Friday, February 27, 2009

Good NRO Video on Iran

Mario Loyola has a lot of interesting things to say:

I'll sum in up in two points.

First, the perception about the Bush administration on foreign policy is wrong, especially with regards to Iran. We did not act unilaterally, but rather used as our principle that we would act together with and according to the desires of our "allies," including China and Russia. After the 2001 State of the Union address, when President Bush characterized Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil," there weren't many instances of calling out Iran. In fact, we had many diplomatic meetings with Iran, gaining us nothing. This totally contradicts the perception of the cowboy Bush unilaterally making demands and threatening enemies. It's just false. That is a totally incorrect characterization of the State Department under Bush. Yet, somehow, it is an article of faith for the left.

Second, the policy of the new administration's foreign policy people is extremely mistaken and also backward. They claim they just want to "try diplomacy" and see if that works first, but they aren't unwilling to use military solutions if it comes to that. First this presumes that the Bush administration didn't use diplomacy with Iran, which is totally false. They used diplomacy to no effect, instead of say, fomenting and supporting the Iranian dissident movement. Second, they miss the point of the military. One uses the military to gain concessions and a diplomatic advantage. Diplomacy doesn't work by appealing to universal humanity and post-nationalistic brotherhood, especially not with countries like Iran. One negotiates from a position of power, or one will lose. By putting the cart before the horse (diplomacy before military strategy), the Obama administration actually increases the chance of a Iranian aggression, a preemptive U.S. military strike, and staggering loss of innocent civilian life.

This is what the left doesn't understand about foreign policy and diplomacy. They think we should be a friendly, compliant face for the world, not aggressive, not belligerent, but openhearted and friendly. Once our 'enemies' see that we are not threatening, they will make peace with us and we can live together in harmony. This is bullshit. In fact, it's the opposite. By being weak, we encourage our enemies to act boldly and aggressively, increasing the chance for large-scale conflict. Whereas, if we had been strong before, and acted from a position of power before, we could have prevented a large-scale conflict.

This is the lesson of modern history. This is the lesson of Neville Chamberlain, who made concessions to Hitler and then came back triumphant, declaring that he had achieved "peace in our time." All he did was give time to Hitler to increase the size and scope of the conflict that would soon envelop the entire Western world. Had England and other European powers acted from a position of strength in opposing Nazi Germany's aggressive expansionism, World War II would not have happened.

The horse is military power, technological advantage and moral superiority. The cart is diplomacy. Like almost everything else, liberals have this backwards.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review: Love Letter to America

Love Letter to America, by Tomas Schuman (aka Yuri Bezemenov), can be read on my website here. The PDF is here.

I'll say the same thing here I did in my review of World Thought Police, Schuman's other book: "I should warn the prospective reader that the book contains many typos, is somewhat strangely organized, and may strike a reader who is totally innocent of this topic as insane conspiracy theory. Even for the seasoned reader of intelligence nonfiction, the book is eye-raisingly eccentric. But that is what makes it so interesting."

The book World Thought Police is more specific and based on Bezmenov's direct experience working for Novosti Press Agency. It is a complement to other books by defectors from Soviet intelligence. Whereas one might read Aleksei Myagkov to learn about the Third Chief Directorate (military counter-intelligence) and Vasili Mitrokhin to learn about the First Chief Directorate (foreign intelligence), one should read World Thought Police to learn about the activity of the KGB in media and public relations circles, specifically in terms of interactions with visitors from other countries, invited to the USSR. This further complements contributions by Stanislav Levchenko, who under cover as a journalist in Japan did similar work to that of Bezmenov/Schuman in India; and Ladislav Bittman, who was deputy chief of Czechoslovakia's Department D (Disinformation).

Love Letter to America, on the other hand, is more of a general work directed at a mainstream audience (even if it is only read by conspiracy theorists and intelligence agencies). It details Schuman's far-reaching theory of "ideological subversion" of the West, familiar to those who have seen the interview with G. Edward Griffin (Soviet Subversion of the Free World Press, 1984). This interview, which has been widely circulated in the past year, has great appeal for kooks of all types because Bezmenov talks about "brainwashing" and "subversion," casually forecasts the execution of Western fellow-travelers, calls them "useful idiots," and in general, maintains a wry, comical tone about some very depressing matters.

