Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Image of the Enemy

During my brief winter sojourn in Russia a tiny cold war has erupted between Russia and the USA. First, Mitt Romney calls Russia “our number one enemy” during the presidential election campaign. Then, after the election, the US passes the “Magnitsky Act” which promises to arrest funds and deny visas to certain Russian officials based on a secret list. The Russian legislature then responds with the “Dima Yakovlev Bill,” named after a Russian boy who died of heat stroke after his American adoptive parents left him locked in a car for nine hours. In addition to vaguely symmetric retaliatory measures, this bill bans Americans from adopting Russian orphans. This last little add-on may initially seem rather daft as state policy, but it has some interesting properties as Russian propaganda, of which you may not be aware. Although from the US perspective this move has an inane “...or I will shoot my dog” element to it, spun around the other way it makes it look as if valiant Russian politicians are trying to stop American fiends from torturing and killing innocent Russian orphans.

Because, as you probably already know, that's what Americans are generally known to do: they torture (Abu Ghraib) and kill (60 thousand dead Syrians in that American-inspired régime change operation so far). They allow massacres of children (Sandy Hook Elementary School) and then, in a show of solidarity with the murderer, they run out and buy up the weapon (Bushmaster assault rifle) owned by the maniac who massacred the children. They invade and destabilize countries and overthrow governments (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya). They also hold the dubious distinction of being the only country to ever drop nuclear bombs on civilians (Hiroshima, Nagasaki) and did that not even as a matter of national survival but more as a matter of convenience. And then they have the gall to lecture other countries about human rights! Obnoxious, are they not?

It should be easy to see why the anti-American button is an easy one for a Russian politician to push. Interestingly, though, pushing this button doesn't seem to achieve much of anything, and this is something that requires an explanation. To get one relatively obvious reason out of the way: the Soviets painted the Americans as the “imperialist aggressor,” and this rhetorical device wore out along with the rest of the Soviet system. A slightly less obvious reason is that many Russians are still plagued with self-loathing, as a hold-over from the national humiliation of the Soviet collapse, and, seeing their own country in an overwhelmingly negative light, automatically entertain entirely unfounded rosy notions about the United States.

But an even more subtle and more powerful reason is this: Russia is busy becoming rather US-like in lifestyle and in social organization, and foreign relations are a hindrance to the smooth running of this process. Russians now watch American TV shows (dubbed into Russian), they lap up American-style marketing and advertising, they have bought into the SUV craze, they like to shop at the new malls and big box stores, to eat out almost every night, and some (those who can afford it) are even embracing the concept of suburban sprawl by erecting mansions in places that are a long drive from city centers. Many of them want to travel to the US, or even to move there, to better soak up even more of the profligate US lifestyle (which fewer and fewer Americans can still afford). What made the Magnitsky Act effective to the point of stirring Russian politicians to action is that they really like the idea of being able to travel to the US, invest in Miami real estate, send their children to overpriced US colleges and universities and so on. It is an effective way to put pressure on them—not to stop mistreating people in detention, like Magnitsky, mind you, but to capitulate to American/transnational corporate interests. But in this the Russian politicians are conflicted: they like having access to the US, but having it would mean nothing if they weren't rich. In turn, the reason they are rich is because, under Putin, Russia has stood up to foreign interests and curbed the power of foreign companies in the crucial oil and gas business. And for this the US officialdom will never forgive them. Post-Soviet Russia was supposed to become an impoverished banana republic ruled by a pliant Western-controlled élite and serve as a playground for Western corporations, its mineral wealth there for the taking. The fact that this has failed to happen (largely thanks to Vladimir Putin) is an affront to everything the US stands for and holds sacred.

This, by the way, explains the nature of the US campaign to vilify Putin. He has been singled out for painting with the archvillain brush not because he is a ruthless dictator (the world is full of ruthless dictators that the US likes very much and actively supports, provided they play ball). The reason is that Putin, of all the national leaders out there, actually gave a reasoned, principled response to attempts at foreign political and corporate domination of Russia: something he has called “sovereign democracy.” Now, the word “democracy” gets thrown around a lot but means ever so little (more on that in a moment) but the word “sovereign” actually does carry a meaning: there is a rather short list of nation-states that one can still call fully sovereign, and all of them are, in the eyes of the Washington régime, pariah states: Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria (formerly). They are all on the Washington's target list for régime change. Russia is actually big and powerful enough to be able to walk a fine line between being Washington's indispensable partner and guarantor of regional stability and a pariah state, and American vacillation between treating Russia as a friend or an enemy is reflective of its ambiguous position.

