Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My White Privilege, My White Ass

I consider Tarek Fatah one of the good guys and a handy one to have around. When someone tells me there are no truly moderate Muslims I usually ask if they read Tarek Fatah’s book Chasing a Mirage. They will say, no, and the argument will then end up going somewhere else.  Evidently, there are Muslims in the West who are quite happy with the Western secularist society and value its civility over the Islamist medievalist mindset that now dominates the OIC and most of the social and cultural setting of the countries where Muslims are a majority. That quite apart from the most virulent strands of jihadism that have now flooded the Web and social media and thereby acquired global following.  That there are few Muslims like Tarek Fatah is a problem but not one he and those like him can do much more about than what they are already doing, ie. putting their finger on the backwardness and nasty nature of the politicized version of their faith.  So far so good. 

      Unfortunately, it appears Mr. Fatah has a different ideological hobby-horse, one that comes from his affiliation with the Left.  The Left has traditionally tried to push social agenda, which is ok, and push with it methods of accelerating the project of social justice which, as a rule, is not ok.   It is not ok because the perception of what is socially just comes often mixed with appetite for crude revenge against those who stand, or appear to stand, in the way of progress.  Often this appetite is not altogether self-conscious but it is there and palpable if you just happen to be on the wrong side of the nomenclatura.  On top of the list is the ubiquitous charge of racism.  



     Mr. Fatah’s take seems somewhat watered down but nonetheless I take issue with it.  He tries hard to avoid the term racist and racism, and even condescends to admit that some anti-racist people are white.  But, he maintains white privilege exists, and claims to have evidence for it.  He points as an example to the case of a white lesbian couple where one of the women was impregnated by mistake by a black man’s sperm and which is now suing the lab for a pile of money.  It is not clear immediately where the privilege comes into play in the couple insisting they have been injured by the error. The other examples have to do with the amount of news coverage that the ISIS and Boko Haram beheadings of non-white people, compared to that of Americans and Brits.  Again, Mr. Fatah’s perception that this to do with the privilege of whites seems hopelessly tangential.  He argues white racism but does not want to admit it. So he misuses a narrower term used for maintaining special (privileged) status of the white race.  The charge is far-fetched. The news of the butchering of the Chinese student Jun Lin by his boyfriend Luka Magnotta in Toronto was bigger news in China than elsewhere not because of a “yellow privilege” but simply because he was Chinese so they were more interested than they would be if he was, say,  Indian.  But if Mr.Fatah wants to hear some really sorry tales of indignities that the non-Chinese suffer say in Hong Kong all he has to ask. It starts in restaurants, where the gwai-lo’s (faceless devils, as the whiteys are called there) will be served out of turn.  I think Mr. Fatah makes the classical mistake of reading the natural human propensity to favour members of their own family, clan, nation, race over outsiders of these groups as evidence of discrimination, and with respect to the last of these, as a member of a racial minority in a very hospitable country like Canada falsely equates with some specific social “ill” which he chooses to call white privilege 

   Yes of course, we all have some horrifically banal tales of discrimination but some of us just have built a natural thick skin against it and would not dream creating political issues out of it. Especially, since in the bigger picture, these are minor irritants.  I remember working at the Department of Health in the 1990’s where charges of nepotism were regularly raised against this or that group. Indeed it defies logic that say one large family from Punjab would produce five biologists (or 55.6% of the senior researchers in the division) specializing in water pollutants capable winning a fair competition against all other applicants from all other ethnic groups in the cultural mosaic of Canada . Especially since three of them were not even biologists.  This was corrected eventually when complaints piled up, but all the same. Nepotism exists and doubtless some of it will enrage people trained to see injustices only to their own kind.  They will look for causes which are simply not there.




    I also find interesting the rationale that the columnist invents for the existence of this noxious phenom of white privilege. He says, it is not the fault of the person born white.  It is the product in part of what he calls white accomplishment. It goes like this: from Socrates to Thomas Payne, the Wright brothers to the Nobel Foundation, our contemporary civilization, undoubtedly has a (white) European foundation. Thank you very much, I think I am speaking for all us white folks when I say we are flattered to death.  But wait a sec !  Could it not just happened that the cultural genus of a rational organization of society opened up in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean. No ?  It did not happen because the people there were white. Or did it ? Actually, if the racially obsessed feels the content of melatonin in one’s skin is a measure of cultural and scientific accomplishment, then the darker Europeans would be closer to madam Blavatsky’s Aryan stock of India than to the paleface of the Franks, Teutons and Vikings.  No-one of any intellectual weight claims, or has ever claimed, in this white privileged Europe (or America), that the superiority of this culture is due to the race of its practitioners. And strange as it may sound it is because reason has no colour (or for that matter, gender) identity.  Indeed, it is by no accident that the white European age of Enlightment’s first work of note, Montesquieu’s Lettres persanes happened to be a biting satire of the excessive cultural self-approbation. Interesting that the genius chose the backward Persians to pillory the French for their lack of enlightened governance, eg. Usbek’s appraisal of the French king: The king of France is an old man. We have no instance in our history of a monarch that has reigned so long. They say he possesses to an extraordinary degree the talent of making himself obeyed. He governs with the same ability his family, his court, his state. He has often been heard to say that of all the governments of the world, that of the Turks or that of our own August sultan pleased him most, so greatly he affected the oriental style of politics.   