So he has a certain sicko appeal. He knows no one wants to listen to what he has to say (except for weirdos like Griffin). He has gone from a successful career where he is well-respected and thought to be an intelligent, thoughtful person, to a life as a deranged right-wing nutcase. You would act strange too, I think.

All in all, Schuman's thesis is simple. First, the Soviet Union demoralizes the United States (or its target). This is done by encouraging the disintegration of institutions and functions that have kept it together, encouraging class and race struggle, encouraging more and more functions of society to be assumed by the government, stressing the importance of relatively unimportant issues (global cooling, gay rights, equal pay for women-- in general, stressing special 'rights' for special 'interest groups') over important issues (national defense, economic stability and sustainability), and undermining the government and its agencies through the creation of anti-war and anti-proliferation groups, publishing secret information, and pouring the fuel on the fire of any scandal (like Bay of Pigs, Watergate, Pinochet, whatever).

Once a country is demoralized, it is ready for destabilization. This happens by weakening national defense and the economy. In the former, decreasing spending, limiting research, disarming and drawing down through a perception of peace and understanding. In the latter, creation of a socialist welfare state. The third stage is crisis, when the country is in turmoil and reacts irrationally, resulting in civil war, foreign invasion, or some kind of power shift. The final phase is normalization, when a pro-Communist or pro-Soviet government comes to power.

This is an interesting thesis on many levels. However, it is important to keep in mind how general these ideas and stages are. I think Schuman often gives his KGB active measures department too much credit. His work generally ignores the pathology of the West, its stupidity, its ignorance about its greatness and the failures of Eastern despotism (Communism). Yes, part of Schuman's thesis is that the Soviet Union gets the West to subvert itself, train itself in how to break down its society. But he underestimates 1) the aimlessness of that disintegration as it is affected by the West, and 2) the determination of some Western patriots to counter that subversion.

In my view, this is best illustrated by Schuman’s own words:
This is my 'simplistic' and highly 'unscientific' outline of the events which have happened in many countries of the world. Any nation is able to do this to herself without any help from comrades Andropov and Brezhnev and their numerous KGB agents. Any one of you can easily observe this vicious chain of events by simply reading your newspapers regularly or even watching the TV.
This illustrates both the mundane character of this ‘subversion’ and the indistinctness of its authorship. Both of these points serve to undermine, in a limited way, what is the central thrust of Schuman’s argument: that America is under the spell of a centrally-organized and systematic effort to weaken and ultimately destroy it. What he’s saying is still true. It’s just that it’s hard for him to say both that America needs no help from the Soviet Union to destroy itself; and this:
Introduction of NON-ISSUES is another powerful method of demoralizing at the level of IDEAS. It will take another full size book to describe in detail this method. Suffice it will be here to give a brief definition of NON-ISSUES. An issue, the solution of which creates more and bigger problems for majority of a nation, even though it may benefit a few, is a non-issue (civil rights of homosexuals is not an issue; defending sexual morality is the larger, real issue). The main purpose of non-issues and the devastating result of their introduction is the SIDE-TRACKING of public opinion, energy (both mental and physical), money and TIME from the constructive solutions. Soviet propaganda elevated the art of infiltrating and emphasizing non-issues in American public life to the level of actual state policy.
Okay, he says he would need another book to describe this. But how influential were Soviet attempts to influence American policy, to introduce “non-issues” into public life? This is vague and dubious, and I am therefore skeptical. As he said previously, Americans need no help introducing non-issues into public discussion. (Global warming, anyone?) The profit motive, American self-consciousness, and a large, regulatory government are sufficient for that.

The booklet is fascinating. I think what he is saying is largely true. But the author is too often bogged down in a kind of historical predetermination that leaves no room for new forces and new directions. Human society has more complexity than he gives it credit for. Read Love Letter to America with that, and Schuman’s genuine love for America, in mind.

Review: World Thought Police

World Thought Police, a small booklet by Tomas Schuman (aka Yuri Bezmenov), a Soviet defector, can be read on my website here. The PDF is here.