Now, on the question of democracy, Western media have tried their best to paint the recent Russian presidential election as riddled with fraud and therefore illegitimate. Like having the Supreme Court effectively annul election results and appoint the president by court order... oh wait, wrong country. In fact, in the elections last autumn, Putin was elected president by a landslide (he's popular, you see) for a third term, after sitting out a term as prime minister, per Russian constitution. As Putin himself pointed out, if he were a tyrant, he could have just changed the constitution. Sure, there was plenty of ballot-stuffing and other irregularities, but the more important point is that none of the other candidates posed a viable alternative to Putin, making the question of whether one likes him or not rather moot. Reminds me of another election that took place last autumn: Obama got reelected because Romney turned out to be a bit too much of a scoundrel. He is a corporate hostile takeover artist by trade, and apparently the US isn't quite ready yet for a corporate hostile takeover. (But let's check back in four years.) The other non-option was the third-party candidate Ron Paul. Now, there is an eerie similarity between these alternatives to Obama: apparently, they are all Ayn Randians.

Ayn Rand was a mediocre Russian-born novelist whose quest in life was to propagandize free market capitalism (as if that were something that one ever needs to do) and to denigrate all other forms of social organization. She stood firm against all forms of mutual aid and social support that could not be effected via the unfettered free market. The avowed free marketeers Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan definitely had Ayn Randian leanings, and it is hardly an accident that “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan” is an anagram for “My Ultimate Ayn Rand Porn.” And what about that other non-option, Ron Paul? What did he choose to name his son? That's right, “Rand.” Now, for me, fervent passion for the works of Ayn Rand has served as an accurate litmus test for a mediocre mind. The best that Ayn Rand's thinking can offer is a way of getting in touch with one's “inner asshole”: if you are the sort of person who is driven to distraction by the idea that somebody somewhere might be getting a free lunch at public expense, Ayn Rand is there to help you nurture such feelings. Ayn Rand is beloved of America's self-styled “libertarians.” The real Libertarians were socialists, but Americans have a way of borrowing words they don't know and then using them to mean things they don't understand, like saying “football” instead of “hand-egg” and then having to say “soccer” instead of “football,” never mind that the entire world finds this unintelligent and impolite. As the character Inigo Montoya put it in the film The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

So here we have a country in severe crisis (the United States) holding an important election, which should, theoretically, be over whether it should stay on course of runaway debt and government spending, or to reinvent itself and so to avoid national bankruptcy and collapse. And it turns out that all the opposition candidates it can field happen to be followers of a mediocre methamphetamine-addled Russian novelist. Now, let me ask you this: does this pathetic excuse for a democracy still have the right to lecture others about democratic governance? Perhaps the wounded beast of American democracy would be better off finding a dark place to go and lick its wounds for a couple of years.

* * *

In case you are somewhat gullible and still think that the Magnitsky Act has something to do with defending human rights, let's see if I can disabuse you of this spurious notion. Magnitsky died in pretrial detention, where he was placed on charges of tax fraud. He didn't get the medical treatment he needed. He was an accountant doing jail-time in Russia, some say, in place of his Western clients. It is therefore beneficial, from a Western perspective, to make him look like a victim of human rights abuse, because otherwise it may turn out that he was shielding crooked Western financial manipulators (who, you may have observed, are legion), and then those crooks would be brought to light, and so on. It is very important to American politicians that the financial crooks (like Jon Corzine, formerly of MF Global) remain at large and continue stuffing the politicians' campaign finance coffers with their ill-gotten gains. Any attempt to prosecute them, anywhere in the world, sets off alarms in Washington.

Let me bring up another high-profile case of an individual who died in detention after being denied medical treatment: the former president of Serbia Slobodan Milošević. He died while waiting for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to reach a verdict in his case. Now, Magnitsky was a crooked accountant doing the bidding of law-breaking Western clients, while Milošević was the leader of a once-proud nation that NATO decided to humiliate and bomb into submission as a proxy for Russia (Russia and Serbia are historical allies, but, at the time, Russia was at its weakest and could do little to help). Now, I didn't notice any laws being enacted to specifically bar those responsible for Milošević's death from entering the US or to freeze their bank accounts; why do you think that is? Is it perhaps because Americans have different standards when it comes to human rights—one for those they like, the other for those they don't? If you believe that, then you probably also believe that bears defecate in the woods and that popes have balconies. Perhaps the “Magnitsky Act” should have been called “No Crooked Accountant Left Behind”?

