Tag Archives: russia

Stratfor looks at the growing monster of Russian ultra-nationalism

Summary: Far right movements are on the march again. In the US, Europe, and Russia. Here Stratfor looks at the disturbing political developments in the one-time superpower as it copes with rapid social change, their lost status as a superpower, and the economic stress from the collapse in oil prices.

Stratfor

Russian Ultra-Nationalism: A Monster of Moscow’s Making
Stratfor, 4 November 2016.

Forecast

  • The rise of Russia’s far right will undermine the Kremlin’s attempts to overcome the country’s deepening ethnic, class and religious divides.
  • The ultra-conservative movement will continue only to grow, thanks to its media influence and militant youth groups.
  • Moscow will work to curb the forces it has long supported in an effort to ensure that they do not challenge the Kremlin’s writ.

Analysis

Since taking power some 16 years ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin has worked tirelessly to bring about the return of conservative and nationalist values. His government has enthusiastically promoted the Russian Orthodox Church, depicting its patriarchs as the state’s moral compass. After suffering a period of neglect under the Soviet Union, over 25,000 churches and 800 monasteries have been built or refurbished during Putin’s reign. Meanwhile, the Kremlin has also launched a series of youth programs, the largest being Nashi, that teach conservative courses on politics, foreign policy and family values. Finally, after consolidating strategic economic sectors under its control, the government has presented itself as the people’s savior from the liberal, decadent oligarchs who once controlled the country’s resources.

By stoking these long-dormant sentiments, Putin has managed to shore up his power base and create a moral mandate for Moscow’s domestic and foreign policy. Whereas the West could once accuse the Soviet Union of being a “godless nation,” the Russian Federation can now claim to have God on its side. This thinking has undergirded several of the Kremlin’s actions at home and abroad, including the passage of laws restricting homosexuality and pornography and the launch of interventions into Ukraine and Syria. But Putin’s ideological strategy has its drawbacks. Inflaming far-right extremism has given rise to ideologues who want to push the Kremlin further than it is willing to go. And, when the Kremlin balks at their demands, they are no longer shy about voicing their discontent.

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Learning from the Cold War to prevent war with Russia today

Summary: Clinton has stocked her foreign policy team with advisors belligerent and reckless, eager for conflict with Russia – continuing Team Obama’s work. The military-industrial complex’s propaganda mills work to arouse fear and hatred of Russia, as  they did during the Cold War. Let’s learn from that history before we starting risk a terrible war. We were told mostly false stories about the Soviet Union. How accurate are those about Russia? {This updates my post from Oct 2009.}

“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it. That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”

— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s advice to Truman about starting the Cold War. Truman did so in his famous speech on 12 March 1947. From Put yourself in Marshall’s place by James Warburg (he helped develop the US WWII propaganda programs).

Ministry of Truth

Contents

  1. “Exaggeration Of The Threat: Then & Now”.
  2. A look at the Soviet side of the Cold War
  3. Heinlein saw Russia’s long crash – in 1960.
  4. About the demographic collapse of Russia.
  5. Reforming the US intelligence apparatus.
  6. For More information.

 

(1) Evidence that the US government exaggerated the Soviet threat

We can learn much about the Cold War being brewed today by reading about the first one. Histories of the CIA document its poor performance as an intelligence agency. While incompetence played a role, the CIA’s obedience to its political masters probably was more significant — driving the hyping of the Soviet Union’s capabilities and hostile intentions during the Cold War. For a summary see “Exaggeration Of The Threat: Then And Now” by Melvin A. Goodman in The Public Record, 14 September 2009 — Excerpt…

“A recently declassified study on Soviet intentions during the Cold War identifies significant failures in U.S. intelligence analysis on Soviet military intentions and demonstrates the constant exaggeration of the Soviet threat.

“The study, which was released last week by George Washington University’s National Security Archive, was prepared by a Pentagon contractor in 1995 that had access to former senior Soviet defense officials, military officers, and industrial specialists. It demonstrates the consistent U.S. exaggeration of Soviet “aggressiveness” and the failure to recognize Soviet fears of a U.S. first strike. The study begs serious questions about current U.S. exaggeration of “threats” emanating from Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan.

“In the 1980s, long after Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signaled reduced growth in Soviet defense spending, the CIA produced a series of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) titled “Soviet Capabilities for Strategic Nuclear Conflict,” which concluded that the Soviet Union sought “superior capabilities to fight and win a nuclear war with the United States, and have been working to improve their chances of prevailing in such a conflict.”