     So, there is no white privilege as far as I am concerned and to look for it one will have to blind oneself to the obvious: such terminus technicus is around only to assert that other races deserve to be more privileged than the paleface.  One only needs to take a look at the affirmative practices of the federal and provincial governments (graphically conveyed in the pictures above) to get the idea who and what purpose the scheme serves. In the communist country I grew up in, they called it nomenclatura.  Of course, it was not racial but class identity, but if you think the the commissars intended to remove discrimination by way of preferential policy to certain social segments, you are simply wrong.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

And In Kiev We Have an Uncle !

     I don't believe Winston Churchill's confession about Russia appearing to him a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.  It was play-acting, putting on he did not understand that Stalin was a Bolshevik, who signed a pact with Hitler to postpone an ideological war against Russia which both he and Churchill knew was coming. Winston showed he had firm grasp of the historical strategic interests of Russia in the next few sentences of that broadcast on the day Hitler invaded Poland:

......but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest. It cannot be in accordance with the interest of the safety of Russia that Germany should plant itself upon the shores of the Black Sea, or that it should overrun the Balkan States and subjugate the Slavonic peoples of south eastern Europe,  That would be contrary to the historic life-interests of Russia.
Thus, my friends, at some risk of being proved wrong by events, I will proclaim tonight my conviction that the second great fact of the first month of the war is that Hitler, and all that Hitler stands for, have been and are being warned off the east and the southeast of Europe.

    Winston Churchill knew his geopolitics; the gynocracy that rules the latter US State Department does not. They say things to Russians for which the Moskali have a clever old saying that goes like: "In the garden we have edelberry; and in Kiev an uncle".  The adage does not lend itself to an easy translation. It is a mocking paraphrase of someone who is full of herself, puts on airs, talks nonsense, gets lost in her own fantastic schemes.  It seems tailor-made for the US/EU posturing on Ukraine.
     
 
 
      Most Americans, in their arrogance and ignorance do not quite appreciate how lucky they are to have someone like Putin calling the shots in the Kremlin and not, some swell-head driven by an ideology, politically or religiously in a fundamental conflict of values with the West, and seeing himself the chosen figure to bring in a messianic kingdom, the Mahdi's rule in the end of days or a historically inevitable workers' paradise.  Of course, this appears to be talking edelberry to the likes of Susan, Samantha,Victoria or for that matter, to the martyred first lady and feminist presidential redeemer to come, Hillary Rodham-Clinton.  Ergo they, and their drone John Kerry,  will reply by pledge of support to their uncle in Kiev.

          The Ukraine narrative of the State Department and the MSM did not make any sense to begin with. The few wise old owls in the States and in Europe said so from the start in February and never wavered. Kissinger pointed out that this foreign policy adventure (like some others recently) lacks a clear objective, a clear-headed end strategy. Klaus (yes, him again) thinks this the unfolding of events in Ukraine are the greatest political tragedy of post-WWII Europe.  The former Czech president and the anti-EU conservative maverick calls the late  western lying about Russia monstrous.  If one may put it more politely, they are stupid

         Not always stupid, mind you. The reports of mass graves with hundreds of bodies of Russian-speaking civilians that Churkin and Lavrov claimed last week seem greatly exaggerated and one of the war tales that take on life of their own. There were dozens of civilians reported shot by the Ukrainian paramilitaries in Maiuopol last May.  It turned out to be less than a dozen.  But the fact remains that Donetsk and part of Lugansk have been shelled by the Ukrainian military and the Kiev paramilitaries since the ceasefire in what appears to be deliberate targeting of civilians.  That part cannot be denied or obscured by obnoxious formulas that makes the two sides equally guilty of violations. There is also the shameful silence on the hugely disproportionate number of Russian-speaking civilians among the victims. This omission looks like a sly suggestion that the innocent dead are victims of the pro-Russian "terrorists" who are in reality militias protecting the Russian speakers against the politics of ethnic cleansing (whether by intimidating them to leave for Russia, or by anti-Russian legislation that would deprive of political rights and their ethnic identity). That this is not some Moscow brewed propaganda kasha would be apparent to anyone who listens to debates in the Ukrainian parliament for one hour or less. 