* * *

Back to the Russian orphans: there are certainly a lot of them. Their numbers surged in the wake of the the collapse of the USSR, which caused a great deal of social disruption, especially in the outlying regions and single-factory industrial cities. The orphan population is not as large as it was after World War II, but it is an unfortunate situation nevertheless, especially since the orphanages could be a lot better funded. If wealthy Americans wanted to help Russian orphans, the could certainly do so without adopting them—unless, of course, they are Ayn Randians who turn livid at the idea that somewhere in the world there might be an orphan enjoying a free lunch at government expense. In fact, squandering resources on repeated travel to Russia, local legal representation, immigration filings and (since many of the orphans are in need of medical care) the ridiculously overpriced American medics is far from efficient. It would be far more efficient to help those orphans right where they are.

Better yet, why not adopt an American orphan instead? There is no shortage of these either. The majority of American children is born into poverty, and a fair number of these end up as wards of the state, stuck in long-term foster care. Rather than adopt a child from across the world, why not adopt one from one town over? The reason is simple: the children that are available for adoption are mostly Black or Latino while the Russian children are as white as can be. Racism in America has a storied history, but over the past hundred-some years one of its main forms of expression has been the so-called war on drugs. The initial enactment of the drug laws was accompanied by racist rhetoric: opium was first banned in 1875, to keep the Chinese from luring white women into opium dens and having sex with them (while opiates used by the whites remained legal). Cocaine was banned to keep “Negro cocaine fiends” from attacking white women in the South. Marijuana was seen as a peculiarly Mexican predilection, and the cause of Mexican lawlessness. This was many decades ago, but even today the majority of drug users are white (the US has the world's largest illegal drug market) but because drug laws are enforced in a peculiarly race-sensitive way, the majority of those in jail for drug offenses are Black or Latino. (Here is a write up on the subject from a retired American judge.) Thus it is that Americans are eager to fly across the world and adopt a foreign child, no expense spared, rather than adopt an American child from down the road who has been orphaned by their very own “war on drugs.” And this brings us to a rather pointed question: why should Russian state policy condone, aid and abet such blatant racism—with regard to orphans, no less? Is it not better to take this opportunity to shine a light on the gaping chasm between what Americans say and what Americans do?

* * *

The American tendency to see Russia as the enemy is largely an overhang from the Cold War era. Most Americans don't even have a passport and have little firsthand knowledge of the outside world, but have been heavily propagandized to hate the evil Russian Commies. The USSR has been gone for over two decades, but the propaganda is still being recycled, with what was once an ideologically motivated economic and military standoff between two of the world's superpowers slowly degenerating into plain old ethnic bigotry. The US badly needs an enemy, but with the disappearance of the USSR the American propaganda machine has been reduced to barking at its own shadow. You see, Russia just doesn't make a good nemesis. It may still be big, and it is becoming quite rich and prosperous, but it has no interest at all in destroying America. It just wants to buy a piece of it. As an image of the enemy, Russia simply doesn't fit.

According to Sigmund Freud's doctrine of small differences, in order to create an effective image of the enemy one has to start with something quite similar to oneself. The mechanism is simple: if the Other is sufficiently similar to you, then you can successfully project all the things you don't like about yourself onto the Other while denying that you are like that at all. But if there are hardly any grounds for comparison, then this self-delusional tactic doesn't work. Red Sox fans can hate the Yankees, but they can't hate the Zimbabwean Cricket Team, don't know who to cheer when they play Bangladesh, and can't understand what happened when told that one of them won by 130 runs on day five of the test. And so the damn Yankees make a good enemy while the Zim cricketers do not. The problem is, with the collapse of the USSR, Americans have been left alone on planet Earth with nobody to square off against, so they've been trying to get a rise out of Russia ever since, and failing.

The problem is that at this point Russia is about as opaque to Americans as Zim cricket is to Red Sox fans. If you want evidence of this fact, take a look at this recent report from the National Intelligence Council. Titled “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds” it lists some two dozen countries at risk of collapse—and not a single former Soviet republic among them. It shows trendlines for various countries; for Russia—it's a flatline. There are lots of qualitative statements about Russia (Russians drink a lot, etc.) but as far as an actual forecast of any sort at all—not a bloody sausage! You'd think that they had tried to come up with something—anything at all—on Russia, but the best they were able to deliver is a resounding “dunno.”