“…The Pentagon study demonstrates that the Soviet military high command “understood the devastating consequences of nuclear war” and believed that the use of nuclear weapons had to be avoided at “all costs.” Nevertheless, in 1975, presidential chief of staff Dick Cheney and secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld introduced a group of neoconservatives, led by Harvard professor Richard Pipes, to the CIA in order to make sure that future NIEs would falsely conclude that the Soviet Union rejected nuclear parity, were bent on fighting and winning a nuclear war, and were radically increasing their military spending.

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Hidden but important truths from the presidential debate

Summary: The last debate was mostly chaff, like the campaign mostly entertaining demonstrations of the obvious. But there were moments revealing deep truths about our government and us. They were, of course, ignored. Here is the story of one such moment, a statement by Hillary Clinton that is rich with useful insights — if we dig into it.

“Fire destroys all sophistry, that is deceit; and maintains truth alone, that is gold.”
— Leonardo da Vinci, from his Notebooks. A bad solution for political structures built on lies.

CyberEspionage

More essential insights from Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept: “In the Democratic Echo Chamber, Inconvenient Truths Are Recast as Putin Plots”…

“Donald Trump, for reasons I’ve repeatedly pointed out, is an extremist, despicable, and dangerous candidate, and his almost-certain humiliating defeat is less than a month away. So I realize there is little appetite in certain circles for critiques of any of the tawdry and sometimes fraudulent journalistic claims and tactics being deployed to further that goal. In the face of an abusive, misogynistic, bigoted, scary, lawless authoritarian, what’s a little journalistic fraud or constant fearmongering about subversive Kremlin agents between friends if it helps to stop him?

“But come January, Democrats will continue to be the dominant political faction in the U.S. — more so than ever — and the tactics they are now embracing will endure past the election, making them worthy of scrutiny. Those tactics now most prominently include dismissing away any facts or documents that reflect negatively on their leaders as fake, and strongly insinuating that anyone who questions or opposes those leaders is a stooge or agent of the Kremlin, tasked with a subversive and dangerously un-American mission on behalf of hostile actors in Moscow.

“To see how extreme and damaging this behavior has become, let’s just quickly examine two utterly false claims that Democrats over the past four days — led by party-loyal journalists — have disseminated and induced thousands of people, if not more, to believe. …”

Both are straightforward lies by Team Hillary about the Wikileak emails of John Podesta, propagated by good liberals and her loyal journalists — allowing them to ignore the emails’ damaging content. His conclusion is spot-on.

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Is Trump a tool of Putin? See the story & the debunking.

Summary: Another day, another smear about Trump. Our elites are desperate to suppress debate about the issues raised by Trump, hence the focus by political leaders and journalists on personalities, sound bites, and smears. Such as Trump, the tool of Putin!

The solution to the disturbing issues raised by Trump in Campaign 2016

Political Mud

The Left continues their attempts to prevent discussion of the issues raised by Trump (e.g., populism, immigration, globalization). The near-tie with Clinton in the polls show that so far their smears have failed (e.g., Trump as Hilter), so they have become more desperate. Yesterday’s post examined claims that Donald Trump has a perverted attraction to Ivanka. Here is another of their “throw smears on the wall and see what sticks”: “Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really A Thing” by Josh Marshal at Talking Points Memo. It’s gotten attention on the Left. Excerpt…

“At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.”

It was immediately shown to be bogus: “Fact-Checking That ‘Trump & Putin’ Thing” by Jeffrey Carr — Excerpt…

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The US & Russia: Cyber-cooperation against common foes

Summary: Two experts, Emilio Iasiello (cybersecurity) and Matt Epstein (Russia) analyze a rare bit of good news about global security. Despite the powerful political forces in both nations benefiting from the revived cold war, Obama and Putin have sought common cause in the face of the great 21st century challenge of cybersecurity. Note the bias. They mention Russia’s cyberstrikes, but omits mention the US and Israel launched Stuxnet — the cyberwar Pearl Harbor.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

Obama and Putin agree

The U.S. and Russia Re-Engage in Cyber Cooperation

By Emilio Iasiello and Matthew Epstein
Posted at Dead Drop (of the LookingGlass Cyber Threat Intelligence Group)
18 April 2016. Posted with his gracious permission.