       In no country which is a member of the European Union, or aspires to be one, a brutal suppression of an ethnic minority would be tolerated.  Unless of course it happens to be one which is Serbian or Russian. To those two, different sets of rules apply. Before the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 there were approximately two hundred thousand Serbs in Kosovo. There are twenty five thousand left today. The tragic fate of the Kosovan Serbs prompted even an deep-in-the-wool Serb hater like the ITCY prosecutor Carla del Ponte to revise her view, and speak out against the NATO sponsored Atrocity-aspiring-to-be-a-European-State that is Kosovo.

    Or Ukraine.  Russia is that country's small problem. The much bigger problem is essentially a lack of a vision that could make it a functioning, prosperous modern state. What continually destabilizes Ukraine is not Russia but its internal identity crisis, a series of obsessive campaigns to redefine itself as a monolithic national whole. The only sustained theme of this struggle is a desire to be "not Russia", which is of course what all countries once dominated by Russia want to be. In the family of the Slavic nations perhaps only the Southern Slavs, namely the Serbs, Macedonians, and Bulgarians do not have a built-in defense reflex against Russia's quest of Euro-Asian hegemony.  There are two problems however which make Ukraine's version of it more prominent. One, the cultural and historical bond with Russia is much longer lasting than other nations', with the Russian state actually originating in the Kievan Rus and pushing eastward. Second, there is a large Russian speaking minority in Ukraine, and beyond that another, much larger segment of people who are ethnic Ukrainians who speak both languages but prefer using Russian for business and convenience. It is estimated that around 50% of the country stills speaks Russian or both languages at home.  Culturally also, Ukraine appears to be joined to Russia at the hip, with a number of Ukrainian writers and playwrights still preferring Russian. In the Galician (western Ukrainian) version of national identity, people who do not write in Ukrainian would not be considered Ukrainians, but that is not the view of most other compatriots. There are ongoing squabbles about Nikolai Gogol's nationality, even though all of his celebrated work was in Russian. The Bard of Ukraine, Taras Shevchenko composed in both languages, though his diaries and most of his personal correspondence was in Russian. 

          So, to begin with, the project of some ethnically pure laine Ukrainian nationality is a dubious undertaking which will be resisted by vast segments of the population, whether it be enshrining Russian as a second official language of Ukraine (Yanukovich's project which he abandoned) or, conversely, drastically curtailing the toleration for the use of the Russian language.  However, the language question is only scratching the surface.  In an able brief on the major political challenges the country faces Vaclav Klaus pointed to the artificiality of the state, stitched together as it were from different ethnographic regions, with varied historical loyalties and religious affiliations.  This goes beyond different dialects of the Ukrainian language. There does not seem to be a uniting motive other that essentially the negative theme of not wanting to be Russian, or to be dominated by Russia, or to be dismembered by Russia, in short of seeing Russia as the source of all of Ukraine's current misery. In a telling little incident in the Ukraine parliament not too long ago the current mechanics of destabilization have been beautifully illustrated.   They have nothing to do with Russia. The two actors are both anti-Russian: the one punched in the face a well-known political provocateur hurling insults at the bigger guy telling him to go and fight terrorists in Donbas. The puncher is affiliated with the supporters of the most prominent of the anti-Russian oligarchs, Ihor Kolomoiskij. 

       Which brings us to the biggest problem of Ukraine since it emerged as an independent state in the post-Soviet era.  It is a country dominated by oligarchs and political operators. In many ways it resembles Russia under Yeltsin, dragged into interminable fights for dominance by the top dogs, out to get as much of the piece of action as possible. The MSM in the West have no inkling of the behind-the-scenes manoeuvering of the political blocks around the huge concentration of money in the country. Or perhaps the do but they are not telling. At any rate, the system is well-known to people who follow events in that part of the world.

      How do the Russians see all of this ?  In absorbing several discussions on Rossiya 1 TV channel from the last month, I was surprised to find out that there is a general consensus around key issues. The Russian hyper-nationalists (who want "re-unification" with the cradle of Great Russia) were generally held in check. Most participants (well known figures in Russian political debates, academics and writers), seem resolutely against any kind of  "pan-Slavic brotherhood" of the sort that is falsely imputed to Putin by the western politicos and their media butlers. They are nearly unanimous in supporting the idea of a federated Ukraine, as they are against the continuation of the war in the East.  Surprisingly, one of the loudest "hawks" in Russia, the vice-chairman of the State Duma, Vladimir Zhirinovsky showed up consistently as a peace-maker and made a really uncharacteristic statement that "the worst peace (!) with Kiev is better than war".  (I think this was posturing but all the same !)  In the exchanges with the Ukrainian guests, there were some heated debates. The rep of Putin's party was attacked for the alleged use of Russian troops and for supplying the rebels with heavy weaponry. The response was predictable: "prove it !"  The argument that I did not hear before was that much of the heavy weapons which the militants flashed late in July, in the offensive in the South, was supposedly bought on the Ukrainian black market (where, the story goes, anything is available). But it was greeted with derision by the Ukrainians, and funny faces by the Russian guests. Everyone with any brains in Eastern Europe would not waste any time on arguing about this. In the unspoken rules of the Cold War, the opposing sides fight through proxies. Putin cannot agree politically to the hare-brained scheme of Nuland and Powers to restructure the country with the Galician hyper-nationalists and integrists calling the shots through violence and political repression. The scheme would turn Ukraine against Russia and destroy its influence in the region permanently. Such ideas can only breed in the heads of people who have no sense of reality.    

