Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Amherst Cauldron

Finishing school for Nazis
[This is a guest post by Albert.]

We have been fortunate to be outside the United States for these past three months, and able to take our news unfogged by the media cabal. The parallel universe occupied by US news is especially poignant when viewing something like the situation in the Ukraine. Lately we have been watching a rebel counteroffensive that had surrounded and slowly exterminated the NATO puppet army in the Donbass region, around the railway hub at Debaltsevo, in a military maneuver called “the cauldron.” It was executed by volunteer foot-soldiers who, armed with small arms and trophy mortars and rockets, scored a massive victory against attacking battalions of Empire's tanks and heavy artillery backed by NATO drones and AWACs.

The Russians remember “the cauldron” all too well. In the winter of 1941-1942, during the Wehrmacht Blitz on Stalingrad, Germany's northern offensive was stopped and surrounded in the Valdai Hills near the town of Demyansk. There, nine of Stalin's armies attacked Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb’s Heeresgruppe Nord (Army Group North) with the objective of breaking the siege at Leningrad and pushing the invaders farther west, away from Moscow. The Germans were facing a vastly superior enemy while freezing in their threadbare summer uniforms.

A cauldron
Cut-off German units formed strongpoints in villages that were bypassed by Red Army assault troops, and follow-up Soviet units had to constantly siphon off forces to try and overcome them. Some of the strongpoints fell, while others held out for weeks. Hitler demanded Demyansk be held at all cost, so the German commanders were denied the freedom of action necessary to prevent a Russian flanking maneuver. On February 9, contact with overland supply lines was severed and the Demyansk Kessel (cauldron) was born. Fortunately for the Germans, the Luftwaffe, at the cost of 265 aircraft, was able to resupply the 100,000 troops trapped there until a breakout could be mounted in March.

Which brings us to the present moment. We have been scratching our heads for an analogy by which to explain the war in Ukraine, which is auguring in a new Cold War between the US and Russia, to USAnians whose only sources of information are The New York Times, CNN or Fox. It is easy enough to watch Russia Today or read blogs like Club Orlov, but most people don't—and so absorb the sabre-rattling by senior Washington officials as if it were grounded in some actual facts. The analogy we concocted, while imprecise and awkward, nonetheless serves a purpose, which is to expose the psychotic break with reality that has taken place in the US media. Imagine, if you will, the region of New England plus New York in place of the Ukraine, with Albany in the role of Kiev, Maine in the role of Crimea and Canada in the role of Russia. To make the analogy work, we will have to assume that New York City will undergo a spontaneous existence failure at some point and leave that subject unexplored.
Wall Street Bankers watch warily from their penthouse eyries the power that populist movements like Occupy is gaining, especially in Albany but also in the New England States. Determined to thwart them, lest a revolt gather momentum against their interests, they decide to funnel millions of dollars to right wing rabble, to cause massive trouble... and to then wrest order out of the ensuing chaos (this part of their plan was always a bit sketchy, but they couldn't think of anything better).

Unfortunately, the only psychologically normal right-wing rabble they can find wouldn't pass the physical due to weight issues and is permanently glued to giant plasma TV screens with their mouths stuffed full of cheese doodles, and so they have to go with the rejects: skinheads, neo-Nazis, gun freaks and prepper wing-nuts. A State Department official is tasked with feeding and herding these rejects together.

After a sudden and severe downturn in the stock market, the economy goes into free-fall and events spin out of control. Anarchist rallies take place throughout New England. A prominent Goldman Sachs broker's Connecticut estate is overrun and videos posted to YouTube show pearled chandeliers and gold faucets. Throughout New England, grassroots efforts drive legislators to enact sweeping reforms. A new “uniform code” of banking reforms, designed to break finance cartels and prosecute fraud, takes hold among the states, snatching the initiative away from the bureaucratic heel-draggers at the federal level.