Before I start, I should warn the prospective reader that the book contains many typos, is somewhat strangely organized, and may strike a reader who is totally innocent of this topic as insane conspiracy theory. Even for the seasoned reader of intelligence nonfiction, the book is eye-raisingly eccentric. But that is what makes it so interesting.

Tomas Schuman (whose real name is Yuri Bezmenov) worked as a "journalist" for Novosti Press Agency, which was a disinformation and propaganda agency controlled by the Soviet non-military intelligence agency (commonly known as the KGB). The Soviets called their disinformation work through Novosti "active measures," though Schuman uses the phrase "ideological subversion" to describe the activity of Novosti. Actually, "ideological subversion" was more of a term used by Soviet and Soviet-bloc propaganda to characterize the supposed actions of the West to undermine socialist and Communist ideology within the Soviet Union.

In the fifties and sixties, the Soviets and their allies began to use more creative means to mislead and misinform the West and the Third World, creating a cumulative effect that would in the long term be favorable to the Soviet Union. Novosti Press Agency was an overt and legitimate organization that published articles and books mainly for the West. It was ostensibly independent of the government, but we now know that this is a ridiculous claim. Most people assumed (and observed) that Novosti's work was somewhat propagandist, but until Bezmenov many did not realize the extent to which Novosti worked closely with the KGB to produce disinformation and mislead foreign governments and organizations, to the extent that Novosti's goals were quite simply the KGB's goals.

Looking back, many people might think that no one really took Novosti seriously. This is not the case. Western journalists and newspapers treated Novosti as a legitimate source of news and opinion. Papers like The New York Times used Novosti press releases just as they would the press releases of the AP, Reuters, AFP, or Groupe Presse. Novosti publications like the magazine Soviet Life and various books and travelogues were widely available in the United States and throughout the world and treated for the most part as honest, legitimate publications. Many of these publications can be found simply by searching Amazon for "Novosti Press Agency."

All of this is by way of saying that Yuri Bezmenov, who became Tomas Schuman upon his defection to the West, worked for Novosti (not as a KGB agent as is sometimes reported, but merely as a co-opted "journalist") to spread disinformation and actively subvert the Western world.

In World Thought Police, Schuman extensively details the various methods that Novosti would use. These are divided into legal and overt actions that are still nonetheless dishonest and harmful to the West, such as publishing a Novosti article, disseminating Novosti's material in bookstores, establishing a pro-socialist newspaper or tabloid, etc.; and illegal and covert actions, such as defamation and slander, infiltration into anti-Soviet or conservative publications in order to destroy them, financially aiding terrorists, etc.

Schuman also details the extent to which Novosti used foreign collaborators, what those collaborators would do for Novosti and the KGB, their motivations for collaborating, and their rewards for collaborating.

The book, which is basically a short pamphlet, ends with a very stirring account of the author meeting four American deserters of the Vietnam War who basically parrot Novosti/KGB's propaganda back to them, taking it as original thinking. Schuman, disturbed by this, tells the story to an apparatchik friend of his, who then relates to him an interesting dream about the Vietnam War. The book ends:
The only way I could interpret this dream of the Central Committee's apparatchik is: guilt, the feeling most of my generation of the Soviet "new class" desperately wanted to suppress. Because, unlike the American "peaceniks," we know perfectly well who is the aggressor, and our conscience bothers us.
This book, it seems, was the author's attempt to clear his conscience.

I strongly advise the prospective reader to take Schuman’s assessments with a grain of salt. Ultimately I think he is both overly optimistic about the success of Soviet active measures and overly cynical about the ability of the West to form a strong opposition to Soviet aggression. In no way do I suggest any intelligence buff, anti-Communist, or other amateur to begin or end his study with Schuman/Bezmenov. That would leave him with a ridiculously simplistic and very limited understanding of the topic.

On the other hand, I think World Thought Police in particular is a necessary supplement to other works on the far-reaching intelligence arm of the Evil Empire. The Sword and the Shield, for instance, is extremely comprehensive but spends little time on active measures. Furthermore the authors seem to be unaware of the extent of KGB control over “journalism” both within the Soviet Union and over Soviet press agency offices around the world. Schuman’s work, however eccentric, fills in the blanks left by other accounts.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Re: Propaganda Blogs

After I published this post about this blog, wondering whether it was chekhist disinformation, I got a message from an Australian named Artyom who is eager for me to denounce his blog too.