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Secret of Islamic Radicalization in Three Paragraphs

There is of course more than a grain of truth in the ‘ennui theory’ of Islamic radicalization. Boys will be boys, and Muslim boys are culturally best equipped to resist the feminist nanny state that dominates the West, and creates a sense of guilt and inferiority in men.

     Yeah, the jihadi mania looks like the ultimate backlash to the batshit crazy feminist disease that would debase manhood and assign it an inferior social status among us. Destroy the male culture rooted in hierarchy, discipline, competition, superior ability, rationality, sense of fairness, and a notion of a greater good to which they belong and boys will act up. Bet on it !  They will recreate their original biological purpose: hunt, fight for dominance, procreate randomly, and follow the alphas into trouble. There ain’t no greater thrill in life for the humans who fly a ding-a-ling than go through hell following a leader, and surrounded by bosom buddies.
   
     So here is how you re-create the male barbarians: evict fathers, give boys double serving of motherhood; teach them self-seeking, crying instead of endurance, masturbation instead of algebra, ask nothing of them ! If you manage to keep them illiterate they will become urban mass killers going in gangs and getting stoned out of their skulls. If they get semi-educated in spite of every effort to keep them dumb and feeling worthless they will look for their “male culture” to express their dominance. If they don't find it they will become serial killers or mass shooters. The thrill of the ultimate revenge through suicide ! If they do find it, those who despise the ubiquitous Mother Superior, and find their way to the model of a male in an ancient village will be drawn to Islam like bears to honey. No twerking sluts there, no feminized academia, no loving gays and lesbians, no Erin Burnett or Christiane Amanpour, no stupid Susans and Samanthas running "our" foreign policy.  It just makes absolute sense to go cut some heads rather than be pecked to death by domineering matrons who fuck their way through corporate glass ceillings and then come home and get foul-mouthed bitches on TV sitcoms, assuming one was bright enough not to marry one. There just doesn’t seem to be much else for self-respecting males in the West left to excel in if they are not professional athletes or born geniuses. Women do everything else better than men these days. And the culturally engineered male chickenshit evidently needs more of them in position of authority over themselves. The ladies, it seems, are not yet fully satisfied with their lot in life. So the boys are told. Day in and day out.  So there are your recruits, ready to beat their chests, and pour over calligraphy as it came down from the ultimate Alpha male.  

         Now, what do you think ?  If someone like Winston Churchill was sitting in 10 Downing Street, would Britain see the likes of Anjem Choudary on its TV screens. Would there be a jihadi problem in Britain ?  Immigrants demanding Sharia over English Common Law ?   ‘We sleep safely at night’, Winston said, ‘because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us’. Destroy the civilized form of manhood and you will have the mess we have !

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Chivalrous Terrorists of Ukraine

Admittedly, it is not easy to explain why a Czech ex-pat after a Russian invasion in 1968 living in Canada would side with Putin on Ukraine. It is not easy to explain for a number of reasons. First, people – even the bright lights - are badly misinformed and lacking factual grounds to make valid calls about what is going on in Eastern Europe right now.  They fall prey to crude propaganda and make patently false assumptions about the hostilities. Second, and further, it has become a feature of the decline of democracy in the West generally, to take a dissenting political opinion not simply as a different approach to problems to be analyzed and critiqued, but as an exhibit of some combination of obtuse incompetence, moral depravity and lunacy.  The political polarization has become so pervasive that it makes a political dialogue impossible, and in fact redundant. Grandstanding and personal attacks have replaced a reasoned debate. In the electoral manipulations, it is not words and meanings that convince the masses. Winning is everything and the winner will be the one who can discredit the opponent(s) better. The style perhaps best exemplified by Ann Coulter and her struggle against the lying Liberals who are traitors to the Republic and who attack her ad-hominem.  Of course, in the logic of this culture of brainless recriminations, a Czech ex-pat of a 1968 Russian invasion who sides with Putin on Ukraine must be an idiot, or a paid agent or a pathological liar. 

