Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What You Don't Know About the Bailout

Mark Steyn is not getting it. On his blog yesterday, he cheers for Mark Levin’s idea of eliminating the US corporate tax as a way of providing “liquid refreshment” to the ailing US finances. He thinks it would be better not to eliminate the tax altogether, but to reduce it “dramatically”. He asks - the drain hoping to be mistaken for a plumber - if it is not reasonable to expect a Republican Washington after a decade to be down at least to the corporate rate of Sweden.

Hell Mark, what are you trying to do ? Turn the army of corporate tax lawyers into a bunch of nickel-and-dime bush-leaguers ? This is not Russia, ya’know, where a prez can invite the oligarchs for a friendly chat in a Kremlin rococco hall, and and lo and behold, the big boys do feel persuaded to do their citizens’ duty in preference to seeing the bolshevik hordes storming their palaces. They didn’t tell Putin in 2000: ‘Yeah, sure, Volod’a, we’ll have our tax experts look at what we should be paying Caesar’.

Come to think of it, maybe a bit of class warfare would be good for America. If for nothing else then to declaw the arrogant neocon visionaries. Krauthammer, last week traced the credit orgies, that date from the Reagan’s years and the deregulated S&Ls, to Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. He believes the ‘pressure’ on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and down the line of money lenders, was created politically since that time, by bipartisan agreement to use government power to expand homeownership to people who had been shut out for economic reasons or, sometimes, because of racial and ethnic discrimination . Sure, Charles, the social conscience of Wall Street is to blame ! The money men were only trying to help in a good cause. Just as we all thought.

It is interesting to note that the big popular revolt against the package, the avalanche of phone calls and e-mails to the Capitol was nowhere reported, nowhere analyzed, nowhere acknowledged, until perhaps today on CNN, which reported with a number of days of delay, that the initial reaction of the street was 10 to 1 against the package. The fever has subsided now, we were assured, and the breakdown for and against is now 50-50. Well, is it ? Can you imagine no major poll has been taken on this mammoth “rescue plan” ? Does this seem real ?

The news organizations suddenly seem so inexplicably clumsy, and so circumspect as to what they will allow us to hear or see. Do we not have the right to know that 200 US economists have signed a petition denouncing the original Paulson plan ? Why would the major news outlets not report that a significant number of academics did not believe the plan was sound and some (many ?) do not think a bailout of $700 bln is even necessary ? And why has an Army brigade been assigned to the “Homeland” ? Did not know that either, did you ?

But you do know that there is no freedom of media or diversity of opinion in Russia, don’t you ? Ok, great ! But just in case you want to check what a popular Moscow TV commentator has to say on that, watch this. Yep, diversity of opinion is what we need.

Hello, Michael Moore ! Are you having fun yet ?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

America Alone: the antithesis

Here is an open letter I wrote to Mark Steyn, a little while back, appraising his AMERICA ALONE. I am posting it here as I thought a little bit of black humour might be in order during the weekend of wait for the trillion dollar respirator that Nancy Pelosi has promised to keep the brain-dead American Finance alive.


December 22, 2006
Dear Mark,
reading as I was your magnum (opus) in the week in which the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton select crew of idiots forgot to recommend to Dubya he convert to Islam before asking Ohmygodwhatajerk for help in Iraq, I had more fun with “America Alone” than you can imagine. Seriously: I was breaking into howling fits just looking at the cover with the star-spangled chiffon getting surrounded by the Paki-Saudi federation (if that what the green rags were suggesting). So, it’s the End of the World as We Know It, hey, Mark ?

I am sure relieved to read that it’s only the Caliphate that’s upon me and my dwindling brood, if I hold onto the idea that socialized medicine is part of the Western Civilization as I want to know it. I don’t mind, really. It’s nothing much compared with the scare of my farts turning into naphtalene balls in global flash freeze, that Al Gladbag and his camp of nuts threaten me with. Me, I scare easily but you ain’t got nothing compared to that ! Besides, I read Sax Rohmer when I was eleven. I also read the books of Karl May at that age, his volumes on Wild, Wild, Wild West in America where he was Old Shatterhand and volumes on the Near-to-his-Heart Orient of despots where he morphed into the noble prince Kara-ben-Nemsi (which I am told in Arabic means, if-you-are-running-with-a-tail-between-your-legs-make-sure-everone-knows-you-are-executing-an-exit-strategy).

