Is perception reality?
Should The People leave Big Business to Big Daddies?
Should we all just adore our Great Leaders?
Is perception reality?
Should The People leave Big Business to Big Daddies?
Should we all just adore our Great Leaders?
Putin: leader of nationalist Russia, master of “realpolitik” — leverage, punishment, reward — the Boss of bosses, capricious and absolute.
Whatever the game, why play one side or the other when you can own the whole board?
KGB Colonel, President, Emperor Putin has taken Russia back the one giant step to an authoritarian system reinforced by secret police — today’s FSB supports more staff per capita than ever did the KGB — capable of presenting events for public political perceptual control as with the Moscow Apartment Bombings and the Russian Army’s after-hours (deeply unofficial) brutalizing of Chechen villages in such a way as to drive the men into the waiting camps of Chechen rebels. He has succeeded in abetting greater chaos and conflict in the world, especially in Syria, while balancing the tension between adversaries that may stall change but keep all of the businesses, licit and perhaps illicit, running.
BackChannels credits Putin with turning Erdogan’s pretty little head back toward the feudal glory of the sultanate — or something like it — with the help of Turkish Stream, encouraging the family business in Hungary, and aiding with the election of the formerly more autocratic President (“Fake News”!) Trump in the United States (the French, better knowing what they’re about, didn’t quite go for his Marine Le Pen; Trump, BC presumes, has been tempered by having gotten himself into a job involving personalities as large as himself and powers greater than known in his organization — America’s democracy has not been overwhelmingly wowed or easily walked over). The popular perception of Putin may respond opposite the viewer’s interests: for old lefties, he’s the world’s greatest reactionary and using revived militarism and the Russian Orthodox Church to assuage bad feelings attending the insult of expanding financial hardship associated with related ambitions in Syria and Ukraine and, ultimately, the way the guy at the top gets his hooks into the best performing businesses.
In Russia, there’s protest and resistance to Putin, but there is no competition for the power he has amassed and his ability to . . . rearrange the world along feudal lines.
And for “righties”, he’s still the go-to for “socialist” dictatorships like Assad’s.
Never mind that Assad via the KGB-style political theatrical “Assad v The Terrorists” has been building Syria down, enough so, and so desperately so, for Putin to permanently expand Russia’s military footprint in Hafez’s old sandbox.
After the one step backward into 19th Century and earlier Russian paternal authoritarianism, aristocracy, imperialism, and resurgent nationalism, one may wonder what may be the “two steps forward” if any are ever taken as needs must be: whether Putin likes it or not, the Russian Federation is, alas, multicultural and perhaps yearning — as Navalny might have it — for the liberal devilishness that are “rule of law” and “responsive and responsible governance”.
” . . . they are making a show to other countries . . . “
True. The action taken to forestall additional Chemical Weapons (CW) attacks was conducted as a deliberate and open demonstration of capability (imho) and not as one blow among others launched without warning in the chaos and fury of combat.
Russo-American cooperation in “optics” has been a theme in the Syrian Tragedy from the beginning and in current form dates back at least to the end of the Cold War in which Moscow and Washington in a presumptive peace were to work on terrorism and transnational crime together.
It is uncertain that that is not taking place!
How would one know?
In that Moscow sustains numerous “frozen conflicts”, operates its war machinery against noncombatants in Syria and Ukraine, and that it has long cherished (by not reforming itself much) the title, “Mafia State”, I may suggest the west had been snookered by old political criminals or a mentality in Moscow befitting the same.
In the too-fast press associated with blogging, there may be a little bit of post-first-read-later taking place here. Even if so, the main point is to look into what happened between Moscow and Washington in their respective thematic characters — paternal authoritarian for one; liberal democratic for the other — in the nearest shadows of the Cold War.
PDFs cited go straight to the BackChannels Kindle and may be read on that platform soon afterward.
Where did all the money come from? Most of the new robber barons — an estimated 61 percent of Russia’s richest people, according to one study — simply turned the socialist empires they managed into their own private companies. Others built their fortunes on the roots of criminal trading they were doing secretly during Soviet times. The result is a pervasive sense of unfairness — particularly since Russia still has no real middle class. But Russian society for centuries has been driven by envy.
“In Western Europe and the United States . . . organized crime controls only criminal activities such as prostitution, drug trafficking and gambling,” wrote Pyotr Filippov, a former adviser to President Boris Yeltsin, in a report to the president last year. “In our country, it controls all types of activities.”