It is interesting to observe how the MSM has fixed the naming of the actors and acts on the Ukrainian steppes.  The Kyiv government are the good guys, the underfunded, underequipped underdog fighting Russian invaders.  Kyiv’s paramilitary force is called National Guard. ( A word of explanation is called for here. The Russian and Ukrainian languages distinguish between narodnyi, in the sense of ethnic nation or a people, and natsionalnyi, as in state-national. The Ukrainian National Guard is Natsionalna hvardiya Ukrayiny.)  The Russian speaking Ukrainian nationals in revolt against the current regime that seeks to suppress their Russian ethnicity, are called separatists and terrorists.  Russia’s support for the rebellious regions is called mischief, and assault on Ukrainian sovereignity, and most recently an 'invasion',  an attempt to bend the Kyiv government to its will.   More than a quarter million Russian-speaking Ukrainian nationals in Russia are now called refugees, but until their numbers swelled in June they were called Moscow’s invention Got that ?  Good.  So let us see how all that works.  

Is the Kyiv government the good guys? Well, it is relative. Are they good guys relative to whom? Putin accuses the Kyiv government of waging war on its own people, which of course has more than a grain of truth in it.  Are they as bad as the Nazis?  That sort of comparison seems to be Putin’s narrative for domestic consumption, and really is counter-productive if he is serious about a political settlement of the conflict. The last thing needed here is more trash talk.  It would be enough to say that the large scale attacks on urban areas by Kyiv forces are unnecessary and shameful, and certainly merit condemnation in the West which roundly criticized Israeli large scale – even if precision – bombing of civilian areas in Gaza.  The added problem with justifying the Donetsk rubble is that there are no missiles flying from there in the direction of Kyiv, Lviv  and Rivne.

The apparently insoluble political conundrum in the Ukraine today arises from a fanatic definition of Ukrainian nationality. The exclusionary, oppressive view of national identity espoused in Kyiv not only flies in the face of an ostensibly multicultural Europe but the very notion of civility in our world. Yulia Tymoshenko’s now infamous histrionic threat of nuking the eight million Russian speakers in Ukraine is descriptive of this ugly phenom even though hers was more an angry blowing of steam than a statement of intent.  But still, the post-Maidan Ukrainian politics seem awash in such outbursts of irrationality and ill-will toward Ukrainian Russian speakers. President Poroshenko flew into a rage in the beginning of the month when the Verkhovna Rada (the parliament) refused to pass his bill naming the Luhansk and Donetsk republics “terrorist oranizations”. He called the deputies “fifth column” and dissolved the legislature.  This was posturing also but there are of course the real McCoy Nazis in Ukraine who do have influence and do shape public policy whose favours are being curried. One of the most vocal Russophobes is a Svoboda deputy Iryna Farion, who gained notoriety back in 2010 by berating five-year olds in a kindergarten for having Russian first names. Here is how she defended her action in a TV debate.  You don’t need to speak Ukrainian to understand one very important thing about what is going on there – the divisions are deep and hopes for a civilized dialogue slim. One faction's national hero is another faction's most despicable terrorist. 

Are the Russian militants in the East separatists ?  It is safe to say today that the great majority of the Russian speakers in South-East Ukraine and in refugee camps in Russia do not want anything to do with the new political model of Ukraine which is ostensibly pro-Europe but relies heavily on political support of the fanatically anti-Russian portion of the electorate.  Such union simply is a non-starter. And as the conflict lingers on, chances for even a loose federation with Kyiv vaporize fast even though the rebels called themselves Ukrainian federalists before hostilities started.  The mutual loathing grows rather than diminishes.

As for terrorism, this is a really curious epithet given that not a single act of terror against Ukrainian population inside or outside the defended regions have been reported as perpetrated by the militias. (This contrasts with the mass shootings in the Maidan square in February, and the revolting brutality against unarmed government opposition in Odessa). I looked hard but I failed to find even a single instance of some outrage against a civilian and political target that could be pinned reliably on the Russian-speaking fighters. That is truly odd – for supposedly terrorist organizations.  Imagine ISIS opening a humanitarian corridor for Assad fighters fleeing Taqba air base.  Kinda’ hard to picture that, isn’t it ?  So this Putin kind of terrorism must be some some sinister new brand. It does not use women and kids as hostages (even where going is rough); it flies the stripes of a Christian saint and recognizes chivalry as virtue.   

Oh yeah, the plane, the plane…almost forgot ! The militias shot down a passenger plane or so they are still accused though the findings of the investigators of the destruction of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 are now an officially guarded secret. Why would that be ?  Does this make sense in the narrative of the US State Department and the Kyiv government which maintains that the plane was shot down by the rebels ? The Verkhovna Rada passed a resolution condemning the act as terrorism before any forensic evidence was available from the site. Why would Kyiv want to suppress the findings if they confirm the accusation of wholesale murder by the separatist, terrorist, Moskali scum ?  My oh my !  What a strange world we live in !

