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D-Day 2014: Goings and Comings on the Eurasian Continent

7:19 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

Editor’s Note: Deena Stryker joins FDL Book Salon on Aug 2nd to discuss Lunch With Fellini, Dinner With Fidel.

Pres Obama talks with Pres-elect Poroshenko of Ukraine following their bilateral meeting in Warsaw, Poland, June 4

President Obama’s four-day European tour leading up to the D-Day celebrations in France began in Poland with the announcement of an increase in the number of American troops stationed there, as the post-coup government in Ukraine continued military action against citizens who refuse to recognize it.

The borders of Poland, Bela Rus and Kievan Rus (going back to the Middle Ages) have dissolved into one another for centuries with ‘Ukraine’ as an entity created during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Aside from that, Obama’s commitment to defending Poland from a threat to the east twenty odd years after the collapse of the Soviet Union is no small irony: Having failed to defend Poland against Germany in World War II, it would now defend it against Russia, which has threatened no one.

American academia has finally acknowledged that the Soviet Union played the most significant role in the defeat of Nazi Germany, the allied D-Day landing having signaled the opening of a second front to the one the Soviets had been fighting on since June, 1941. However, from the end of WW II until 1991, the Soviet Union was condemned by the West for creating friendly governments in its buffer zone of Eastern Europe, including Poland, and accused of being an imminent threat to the ‘free’ nations of Western Europe. And by declaring in 2005 that the demise of the Soviet Union had been a geo-political catastrophe, Vladimir Putin provided the United States with a handy excuse to condemn Russia’s every policy.

Russia is labelled as aggressor for respecting the referendum organized by Crimea’s largely Russian population that desperately wants to become part of Russia, as it had been for centuries before the Soviet regime made it part of Ukraine. It is also suspected of evil designs on the Baltic countries as well as in Moldova in the south. And yet, while Washington has made it illegitimate for Russia to resist encirclement, NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe implies that the Soviet Union’s concerns over its buffer zone were legitimate.

The 70th D-day anniversary will serve as backdrop for the first meeting between Obama and Putin since the Ukraine coup, which the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (an interesting, and probably post-Soviet title) Victoria Nuland boasted publicly that Washington spent five billion dollars preparing. It is more than likely that a good part of those funds went to Right Sektor, an ultra-right para-military group that trained in Western Ukraine for months before turning the peaceful Maidan protests into all-out war and installing a government in which it holds four ministerial positions while continuing to worship its predecessors who, as German allies, committed atrocities against Jews, Communists, Gypsies and Poles.

Notwithstanding this uncomfortable truth, the Polish government can no more refrain from meddling in Ukraine today than it has historically. However, Europe’s uncomfortable position between a rock and a hard place is evident in the arrangements France’s President made for receiving both Obama and Putin in Paris in the run-up to tomorrow’s ceremony in Normandy: He had dinner with Obama, then a late supper with Putin. (Putin also responded to journalists’ questions in a TV show, which you can see on RT or France 24.) The reality behind these diplomatic acrobatics is that as Western Ukrainians reach for a European dream that is fast vanishing for its citizens, the United States and its allies are faced with a nightmare: Russia’s spearheading of an economic zone stretching from the Black Sea to the Pacific, in tandem with China.

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Finishing the Job

3:58 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

At the Famine Memorial in Kiev

The existence of an American-backed putsch government in Ukraine suggests that Washington has decided to finish the job it started almost a century ago. The remotely controlled events in Ukraine are not about bringing liberal democracy to that country, but about securing its rich black soil for agribusiness, its minerals for defense contractors, its cheap labor for Washington’s European ‘allies’, and most of all, about drawing Russia into an armed conflict that would finish what was started in 1919, when a motley Western coalition known as the White Army tried to arrest the momentum of the Russian Revolution. Since then, pernicious socialist ideas have spread beyond the industrial world to the four corners of its former colonies, seriously inconveniencing the 1%’s plan to dominate the planet.

World War II interrupted the task of defeating people’s power. (Soviets were workers’ councils, and today’s referendum in Donetsk and Lugansk calls for a People’s Republic.) The war against Germany and Japan was a school yard fight among capitalists for supremacy, forcing the liberal democracies to engage Germany and Japan, momentarily interrupting their main task, which was to defeat Stalin’s Soviet Union. As soon as that war ended, Washington picked up the fight against communism,with the Berlin Air Lift, the Korean War, containment and the Cold War.