Since the National Intelligence Council happens to be so unintelligent on the question of Russia, let me try to plug the gap. The major similarity between the USA and Russia comes down to just one thing: the corrupting influence of free money. For the US, the free money comes from the ability to borrow abroad in their own currency, the US dollar, because it remains (for now) the world's reserve currency, although this particular joyride has been slowing down of late and could stop rather suddenly. For Russia, the free money comes from the ability to export natural gas to a captive market in Europe—a quirk of geology rather than a creature of finance, and since I don't buy into the hype about fracking, it is one that is unlikely to go away any time soon. As I tell my Russian friends, they won't have America to kick around for much longer. (And they look at me in amazement; I suppose the ignorance is mutual.)

As far as America's missing image of the enemy, the lesson is a hard one: you are on your own. Nobody wants to destroy you (especially since you are doing such a bang-up job of it yourself). Nobody wants to play with you and nobody wants to play against you. To figure out why that is, go lock yourself in the bathroom and spend a long while looking at yourself in the mirror, because at this point your image of the enemy is nothing but a reflection of you.


wuyi said...

My x and I adopted a 'gypsy' orphan outside Novosibirsk. She was ignored at the 'baby home' (Sheraponova?) due to mixed ethnicity and abandoned by her 14 year old mother...no judgements here, she is a sweet child and I love her dearly...just sayin'...do I regret the nearly 50K it cost (10K to the gov)? No. Do I think it was a crazy idea to travel to Siberia to get a child? Yes. Did I learn a bit about Russia and Russians? Yes. So it goes...

John D said...

Wow, honesty hurts! Great piece.

We of the UCA (United Corporations of America) are dedicated to consuming, not fighting. Those beautiful Russian kids are objects of delight, as are the beautiful Asian kids we import, as are the beautiful Russian women who are so eager to marry us. Ego gratification of the first order, for a price.

And yet there is such a need for love to reach these kids.

Humans are a fascinating species, so perfect and so deeply flawed.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the women. Unless stopped, men will take their hatred out on women even more openly and more brutally than today, as horrible as it is already. Some of the hatred is open like pornography, prostitution and battery, but much of it is dressed up in a language of economics, competition, free markets and a defense of freedom. Rand was also a crazed human and male supremacist. Sites like Zero Hedge already make it clear how men channel their "economic and geopolitical frustration" into a hatred of women, or maybe it's the other way around.

People generally don't accept being deprived of their entitlements, the corrupting influence of free money if you will. Men as a class will both try take their discomfort out on women, and expect women to absorb the shock materially as well. Men don't want to accept looking in the mirror and seeing themselves for their only "enemy", and therefore take it out on women who we can't let stay available for that anymore.

M said...

Thank you for the many insights I gained from this post. I do think the adoption issue is not quite as black and white as you portray. Friends (a white couple) who live down the block initially tried to adopt an American baby but the process was almost impossible, so they tried foster care. The child (African-American) was eventually sent back to live with the grandmother, despite the fact that it was obvious to all that it was a destructive environment and the child was only wanted for the government income that came with her. They went through the long but still manageable (and expensive) process of adopting a baby boy from Africa.

As collapse continues, I suspect it will be easier to adopt--you can pick up a child from the streets. But who will want to, as families will be struggling to meet their own needs.

Michael J. Petro said...

Loved it. To quote American writer Nelson Algren out of context: “Our myths are so many, our vision so dim, our self-deception so deep and our smugness so gross..."


Patrick said...

Great post, thank you. I really appreciate getting a perspective from someone who travels/lives in a foreign land, knows people there, can speak the language, etc. Your insights into our own culture and Russia's are always illuminating.

Re. adoption: I too have noted the greater willingness of Americans to adopt children from abroad than those from here. A couple we know spent thousands and went to China to adopt a girl. Certainly, there were hoops to jump through, but they told me once you have the child, you're basically done—here, the birth parent(s) retain the right to cancel an adoption for some period of time. I'm not sure if this is true.

One thing that's struck my wife and I over the past year is how many white couples we see with black babies and toddlers; something we don't ever remember seeing in the past. And it's not just in the vicinity of our rustbelt metro area. So maybe the trend of preferring foreign adoptions is changing??

RaySch said...