Then comes the great day that changes everything. It starts as a small protest march in Albany, to which the State Police predictably overreact. But then a group of snipers, of unknown provenance, kill a hundred or so people, both protesters and police among them. After that incident, a group of rioters, some secretly in the pay of Wall Street and coordinated by the US State Department, seize the Capitol in Albany. Much to everyone's surprise, the New York National Guard defects to the rebel side. Despite impassioned pleas from the Canadian Premier, Washington does not send in troops to restore order.

In the anarchy that is Albany, a slate of fresh faces wins a statewide referendum and forms a new state government. It is quickly endorsed by other parts of the emergent “New England Federation” of states, all of which want to push back against the Wall Street bankers and their corruption by enlarging the scope of the uniform code. But the federally-funded wing-nuts also move quickly to consolidate their power, pushing through a wide-reaching agenda of oppressive laws. Some states in New England try to distance themselves, while others serve as apologists. Maine surprises everyone when it decides that it wants nothing to do with any of this and votes to secede and join Canada. Washington vows to take Maine back but it is trying to walk a narrow line with Canada, whose fossil fuel resources it views as indispensable.

Instead, Washington imposes sanctions. Céline Dion is denied a visa and has to cancel her Las Vegas shows. Steven Colbert, Justin Bieber and other Canadians suffer similar indignities. Downward pressure is exerted on gold and silver prices, hurting the largest Canadian pension funds, and a speculative attack on the Canadian dollar drives down its exchange rate temporarily.

But now things get interesting. Having installed its hand-picked crazies in Albany, Washington can no longer control them. It is a textbook example of blowback. Aghast, the states to the East look on as their civil rights are revoked, non-New York residents are openly discriminated against and draconian rules and taxes are levied. All New Yorkers between the ages of 15 and 65 are conscripted into the New York Militia. Over 700,000 of them refuse to serve and flee into Canada, while another 100,000 or so flee to other states. With anyone with two legs and a brain heading for the border, Albany's recruits can only be described as “bottom of the barrel.” Many of them turn out to be quite interested in pillaging and terrorizing the population, but when it comes to fighting they are very quick to abandon their weapons and either run away or surrender.

Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire start to protest the heavy-handed Albany laws and begin withdrawing their support. Albany overreacts to this and sends its National Guard troops to take part in an “Anti-Terrorist Operation” to crush a large protest march in Boston, claiming that Massachusetts invited its help. When the tear gas and the pepper spray only enrage the crowd, the Guard escalates by going block-by-block with tanks and armored personnel carriers. When this tactic fails due to extreme hostility from the locals, the Guard withdraws to the outskirts and starts lobbing shells into the city from a safe distance.
The National Guard also digs in at Logan International Airport and from there commences a methodical shelling campaign of the city, laying waste to a number of symbolic, non-military targets such as the Boston Symphony, the Museum of Fine Arts and Faneuil Hall. This shelling campaign backfires massively: when a ballistic missile destroys Boston Latin School in the middle of the school day, entire neighborhoods of Boston line up to enlist with the Massachusetts Minutemen. The dispirited draftees and assorted wing-nut rejects fielded by Albany now face off against the entire professional class of Boston, which is determined to obliterate them.
In addition to the residents, numerous alumni of Boston's many colleges and universities filter in to take up arms in defense of their alma mater. The MIT grads specialize in interfering with and shutting down Albany's communications, which they can do more or less at will, while the Harvard grads launch a publicity campaign which defeats Albany's efforts at spreading propaganda and disinformation. The graduates of Boston University's College of General Studies work clandestinely to destroy the enemy's ability to spell, punctuate and do sums. The graduates of Berklee School of Music do their patriotic best by “embedding” themselves with the enemy and giving them a wide assortment of venereal diseases. And that's just four from a list of over a hundred local institutions of higher learning!
When the Minutemen finally regain control of the airport, where there is now hardly any above-ground structure left standing, they discover its numerous sub-basements and communications tunnels clogged with corpses. In addition to the usual wing-nuts from upstate New York, they identify quite a number of members of Blackwater/Academi, a few Navy Seals, some members of Homeland Defense, plus a few known Islamic terrorists. They let them rest where they lay and backfill the entrances.
When support rallies break out in Burlington and Brattleboro, Albany sends massive “anti-terrorist” strike forces there as well, clandestinely equipped by the Pentagon with missile batteries, tanks and artillery. However, not wishing the secret hand to become too obvious, operational control is left with to the Albany wing-nuts, who, not being adept at military maneuvers, get lost and find themselves encircled at Amherst, in Western Massachusetts and being slowly decimated by the Massachusetts Minutemen.