Fast forward, the ‘communist threat’ having been officially extinguished with the demise of the Soviet Union, in 2001 Americans were instructed to focus on Islamic terrorism so that the war complex could finish off the so-called ‘peace dividend’, obfuscating the fact that Russia would be an enemy in the halls of power as long as the socialist ethos remained popular across the globe: was not the second largest economy in the world, the European Union, a social democracy? Were not most third world countries trying to combine capitalist development with socialist protections? The economic crisis of 2008 seriously wounded the European welfare state, but did nothing to dissuade the rest of the world from setting up free clinics and Bolsas Familiales (as in Brazil), putting a crimp in the goal of world domination by the 1% centered around Wall Street and the defense industry.

Although upon the demise of the Soviet Union Gorbatchev had been given to understand that NATO would not advance into the former satellite countries of Eastern Europe, NATO got around that by coupling its membership with that of the European Union, to which most of the former satellite countries aspired. Currently, as Russia is forced to defend its influence in Ukraine (the two countries being not only neighbors, but essentially part of the same geo-political entity going back a thousand years), NATO rushes to conduct war games in the Baltic counties while readying missiles for Poland, ostensibly to defend against Russia’s supposed goal of recreating the Soviet Union.

My review of The Russian Tradition by Tibor Szamuely details Russia’s evolution following two hundred and fifty years of Mongol domination, how it came to be the largest country on earth and why long frontiers imply constant threats. It also suggests that absent any direct threat, Russia has no reason to again take over the Baltic republics, much less Poland. Last but not least, it suggests why Putin’s plans for a Eurasian entity include support for modernization in the Muslim countries on its southern rim, which is the opposite of America’s bellicose approach to the Islamist threat.

Alas, relying on sound bites to follow current events, the American public fails to differentiate between self-defense forces and shock troops determined to take power in Ukraine, allowing Washington to praise Neo-Nazi fighters that deposed an elected President in Kiev, while describing ordinary people erecting barricades against them in Odessa as terrorists. This abysmal lack of knowledge results in the most powerful country the world has even seen being able to accuse others for its bellicosity. Forcing Russia into a defensive position by accusing it of designs on its neighbors, then offering NATO protection, is part of Washington’s fight against the only two countries which together could challenge its dominance: Russia and China.

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Fascism: Which Flavor Do You Prefer?

1:15 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

News that another far-right European party has garnered about 20% of the vote in parliamentary elections, as just happened in Hungary, is increasingly deja vue. The banalization of Fascism across Europe is matched only by its pugnacity in Ukraine.  But are not revelations about the transfer of Hitler’s accomplices to the U.S., there to nurture a Neo-Conservative movement relatively recently out of the closet even more disturbing?

And what to make of the philosophy said to be behind Vladimir Putin’s ‘Eurasian’ plans, the work of the nineteenth century Berdyaev, refurbished by one Alexander Dugin, who seeks to create a Fourth Political Theory, after liberalism, communism and fascism?

As I’ve written before, governing the sheer number of people on the planet appears all but impossible without the use of force, yet totalitarianism continues to be most loudly condemned by those practicing it: the United States spies on the entire world, including its so-called allies, it assassinates its own citizens without a trial in its determination to rule the world. Even worse, though no one seems to notice, it consistently supports fascist-like political actors, ranging from Al Qaeda to Al-Sissi.

I’m tired of reading the same lament over and over: “How can our rulers be so stupid?” If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, but if it systematically implements fascistic policies, it’s not fascism, it’s that ‘they’ don’t get it. Really?

Moving on to the once and forever enemy, Russia/the Soviet Union/Russia, Putin may or may not be another fascist disguised as defender of the common man. It is clear he is against globalization, but should we not be concerned at rumors that he seeks to reconstitute not the old Soviet Union but a new entity englobing the same area, this time in the name of a ‘Eurasian’ ‘difference’ from both Europe and Asia?

The one interesting thing about this rumored project is that its theorists affirm similarities between the traditions of Russian Orthodoxy and those of Islam. An interesting idea, as the Arab Springs degenerate into more of the same, that I will investigate.  On the surface, it would appear they are referring to common social attitudes.