Good post. A recent news story about a French writer who was going to immigrate to Russia to avoid paying the high French income tax brings to mind an idea. Why doesn’t the US send all its corporate executives to Russia where they wouldn’t have to pay so much income tax. Russia could send all its corporate executives to the US where they could spend their money freely without having to worry about being indicted for corruption. And since the US is racist, we could probably trade Obama for Putin. Give it a couple of years and nobody would notice that anything had changed.

staticwarp said...

the other day i tried to tell my girlfriend about your post describing the long holiday in russia from the middle of december to the second week in january. I also told her about the essay on soykino, and talked about how much i'd like to visit russia. she promptly replied with something along the lines of "no way. russia sucks. it's a terrible place to live.". I was a bit aghast as she's never been there and never read about it at all. In an attempt to find out the source her her obviously propagandized ignorance, I asked how she knew. "a teacher of mine lived there for a few years and told us how bad it was". "during the cold war?" i asked. "yes, i suppose so." she answered. "You know that's over, right?" I asked. ".........well it still sucks there." jeez. I give up.

Anonymous said...

A bit ranty today, but at least it's contrary to the prevailing propagandic thrust here in the US.

To be honest, today is the first time I'd heard of any of this Magnitsky and Yakovlev nonsense. After some quick Googling and Wikipedification(?) my reactions are as follows:

1) The Magnitsky law is the height of hypocrisy for a nation that hounds Julian Assange to the ends of the earth.

2) The Yakovlev law seems fine to me. There are plenty of kids to adopt in hungry, overpopulated, impoverished Africa. No need to bring Russians to a collapsing land and name them Chase. Nobody wants to be named Chase.

John D. Wheeler said...

Thanks for the report. I really enjoy reading what you have to say about Russia. I've definitely been getting a new perspective on Russia with your recent posts. I do have to disagree a bit with your thesis of Russia being portrayed as the enemy. Maybe I'm just out of touch, but Iran and China are serving that role in the propaganda that reaches me. All I had heard about Putin was that he was a crook who was enriching himself at the expense of his countrymen and everyone else, i.e., a typical leader in Western civilization. I am glad to read a more informed opinion.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

From thew sounds of it, Putin is one of the best thing to happen to Russia, since it now has the strength and resources necessary to survive.

The cultural hegemony of the US will dissappear as the material wealth that backs it up finishs dissappearing, not long now.

Wondered what you thought of Ayn Rand, shes way too overvalued.

Unknown said...

It is so nice to get an updated view of
the country of my ancestors.

I was last in St. Petersburg during the 500th anniversary celebration in 03. At
that time, the nation was just emerging from it's collapse.

Your comments WRT Putin are right on. His thesis was devoted to Resource Nationalism, and he has played that card carefully and well.

I think you might also have mentioned Khodorovski, former CEO of Yukos, arrested just before he was to mortgage the company to CitiBank, thence to Exxon.

The US press and pundits made much of him, his legal representation, and incarceration, all the while totally ignoring how he got control of the company, and how he was selling his country out.

BTW, I live and work on a yacht, currently moored in Mill Basin, Brooklyn. I built my ship, and sailed it around the world. For more about this, please visit www.publicresearchinstitute.org and press the button marked "Pegasus Expedition"

If you want to chat about sailing please drop me a line at:



Dean of Oilberta said...

Well I've enjoyed reading your blogs. I just recently found out about something far more troubling than the collapse of the world economy or peak oil. It is happening in your birth country Dimitri. Arctic methane release is going to put us all in the ground before any of this matters!! Check it out at AMEG. Scary shitty stuff!
Dean in Oilberta

cmaukonen said...

Oh gawd...I just love it. One of the best pieces I have read lately on the US and Russia.

You have nailed it this time.

wuyi said...

to patrick and others,

USA adoption laws allow birth parents to reclaim child up to 18 years old. There is no true adoption in USA. Many Russians (and amerikans, etc.) will not adopt there own orphans. They are not educated and upon release are: boys-to army, now thuggery, crime; girls-to domestic servitude if lucky or sex workers if not. So we can debate endlessly about the morality of foreign adoption or we can see many children living their lives out in some way not so limited by others predjudices, politics or predilections...Dimitry...Have you actually seen the conditions at some of these 'baby homes? My last view of Shereponova as we left with Olga were the child-sized straitjackets hanging to dry on the balcony...there is so much to say, but suffice it to say 'judge not lest you be judged' and do your research before condemning others. BTW, I love this blog...

Mark said...

well, I'm trying to read the image at the beginning of the essay. A bigger, feminine figure with a sword has cut off the head of liberty and holds a blood stained sword high in a gesture of victory. bit of a Rorschach test engh? who has decapitated liberty?

well, since liberty must be defended by, and only by, a community of those willing to sacrifice everything for liberty, including individuality, perhaps we may also profit from knowing who did not defend her, as much as by knowing who holds the sword.

if only the world were not so complex ... or even this image ... i could figure out a better way than staying off the paths of men. honestly, the paths of chipmunks lead to better places.

tim nelson said...