It's kind of a bizarre message:
If u think Vara's blog is FSB funded, you will love ours. It will be the mother of all what we call "loyalist" blogs. We aren't funded by the MP or FSB but believe me if we could get dollars from them - we would.
Not exactly the tone one would expect from a coreligionist-- "if we could get dollars from them we would." Not, "How dare you slander our sister in the faith like that?" Or, "Brother, let me set you straight, for you have strayed from the path."

I like the term "loyalist." It's a surprisingly cynical, open, non-euphemistic term that accurately describes the relationship between ROCOR and MP, as I understand it (not very well). Who does? What is there to know? Who wants to know?
Anyway - if you feel like commenting there, please do. Looking forward to some interesting debates.

Sydney Australia
Not, "In Christ," or "God Bless," mind you. "Regards." Very professional, at any rate.

I have no intention of posting at Artyom's blog, ROCOR Unity, except sarcastically, to amuse myself. Unfortunately I am just as cynical and detached as my Australian friend, who takes the tone of clever adversary ("the title of your blog suggests that if nothing else, u do have an excllent inight into your condition") and cynical professional, not faithful Christian and dutiful servant of God.

His earlier creation, "Rocor Loyalism Central" demonstrates this even better.

So is Artyom a propagandist for the Moscow Patriarchate's Department of External Church Relations, or for the KGB or FSB's Service A or whatever they're calling their disinformation department these days? I don't know, and I don't particularly care. However, I do find pretty amusing the image of jaded, atheistic KGB men reading up on theology and church history in order to make their grist more believable.

I can't imagine a faithful Orthodox Christian, who is sincerely committed to the unity of the Orthodox Church, making pictures like this one of the left, or an arrow pointing to a clergyman with big red letters reading, "Traitor."

I can't imagine such a person making bizarre connections like this one between a non-loyal bishop and "monarchists." A priest in Canada marries a couple and the groom has distant connections to a former Russian tsar, and this Australian sees fit to point out the "monarchist" connections. It's pretty laughable. Yes, I'm sure "Prince" Alex Galitzine and Bishop Andronik Kotliaroff are instrumental parts of a monarchist plot to bring back the czar to Russia, overthrowing the "democracy." Maybe they are Trotskyites, too?

So I sent Artyom a brief, polite response. He waited a week, and then impatient, wrote me:
Could u add a mention/link of my blog in ur "propoganda blogs" post please? I feel a bit left out with poor old vara getting all the attention - i feel mine is far more propogandistic than hers... ;)
Yes, "all the attention." What a media firestorm my blog post set off! Tens of people saw it! And the only person who cares is Artyom of Sydney. Why the undue interest?

Of course, Artyom can explain the tone of his e-mails by saying that I am a crazy kook, and he is just having fun with me (of course, this is not the tone one should take with one who is in error about such weighty matters, especially a fellow Orthodox Christian). Still, his tone is kind of unbelievable, and if he is actively writing disinformation, a little unprofessional.

But perhaps I just don't understand. It seems the best course for the hypothetical Artyom-as-propagandist is to ignore me. Sure, a blogger identifying a fellow propagandist as such is something to take note of, even if that blog is kooky, weird, and unread. But why contact that blogger? To compromise him? But his kookiness is already a testament to his lack of trustworthiness. Aren't you imparting more seriousness to his claims than is due? Or are you just bored, amusing yourself?

Secondly, why would you, hypothetical Artyom-as-propagandist, want the weird, kooky blogger to identify you as such? Well, obviously, it is because he's a weird, kooky blogger and so him identifying you as a propagandist only serves to discredit the opinion that you are a propagandist-- look, this crazy blogger says this, and he also says Crazy Thing B and Crazy Thing C, so if you say that I am a propagandist then you are on the level of this kook who says Crazy Things B and C-- and it also serves to discredit the movement of the non-loyal Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, which is more important.