Mark, I love the tough talk from a barbudo (; I almost ordered the t-shirt too) ! Of course the Arabs are “hard” by nature – my history tells me, only if they don’t have opposition – and the European chickenshit which craves 30-hour work-week, 6 weeks of vacation, and state-run dental plan for kids is just too “soft” as an opposition. Did I mention Euro-Disney ? Ok, I’ll get to that later.

But you are right, the Euros have grown too wimpy. In the old days, if mass laziness erupted and the drinking classes opted to disown the curse, to live off soup kitchens and under the bridges, an economic crisis all but destroyed the diligent enterpreneurs. Today, the bums get welfare, and with so much Chinese labour and Japanese robots that you can cover the whole Earth knee-deep in cheap junk in just six months, the horrid effects of laziness do not stick out so much. But the Big Nanny sure found a new way to torture the rich: the “antisocial” social democrats have all but destroyed the future of the young turning them into burlaks of social security payouts for their dole-addicted moms and dads. Oh, you don’t know what burlaks are. Sorry, here you go . Not a bright future, is it ? I am sure it scares the living shit out of coke-snorting execs of tax-proof multinationals. It does not scare me but I sympathize. The fear of the paranoiac, my mom used to tell me, is just as real ! Now of course, Gladbag prefers Theo Colborn’s version that makes PCBs and dioxin concentrations recorded on Baffin Island the reason for my getting sexually defective, and our boys staring squarely into the catastrophy of deformed organs and anemic sperm count (see Cloborn/Dumanoski/Myers, “Our Stolen Future”, with foreplay by Al Gore).

You know, I’ve been thinking: how come someone as bright as Mark Steyn can’t see the obvious. It’s the idea of Europe uniting, stupid ! Surely, it’s a sign of the Apocalypse. The Wart on the body of Asia shall writhe in plagues of locusts and Saracens, who will chastise all paleface, but especially the Danes who knowing better caved in and signed for Maastricht European Butter – the grade Maria Schneider fetches Brando in Ultimo tango a Parigi. You contempate the French national soccer team and you know something is terribly wrong with the sense of identity of the current breed of Europeans. Call me racist, I don’t give a hoot! I take one look at Vieira, Henry, Trezeguet, Wiltford, Djibril Sisse, lined up before a kickoff fidgeting through, or trying to lipsync, la Marseilleuse, and I know that these are not Frenchmen. And sure enough, when it comes to a decision on the field to exact a price for a slur on the honour of his sister by SpongeMarco Quadratipantolini and grin-and-bearing a tired putain gavot for the glory of France, it’s a head-butting no-brainer to Zizou.

But you see, the interesting thing on the shifting demographics of Europe (and the U.S. which you deal with only in passing), is that the falling birth-rates do not explain the place being overrun by people and culture hostile to its makeup. There is no war between the Arab countries and Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Denmark to account for the influx of bearded and veiled foreigners to those lands. There is no way the differential birth rates between Muslims and Swedes should play a significant role in the demographics of Sweden, unless the Swedes are dead resolved to be overrun by Muslims. So, the problem may be not so much birth rates – which seem to be lowering, as a general rule, with rising standard of living – as it is immigration and naturalization policies. And there, the sick-man Europe copies America as diligently and/or shamelessly as Die Harald Schmidt Show copies David Letterman’s nightly dose of cynicism for the urban insomniacs (even to the top-ten lists, for crying out loud). So consider it possible that Europe has really wanted to be Die Vereinigten Staaten all along (in the Karl May way), and if it fucks itself up in the process of creating das echt-amerikanische Schmelztiegel of humanity, it has very little to do with the excesses of the homegrown Left. Much more with the Give me Your Tired, Your Oppressed, Your Tyrannized ! The Lying Bitch was made in Paris too, by the way ! The truly oppressed did not dream of Democracy and Liberty in Amerika; by a large margin they dreamt of making tons of money off suckers dumber than themselves.