Ultimately, though, climate change aiding, we may be seeing the end of ideologies, with peoples across the globe realizing that they they have other fundamental notions in common: the rejection of Big Ideas backed by Big Guns, for the Big Business successors of nation-states. As organized revolts against militarized govern-ments become increasingly difficult, the trend is shifting toward small groups that trust the individual authorities of their members to organize their lives.

Letter from a Pro-Assad Syrian Resident from California

6:45 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

The U.S. is not so much pursuing a new Cold War with Russia, as trying to destabilize it militarily from both near and far: in Syria and in Ukraine. After OpedNews contributor Lilly Martin, a California born, medical professional married to a Syrian who has raised two children in that country commented on one of my articles, I asked her to describe the Syrian tragedy from inside. Pay particular attention to the last paragraph of her assessment, about Syria’s long-standing policy known as ‘resistance,’ which is never mentioned by Western media:

A portrait of Bashar al-Assad

Everyon in Syria hates Assad? Not so, says Lilly Martin.

A Letter From Lilly Martin

You asked me about my assessment of the current President of Syria. Prior to the crisis, Assad’s general approval rating was maybe 75%. After the crisis began, and it became apparent that it was a foreign engineered ‘regime change’ project, and not anything real, or grassroots, his approval went up slightly, let’s say 80%.

As of today, based on what I hear from friends, relatives, neighbors and various contacts I have across Syria, it is about 80%. I work helping the refugees from Aleppo, so I hear their stories as well, which are from a different community than where I live in Latakia. (Ed note: Latakia is the border area with Turkey largely inhabited by Alawites.)

My assessment is supported by an identical statement of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, who  in 2011 was in Paris on church business and stopped in at the FRANCE 24, the English language TV channel that is very anti-Assad. It toes the line of France, and the Holland policy of support for the rebels.

This innocent cleric stated what he saw and felt, but the TV presenter almost  flipped! She shouted, “But this is not what we are hearing from Syria at all!” He replied, “Well, I can’t tell you anything but the truth.” His true statement did not line up with her assumption that everyone in Syria hated him. Not so.

I have been here 21 years, I lived under his father’s leadership, and watched the new President come to office in 2000. When his first term finished in 2007 I thought he might start a ‘new’ election process, but he didn’t. Now in 2014, May 7th, Syria will have the very first free election based on voters, and not the one party system, as before. There are now 30 registered legal parties, one of which is lead by a woman. The campaign is just beginning, the candidates have been requested to submit their names, and also sign up for campaign funds. The election is open to any Syrian age 18 and over, no pre-registering required, no party affiliation required, you can be  independent of any party, and you can vote for any party.

The elementary schools have already begun a program in which the children participate in ‘play’ votes, in order to teach kids the value of voting, because they will be the next generation of voters. This is all brand new here! Before, it was one party, the members voted, then a general referendum public vote was done to accept the party’s candidate.

The new constitution was drafted and passed about 2 years ago. It abolished the one party system. Article #3 was controversial, because it demands the President be Muslim. Many people wanted NO religion mentioned, because for 40 years there has been a secular form of government here, but even the Socialists and Communists who were on the drafting committee said that socially the Syrians are not ready for a change on that point, and in the end, even the Christian community accepted it.  Maybe one day they will amend it.

I feel that if the ‘revolution’ in Syria, which began March 2011, had been truly a grass roots uprising of the actual Syrian people, living in Syria, the regime change could have happened in 3-6 months. But, from the outset it was so clear that it lacked the local, homegrown support of residents on the ground. It was always a foreign and expatriate affair, funded and supported by various Gulf and Western countries for various reasons, none of which was freedom or democracy. I hope that the election can go forward in peace and order and the Syrian people can have their voices heard.

I know they want a leader who will be strong and will continue a policy of resistance. This is another huge factor because the West doesn’t understand that Syria’s policy of resistance is not sectarian. The vast majority of Syrians, regardless of religion or sect, support resisting the Israeli occupation. After all, it is the brutal occupation of Palestine which is the real cancer of the Middle East.

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The New Fascism: Coopting the Nationalist Meme for Globalist Ends

10:35 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

Events in different parts of the globe strongly suggest that we must revisit 20th century history. We think of Fascism as a passing phenomenon that was vanquished in the Second World War, leaving us to cope with the equally dangerous threat of Communism. Alas, we must put that illusion to rest, for only by realizing that fascism never died can we make sense of today’s news.