The New York National Guard now finds itself snow-bound, trapped in the cold, but killing whatever local residents they can find because that's all there is for them to do, while Washington faces a dilemma. Does it send the 82nd Airborne to relieve them, as John McCain is demanding? Canada steps forward and brokers a ceasefire between the rebels and the encircled NY Guard, but either Albany fails to give the orders to extract its stranded force, or their orders are ignored, and so fighting in the cauldron resumes.

As the National Guardsmen eventually surrender or flee, they abandon to the Minutemen 80 or so tanks that only lack fresh batteries, mended track or diesel fuel, hundreds of armored personnel carriers in similarly serviceable condition, railroad car-loads of ammunition, lots of artillery and mortars and countless heavy machine guns. The Massachusetts Minutemen now have all the weapons they need to equip 100,000 fighting men and march all the way to Albany, but disgruntled National Guardsmen may blow it up before they can get there.

What is Washington's response now? In what amounts to group psychosis, the Canadian Prime Minister is personally blamed for everything that has happened. The Norfolk fleet is moved to just off Halifax, where it spends its time steaming about on random headings. More stars of film and music, including Anna Paquin, Seth Rogan, Ellen Page and Mike Meyers, are singled out and denied visas. There are rumors of plans to seize the Alberta Tar Sands if Canada does not stop arming the rebels, despite zero evidence that the Massachusetts Minutemen are using anything more than what was in their own National Guard armories, plus whatever they took as trophies in the many battles they won.

Albany is portrayed as the region's defender of freedom and rightful government, with the implication that it will bring the whole region back into Washington's fold if given more time, money and weapons. No reporters can be bothered to interview Vermonters or to go to Maine and find out how things are going there now that it is a province of Canada. Certainly no one ventures anywhere near Amherst, which has become a heavily mined free-fire zone and a junkyard for abandoned tanks and APCs. No effort is made to find out what happened; instead, every effort is expended in presenting the Canadians as bloodthirsty criminals with imperial ambitions.
The Canadian reaction to all this remains predictably low-key. It seems that an extreme northern climate does not easily give rise to tempestuous expressions of public will. In spite of being sorely provoked, and in spite of continuous non-payment, the Canadians decline to shut off the electricity supply from HydroQuébec. After welcoming Maine into the Confederation, the Canadians limit their involvement in the conflict to provision of humanitarian aid via endless convoys of white maple leaf-emblazoned tractor-trailers, unconditional acceptance of all refugees from south of the border, and very active diplomacy with the aim of bringing about a cessation of hostilities.

The Debaltsevo cauldron
This is by no means a perfect analogy, but consider what the US media was saying as the Debaltsevo cauldron scenario unfolded. There was almost no mention of the cauldron, or why the latest ceasefire, which took 17 hours to negotiate, lasted just a few minutes—until the Ukrainian forces opened fire again, openly ignoring their orders. MSNBC just read the State Department press releases and the remainder of the media mainly recycled talking points from delusional windbags like Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh.

One obvious difference between the two narratives is that it is unlikely that the twerked-out populace of US states could ever organize an effective opposition to their ruling oligarchy, so our account is likely to remain fictional. But in the Ukraine the nightmare is real, ongoing and will not end well for anyone—not even for the oligarchs who started it.


Spanish fly said...

The best soundtrack for this post:


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Energyflow said...