The copying of things American comes mostly as a cultural reflex, although sometimes, once upon a Clinton, the State Department gets involved directly. When the new Czech state made a feeble attempt to control the influx of the Carpathian Roma in 1994, Washington underlinks bullied Klaus just short of threatening to send in the bombers. At issue was the “unfair targeting of an identifiable ethnic group” in requiring that an applicant for Czech citizenship, if not native, produce a proof of two-year residency, and – therein the blatant discrimination - a clean criminal record (in any jurisdiction) for the last five years. Can’t do that ! You can’t ask an illiterate, unemployed, wandering nomad to keep his nose clean that long ! So what, he sells drugs, he is involved in international prostitution-slavery rackets, he may own an army of underage pickpockets, he cares a flying fart about Czechs and their history, he can’t speak the language ! Is any of that a reason why he should not be a Czech citizen ? Is that any reason why he should be discriminated against ? No way ! “NO HISTORY, NO BULLSHIT”, as Richard Holbrooke used to check Milosevic at Dayton whenever the former commie banker thought a few shots of rye would soften the American view regarding the origins of ethnic tensions on the Drina. And to drive home the American point of view, Holbrooke eventually used Albanian narco-mafia to drive the Serbs out of their Holy Land.

But as I said, Europe mostly copies the US voluntarily. The problem is that, because the Overseas Nirvana which Europe dreamed up has evolved differently, there will always be no-fly zones on the mutual admiration map between the two versions of the West. Ergo, I don’t think you can Americanize Europe or vice versa, either from the Left or from the Right. What appears to you as sissy statism, has had a long history and came to be built into a consensus within the states on the Continent, states which were much varied and more class-conscious than America ever was. Nothing speaks better of this than the history of social security. It saw the light first in Germany, in the years of its aspiring to the status of a world superpower. When the scandalized Junker deputies protested to Bismarck who introduced the old-age pension and health insurance acts, that this was socialism, the old man snarled back: “call it whatever you want, it’s all the same to me”. According to your theory the Hun should have been hamburger the moment Limeys and Frogs took a run at their trenches in Belgium in 1914: fucking statist sissies who need a doctor and a pension to fight for their Kaiser. Well ok, it would have been a walkover, you say, had the Frenchies not dragged in the dole in 1905, and the fox-killing foggies did not give in to the Mob on the poll tax. But you know what ? I think, Bismarck was a smart man. He took the wind out of not just Lasalle’s sails but destroyed the Marxist litanies in Germany for two generations. Made patriots out of Bolshevik scoundrels like Kautsky and Bernstein. Drove Lenin nuts. Hell, even he signed up with Kaiser eventually, and wore a toupee for a while !

On second thought, let’s not do Euro-Disney. But I tell you, very often America exports sick shit to Europe (and Canada). Take for example fist-fucking,….naw, not that either, better let’s do Catharine Mackinnnon: you know the feminist jurist who says that if woman says she was raped, and it turns she is mentally ill, she was still raped. But where Mackinnon has been laughed off as a legal loon in the States (I think her’s was the only case in modern history that the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed without a comment – the Minneapolis anti-pornography by-law), in places like Canada or Bosnia she is worshipped as demigod. Thanks to Cathy, who authored here in Ottawa a bizarre piece of legislation which requires a man to take “reasonable steps to ascertaining he has obtained consent to sex” before erection, no male can ever have any degree of certainty about anything happening between the sheets any more. I wrote to our Minister of Justice (Alan Rock) with a request to explain to me the requirements of the mysterious new section 273.2(b) of the Criminal Code, i.e. how to make love to my wife and stay legal in Canada. What does 'reasonable' mean in this sudden state intervention into necking and foreplay ? Am I supposed to obtain some sort of a token nod or wink, or should I be asking my wife something formally to satisfy the requirement that I take reasonable steps toward ascertaing that I have a state-approved licence to proceed cautiously in a limited and non-exclusive act of lovemaking to my beloved with due note that such is subject to instant review and renewal if said respondent to sex appears uninterested or falling into a state of stupour in which she is incapable of consent in accordance with s.273.1(2)b, etc, etc...and would it please the Minister to inform me if French kissing is considered a form of criminal suasion when administered for the express purpose of obtaining connivance in more flagrant acts of debauchery with a view to the requirement of s.273.2(a)(ii), prohibiting 'recklessness'. The office of the Justice Ministry informed me dryly that: '...these provisions have been in effect for just over three years and the case law is developing. However, no two cases are exactly the same. It is not possible to lay down guidelines for what may constitute reasonable steps. Yours very truly…’ Ach so, I get it ! Cathy can’t tells us what the untried test of honest belief in consent is because we have not thrown enough men in jail yet for us to know exactly what it is that they should be doing ? Hmmm…, makes you kind of wonder what her definition of a ‘lawful burden’ on a defender would be. Me, personally – maybe I am weird - I would prefer to be told what it is that I should be doing before being thrown in jail because I didn’t.