A crowd in Euromaidan in Ukraine, with Ukrainian flags. One faces the camera.

Euromaidan: The new face of 21st-century fascism?

I had begun to suspect this last summer when it became clear that the United States was supporting ‘pro-capitalist’ Islamists. The crisis in Greece added another brick to my as yet small edifice: why was Germany making out inordinately well from bailing out that country? Following on Wikileaks revelations about private security firms such as Blackwater, whose techniques recall those of Stormtroopers, Edward Snowden’s leaks exposed the electronic tracking of the world’s communications that make the Gestapo (and Stasi) look like amateurs.

But it is with the Ukrainian ‘revolution’ that we have the  most blatant proof that globalization and fascism go hand in hand. Europeans wonder how Bruxelles can afford to bail out a non-member of the Union when Spain, Portugal and Greece are still mired in 20-50% unemployment. The answer discloses a painful reality: Western governance is not about striving for the best possible life for the most people, but about securing Louis XIV lifestyles for the global elite.

Seen in that light, the determination to draw Ukraine into the EU (first as a long-term guest) is about enrolling its citizens’ delusions of (European) grandeur in the NATO effort to prevent Russia from posing a serious threat to U.S.-led globalization. It’s as if the West had had to take a detour on its path to global, fascist domination to deal with the Soviet Union, and is now picking up where it left off after defeating its competitor on that path, Nazi Germany.

A few left-wing Europeans are warning of fascism again threatening the Old Continent, but as in the United States, their voices are drowned out by those of officialdom. The specter of socialism that gave rise to Fascism and its challenge to the ‘democratic’ West’s cornering of markets is greater now than it was in 1940, and it is compounded by the irruption on the world stage of radical Islam. Not that of Sunni Al Qaeda, but of revolutionary Shi’ism, which extends in various forms from Iran, through the Shi’ite-led Iraqi government, to Syria under the Ba’ath Party and into Lebanon with Hezbollah, and Gaza under a Sunni Hamas that is closely allied with Shi’a political ideology.

The influence of Marxism on Shi’ite revolutionary theoreticians, carefully kept from the Western public, is laid out in great detail in Alastair Crooke’s 2009 book Resistance: the Essence of the Islamist Revolution (Pluto Press) which should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand today’s world. Crooke makes clear that notwithstanding the Iranian regime’s co-optation by conservative clerics, its initial inspiration was revolutionary. It was not about ‘power to the people’ (or the Soviets), but it was about avoiding great disparities of wealth, combined with respect for even the poorest citizens. According to Crooke, the Qu’uran,

presents ‘giving’ as a redistributive mechanism to prevent excessive disparity in wealth. … It is conducive to a sense of ‘detachment’ from worldly possessions among the well-to-do; and prevents accumulations of wealth leading to monopolies and the domination of others … part of a wider purpose demanding that economic activity be viewed as one component in a human condition that is an integral part of a wider ‘being’ that encompasses the world in which we live.

Seen in this light, revolutionary Islam (as opposed to Sunni-inspired radical conservative Islam) mirrors the aspirations of progressives striving to achieve redistribution of wealth and maintain the Earth as a human habitat. And this in turn explains the resurrection of Fascism, which is concerned only with power and profit. The crisis in Ukraine (and Venezuela, and Syria) shows that it is relatively easy for a powerful alliance to manipulate popular discontent with any regime (whether more or less justified), to serve its own ends. You could say that the ultimate achievement of twenty-first century fascism, as opposed to its cruder predecessor, has been to usurp the people’s ultimate weapon – revolution – for ends which have nothing to do with popular aspirations.

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Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine: Axis of Evil or Civilization Flatlining?

2:46 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

 One can’t help but notice the geographic pattern formed by the three countries that are currently in the United States’ crosshairs, roughly across the middle of the globe.

Beyond that fanciful note, the governments of these three countries may appear to be very different from one another, however they share a crucial element: the Catholic Latin American, the Muslim Mediterranean, and the Orthodox Eastern European, are all located on the left end of the political spectrum.