In late March 2016, the governments of the Russian Federation and the United States agreed to resume their discussions on cyber security cooperation, progress that had been threatened after the commencement of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014, and western imposition of sanctions against Russia.  As part of this re-engagement to be held in Geneva this week, the two governments intend on accelerating the agreements in cyber defense first set forth in their 2013 talks.  Following up on this, in April, Russia reached out to the United States for additional assistance in combating Internet crimes, although no details have been offered as of this writing.

In 2013, Russia and the United States had come to consensus on certain areas designed to increase transparency and reduce misunderstanding that could inadvertently impact relations between the two governments, and in turn, build greater trust and foster better cooperation in cyberspace.  These areas include:

  • Facilitating closer working relationship between national computer emergency response teams.
  • Using the Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers to quickly and reliably contact the appropriate authorities to reduce misperception and escalation due to cyber-related incidents; however, early indications are that national centers specifically created to address the reduction of IT threats will be established for this purpose. These centers have already been using during Russian preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
  • Creating a direct White House-Kremlin hotline to directly manage a crisis as a result of a cyber incident.

Russia has a similar plan already in place with China, a signed pact in which both governments have agreed not to carry cyber attacks against each other, as well to jointly prevent the use of technology for terrorist purposes and interference in internal affairs that might destabilize internal political and socio-economical situations of both countries.  The pact solidifies both governments’ views as to their perceptions of the threats in the digital domain to their respective national interests, which are in contrast and serve as a counterbalance to the U.S.’ as well as several other Western nations, positions.

While it’s highly unlikely that the Russian/U.S. talks will address the same issues as covered in the China pact, it is nonetheless a positive development in continued confidence-building measures between the two cyber powers, particularly given the tenuousness of the current geopolitical climate.

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Stratfor: Cracks appear in Putin’s Kremlin as the stress on Russia grows

Summary: We tend to see the complex politics of America but assume Putin rules a simple autocracy. Here Stratfor describes the fragile Russian state, under incredible pressure from the collapse of oil prices — while a struggle appears to have begun to control its future.

Stratfor

The Kremlin’s Cracks Are All-Too Familiar

Stratfor, 27 February 2016

Summary

February 27 marks the anniversary of the assassination of Russian opposition heavyweight Boris Nemtsov. His killing sparked two weeks of intrigue in Russia’s top political circles, laying bare previously obscured Kremlin infighting and putting President Vladimir Putin’s continued control in question. The dispute, which went far beyond the death of one opposition leader or even broad factional competition, was in fact a struggle over who controls Russia’s future. In this it mirrored a three-year period of division in the early 1920s that ended in a leadership transition and set the trajectory of the Soviet Union.

Analysis

Struggles among the Kremlin elite are as old as the fortified stone citadel itself. The name Kremlin literally means “fortress inside a city,” a potent metaphor for the murky elite power struggles at the heart of Russia’s bustling government system. For the past decade, the Putin government has been divided into four camps: the powerful Federal Security Services (FSB), the so-called liberal reformists, the hawkish non-FSB security circles and a circle of those who are loyal to Putin alone.

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The hidden truth about Putin’s threat to nuke Turkey in Syria

Summary: Are there any limits to our gullibility? Why have clickbait and wild rumors come to dominate the news? A hot new story raises these questions. A possible answer reveals much about America and the decay of our democracy. {Second of two posts today.}

Ignorance is a choice

A source close to Russian President Vladimir Putin told me that the Russians have warned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Moscow is prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons if necessary to save their troops in the face of a Turkish-Saudi onslaught. Since Turkey is a member of NATO, any such conflict could quickly escalate into a full-scale nuclear confrontation.

— From Robert Parry’s “Risking Nuclear War for Al Qaeda?” in Consortium News. Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the AP and Newsweek, and wrote Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq (2005) and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ (1999).

It is an exciting story, and might even be true. Bu why would anybody take it seriously with such weak sourcing? We would, in an America where the Outer Party (its managers and professional) read for entertainment, not entertainment.  Zero Hedge, Pat Lang, Naked Capitalism and many others uncritically repeated this story.

I’ve been reporting on this kind of fun rumor since the FM website was created. Cable Cut Fever grips the conspiracy-hungry fringes of the web (resolved here), Robert Fisk’s story about a conspiracy to wreck the US dollarAmerica’s biological attack on the Ukraine arm, The North Pole is now a lake! (Are you afraid yet?), and the secret reason why The Government Stopped Reporting Lake Mead Water Levels. Even better are the recurring stories, such as the countless false rumors from Debkafile, Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons will kill us soon stories, plus the  annual Iran will have the bomb in 5 years stories.

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