In the former Soviet republic of Georgia, an alleged criminal leader with a long prison record and a private militia loyal to him is the right-hand man to the country’s leader, former Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze. In Russia’s Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, an ex-convict named Vladimir “The Poodle” Podiatev, who spent 17 years in prison, is said by police to be the city’s foremost power broker, allegedly controlling his own television station and much commerce in the city.
Mirsky, Wendy L. “The Link Between Russian Organized Crime and Nuclear-Weapons Proliferation: Fighting Crime and Ensuring International Security.” Comment. University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Business and Law, 16:4, 749-781.
Russia’s attempt to subvert Ukraine cannot, however, be seen in isolation.Russia’s attempt to subvert Ukraine cannot, however, be seen in isolation. Its tactics are part of a wider pattern in which the Kremlin uses separatist conflicts as engines for corruption and criminality, and as Trojan horses to block progress in reform-minded countries on Russia’s periphery.
Shelley, Louise I. “Post-Soviet Organized Crime: Implications for the Development of the Soviet Successor States and Foreign Countries.” The National Council for Soviet and East European Research.” Title VIII Program, The National Council for Soviet and East European Research. February 8, 1994:
Organized crime has penetrated most of the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union at all governmental levels, and is assuming an important role in the political , economic and social evolution of these states, with consequences already being felt in Europe , the United States and parts of Asia . The collapse of communism may not lead to democratization and the transition to a competitive capitalist economy. Instead, the pervasiveness of organized crime may lead to an alternative form of development — political clientelism and controlled markets. Domination by the Communist Party may be replaced b y the controls of organized crime.
Many conversations in the social networks rely on partisan politics for argument — Democrats this, Republicans that. For the most part, the framing it time involves the period set by the run-up and aftermath of the Clinton v Trump election. BackChannels suggests that the greater challenges associated with “Islamic Terrorism”, America’s political polarization, and the advent of vicious Far Left and Far Right fascism span Administrations all the way back to the last day of the Cold War (Dec. 25, 1991) and therefore beg Americans to broaden their scope accordingly.
Try to set aside partisan information and opinion and look at the present international relations in the greater frame of the post-Cold War period begun on the morning of December 26, 1991, the day after the Soviet Union dissolved. Rather than write long (e.g., “We know today through writers like David Satter and scholars like Karen Dawisha . . . .”), I’d rather share one link to what has been really taking place with “Islamic Terrorism” and the “New Nationalism” x Russia’s interest in sustaining dictatorships and much of the related political dynamics of the medieval world.
Putin | Assad | Khamenei comprise a package, as it were, from the Soviet Era: they are each in their way a part of what has been left of it.
Putin | Orban | Erdogan | add the leadership in some former satellites reengaging with anti-Semitism — should open the window wide on the medeival revanche.
I feel quite Quixote-like fighting this post-Soviet battle for liberal democracy because what Putin has done is brought back authoritarian and fascist (Turkey) or nationalist (elsewhere in EU / NATO) leaders in a way way that has damaged interstate democratic cohesion.
Russia from before the Bolshevik Revolution and to this day has had a long history as a promoter of anti-Semitic ideas and as a host, motivator, manipulator, and sponsor of terrorism. I hope the “Reflexive Control” piece will open a window for greater curiosity that may then lead to greater perception of an east-west conflict in which Israel very much represents a democratic and humanist future where other forces have kept installed medieval tyranny.
The Obama-Trump Punch and Judy gets and takes a lot of attention, but the struggle for western democracy against Moscow’s eastern sham spans American (“I looked into his eyes”) Administrations.
At the closing press conference, in response to a question about whether he could trust Putin, Bush said, “I looked the man in the eye. I found him very straightforward and trustworthy – I was able to get a sense of his soul.” Bush’s top security aide Condoleezza Rice later wrote that Bush’s phrasing had been a serious mistake. “We were never able to escape the perception that the president had naïvely trusted Putin and then been betrayed.”
In her book, No Higher Honour, Condoleezza Rice would go on to say, “There was little room to convince critics that the circumstances of 2001 and the relationship with Vladimir Putin then were very different from what would come to pass.”
BackChannels submits that Putin was perceived differently in the White House by KGB design in those years and was not all different from the soul of the Soviet Union that had collapsed ten years earlier. For reference to the Soviet transition plan developed in the 1980s for the event of dissolving, I would recommend reading Karen Dawisha’s Putin’s Kleptocracy.