Monday, July 28, 2014

Beware of the Bear !

It is a sure sign of the times that amid the hopeless and unmanageable mess that the US is fast becoming domestically and the mindless super-shitdisturber is has become in the world, the Dow Jones Industrial Average keeps rising and setting new records.  Amazing, isn't it. The mood is almost as jubilant as Hitler was in his bunker under the Chancellery on learning that FDR was dead. Fuehrer's optimisim was short lived. In less than two weeks Zhukov's shells were exploding overhead and his increasingly insane plans to turn the tide around morphed into a solemn resolve to kill Eva, Blondie and the genius who lay the foundation of the Ten Thousand Year Reich.

     So beware investors ! The Bear is surely coming and the second superpower Granfalloon is following its one-time nemesis to the fast exit from history. It will not be pretty. The US economy lives without a manufacturing base; it has not much to sell as better or cheaper copies of everything are readily available in a free-trade world; it imports energy by hundreds of billions; its Treasury is seventeen trillion dollar in the red and the debt and trade imbalance grow by the day.  So pardon me if I perceive the plan to the re-enact a cold-war victory over Russia to slow things down as a sign of terminal insanity comparable to Hitler's attempting to blitz the Red army away from Berlin.

     Pardon me also for saying that kissing the Saudi ass as a Middle-East policy that trumps a principled political support for Israel as the only democracy in the region, is a sure sign of dementia - not simply incompetence. The US missed two glorious opportunities to deal with the most poisonous oil spill in the world, the creeping medieval scourge of Islamism: first proactively by removing Faisal in 1973 to pre-empt the monstrously skewed "resource-based" world economy, and then reactively, by re-asserting its control over the Saudi oil riches permanently after 9/11, ie by an occupation a la Japan 1945, with an accelerated internal reform toward a Western-style democracy.  This of course would have been the sane and intelligent response to an unprovoked attack on the US that would  have sent chills down the spines of the caliphate-mongers, not to speak of instantly emptying their pockets. Surely, this would have been not just the better course of action, but one that would have been way, way, way more cost effective than going to Iraq and Afghanistan!   But naturally if you are demented why would you wage a short winning war for principle and profit from it, when you have an opportunity to wage two longer ones that are a losing proposition in all respects. 

    Surely, John you are mistaken ! (John Robson, The Ottawa Sun, Myth of 'international community', 28, 2014)  There is an international community and it is watching.  It sees what you see but draws different conclusions than you do. In the case of Hamas , the perception is somewhat complicated since the Obama and EU bureaucrats are hugely anti-Israel. But since they have never been less popular with the electorates, the media's criticism of the IDF shelling is somewhat muted this time around. Most people in the streets around the world want Hamas gone - by and large they are simply shell-shocked by the human cost of the operation.  There is little popular support for Hamas, except among the usual suspects. The ten thousand protesters in London on the last two Saturdays testify far more to the creeping islamization of the city's outer borroughs than a popular sentiment. BBC call-in shows show clearly there is a large sentiment abroad for Israel's plight.

    There is, contrary to what you believe, no big sympathy in the international community for Putin either. In Europe, the situation in the Ukraine is of course seen differently than over here, especially with respect to the hyper-nationalist ideology which threatens to destabilize the whole of Ukraine, not just the East. No European politician would be seen shaking hands with the likes of Dmytro Yarosh (He is now wanted by the Interpol). But Europe is leery of Putin after his repatriating Crimea without blinking an eye. They are afraid of him because he knows what he wants and they don't. Merkel, who holds the EU trump cards, seems hopelessly torn between Bismarckian Realpolitik and the FickendieEUundPutinPolitik on offer by the current breed of geniuses in the State Department who bug her cell phone. She naturally holds to keys in exerting the right kind of pressure on Kiev to come to terms with the East and accede to some form of federal compromise for the country. The place cannot be brought back to normal otherwise. Putin (or for that matter any viable Russian leader) will not allow it. Moscow is the go-to regional power there and cannot abide Ukraine to become a part of a hostile military block. Putin knows better than anyone that the Maidan charade cannot last because essentially Ukraine is politically what Russia was before Putin, a noisy cackle of oligarchs and political operators fighting each other for bigger bowl of kasha and personal fiefdoms while letting the country go to pot.

       So, the problem with Putin appears to be above all that he gets things done where Obama fails miserably.  You may be contemptuous of the "supposedly emerging giant economies" of the newly formed BRICS but it is a formidable achievement (just think of it, bringing China and India together !), and one that may change a lot of things about how the world economy operates.  Most financial experts know this.   And it is not only the strength and sustained growth of the aggregate GDP but above all their combined assets-to-liabilities ratio which will be the telling factor in the competition with the US and Europe. Mythical or not, the international community registers all this.