So, let’s just say I have some sympathy with the European stereotype of viewing the Americans generically as cuckoos. Dennis Hopper did a great job in animating the Angst in Wim Wenders’ Der Amerikanische Freund in case you are pining for a great Euroflick and are tired of Isabelle undressing for her pimp as Violette Nozière. But even one better, Henry Miller came to animate the part to 1930's Paris in person.

Miller’s sole interests in life were to drink, to whore and to write, which horrified George Orwell who had, but a little while before, done the same things in the same place, except as a committed socialist. What horrified Orwell of course was that Miller drank, whored and wrote first-class smut without the need to commit to a belief in a bright future for humanity. To Orwell who met Miller on his way to Spanish civil war, where he would find himself unable to shoot at a fascist bathing in his underwear, where he would himself get shot through the neck, and where he would discover that his beloved Leftie friends exhibited all the traits they despised so in the fascists, to this man it was incomprehensible at the time, that the American literary genius would be happy the way he was. And Miller was content, at the knowledge that the world (as we know it) was doomed, not because of a manic Austrian corporal and his Latin buddies, not even because of the Red menace, but because his pickled brain knew the American Dream would slowly poison the very idea that lies under all cultures, namely the idea that human life has a meaning. Here is what he wrote:

'Nobody thinks any more how marvelous is that the whole world is diseased. No point of reference, no frame of health. God might as well be typhoid fever. No absolutes. Only light years of deferred progress. When I think of those centuries in which all Europe grappled with the Black Plague I realize how radiant life can be only if we are bitten in the right place ! The dance and fever in the midst of that corruption ! And syphilis ! The advent of syphilis! There it was like a morning star hanging over the rim of the world.....Aye, the great world of syphilis is setting. Low visibility: forecast for the Bronx, for America. Low visibility accompanied by great gales of laughter. No new stars on the horizons. Catastrophes...only catastrophes ! ....I see America spreading disaster. I see America as a black curse upon the world. I see a long night setting in and the mushroom which has poisoned the world withering at the roots.'


It’s easy to dismiss Miller as a derelict, an obnoxious dopey without breeding, culture, sense of uprightness, decency. But it is also possible to see him on those terms as a self-parody of America, and ourselves in Black Spring of his history where we witness its spreading democracy in the world. Having defeated the false messianic hopes of an evil empire, America embarked on a great virtual crusade against the terror of the homicidal urge itself ! In the name of deferred progress ! In the name of liberty ! In the name of homeland security ! Think of it as America's greatest project, its most noble effort, its final destiny ! No, you don’t even be an anti-Yank to think that way: the Americans’ are no more guilty of spreading a cultural disaster than a friendly dog is in spreading infected fleas.

I am not saying it’s that way, Mark, I am saying, consider it. Think it possible that Charles Dickens is not the evil that we should fear the most. Maybe, the greater danger is the Lone Superpower Narcissus torn between two Grand Lunacies, transfixed like Buridan’s ass between the Leftist and Rightist Utopias. The self-destructive struggle between the thoughtless, futureless America as a 24-7 pandemonium of self-seeking and self-gratification and the America obsessing as a self-glorified multi-culti SuperVirgin liberating the world from immigration paperwork and fighting Evil on a shoe-string budget, has now been playing out in Iraq where the Hapless Granfaloon has been taunted and dissed, and fought to a standstill by a swarm of bare-assed suicide bombers. And that, my friend, is the reality of America going solo. Methinks, anyhow.