For an overview of Russian history and related authoritarian paternalism, BackChannels recommends from the Russian Section of its library the two volumes by Richard Pipes.
America as led by President Trump appears to be winning its battles but altogether losing its war against a potential tyranny in the making that has come in the form of a “New Nationalism”, i.e., a populist president who is himself autocratic and seemingly enthrall to and reliant on feudal aggrandizement, cunning, and dumb strength in both personal and public realms. As quoted from the Awesome Conversation and worth inserting here, the BackChannels piece on “Reflexive Control” and the rule of the manipulative and wealthy (like Medvedev) applies as regards the greater torque exerted by Russia, principally, and China as representing each their own politically unassailable business and leadership elites.
If Moscow believes it has taken the world forward by turning history’s clock backward, what has Washington done to freeze that totalitarian regress — and is it doing enough to keep from sliding into its own Orwellian (“Fake News!”) hell?
The American President — but not America’s governments in their totality — appears enmeshed in what ails most authoritarian regimes: questionable policies serving elites more than constituents, a host of political scandals, especially that “kompromat” thing that has come to associate the Trump brand with money laundering (for more, web search, say, “Trump, Felix Sater”) and philandering.
Ours is a competitive world but also one bound by our human awareness of self and related facets of conscience, empathy, ethics, and morality. We’re aware of what we do and, perhaps, at the same time fearful of what we are capable of doing.
BackChannels believes that the Russian experience of the Mongol Invasion and related administration left their marks within Russian princes who would fear what any show of weakness might invite from the world around them while in the subjugated inspiring a festering crude anger and resentment. The vaunted “realpolitik” would then seem to have evolved from doing what works, and if criminality and main force and leverage appear to have worked, then then those devices may remain installed but deeply redolent of despair and disaffection and far opposite the inspiriting benefits of higher-integrity and rule-of-law democracy.
absolute power, conscience in politics, dictatorship, medieval v modern, origin of modern political terrorism, People's Will, political absolutism, political history, Putin's Game, revolutionaries, Richard Pipes, Russia, terrorism
Pipes, Richard. The Russian Revolution. P. 142. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1990.
Below: bold type added.
The author noted with dismay the effects of radical propaganda on the peasants:
How curiously our speeches, our concepts were interpreted by the peasant mind! . . . their conclusions and comparisons utterly astonished me. “We have it better under the Tsar.” Something struck me in the head, as if a nail had been driven into it . . . . There, I said, are the fruits of propaganda! We do not destroy illusions but reinforce them. We reinforce the old faith of the people in the Tsar.”
The disillusionment with the people pushed the most determined radicals to terrorism. While many of the disappointed Socialists-Revolutionaries abandoned the movement and a handful adopted the doctrines of German Social-Democracy, a dedicated minority formed a secret organization called the People’s Will (Narodnaia Volia). The mission of its thirty full-time members, banded in an Executive Committee, was to fight the tsarist regime by means of systematic terror: on its founding, it passed a “sentence” of death on Alexander II. It was the first political terrorist organization in history and the model for all subsequent organizations of this kind in Russia and elsewhere. Resort to terror was an admission of isolation: as one of the leaders of the People’s Will would later concede, terror
requires neither the support nor the sympathy of the country. It is enough to have one’s convictions, to feel one’s despair, to be determined to perish. The less a country wants revolution, the more naturally will they turn to terror who want, no matter what, to remain revolutionaries, to cling to their cult of revolutionary destruction.
The stated mission of the People’s Will was to assassinate government officials, for the twin goal of demoralizing the government and breaking down the awe in which the masses held the Tsar. In the words of the Executive Committee:
Terrorist activity . . . has as its objective undermining the fascination with the government’s might, providing an uninterrupted demonstration of the possibility of struggling against the government, in this manner lifting the revolutionary spirit of the people and its faith in the success of the cause, and finally, organizing the forces capable of combat.
The ultimate political goal of the People’s Will was the convocation of a National Assembly through which the nation would express its wishes. The People’s Will was a highly centralized organization, the decisions of the Executive Committee being binding on all followers, known as “vassals.” Members were expected to dedicate themselves totally to the revolutionary cause, and if called upon, to sacrifice to it their properties and even their lives.
I have for months spent a good deal of time each day passing along the “Hey, Martha’s” of breaking or recent news, primarily using the BackChannels reader page on Facebook to do it.
