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.
I don’t know how far back in modern history the penchant for exploiting or killing journalists go, but as much has been a part of the peril for the intrepid since I signed on here in 2006/7. The evildoers haven’t the innocence required to boast their programs with authentic faith; instead, they manipulate their programs — the Communism, the Islamism, possibly the Capitalism as well, and all other such — to assault their enemies while corralling their believers. Power has become a deeply cynical game beloved of dictators. They will say anything to direct, focus, and incite their mobs. It’s into that environment that it seems modern “war reporters” now walk. They are no longer “telling the other side of the story” — they’re either helping the other side produce their “optics” — or they’re getting whacked.
What the west may do in conflict is adhere convincingly through doctrine to their own arguably superior ethical and moral codes.
Would only that there were that “Hail Dorothy” moment when the Wicked Witch has melted and the army subjected to the poor bitch is found to have no complaints.
American holidays and strong community interaction with the military honor the military. Related concerts and parades are today legend for binding the nation into a coherent and cohesive entity worth defense and worthy of respect all around.
There are ancillaries in air shows and show components, e.g., Blue Angels, in other events.
The parading of missiles and tanks has been for most who produce that spectacle a boast and a threat associated with lesser power, not greater.
The Vietnam generation of military cannot be compensated nor, perhaps, repaired adequately, but all have been permanently honored, memorialized, remembered on the Mall and beyond that in America’s communities. If and where long-term disservice has been done, perhaps that conversation is the one that should be led by an American President.
“A Needle in the Rain”
(c)1996 J. S. Oppenheim & DRB Productions
Brief History Lesson Regarding the Vietnam Era and the Present
Hey, old college kids, remember the fatigue jackets, the grass, the Mobilization on the Mall, and the whole trippy deep ecology and far out peace thing?
Know that the Soviet Union invested $1 billion in the environmental and peace movements of the day (perhaps labor was already under way), and it got its money’s worth in the sabotaging of domestic will for that war. It would also come to lose influence with the hip when it demonstrated its true methods in “realpolitik” as it drove tanks into the Soviet satellite states that it had completely demoralized with its own narcissistic claptrap and thuggery.
I was young at the time — the last of the babies of the baby boomers — and on the draft rolls only briefly before our troops were brought home.
The “Active Measures” part of the Vietnam War is active today on Moscow’s part: disinformation, election meddling, war by proxy in support of kleptocratic dictatorships. If you approve of such methods and ends — much including the ownership of other humans as mere property and as well demonstrated by Moscow-aligned Bashar al-Assad and Iranian Grand Ayatollah Ali (“Hang ‘Em High”) Khamenei — do nothing, say nothing. If that’s not the world in which you wish the next generations to live, look back, get caught up on Orwell — or Hitchens on Orwell — for a start — and look forward to engaging in this now really different kind of war.
BackChannels believes the strong have cause to celebrate through national holidays and shared American events, but it is the weak that needs must put their muscle on display in parades.
When one works a few ideas around to a compressed or distilled state, one hates to lose them in cascades of commentary published through the social networks. Blogging helps preserve such thoughts and keep them available via keyword searches. This passage comes from an earlier take on the same theme:
With President Trump, the American public faces three deep challenges:
1) how do deal with disinformation in the long term — “Active Measures” from Russia’s machinery, deflection and related strategies involving information and (“Fake News!”) rhetoric;
2) how to resist our own deepening divisions to return to quintessential American ideals, principles, and values, starting with the valuing of integrity in business and government and consequent distaste for corruption;
3) how to address enemies that have found ways to blend and practice war indirectly, not only by proxy but with “frozen conflicts” aiding the movement of arms and narcotics worldwide and ability to deeply manipulate terrorism (e.g., see “Moscow Apartment Bombings”; read Anna Politkovskaya’s observations on the brutalizing of Chechen villages).
We may be in a little bit of trouble because the Cold War didn’t end quite where we thought it had and not much has prepared EU / NATO constituencies for its apparent phantoms and their still medieval political ambitions and views.
Post-Soviet “Active Measures” and related infiltration into EU / NATO intellectual assets may account for the promotion of polarized “Brown v Red-Green” politics.
The post-Cold War narrative arc spans American Administrations, but the general public (I’ve become accidentally a little bit specialized) tends to see the moment, i.e., a span of months to years, when it should be seeing decades of process in removing the holdovers from the Soviet Era. For good reasons, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi are gone, but it’s at Assad’s Syria, the gateway to Iran in the old politics coming apart, that Putin visibly returned to the old KGB walk and the reinforcement of old relationships. As no one in the west has wanted another “cold war” or a strong “Moscow” on the tracks that it’s on, the purchase of time combined with sanctions and deflated oil pricing has substantially weakened the Moscow-Damascus-Tehran (more truly, “Moscow-Tehran” axis).
Now: enter Trump.
Just so it’s known: Moscow’s cash reserves have been deeply drawn down not only by years of reduced oil revenues and political sanctions but by the regime’s own abuse of the nascent Russian business system and the flight of capital from it. Most of what isn’t at hand has been parked in the western (rule-of-law) banking system or similarly stable high-value assets (most obviously real estate), and that may add to the discouragement of Moscow’s propensity for armed aggression. However, Putin is a bit of a wildcard as regards his own behavior, and he knows that when faced with a nuclear gambit, the United States will stand firm but elide the issue, returning that aspect of war to equilibrium.