Best,

...............................

Friday, September 26, 2008

Godzilla Market or Frankenstein Socialism ?

No surprises in the news today. The Paulson bailout plan is nowhere near ratification. Washington Mutual was gobbled up by JPMorgan Chase yesterday, the largest US bank ever to go under. Sadly, neither Obama nor McCain seem to have a grasp either on the magnitude of the problem or the root cause. Their objections to the bailout are political tripes, and a guarantee that the economy will get a lot worse before it gets better. Of the politicians (I am aware of) speaking on the bailout, only Ron Paul seems to have a handle on where the problem is and what must change for the American economy to recover. I do not agree even with him.

Actually, Ron Paul does not agree with himself. He relies on F.A. Hayek and the Austrian school, economists who warned of the perils of credit expansion by central banks’ pushing down the lending rate. Better than to continue to artificially stimulate the economy, they said, let the credit slide, and bad debt liquidate itself. Works fine in theory and perhaps in practice where the market really “controls” supply and demand of money. But Ron Paul himself doubts that we have a “free market” today. So, my first question to Ron Paul would be: if the market itself is no longer operating on some standard of undisputed objectivity, what is the guarantee that it can correct the huge discrepancy between the nominal and actual value of assets ?

It is my view that we have nothing like a free market, and especially not, if we consider the global nature of today’s economy. Indeed, we live in the “flat world” of Thomas Friedmann (though I am puzzled by the metaphor) where the markets are manipulated wholesale, one by multinational oligopolies, and two – surprise, surprise – by governments. The fastest growing economy in the world is China, ruled by the communists, who have absolutely no reserve about regulating economic activity to conform to their view of what markets actually should do. Are there dangerous fluctuations in the supply of energy ? Let us regulate. Strategic reserve of crude and processed oil will be legislated to remove the price bulges. This stabilizes manufacturing sector as it provides for more predictable cost structures. Russia, as an oil & gas producer goes one step further – they re-nationalize the industry. Not by decree, but by making the market “unfriendly” to smaller operators, and operators in general, if they are not pliant to the planners' directives. We then have in front of us a very flexible market which readily responds to corrections of economically and politically (!) undesirable events and trends. The failure to “control” the market, or do it in a fashion that threatens the global economic community and/or its big players, will unleash its destructive forces. Much like Godzilla, the market will wreak havoc on pitiful dwarfs who want to play with yesterday toys in today’s world economy.

The US will have to learn how to play the global market game.

I agree with Congressman Paul that the economic ills are much bigger than toxic mortgages or over-extended credit. Kevin Phillips’ ‘Bad Money’ I think describes the problem in all its terrible splendor. The productive U.S. economy has been shrinking for decades, losing steadily its capability to create tangible value. The manufacturing sector’s share in the GDP is a mere 12%. After oil, the consumer goods, are the largest contributor to the trade deficit which now exceeds $800 bln $ a year. Massive restructuring of the economy, one restoring trade balance and productive capacities of the US, one investing consistently in value-add economic activities is, probably the only sane way out of the mess. Only one I can see, at any rate. Milton Friedman has lost his argument with David Ricardo. The Chinese economy is the proof.

The intrinsic danger of a bailout without a “new deal” on the structure of the US economy, comes from the Frankenstein nature of a socialism based on a failed monetarist model. Privatizing profits while socializing losses, won’t do as a policy. Politically, it is abhorrent to the idea of democracy, economically, as Ron Paul points out, it only masks the problem and defers the solution. For all intents and purposes, one needs to start with the admission that the U.S. financial system is insolvent and will become bankrupt without an immediate and resolved push for a radical reform.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Tale of Two Samaritans

Anatole France is not a household name in the U.S. He is the satirist who wrote L’île des pengouins, une farce mordant featuring the misfortunes of a penguin colony accidentally baptized by a myopic priest and acquiring human nature in consequence. France is also remembered for his saying that the rich and poor are, in the wisdom of the law, equal, and prohibited to sleep under the bridges, beg in the streets and steal bread. This week it is worth while to recall the great literary provocateur, whose books were placed on index librorum prohibitorum by the Vatican, in connection of the bailouts of the markets. Two major rescue missions were announced to protect some people in imminent danger of breaking the law.