Although Ukraine has been a ‘capitalist’ country since the fall of the Soviet Union, its current president is allied with a Russia that, as I have noted before, has not thrown the socialist baby out with the communist bathwater (demonstrators recently tore down the statue of Lenin in Kiev); moving westward, Syria has been ruled by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party since the 1960’s, and is the only truly secular Arab state (some of my readers believe this was also the case for Libya, but although all religions were tolerated, Gaddafi declared Islam to be the only universal religion in his Socialist Republic). And across the Atlantic, facing the Pacific, since Hugo Chavez became President, Venezuela has sought to implement the economic independence and equitable distribution of revenues called for by the 19th century revolutionary Simón Bolívar.

This could be considered a coincidence if all three regimes did not also share two other characteristics: their relationship with Russia and their relevance to the supply of oil.

The illogical desire of the Ukrainian people to be accepted as ‘Europeans’ given the EU’s dire economic situation, has been amply reported. Elements of the situation that have been given short shrift – at least in the Western MSM – include the fact that the Russia-Europe pipeline passes through Ukraine; that the leaders of the revolt have maintained World War II Nazi affiliations, and that they have been armed as no demonstrators in recent memory have. (Without arms, demonstrations remain demonstrations; they do not degenerate into civil war.)

As for Syria, let no one be deceived by references to Russia’s access to its Mediterranean seaport of Tartus; an Arab regime that is close to Iran by virtue of its religious affiliation to Shi’a Islam is on the other side of the ideological divide from, say, Al Sissi’s - or even Morsi’s – pro-capitalist, pro Western Egypt, not to mention Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies.

Washington’s three pronged aggression that almost spans the globe from West to East is not about democracy, or even replacing regimes that ‘have blood on their hands’. It represents a desperate attempt by the most powerful nation that has ever existed to maintain its dominance while the world increasingly rejects its values and goals. That is why we are seeing a united front between the younger generation of Islamic and left-wing activists: both are opposed to globalization and inequality.

Re the Olympics: “Do Not Trust Your Friends”

4:45 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

Russia Today (RT): With such biased Western reporting about the Sochi Olympics, never was an ancient Greek saying from the Trojan War more apropos: “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes”, “Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts.”

I’ve been watching Russia’s English language television channel, RT (Russia Today) for several hours a day for about a year now, and this has given me a picture of Vladimir Putin’s presidency that casual watchers miss. When you have seen dozens of interviews by American educated Russian Oxana Boyko, or French educated Georgian Sophie Schevarnadze, Americans Abby Martin and Max Keiser, or Briton’s goof-off John Brown exploring the farthest reaches of this vast country – or even the American ‘Resident’ who poses short questions to New Yorkers on the street, you realize that Russia‘s President is searching for something that is neither Western style capitalism nor Communism. That puts him on the same wave length as grassroots movements around the globe, whether we’re talking about the demonstrators in Muslim Turkey’s Taksim Square, Spain’s ‘Indignados’ or the Occupy Movement.

While taking every opportunity to reveal America’s problems at home and abroad, the ‘Voice of Russia’ seeks out movers, shakers and thinkers from around the world who have something useful to say about the possibilities of combining equity with development for humans in the throes of religious upheaval on a planet that challenges their survival as a species. American dissidents like Tom Hartmann or Peter Lavelle have been joined by Larry King, who prefaces his interviews with the slogan ‘Does the Media Abandon Us or Do We Abandon the Media?’

The sound bites that have accompanied the Sochi Winter Olympics, whether about security or the meaning of the low-level official US delegation (headed by the former head of Homeland Security, Janet Napoletano, while a U.S. warship stands ominous guard in the Black Sea over an anticipated terrorist threat), are part of an American campaign to persuade the world that alas, although the Communist Soviet Union has been succeeded by a capitalist Russia, the largest country in the world is still not an acceptable partner on the international stage because it is not a democracy but an ‘autocracy,’ ruled by a  former KGB operative, Vladimir Putin. (Never mind that President George H. W. Bush was a former head of the CIA.)

This campaign is made more difficult by RT’s message that according to a recent article in the Buenos Aires Herald is seen by 630 million people around the globe: cooperation is better than competition and confrontation. The new motto of France’s English language channel, France 24, ‘Understand the World’, is equally subversive, and both define the growing divide between official America and the rest of the planet. After a century of anti-Communism, it is almost impossible for an American politician or diplomat to see anything other than political maneuvering in Russia’s behavior, a lamentable continuation of the Cold War, when the turn to capitalism of a re-baptized Russia fails to signal its alignment with everything we represent. Washington’s antagonism toward the Soviet Union was based on its theoretic espousal of redistribution as opposed to ‘a level playing field.’ But the reasons for its current antagonism vis a vis Moscow are the same as those which drove us to war against Germany and Japan: commercial interests, which have only been heightened in a world scrambling for the last resources. And in that confrontation, resource rich Russia is seen as a threat to Washington.