        Likewise, with the downing of the the MH17 jet.  I am sure many in the body which you deny exists would see through the pathetic straw man of the plane with "preloaded dead bodies". Yes, there are stupid people in Russia who create noise.  But what I find interesting is that you would quickly snatch that in the face the much more plausible conspiracy theory advanced by some senior figures in the Russian military, namely that the plane was brought down not by a surface-to-air missile but a sidewinder weapon fired from a Ukrainian jet. From my vantage point this seems a much more probable "alternative" theory of the plane's demise, given the amount of time a crew of a BUK battery would have to detect and figure the trajectory of the coming plane for the wreckage to end up where it did. (The Donetsk airport control tower is closed btw. It could not have provided infor on the plane's course). You realize of course Russian intelligence listens to everything that is going on in the Ukraine. So when a mysterious Spanish traffic controller tweets that it was a jet belonging not to the military but to the Ukrainian Security, it just might be a way for the Russkis to let you know you are not fooling anyone by that pointing finger. Incidentally, you have noted I am sure that Kiev's military started a new offensive to get control of the crash site the moment the rebels came to an agreement with the Malayisan airline giving the investigators full access and control of the area. Why would they want to do that ?   I am not saying I know I am only saying some myths are evidently more mythical than others.  And the Bear is coming soon,  you can bet on that.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

In Praise of Intelligent Women



There she is: bright, vivacious, gifted, rebellious, coy, untamed. Impossible to fit into any stereotype, including the modern feminist one. How does a women's studies scholar begin to assess a woman who says she wants her lover to be "handsome, ruthless, and stupid" ?  Of course the prof  can identify with the "stupid", and even "handsome" if she hails from the scholarly minority which does not consider heterosex to be a federal crime. But "ruthless" ?  How can any woman joke about violence against women ?  Well, evidently Dorothy Parker did not know about that since that terminus technicus was only born after she left the bar for good. (Best as I could track it, the abominable, ubiquitous libel on men comes from the coterie around Andrea Dworkin, the foul-mouthed former prostitute and dick-hater, who joined NYRF cca 1972). No, Dorothy was not a real feminist, unless of course you are a fan of the femme fatale version of the creed, pioneered by Germaine Greer (whose professed taste in men similar to Dorothy Parker, and to that of Diane Houpfle, a dominatrix character from Thomas Mann's Confessions of Felix Krull...).  In the featured quip above which which belongs to a collection that made Dorothy immortal, she even waxes lyrical about about being date-raped on account of her diminished capacity to resist.
         Times sure have changed from the days of Simone de Beauvoir, who noted that "our species are distinguished by the possibility of a sexual congress with a relatively unexcited female", and that sexual violence, such as it was, was mostly known "in the country and where manners are rough".  
"A man and a woman",  she wrote in The Second Sex, "are intimidated by the fact they are different: he feels pity and concern for her, he feels bound to treat her with courtesy, indulgence, restraint; she respects him and fears him somewhat; each is careful to spare the mysterious other, being uncertain of his or her feelings and reactions. Seems right to me, but then of course, Dorothy and Simone lived in an age when we in the West had a sense of identity in which fairness, justice and civility were the defining elements. They would defeat any sort of exaggerated sense of grievance, or reading of history in which some defining characteristic of one human group, be it professed beliefs, class, race or sex, would triumph over the highest categorical imperative that has guided us through history, namely the necessity to be, and act, human.      

Sunday, April 27, 2014

WaPo's Nazi-free Ukraine

      In one of the ascerbic Serbian political jokes told in Belgrade 1999, Mirjana (wife) wakes up Slobo (Milosevic) in the middle of the night, all panicked: "Wake up, wake up, Slobo, American soldiers are outside the house ! " . "Go back to sleep" ,  Milosevic tells her, annoyed at being awaken for no good reason, "it's our border patrol !". 
     
      Let me attempt to explain the point of the joke for those unfortunate Americans who only speak  English,  have poor memory and not knowing how to google their way to reality in the Internet Tower of Babble, rely on the so-called "mainstream media" (MSM) for the news about the world around them. Of course, the joke would not have made any sense even to Madeleine Albright  or Richard Holbrooke who had their own sources, but that is a somewhat different story.  For the ordinary folk in the land of the free and home of the misinformed, Milosevic of course was an usurper who was striving to create "Greater Serbia", one properly ethnically cleansed of Croats, Gypsies, Shkiptari (Albanians) and whoever else James Rubin (and his wife) cared to declare to be his enemies. Of course, the Serbs had a different perception of Slobo, who lived his dream of Serbia as the Big Brother in the Balkan Brotherhood to his last days in the cell of the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague. His popular image was that of a slippery wheeler-dealer (most Serbs would happily concede he was "dirty") who (by 1999) was badly outmanoeuvred by the lower ranks of the US State Department, dead set to reduce Serbia to either rubble or the size of Luxembourg, or both, if need be.  The joke of course also speaks to Milosevic' acting always - even through his worst bungling - like he was in control. Hence the howler about the border patrol. 