Then he can point to Useless Dissident as an example, saying, "This is representative of the schismatics. They are more concerned with opposing Russia than with church unity. Their loyalty is more to a political movement of anti-Communism than to the Church. And what's more, they are hopeless conspiracy theorists, who can't accept that the Russia of today is not the Soviet Union of the past." And who can argue with this? I can't even argue with that. Because, first of all, this blog isn't about "ROCOR Unity" or disunity or even religion at all. It's about politics. Even if it weren't in some degree a kooky conspiracy site, Artyom could say, "Look, the schismatics only care about politics. This guy opposes the union of MP and ROCOR because he's a right-winger." And on a certain level, he would be correct.

On the other hand, what is the point of a "ROCOR Unity" propaganda blog? Doesn't it only serve to undermine the valuable work that honest, sincere, and genuine blogs and commentaries in support of union do for your cause? Union is over and done with; certainly not many people are talking about it anymore in our churches. Why call attention to the ongoing process of assimilation of ROCOR into the MP hierarchy and bureaucracy? Why make anyone wonder about a possible function of ROCOR as Russian foreign intelligence channel? Why not leave it to sincere and faithful Orthodox Christians who honestly and cheerfully celebrate the union of ROCOR and MP as the healing of a painful wound and a new opportunity for evangelism and outreach? Why do you need a blog that makes "loyalism" look bad, by publishing obviously one-sided accounts and shamelessly slandering schismatic bishops?

I know Westerners are extremely naive and trusting, and for the most part cannot recognize disinformation. Russians look at everything with cynicism; but Westerners gaze with rose-colored glasses. Russians assume it is propaganda; Westerners don't even consider that it might be. For that reason, there is little danger in blogs like Voices from Russia or ROCOR Unity, if in fact they are propaganda (that is, created by paid employees of the Moscow Patriarchate or some Russian government or military agency).

Are they? I really don't know. It doesn't matter, either. Nor is it so black-and-white, like either they are active disinformation measures or not. Artyom wrote, "We aren't funded by the MP or FSB but believe me if we could get dollars from them - we would." So what's the difference? If you would accept money from them, it means you think you are doing them a service that should be paid for with money. Of course, money is only part of the equation. The acronym MICE outlines the reasons for cooperation: Money, Ideology, Compromise, Ego.

Artyom, for instance, could perform this service out of Anti-Americanism, thinking that by promoting the union between ROCOR and MP and discrediting the opponents of union, he is increasing Russian hegemony and pulling one over on America. This is just one possibility. Or he just thinks he's a Russian patriot. Or, he could be totally innocent, just a particularly naive and simple person.

Intelligence is about making educated guesses. It's not about certainty. Nor is it about particular cases, but about a greater movement of influence. Thus I know that certainly there are propaganda blogs, but which are and which aren't... in the absence of information, in a world full of all sorts of different people with all sorts of different motives and beliefs, it's foolish to announce that this is, but that other is not.

What I do know:

1) Disinformation is used by government intelligence agencies.
2) The KGB in particular is very good at it.
3) There is little indication that the KGB today (FSB/SVR) is any less zealous than the KGB of the past.
4) The Russian government was very excited about the possibility of union between MP and ROCOR and worked hard to achieve that goal.

Thus, I can safely assume that the MP/ROCOR union is an intelligence and foreign policy goal of the Russian Federation and that the intelligence apparatus, including its disinformation functions, would be employed toward achieving that goal. Of course, just because a government is "excited" about some prospect doesn't mean it will use any and all underhanded tactics at its disposal to achieve that goal. It's just my knowledge and suspicion about Russia in particular that lends credence to that possibility.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Perfect Metaphor

...change you can believe in...

The "fresh vibrancy" of socialism. Somehow I get the feeling that the NY Times would celebrate it all the more if Obama struck down presidential term limits so that he can "organize us" however he feels best for however long he needs.

Comrade, Pick up Your Blue Book and March Into the Glorious Future!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Propaganda Blogs?

Blogs and websites made by foreign government agencies under the guise of some independent blogger or grassroots organization-- do they exist? Of course they do.

Here's one (I think): Voices from Russia. The author of the blog is purportedly a woman named "Vara." She has a second, very similar blog named "Art and Faith." For our purposes the first is much more interesting.

For the most part it just consists of Novosti, World of Russia, and Interfax news releases. What is telling are the choice of news items and the occasional editorial comments.

The pretense of being an Orthodox Christian who cares deeply about church issues is disgusting. The blog of course parrots the line of the Moscow Patriarchate (MP).