Beyond that, while ‘the West’ (or ‘Global Corporatism’) seeks to maximize profits, Russia and China, harking to other traditions, see capitalism as the latest tool for achieving humanistic solutions to the problems of a post-industrial world, placing people above profits. And whether we are talking about the much-derided ‘harmonious society’ being touted in China, or Putin’s emphasis on traditional values evidenced in RT’s choice of investigations and conversations, both continue to believe that solutions require dialogue, negotiation and coopera-tion, while the now old ‘new world’ mindlessly touts naked power and confrontation.

Many Americans are prevented from understanding what is going on by a permanent background noise that goes something like this: “The ‘other side’ claims to want ‘peace,’ but it really wants to take over the world.” The dominant theme of the Cold War interpreted the slogan ‘Workers of the World, Unite’ to mean that the Soviet Union – the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ – wanted to conquer the world in the same way that Hitler did. This misapprehension is enabled by ignorance of both the fascist and socialist ideologies. Incapable of defining either political system, the American people have been taught to fear only one thing: lack of ‘freedom.’ The Nazi dictatorship having been defeated, we do not need to fear fascism: however, the Soviet Union having imploded without undergoing Western directed regime change, can still not be trusted under the name ‘Russia’ for notwithstanding elections, it is still an ‘authoritarian regime,’ meaning one in which the people are not ‘really free.’

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Sochi 2014: US vs. Russia

5:27 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

 

Today’s news that the Russian government is hunting for four Dagestani terrorists is accompanied by the seemingly casual announcement that the U.S. is so worried about terrorist attacks during the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, the Russian Black Sea resort located on the other side of the Caucasus Mountains from Dagestan, that it has poised warships in the Black Sea ready to evacuate victims.

As world opinion appears to be shifting from half a century of deference to Washington to a sometimes grudging preference for Russia’s international positions, the Obama administration will increasingly engage in anti-Russian propaganda and mischief as the February games approach. This afternoon, MSNBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel told Andrea Mitchell from Moscow that the U.S. finds Russian cooperation on security insufficient, and the Voice of America website complained that Washington is not getting all the information it needs to protect its athletes in the Games.

Although the Russian President declares that his country is prepared for any eventuality, fear is likely to inhibit American travel to the other side of the world in the middle of winter. Does anyone know whether the U.S. had ships poised off the British Coast during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, even though Britain had suffered terrorist attacks in the preceding years?

Perhaps not unrelated to Russia’s chance to show it can compete with the West in organizing a major international event, violent anti-government demonstrations in the Ukrainian capital Kiev have been on-going since the country’s president decided to forego an agreement with the European Union last November. Kiev is 860 miles from Sochi (a relatively small distance as Russian geography goes), and today, Washington accused the Ukrainian government of using excessive force, notwithstanding that dozens of policemen have been injured by club-wielding demonstrators. Their leader is world heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, whose far-right party, called strike, blow or punch, is allied with the Ukrainian neo-Nazi party Svoboda. Rumors that neo-Nazis from Eastern Ukraine have been the driving force in the months’ long uprising have been ignored by the Western media and no wonder: As with Washing-ton’s embarassing support of Al Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, an Assistant Secretary of State was photographed giving the Ukrainian demonstrators cookies.

Recently, there were two bombings in Volgograd, a major rail hub six hundred miles northeast of Sochi, accompanied by specific threats against the games on the part of a militant Sunni group that is fighting for Dagestani independence. (The Caucasus Muslim region of Dagestan was the home of the Boston bombers…) One of the men seemed to be referring to potential American spectators when he said:  “We’ve prepared a present for you and all tourists who come over.”

Alfred McCoy’s recent analysis of the fact that the national security state is not about national security, but about the blackmailing of national and foreign leaders in order to keep them in line, couldn’t be more apropos. The policy began with the conquest of the Philippines more than a hundred years ago and was perfected by J. Edgar Hoover, who founded the FBI in 1935 and led it until his death in 1972, accumulating embarrassing files even on the country’s presidents.