Make it into a novel or short story. You have the skeleton form. Mozgovi, motorola, jarossch, semenchek can all have usa names. This might sell.

were you in donbass fighting?

Bukko Boomeranger said...

Along those lines, have other Kollapsnik fans watched this sad video of the before-and-after of a Ukrainian government army unit in a damaged house, getting ready for an assault by anti-Kiev forces? It's poignant, seeing the nervous, foul-mouthed troops joking as one bloke filmed them, and then looking at the footage taken by the victors after the encounter. I dropped a link to the censored version with the black boxes over the mangled remains of the soldiers, because I don't want to see people with half their heads blown off and their intestines spread across the snow. Gore freaks can find the straight-up version with a little clicking. If you're the type who likes to watch beheading and live immolation videos, that is. Only, the hard men who give a grim narration as they walk through the wreckage of the aftermath show more humanity than the death cult terrorists do. Russian and Ukrainian speakers would get more from the dialogue in this than English subtitle readers like me.

This post also made me think of a propagandistic entertainment piece in the New York Times over the weekend where humourist Gary Shtenygart spent several days in a hotel room in Manhattan watching nothing but Russian television over cable and computer feeds, as he gorged himself on Wagyu beef and booze. His purpose in the sneering, "look at those silly programs and Putin worshippers" was to lampoon the media for being tools of the Russian state. Which they are. I was dismayed that the NYT is also such a tool that it would give so much space to not-so-subtle propaganda to bolster the Cold War attitude revival toward Russia. I'm no fan of Putin, or any dictator. Yet the cheap shot that Shteyngart's piece represents is "on the nose" as they say in Oz. I won't bother to insert a link because it's not worth the click.

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Anonymous said...

As Petri said, the vassal or aspiring vassal states are recycling the same American garbage in their media. This is not a trivial matter, it is disinformation in a global scale in order to gain mind share for the next step.

With the impending demise of the American empire, it will not go down with a whimper. It will try to assert itself by kicking and screaming, by carving out a conflict to prop up is falling relevance in the world.

It cannot be forgot that Americans are Anglo-Saxons. Their culture is inherited from the British. When it became an empire, it adopted the same attitude as the British, including its insular attitudes. Much like Elizabethan England regarded rival Spain it's sworn enemy and used this to imprison, torture and kill is own people, as a matter of fact the first modern police state, so do the US regard rivals as enemies.

The US will deny as much as it can other countries regional influence without their mediation, like Europe and Saudi Arabia. China is historically hated by its neighbors. Iran was cut off from world trade. Russia on the other hand has managed to build bridges with its neighbors. Throw in recent history, which aging military commanders and industrialists long for, and there stage is set for a far from cold, but lukewarm or hot war, as it gets out of control.

The US are the most dangerous country in the world, putting every life anywhere in the world at risk.

The warmongers must be shouted down and mocked out of the public sphere, no matter where in the world. It is up to us the people to stop the corrupt elites in each country to make us canon fodder for their power plays.

Robertlowrey.blogspot.com said...

I love the term USAnians. One of the people who does give a good rendering of events is Wm. Blum, whose work I admire, but he castigates folks like me who argue that the US is IN America, it isn't America, but adopted its name for the specific reason of its empirical ambitions right from the start. But I agree with you, it means something, and why should 2 continents be smeared from the activities of one country that bestrides them like a colossus? (Although it does nicely "solve" the immigration problem from the South, after all, how can they be "aliens" when they are, unarguably, Americans?). SEEMOREROCKS has been giving excellent coverage, BTW, and about a month ago posted poignant posts featuring a woman scurrying around her house trying to get things done before retreating to the basement amidst shelling from the powers in Kiev. She was so outstanding, you could just almost taste her anxiety, as well as feel her basic humanity. It's all so sad and horrible and ridiculously unnecessary. Thank you for setting it in the US, unfortunately, the people who need to look at the situation from that perspective won't read it, and thank you Dmitri for your blog. But this isn't going to end well, is it? BTW, It's worse than you think here, Washington's propaganda isn't as effective as you believe, most USAnians are simply mind-numb about anything "over there", they literally have no idea of what a "Kiev' is, except it has s/t to do with chicken.