The whole piece is great. The Ayn Rand part I especially appreciated. Ron Paul's anti social policies I see both ways. He is the most honest popular one out there I know of, but his connections to Rand ideology is mainly what unnerves me about him.

Unknown said...

America is like a freshly convicted rapist who constantly lectures his fellow inmates about their sexist attitudes. And how NO always means NO.

This lack of self awareness permeates to all areas on American society and most especially to the areas of war and combat.

Ask an American about WWI and WWII and they will tell you some ridiculous story on how they won both those wars and saved Europe's ass. In actual fact the contribution they made in WWI was less than that of Romania or Serbia. Not two two countries you often hear bragging about their WWI record.

Regarding WWII it's even more ridiculous. The total US contribution to that war was basically a whole scale massacre of civilian populations by means of mass bombing. Once they faced the German army in actual combat the germans killed 1.5 Americans for every casualty they suffered. And this was true for both offense and defense. Hardly a military record you would go around and remind everyone about. All in all very embarrassing.

How about the wars after WWII. Well that record is even more embarrassing. May I remind everyone of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. Name me one of these that that actually won. And by won I mean that they achieved even one of their stated goals.

The whole thing is one big embarrassment. Still Americans are proud as fuck.

horizonstar said...

You are forgetting about the victories of the Americans in the past decades.. Panama, Granada, all triumphs over stiff resistance.

And of course there is Chile, where they not only won militarily but were able to install their own dictator and Randian economic system to test the model for future applications in the Homeland.

Unknown said...


Congratulations then to the US for their tremendously impressive victories agains two tiny third world nations. I am sure each and every American can take pride in the fact that they spent trillions of dollars doing it.

Then you have the fact that they created a nuclear arms race that at least twice very nearly doomed the planet. All while draining resources away from infrastructure and education. Take a quick look at some US cities for the results.

All for some paranoid fantasy about a communist takeover. In actual fact there never was one. Declassified documents show that the Soviets never wanted to take over the world by means of military force. The Soviets had enough sense to realize that taking Europe by force would involve resources they did not have and would in fact never have. Loosing 20 million people have a way of putting things in perspective.

Anonymous said...

My wife relates to me very often about antirussian sentiments given in a kneejerk fashion by journalists on TV and in articles or in commnetaries to newspaper articles by readers on the net. People who have never learned Russian or know anything about Russia living in Germany who are not aware that Germany killed 25 million soviet citizens and hate Russia because they are non-democratic, alcoholics... whatever. It is a hangover from the past. But it all is because the whole of the west belongs in this sphere of US culutral propaganda influence and corporate and military control. Slowly after seeing the bank crisis and so many massacres in USA do many come to a conclusion that something is wrong with the USA, morally, spiritually. A people without a culture is like a church without God. As an American abroad I am desperate to find my "Roots" ,like my inner kunta kinte. I keep searching.

Judy said...

Hi Dmitry,

Interesting post. I wonder how you can write what appears to me to be such an anti-American blog, without any repercussions? Are you walking a fine line of your own? You must get some hate mail, but I am glad that it doesn’t appear on your blog.

The BBC reported on the Magnitsky Act. It did seem a bit odd, like the story of the blind Chinese activist a while back. It is attention grabbing because of the lack of a real story or motive. Thanks for providing a more realistic explanation. The adoption issue has been around a while though. I thought American adoptions had already been suspended, after a young Russian kid had been dumped on a plane back to Russia by his American parents who couldn’t cope.

I have noticed the attempted demonization of Putin and Russia recently, but I don’t think the US has put their best men on it, because it is not sticking. Russia is such an independent player holding all the aces, it’s no wonder Europe and the US are scared.

France used to be the wild card. I remember when the US were preparing to attack Iraq (for the second time) our Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was bending over backwards to please George Bush, but the French reacted independently, almost defiantly. Made me wish I was French or at least we had a leader with backbone. I think things have changed since then though. It does seem that powerful French men have been surrounded in scandals. Now it is Russia that uses its veto, as it did over Syria. I think Russia has already crossed the fine line and is already on the naughty list.

Russia has Europe over a barrel (or over a pipeline might be more appropriate). The UK was pretty self-sufficient in gas, but all that is changing and we are getting much more reliant on imports. Norway is our main additional supplier for now, but it is not going to be long before all our own gas is squandered and we will be at the end of the Russian export pipeline. (Well not quite the end because that would be Ireland. Not an enviable position for a country that has a history of being mistreated by the English.)