In the Philippines, as elsewhere, the U.S. resorted to all sorts of dirty tricks to get its way. But whatever happens in Sochi next month, it is unlikely to fundamentally alter the current direction of the arrow of time, away from American world leadership and toward a bigger role for Russia.

Why Do I Write About The Big Picture?

2:19 pm in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

I recently read that only 5% of Americans are interested in foreign affairs, and I believe that astonishing figure goes far toward explaining why we have been traipsing across the world in big boots for so long.  The ‘international community’ our Presidents invoke to justify intervention appears to be coalescing in opposition to that behavior, so Americans need to start paying attention to daily events beyond our borders.

A solder in front of a sunset.

Thoughts on the rapid, violent decline of the USA.

Forget about the butterfly wings flapping in Mexico that impact Siberia.  What happens from day to day in the 200 countries Americans share the planet with have a direct – and newly cumulative – bearing on our daily lives: whether taxes go up or down, whether social security is solvent, whether schools are repaired, immigrants welcomed or deported – and especially, whether we will continue to dominate those 200 countries with the most awesome military and spying technologies the world has ever seen.

Rather than the butterfly, it’s useful to think in terms of phase transitions.  A phase transition is a magic moment when a trend that was gathering pace reaches a tipping point and changes direction, whether for better or worse. The problems we face are disparate trends all leading eventually to phase transitions, but also, interacting and hence affecting each others phase transitions.

Another useful notion derived from modern physics is that the arrow of time is irreversible: once a trend takes off, it keeps going in the same direction until it reaches a phase transition. That is why when a political opposition  campaigns for peaceful change, it rarely succeeds.  It take a sustained acceleration of energy through a system to provoke a phase transition, or bifurcation. Examples are 1917 Russia, when the Mensheviks failed to obtain gradual, ‘civilized’ change and the more determined, better organized Bolsheviks imposed it by force.  This also happened in Depression era Germany, where the social democrats capitulated to highy organized and energized Nazis.

The United States is witnessing a monumental phase transition from uncontested world power to has been, as one diplomatic blunder after another bring its ‘Atlantic’ partners closer to the point of view of former ‘Third World’ nations whose voices are poised to carry the day in international fora.

America’s decline is occurring more rapidly that its ascent. I cannot advise you on how to cope with it, but I will continue to report and analyze the sea changes that constitute its daily markers.

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Sunni/Shi’a, U.S/Russia

9:01 am in Uncategorized by Deena Stryker

As sectarian violence makes headlines once again in the Middle East, the mainstream media still fails to outline its causes, which are ideological as well as religious, thereby distorting as well the increa-singly adversarial nature of the U.S./Russia relationship.

In terms of the Syrian conflict, the main reason behind the conservative Sunni Gulf monarchies’ determination to defeat an Alawite Shi’a president is that Assad’s Ba’ath Party regime is the only secular, progressive government in the Arab world. As such it is implacably opposed by Sunni regimes, not only in the name of fundamentalism, but also because of basic ideological differences.

When Iran is referred to as Syria’s main ally, it is strictly within the context of both being Shi’ite regimes. The public is allowed to forget that the mullahs came to power in Iran through revolution, in which socialist and communist forces played a role. (In a way, what is occurring in the Arab Spring is that progressives have been willing to give the Muslim Brotherhood a chance at leader-ship because of its long-standing history of social activism.)

Similarly, though it goes unnoticed due to lack of commentary by the media, the fact that Putin’s capitalism recognizes the social legacy of Com-munism, (and should therefore be described as a particular form of social democracy in which a strong president keeps oligarchs in line), probably accounts as much as oil or seaports for Russia’s support for both Iran and Syria. From regular watching of the Russian English language news channel, RT, it is obvious that although the Com-munist regime is over and done with, its suc-cessors have not thrown the baby out with the bath water. Vladimir Putin’s media outlet to the world promotes a form of capitalism that emphasis simple pleasures rather than mindless accumu-lation of ‘stuff’.

Together with the other BRICS countries, it not only condemns interference in the internal affairs of countries (a holdover from the Soviet Union), but wars of aggression across the board. As the U.S. considers five options outlined by its top military man General Dempsey, that have as much to do with Syria’s ideological orientation as with its lack of ‘democracy’, Russia continues to campaign for talks rather than an escalation of the conflict.

The same ideological inspiration can be seen in RT’s relentless coverage of America’s sorry state.