is still not universally acceptable to abominate someone only for being an originalist judge.
“Originalist judge” may not well explain what the nation saw transpire last week.
Here is this blog’s editor’s take on that.
BackChannels believed Ford, and that he (Kavanaugh) lied because he had the power to deny everything negative about himself. As much may be part of an “ambitious” or malign narcissism, and as much fits with the personality and associates of the man who nominated him.
With Red or Blue Right / Left Flag navigation, political identity may force arguments rather than reason, and that emotion drives the demonizing of the other camp as well as the concept familiar to conflicts worldwide: “accusation in a mirror”. “Witch hunt!
The Left has no need to apologize for defending Blase Ford.
The Right has no need to wonder why professional advisement — all those lawyers! — against the confirmation were ignored and the process will be remembers as forced by the Republicans or blocked by the Democrats: for an answer, the power of identity and loyalty will do.
Different talks — same walk! When it comes to dictators, all are malignant narcissists.
Many want to keep repeating old arguments, especially, yawn, “communism v capitalism” but the truth is more like “sweet words — foul deeds”.
Add incitement, the role played by anti-Semitic cant and libel by despots through the ages.
In the eastern tradition too — I have in mind the Golden Horde — there appears to have been no difference in treatment between persons and property, and, in fact, for some (reference Richard Pipes books on Russian history) proof of sovereignty might be made to lie in the senseless destruction of either with impunity. And I would cite as another characteristic of the “authoritarian” breed the ability to visit suffering on others at will and with impunity.
On the street, they’re bullies; in office, presidents for life.