That ain’t writing, and even with highlighting and juxtaposing stories (“Related:” appears in the first one or two comments pointing to additional reading), it’s not really opining either. At best, the method shares this blog’s editor’s interests and outlook of the day. Much on the web becomes media passing along other media. With that in mind, both internal reflection and weather — and aesthetic charm — seemed to point toward 19th Century time and the luxury of long reading.
Well, lookee up there — and into the pages wrought by the extraordinary historian Richard Pipes.
Fair advertising and advisement:
Having delved into other of Pipes’ work a short while ago with Russia Under the Old Regime, I felt the present volume its companion – and what a rich companion it is turning out (with 684 pages left to read).
To be fair, one cannot share the whole book, technically, at least, except by recommending it or joining others in classroom or colloquy to discuss it.
As much characterizes a process in democratic and responsible governance in which the general public may follow good advice — buy the book or take it out of the library — but what portion does becomes no longer the “general public” but an enlightened public cleaving away from former peers.
While collusion would seem a possibility that the most determined of ongoing investigations may well dredge up and beat into reality, one might consider the alternative of interpreting Moscow as cynically narcissistic and malign in using methods still related to the “People’s Will” to disparage our noble democracy by seeing elected to head it a bullying businessman and entirely inexperienced politician.
With that interpretation for a base, Moscow (and Tehran) would seem to believe they have figured out how to divide us and undermine our confidence in our democratic integrity and the related institutions and processes that guaranty American justice (truly for all) and robust internal as well as external security. However, now that that possibility may be seen — 🙂 — BackChannels is starting to like this latest in Presidents of the United States of America.
And tackle Putin in his nasty dash back to Russia’s imperial glory and apparent future without the benefit of conscience.
Make America Great Again.
The prompt: “The Palestinians went to Poland . . . the Israelis went to refugee camps . . . .”
A Palestinian professor had taken a group of students to Auschwitz, and on the other side, Israelis have toured Palestinian camps — so both statements are true but leave out the third and fourth parties (Soviet Era Moscow and the the post-WWII and 1948 Arab leaderships) responsible for the Arab Apartheid and political conditioning that have produced generations (70 years worth) of confined, politically programmed, and emotionally “weaponized” Palestinians — also unemployed and trapped.
It would be better if Palestinian and Israelis would travel to Moscow and ask Mr. Putin directly why the Soviet Union chose to block democracy and liberalism by transforming a post-war refugee situation into a People Resistance movement that would go on to cover another system for making money and distributing the same through systems of patronage.
Now that Palestinians have had a glimpse of the Jewish history of persecution in Europe (and in Russia) and Israelis have seen how Hamas and the PLO actually regard their people, it would be helpful as well to revisit both Arab and Soviet history at the end of WWII — and then work to get that history more securely into the past, fixed there, remember there, and, ultimately, dismissed in the interest of regional peace and cooperation.
End “The Occupation”?
End the preoccupation with the Jews — and End the Hate (once engineered by Moscow).
One may also consider the business of producing and sustaining conflicts for politically criminal profiteering by way of corruption, skimming, and smuggling.
The theme of this book is the political system of Russia. It traces the growth of the Russian state from its beginnings in the ninth century to the end of the nineteenth, and the parallel development of the principal social orders: peasantry, nobility, middle class and clergy. The question which it poses is why in Russia — unlike the rest of Europe to which Russia belongs by virtue of her location, race and religion — society has proven unable to impose on political authority any kind of effective restraints. After suggesting some answers to this problem, I go on to show how in Russia the opposition to absolutism tended to assume the form of a struggle for ideals rather than for class interests, and how the imperial government, challenged in this manner, responded by devising administrative practices that clearly anticipate those of the modern police state. Unlike most historians who seek the roots of twentieth-century totalitarianism in western ideas, I look for them in Russian institutions. Although I do make occasional allusions to later events, my narrative largely terminates in the 1800s because, as the concluding chapter points out, the ancien régime in the traditionally understood sense died a quiet death in Russia at that time, yielding to a bureaucratic police regime which in effect has been in power there ever since.
Pipes, Richard. Russia under the Old Regime. Forward, xxi. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.
BackChannels editor has embarked on what has started out as an extraordinary journey through the Russian experience starting with Pipes’ observations about early agricultural yields, extended family-dependent farming practices, migrations to virgin soil and lands with soil more rich, and the impacts of related economic struggles, such as that of wintering-over cottage industries against industrial production, on the cultural, social, and political character of the Russian enterprise.
Amazon U.S. Address:
How Putin’s Moscow and its information warfare work.
Related on BackChannels: https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/11/23/moscows-rules-a-module/