Wally said...

It's hard to know where to start - I'll begin by saying that Obama, Kerry, Nuland, McCain, Pyatt, the majority of Senators and Congressman and the entire neocon clique couldn't have disgraced the flag more if they all took turns pissing on it. They have been complicit in the murder of thousands of innocent people in Eastern Ukraine (and many other places).

The majority of Americans are too dazed, confused, uninformed and busy trying to make ends meet to be guilty of anything. Leaders are supposed to make sure that no disgrace falls upon those who they represent - but that's not how it works anymore. The conduct of the American government has been shameful to say the least - it has intentionally committed war crimes, in both a moral and legal sense.

Our government is a tool of Wall Street as is the IMF, ECB and NATO. It does not represent the desires and ambitions of the American people. Wall Street and the monopolist corporations do not want any competition consequently they want to damage Russia. Actually, I think Wall Street sees Russia as a giant "investment opportunity" to be commodified.

I feel sorry for the defenders of Novorossia who lost their lives when they were forced repel the Poroshenko's invaders. I also feel sorry for the untold number of regular Ukrainian soldiers (not the kosher nazis) who have been killed as a consequence of trying to be good patriots and just following orders. Most of these guys were probably too young to realize what they were being asked to do. The misery of their families must be unbearable - just as the misery of the families must be for the people of Donbass who have had loved ones murdered.

I have had the advantage of watching the entire Ukrainian crisis unfold thanks to Twitter.
Were it not for Twitter, what would I know? That's a pretty sad comment on the state of the media in the US.

Ultimately, the problem is the capitalist economic system that requires ever increasing resources and investment opportunities. That system is nearing the end of its usefulness but until it is buried, I guess we can expect more death and destruction.

Robo said...

As Wally notes, most Americans seem incapable of the kind of thoughtful detachment that this hypothetical scenario requires of any reader.

Kevin said...

This is a good analogy and a fun read. I wish I could get my friends (in California) to pay attention to such information, but they seem to be pretty thoroughly brainwashed by US media propaganda, and it's very much an uphill struggle.

@ Petri - I am perversely relieved to learn that America isn't the only country capable of spouting media nonsense and propaganda. But the sentiment is ignoble; for actually that isn't a good thing. If most western countries are doing it, then they might collectively be dumb enough to provoke WWIII, and that would be bad - even worse than what is already happening, which is more than bad enough.

@ Wally -

"The majority of Americans are too dazed, confused, uninformed and busy trying to make ends meet to be guilty of anything. Leaders are supposed to make sure that no disgrace falls upon those who they represent - but that's not how it works anymore."

I'm afraid I have to disagree. We Americans are responsible for our situation, and should not be let off the hook. Stupidity on the scale that we practice it in the USA is a sin. There is a moral responsibility to be intelligent, and we signally are not. Most Americans are deeply committed to certain forms of self-serving stupidity, and will ferociously attack anyone who exhibits signs of meaningful cognitive activity. As for our leaders - as the late George Carlin used to say: where do we think they come from - Mars? We chose them, or permitted them to be chosen for us, and they truly represent us. The miserable fate which surely awaits this country is entirely deserved.

The fact that American children are being raised to be just like their parents isn't merely a form of child abuse; it's a human rights violation, and should be prosecuted at The Hague, along with the war criminals in Kiev who are currently being dangled as marionettes of the USA and its vassals.

Jonathan Revusky said...

Up top, where you say Stalingrad, surely you mean Leningrad. The German Northern Army Group was attacking Leningrad in 1941-42.

simon.dc3 said...

Is interesting to note that the area being fought over right now was just as strategically important during WWII.
That railway junction (then called Kupyansk) is where the Nazis headquarted and used as their major supply line.