Countries like Germany already rely on Russia, and it is pretty damn scary when they shut off supplies to their neighbours or increase prices by 400% in the middle of winter. I can’t claim to understand what the hell all the politics is about, but Russia know that Europe is at their mercy every winter, and they have made sure that Europe are fully aware of it too. The UK is only just waking up to this, hence the government gave approval for fracking over the Christmas break. (Timed to perfection to avoid any protest!)

Which is the most dangerous country for Europe to cross, the US or Russia? No points for guessing who the UK government is going to side with 

I have given up on politicians. I think we will need to look to our armed forces for a real leader of the calibre of Sir Winston Churchill to emerge. Good leadership can make a world of difference to how the future pans out. Imagine a leader strong enough to make tough decisions, like introducing rationing, making taxes fairer for women and the working classes, confiscating land that is not used productively (I’m talking golf courses, pony paddocks and grand estates), getting urbanites back to working the land, persuading women to pack their children off to live with strangers in the country and encouraging everyone to dig over their lawns to grow veg. All this was achieved without rioting, looting and civil unrest. Now that is what you call a leader  If we have done it all before, why can’t we do it again?

I have never heard of Ayn Randian before, but can you do that crazy anagram thing with anyone else? I wish I was as well-versed in history and literature. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I really enjoyed this blog and the comments.


PETE said...

I guess that would be the best outcome - americans adopting americans. but alas everything is about 'consumer' choice, americans will adopt more chinese children instead.

Unknown said...


You ask which is the most dangerous country for Europe to cross. US or Russia.

I think this is exactly the wrong question to ask.
The correct question is: Which is the most fruitful partner for Europe in the future. US or Russia.

Let's get this straight. None of these countries have any chance of defeating Europe in a
military conflict. At least not without being completely annihilated themselves. Thus there is no real
military problem here.

My recommendation to the US would be, take a long look at your military record and adjust your expectations
accordingly. They go on and on about fighting China but they cannot even defeat a starving Afghanistan.
Confucius says: Before you learn to run you must first learn to crawl and walk.

So let's look at the pro and cons for a moment.

Not part of Europe either culturally or geographically.

Have no money.
Let's not kid ourselves here. Those banks are completely bankrupt and the population keeping them alive consist mostly of
1. Old people who believe in a fucked up version of history where they play some heroic roll.
2. Young people who are broke and mostly without future. They certainly have no chance of
redeeming all those promises they keep piling on.

Have no vision of the future.
Winning the battle against terrorism seems kind of ill conceived when you are the number one terrorist.
Killing civilians is what the US does best. Fighting this has as far as I can tell no real chance of success.
Also, let me just point out that I think making war with a billion muslims seems kind of stupid.
Especially since the muslims are sitting on all that oil. They might one day decide to no longer
accept worthless paper for that oil. Enough said.

Part of Europe both culturally and geographically.

Start to actually make some serious money. Certainly they have dreams about the future.

Sitting on massive amounts of natural resources.

Are not in the mood for stupid wars they cannot win.

Let me just say as a fellow European that I think Europe should just dump the US on it's ass.
I cannot be the only one who is tired of hearing the same stupid shit repeated over and over again.
We don't believe it anymore. Some of us never believed it. I think we need something positive here
and that might just be a change in allegiances. Out with the old and in with the new.

Stanislav Datskovskiy said...


The U.S. military, for various odd political reasons, tends to fight with one hand tied behind its back. Look up "rules of engagement." The soldiers often can't shoot an enemy without mountains of paperwork, ceremonies oddly similar to police "due process", are at least nominally forbidden to threaten civilians, and so on. If there comes a war with genuinely high stakes, for national survival (vs. the traditional need to churn through expensive arms inventory, feeding favourite-son contractors) expect it to switch into "full Nazi mode" rather quickly.

Unknown said...


Where exactly does the US military have the edge? Is it this extra gear you talk about(full Nazi mode)?

You see, the problem with this mode is it that it tends to trigger the same kind of ruthless attitude in your opponent. You may have a month or two of success, or even a year but the more you push, the more your opponent pushes back.

The Soviets took a serious beating in the first year of the fight and then
they basically went all in. And by that I mean all 20 million in the pot.

No retreat, no surrender and not one step back.

The Nazies managed to take out the first 10 million. But after that they where out of the Nazi game for good.