     Reading WaPo, the great bullhorn for whatever bull Secretary Kerry is made to recite thee days by the operations directors of the State (-anarchy-in-progress) Department, one gets the impression the bull in the bullhorn is getting stinkier.  Now of course, the villain today is not some local satrap who happens to be a traditional ally of Russia, as it was during the times of the friendly Boris Yeltsin tottering in the halls of Kremlin. The villain now is the President of the Evil Empire itself who has lulled the West into believing the empire was dead, or at any rate, more concerned in getting Russia catch up to modernity.  The Post editorial board collectively warns us that it is not so:  The Russian ruler [sic] has Euroasian ambitions. Even though Putin has never quite said of what WaPo accuses him of, one should not let the truth get in the way of a really scary story.

     I carefully studied Putin's speech that the editorial references (in translation here). Vladimir Vladimirovich certainly did not articulate a nationalist version of the Brezhnev doctrine. He did call Crimea going to Ukraine an "outrageous historical injustice" but he stressed that he himself concluded the transfer of the peninsula to Ukraine in 2000, and that the issue was "thereby closed".  He also made remarks saying in effect that Russia, and he personally, considered the Crimea and the Sea of Azov deal, an investment of sorts in fostering good relations with Ukraine, a sort of "land for peace" deal. As long as the relationship between Ukraine and Russia remained friendly (and brotherly), Russia would have lived with Crimea under Ukrainian flag. However, we expected Ukraine to remain our good neighbour, we hoped that Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine, especially its south-east and Crimea, would live in a friendly, democratic and civilised state that would protect their rights in line with the norms of international law.  This cannot be read as some universal principle a la Brezhnev doctrine that gives Russia automatically the right to walk in anywhere where Russians live and impose its will.  It does not even sound like Israel's reserving the right to protect Jews from persecution everywhere. It addresses Ukraine specifically, and the issue Putin articulates clearly is this:  "we are against having a military alliance [NATO] making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit Nato sailors". 
   
       The WaPo editorial elders accuse Putin of mendacious charges in saying the provisional government has been hijacked by nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites.  Now who is being mendacious here ?  Not only do the Svoboda and Right Sector party leaders posture and talk in ways (habitually referring to Jews as "kikes" and the Russians by the pejorative 'Moskali') that are deeply embarrassing to their western sponsors but they do so openly without the slightest blush.



       It is really unbelievable that something like the hoax in Donetsk at Passover, seeking to discredit the pro-Russian protesters, can be taken seriously by American legislators even for a minute . But obviously, the likes of John McCain are past caring.  Unfortunately, for the attempts of Washington to re-write the history and the roles in them, the issue of the Ukrainian collaboration with the Nazis during WWII. and the recent attempts at rehabilitation of the WWII. nationalist leaders  are impossible to hide. The protagonists are brazenly open and proud about who they are and what they want. 

      An amusing item that "corrects" WaPo's twisted perspetive on Ukraine appeared in the paper last  Thursday.  At issue are leaflets dropped from  a military-style helicopter operated by Ukrainian Security in the East warning the peaceful population against the pro-Russian terrorists and offering guidance how to protect their lives and those close to them. I repeat: it was a military-style helicopter which apperas to have been associated with the Ukrainian government offensive against the insurrection.  The curious item is the instruction number 5., on the list. It reads:

Avoid mass gatherings - there are agents of Russian special services among the demonstrators tasked with physically eliminating (!) all those who openly criticize Russian policies.  They will use you as "human shield"  as the occupiers of the Soviet Union did in the period of 1941-45.

Hmmm....thank you very much Washington Post for offering this curious piece of evidence for the existence of neo-nazi ideology within the current Ukrainian government.  Of course, places like Dniepropetrovsk and Donetsk were part of the industrial heartland of Stalin's Soviet Union (Donetsk was actually called Stalino at the time). They were part of Russia before the Soviet Union came into being.  So, the Soviets were not occupiers there (that despite the crime of Holodomor, which pace Solzhenitsyn was a mass political murder motivated by ideology rather than nationalism: I agree). So this piece of "history" sure will not fly in the Eastern Ukraine, and not just among the Russian speakers. There, like among most WaPo readers, Hitler and his national quislings were enemies not only of the Soviets (bad as they were) but of civilized humanity.