It was where 89 divisions were wiped out by the Russian Army as noted in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Jan 20th, 1943. Even if at half-strength that would've been nearly 1/2million. As noted in the article, the "Reich [got the] jitters"

Goto: bklyn.newspapers.com/52653652, is the article titled REDS ADVANCE ON RAIL BASE NEAR KHARKOV. Note how western media referred to the area as the "steel and coal basin" of the ukraine.

BTW, Dmitry, I noticed how you used the definite article all throughout your essay last week whenever you mention "'the' ukraine".
You've noticed what most have not yet grasped, that US meddling has set back the area to what it was historically known since the 13th Century in old East Slavic "ukrayina" meaning borderlands/hinterlands.

A land divided and contested by Lithuania, Poland, Ottomans, Austro-Hungary, and Russia until consolidated into a soviet state last century.

As I noted last week, "borderlands/hinterlands" to whom? And, how sad it is that it lasted less than a century as an independent and at-peace state and that it took Nuland in the 21st century (where we're supposed to be most socially 'progressed'(?)) for US Dept of State to frack it all up.

Anonymous said...

The graduates of Berklee School of Music do their patriotic best by “embedding” themselves with the enemy and giving them a wide assortment of venereal diseases.


Justin Kase said...

@ Kevin Some USAnians might be responsible for the condition of their government but the vast majority are not. The stupidity of the masses was carefully developed over generations. The vast majority alive now has had their every thought and belief indoctrinated and programmed from birth, and has no clue to their condition. If you try to point it out to them, most will consider YOU insane.

George Carlin did deliver large doses of reality in his skits, The two most relevant though are "Why I don't vote" and "You don't have rights, you have owners" As for taking things to the Hague, the owners are mufti-national and they own the Hague, and the UN, EU, IMF, WTO and most NGOs as well.

Marc L Bernstein said...

creative and thoughtful post It is rather eerie how deluded the media are in the USA, at least about international affairs, and most of all about Russia. As a result I have a sense of foreboding, as if some sort of major upheaval in the USA is gradually coming near.

So many journalists, writers, scholars and intellectuals have said much the same thing, that on important issues, "those mattering most" according to Steve Lendman, the mainstream media in the USA behave like cowardly, spineless "presstitutes", using Gerald Celente's and Paul Craig Roberts' terminology.

"What can't go on forever, won't" as Chalmers Johnson used to say. Something has to give. I sure hope that it isn't a major war. Chomsky, Ron Paul, Steve Lendman, Paul Craig Roberts and even Henry Kissinger have warned us all.

If it is war, I will oppose it, and if I must choose sides, I cannot side with my own country on this matter.

This is hideous.

Unknown said...
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messianicdruid said...

America will survive the united states.

jo6pac said...

Kevin said...

This goes along with your last paragraph. 5mins

Thank You writer sadly most entertaining.

treyh said...

I like reading your blog and agree with you on most if not all that you write, but am greatly disappointed that you have fallen for the US medias pejorative description of the right wing folks that believe in the US constitution as
"right-wing rabble they can find wouldn't pass the physical due to weight issues and is permanently glued to giant plasma TV screens with their mouths stuffed full of cheese doodles, and so they have to go with the rejects: skinheads, neo-Nazis, gun freaks and prepper wing-nuts." You correctly point out the US media as a state run marketing department and then fall for the BS they give you about the group of folks that have more in common with your perspective than anyone else in this country.

wagelaborer said...

This was a great post. Kudos to the author.

The only problem is that, even if most Americans read it, the analogy wouldn't resonate, since Americans grasp of US geography is about as good as their grasp of world geography.

Maine is near Canada?

Nickolay Shestopalov said...

@ Wally -

"The majority of Americans are too dazed, confused, uninformed and busy trying to make ends meet to be guilty of anything. Leaders are supposed to make sure that no disgrace falls upon those who they represent - but that's not how it works anymore."

I will comment by quoting Edward Snowden's remark in his letter to human rights group from Moscow airport:

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."