In this day, NATO may have forward dual use conventional-nuclear warheads, giving paranoid Moscow perhaps some legitimate fits as regards its own state of risk. Here is the kind of article one runs into when encountering the nuclear arms control field:
To stay (in the old sense of that word) the course toward nuclear exchange, diplomacy and indirect confrontation have held off the contemplation of direct conflict engagement between Russian and NATO and western forces, but as history tells time and again with despots, that kind of leadership busts through its own boundaries, internal, psychological, external, political until firmly checked.
I think what you’re going to see in Syria will be the “checking” of Moscow’s revanchist (Soviet-style) ambitions and encouragement for it to engage the west in a once again responsible fashion.
It may help to keep in mind, whatever conclusions may be drawn here, that Russia has its own robust internal politics now forming up some challenge to the regime even though the regime holds the strong hand in its expression of absolute power.
The Obama Administration for both political and practical purposes put off confrontation in the field with the “phantoms of the Soviet” most likely to buy time, encourage change, and both financially and politically weaken the regimes that require politics in the feudal mode to sustain their own kleptocracies (“Different Talks — Same Walk!” is the BackChannels trope for how those relationships hold together).
Arguments about the legitimacy of political power are arguments about the future:
“What is to be done?”
“How are we to live?”
“Moscow”, the metonym for the Russian State as devised and held together by President Putin, knows how to make itself look good in superficial ways, but its less remarked positions have not been so wonderful.
Web search “Russia, Economy” brought up these three news pieces a few minutes ago:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
“I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.” (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)
I, AB, do solemnly swear(or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
The Preamble to The Bill of Rights
Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the “Bill of Rights.”
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The chat began with comment on the infamous Dr. Mengele and his demonic practices, but then it slipped a little sideways to talk about an inherent evil in procedures unrelated to the Nazi’s bent.
Again (again, again): the kind of power embraced by the despotic is the power to visit suffering on others with impunity and without conscience.
It may not be the procedure — e.g., abortion, sex change — that is evil but rather the removal of choice in its imposition.
Where abortion arguments are batted back and forth, the concern is not with procedure but the precedence of the “right” to choice on the mother’s part or advocacy for the fetus in its earliest phase.
Mengele and other famous sadists given the power to maim, torture, and murder with impunity do as the disturbed people they either were before their empowerment or have become as a consequence of it.
Much of this blog — perhaps all of it — has been concerned with the nature of political power in its most basic regions — “conflict, culture, language, and psychology” — and here it addresses the kind of extremist and vacuous force that gives way to wholesale theft and murder all the up the imaginable scale and beyond.
How could an ophthalmologist have created so much horror absent of conscience and shame?
Posted to YouTube by Muhammad Al Mousa on September 4, 2016.
How could the privileged and wealthy of Moscow — or Russia — have escaped the opprobrium associated with the most heinous irredeemable of war crimes?
I could wag the finger all day in the direction of Putin and his inner circle and the Phantoms of the Cold War (arisen from the Grave of Communism as Ultra-Nationalist Fascists), and I would still have to deal with the resistance posed by 15 years of the greater population dwelling on “Islamic Terrorism” with nary a look back at the Cold War, much less a look forward to Russia’s transformation into an ultra-national neo-imperial state.
BackChannels achieves some compression of ideas and observations, and it has broad reach — it’s accessed annually from more than 140 nations — but it barely “pings” in the Foreign Affairs, International Relations, Political Science] communities . . .
Although no one knows how Trump will embark on his newly informed foreign affairs journey, everyone knows that this may be Trump’s first “real job” in a long time, and it’s not, as we say here in the U.S., “at will”: the President will be stuck with the Oval Office and answering to a government far greater and more powerful than himself, not to mention the people it represents.
My glance at the headlines suggests you may have been disinformed.
It really underestimates how well the American professional political community — analysts, scholars, politicians — see Moscow as Putin has rebuilt it and sustained so much Soviet Era baggage and its inability to chart a middle course anywhere — but it may please those less engaged in politics.
This morning, I glanced at a Foreign Policy (Magazine) headline on how democracies fall apart. I should get to that article, but the official state remains quite robust. Trump may do the right great American things despite himself and, to lay in Churchill’s observation, without having to try all the wrong ones first.
This is a dangerous period for everyone as Putin with Khamenei and through Assad has chosen to demonstrate a depth in callousness, cruelty, dishonesty, and madness in Syria beyond anything witnessed anywhere else in the world in recent memory.
For five years or so I have seen repeated in untold visual analogs the image of a child’s hand gripping a mother’s forearm — no bodies — in relation to the indiscriminate bombing of noncombatants in Syria. Such murderers seem to be begging to be stopped — and maybe that would be a mercy — but the just poking along western response has been to watch the Russian economy wither while Assad burns Syria into an unsustainable nothing — except, perhaps, as a base for Russian military presence — and neither Moscow nor Tehran get anywhere with horrifying the world.
I’ll probably copy my response to an “FTAC” post on the blog. It has in it the prayer that the state prove stronger than its leading statesman, and I think the odds fair that it will do that if a President — any at any time — embarks on a dictator’s mission.