The Russian propagandists who most likely run this piece of work focus heavily on MP/ROCOR (Russian Church Abroad) issues because this avenue is currently a priority for the criminal leaders of the country.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Ratcheting up the sarcasm, the president said: "So then you get the argument, 'well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill.' What do you think a stimulus is?"
According to John Maynard Keynes, it's government spending taxpayer dollars. According to real economists, it's cutting taxes.
Obama warned Republicans not to "come to the table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis." Americans, he said, "did not vote for the false theories of the past, and they didn't vote for phony arguments and petty politics."
Hmm, "the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped to create this crisis," eh? You mean like government spending and regulation? Or was it 'tax cuts for big business'? I was under the impression that Americans did "vote for the false theories of the past" and "phony arguments." It's called 'the welfare state,' or 'Big Brother government.' As for "petty politics," I guess that's just what it means to dissent from our Sarcastic, Derisive, Arrogant Fool of a Leader.

Friday, February 6, 2009

ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate, United for How Long?

The Moscow Patriarchate in its present form consists of persons selected by the atheist state and is absolutely controlled by the latter and imprisoned. The main feature of this imprisonment of the Patriarchate is that it not only does not glorify the countless New Martyrs of the Russian Church, but even mocks their memory, stating that there are no persecutions of the Church in the USSR and that there have been no such persecutions.
ROCOR, or the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church on May 17, 2007. ROCOR waited a long time to end this schism, for a long time not trusting the Russian state to be substantially different from its Soviet past; or to keep out of the affairs of the church.

Present at the ceremony? Vladimir Putin:
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who played a key role in facilitating reunification, also spoke at the ceremony.

"The split in the church was caused by an extremely deep political split within Russian society itself," said Putin, who has attended Orthodox services.

"We have realized that national revival and development in Russia are impossible without reliance on the historical and spiritual experience of our people," Putin added.

"We understand well, and value, the power of pastoral words which unite the people of Russia. That is why restoring the unity of the church serves our common goals."
Our common goals... To me, that is a chilling phrase. What common goals do the Orthodox Church and the Criminal Fascist State share? Will Putin ensure that the Church has the state's goals?
Reunification has been a controversial issue within the church abroad, with opponents arguing that the hierarchy in Moscow still has not properly addressed the issue of KGB infiltration of the church hierarchy during the Soviet period.

Konstantin Preobrazhensky
, a former KGB officer turned Kremlin critic who now lives in the U.S. said Thursday in a telephone interview from Washington that he believes the church outside Russia would lose its independence and that eventually priests with loyalties to the Russian government would be sent to work in the United States.
The picture above is the criminal Putin present at the elevation of a new Patriarch over the Russian Orthodox Church (both home and Abroad): Kyrill.

In a recent article entitled "Putin's Espionage Church," Preobrazhensky begins:
On May 17, 2007, Russia has gained a historical victory over America. It has opened its province here, which is called the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Of Russia (ROCOR). On this day it has recognized Moscow’s superiority over itself by signing an Act of Canonical Community with the Moscow Patriarchate (MP). But in Russia the Church and state separated only on paper. In fact, the Moscow Patriarchate (MP) is controlled by the Russian neo-KGB state and has always been the pawn of the Russian intelligence.
Preobrazhensky exaggerates greatly, but he is to be taken seriously. For those who attend a ROCOR churches it should be positively chilling.

From Preobrazhensky, also read:
Does Putin believe in God?
An interview with Washington Profile

Perspective on Putin

From Ralph Peters, NY Post:
We Americans inherited a unique tradition from England, the belief in the freedom of the public space. But most human beings - not least, Russians - are content with the right to do or say what they want behind closed doors, among family and friends.
Sad, but true.
This was a move of genius. The Putin model - tolerant totalitarianism - gave the dying command-state a new lease on life. The new czar saw that most human beings don't care who governs them, as long as the government minds its own business. And if the ruler can revive the illusion of national power, so much the better.

Shamelessly cynical, Putin goes through the stage-managed forms of democracy. He even permits scripted media criticism of the state (though not of himself).