All the while your heroic American army waited until it was all decided. Then swooped in, bombed the shit out the remaining civilians and took credit for the whole thing. Oh yeah,
when they actually fought they embarrassed the shit out of themselves.

You may think those Chinese look all cool and worky. Making all those toys and cool plasma TV’s and cheap plastic trinkets. But that because you haven’t seen them go all in.

And by all in I mean like 200 million in the pot. Nuclear weapons and all.

Or perhaps your local muslim merchant strikes you as a friendly fella. Surely all that stuff they say about jihad and all that must be a myth.

He might be but when his 200 million friends all go jihad all at once you might change your mind. When they start waving those flags with nuclear mushroom clouds and chanting all those creepy death songs. I don't think you will not find it so amusing then.

I am not a betting man. I don’t believe in chance. Or rather I don’t believe in my ability in predicting the future. But if there is one thing I would would put my money on it’s this.

If the shit really hits the fan, no amount of stealth fighters, carriers or any other bullshit overpriced piece of garbage american hardware will make the slightest bit of difference.
It will all come down to who wants it the most.

Are you sure it will be the America people?

Stanislav Datskovskiy said...


You may have misunderstood my comment. A U.S. military transition to "full Nazi mode" doesn't imply "winning" (in the sense of bringing the world back under its leather boot.) "Nazi" should be understood here as describing ruthlessness, rather than effectiveness.

As Mr. Orlov explained in one of his books, it is rather likely that American soldiers will end up marooned overseas in the event of a sudden political collapse. They will be fighting for physical survival (and subjugation of the locals.) Just how much of a mess they will be able to make before they disappear into the history books remains to be seen. Some servicemen will find it impossible to fight without an air-conditioned tent and six flavours of ice cream. Others will make terrifying and creative use of a collapse in the chain of command and the abolition of bureaucratic "rules of engagement," the pretense of "human rights," and the like.

Paul said...

'Wondered what you thought of Ayn Rand, shes way too overvalued.'

By whom, Leo? Only by people who are so 'thick' they laud her for equating 'the law of the jungle' with, as they, in their purblind idiocy, view as a philosophy: her 'philosophy'. Dmitry was careless in rating her above 'a tenth-rate' novelist.

Her supporters are arguably the only people on the face of the earth, then or now, more malign and cretinous than herself. To describe them as cartoonish characters, would be an insult to Popeye and Olive Oil. She did look a bit like Olive, come to think of it.

Jetgraphics said...

Americans are baffled by their government's actions. Some think it's not doing enough. Some think it's doing too much. Those who are recipients want more. Those who are donors don't want to give more. Basically, it's the duality of the usurer / collectivist alliance that holds the reins. Though they pretend to be arch rivals, they cooperate in shearing the sheeple.
Americans haven't had capitalism since 1933, and haven't paid attention to the perpetual "temporary" state of emergency declared in 1933.
Unfortunately, due to the unsustainability of usury in a finite money token system, the USA is fated to suffer an economic "correction" (use your imagination).
Nearly 60% of American families are dependent on government for their salaries, pensions and /or entitlements. That does not bode well for the donor class, outvoted as it is.
Worse, the Congress is borrowing more than it pays in debt service - which is what Bernie Madoff is in prison for doing - in the private sector.
Ultimately, Americans will have to awaken to the fact that wealth is not prosperity, and money is useless if the market is bare.
Prosperity, in simple terms, is the production, trade and enjoyment of surplus usable goods and services. Doing more with less so more can enjoy is the recipe for happiness. Doing less with more so few can enjoy is the recipe for misery
Money madness plagues many nations, and blaming the rich is no solution, either.
Dividing wealth and redistributing it does nothing but reduce it, while penalizing the productive for the benefit of the non-productive. Such a system is doomed to collapse. But what may arise from the ashes, is my concern, now.

Blindweb said...

Rand Paul was not named after Ayn Rand. Ron Paul was the best hope for a controlled contraction of the US empire. Hundreds of thousands of impoverished people will die instead, between the middle east and South of the border.

While I, a lifetime student of philosophy, find Ayn Rand was an average level philosopher I notice that no one ever actually points out the flaws in her philosophy, or even has a great enough understanding of her philosophy to properly state it. Please actually read her work before attacking it. Oh so trendy to attack Ayn Rand, but I would dare say her philosophy, while seriously flawed, is a moral level greater than a pure sociopathic power-based philosophy of Obama. Even Bush at least had a moral compass based on some confused Christianity, although Cheney did not of course.