But there are limits to the new totalitarianism's tolerance. You can call Putin a baboon-butt monkey-boy over the vodka bottle at your kitchen table - but don't do it in public.
And in public they cheer: Putin has given us a strong Russia!
Working through the traitorous Ukrainian power-broker Yulia Timoshenko, Putin's also going to do all he can to "reunite" Ukraine and Russia. And he'll continue to use natural gas as a strategic weapon, while Europe boldly responds, Oh, dear. . . One really ought not to do that . . . Really, one oughtn't. . ."
Who is Ralph Peters? Wikipedia:
He spent ten years in Germany working in military intelligence... Peters later became a Foreign Area Officer, specializing in the Soviet Union. He attended the Command and General Staff College. His last assignment was to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence. He retired in 1998 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Interesting. My take is far less subtle. Putin is a cocky douchebag. He oozes bravado and fascist forcefulness. I can see all the Aryan girls cooing when Putin says, "We don't need help. We are not invalids. We don't have limited mental capacity."

I think Peters' characterization is interesting, but I don't share his optimism that Putin and his particular gang of thugs have learned some new and upgraded form of totalitarianism. They merely limit themselves in the ways they need to limit themselves, for the moment, to cement their power. And how can their control of the media and the public square fail to expand into the churches, families, homes and minds of the Russian people? It cannot.

It is the nature of totalitarianism to be total and the nature of power to corrupt. As soon as the Russians' unprecedented boom decade of economic prosperity dries up, the dissidents will be strengthened and there will be a reactionary wave of violence and repression. The networks of informants will be bolstered and people will, once again, be afraid to speak the truth in their homes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

As they laugh

As the smug and confident Joe Biden, useful idiot extraordinaire, administers the Oath of Office to the New Secretary of State, everyone laughs in lighthearted good cheer.

Meanwhile, in Pyongyang...

33 minutes.

I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems...

“I will set a goal for a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal, I will not develop new nuclear weapons; I will seek a global ban on the production of fissile material; and I will negotiate with Russia to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert, and to achieve deep cuts in our nuclear arsenals.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Iran: You Fail, America

It's what foreign policy hawks have been saying all along: if you make overtures of conciliation and admission of guilt to the world, it will see you as weak:
US President Barack Obama's offer to talk to Iran shows that America's policy of "domination" has failed, the government spokesman said on Saturday.

"This request means Western ideology has become passive, that capitalist thought and the system of domination have failed," Gholam Hossein Elham was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.

"Negotiation is secondary, the main issue is that there is no way but for (the United States) to change," he added.

After nearly three decades of severed ties, Obama said shortly after taking office this month that he is willing to extend a diplomatic hand to Tehran if the Islamic republic is ready to "unclench its fist".

In response, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad launched a fresh tirade against the United States, demanding an apology for its "crimes" against Iran and saying he expected "deep and fundamental" change from Obama.
Now Iran admits as much.

What do we expect when our new president goes to Egypt and speaks of the need to "repair" our relations with the Arabic world, even apologizes for U.S. actions? The U.S. has nothing to apologize for. And even if it did, what does apologizing accomplish? What does a foreign policy of guilt and self-incrimination accomplish? Nothing but the weakening of U.S. power, just when a professed enemy like Iran is at its weakest.

Of course now we see news stories everywhere about how Obama is initiating talks with Iran, Syria, etc. Not like that cowboy Bush, who wouldn't talk to them. Except, his administration talked to Iran 28 times. He just didn't make big public relations farces out of those events, turning them into propaganda for the Iranians like Obama is.

"Talking to the Iranians" is nothing new. We have been doing it since 1979. It's just that under Democratic administrations the Iranians get more propaganda value for their buck, ratcheting up their profile and influence, and under Republican ones they face tougher sanctions, less of a willingness to be played for public relations purposes, and a hard line against weapons development (but not hard enough).

Now that the mullahs will imminently have nuclear weaponry, it is not the time for conciliation. It is the time to support Iranian dissidents, completely discredit and legitimize the Iranian leadership, and exert pressure on the rest of the world not to trade with or give aid to Iran.

It is not the time to speak of reaching out, unclenched fists, and common ground. The Iranian leaders are criminals and tyrants. Is America on the side of freedom and the rule of law? Or is it on the side of terror? As it stands, Obama (and Bush before him) supports the criminals who systematically persecute the Iranian people.