One was unveiled by the president of the United States, who plans to bail out “the financial sector”, or whatever remains of it after hurricane Ike. It directs the Treasury to buy out the toxic mortgages to relieve the banks and the remaining two brokerage giants - up to about $700-billion mark, which the Treasury would, ……ehm, ehm, ...have to borrow. How that sort of appropriation can be made in a democracy has not been revealed. The only people known to have that kind of cash would be the Chinese communists who, while the Yanks got distracted by chasing rag-assed suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan, amassed reserves of about 1.7 trillion US$. But if the U.S. lets China to buy out New York City and L.A., then naturally the Times and the Post can’t badmouth the Central Committee over lobbying and influencing U.S. elections (if it is allowed for the local insolvents) , let alone badmouth them over Tibet, when the Dalai Lama has been ready to make a deal with Beijing for years, graciously settling for Lhasa's autonomy within China.

The other rescue mission was announced in Sochi, which I am sure everyone knows is a major Russian vacation resort on the Black Sea, where the U.S. Navy is currently showboating and as of Monday kept afloat by new Treasury short term bills . The last issue gave close to nothing in yield, which strikes sheer terror in the enemies of pax Americana from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.

The plan of the Russian prime minister has called for a massive buyout of Russian securites badly mauled after the Georgia war. This has happened mostly in response to the U.S. generated anti-Russian mongering. The Moscow stock exchange stocks lost about 40% and Putin shut it down. But Putin’s One Russia is strong and has money to throw around. The bailout will not touch its Reserve Funds, including the National Welfare Fund which the Federation uses to manage hyper-liquidity, foreign cash reserves, excess inflation, and fluctuations in resource earnings. The little vindictive man did not think it was necessary. The Federation Reserve Funds combined stand at about US$ 180 billion.

It appears then that the “law of the markets” is quietly settling the difference of opinion between the US and Russia on the most important man on the planet, Mikheil Saakashvili. The US Treasury appears much worse for wear than the Russian, which is good to know. At any rate, I am sure that the poor will be thrilled to learn the stocks have rebounded from the scare and the American bankers and Russian investors are safe in their homes for now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Long Shadow of Kosovo

I commented years ago, when Richard Holbrooke played his KLA card against Milosevic in Kosovo, that it looked like the losing move in the game of U.S. patronage of Europe. Strategically it was a horrendously dumb idea, morally, a cynical self-damnation. It was of course not the first time that the United States allied itself with some hugely dehumanized figure or regime. Stalin’s USSR or Pol Pot’s Kampuchea would be two elementary examples. But this was hugely different. There was very little known about Stalin’s repressions and atrocities before the Iron Curtain fell and likewise about Pol Pot’s killing fields before he was driven into the jungle. The regimes in both countries were entrenched without US help. The context of the Stalin’s alliance was a world war against Nazism and Japanese militarism. The support for Pol Pot was dictated by the logic of a global rivalry with Soviet communism. The Sino-Soviet split produced a strange bedfellow for the US.

In contrast, Clinton and Albright knew full well what sort of people they were making use of against Milosevic. KLA would have had no chance to turn itself into a popular nationalist movement , because political resistance already existed in Kosovo, one which was democratic and non-violent. No objective necessity, or palpable pressure, existed to force the U.S. to call on the likes of Hashim Thaci for help. The U.S. knew from day one, that it engaged a gang of criminal misfits and degenerates. Carla Del Ponte’s book, published after prime minister Thaci declared Kosovo independence, did not break any big news for people who followed the conflict. In 1998, the KLA were terrorists with links to Iran and bin Laden. The State Department knew that. Richard Holbrooke may deny he made a deal forgiving Karadzic the bombing of Sarajevo bread-lines, but he may not deny that KLA figured in Clinton Administration books as a terrorist organization when he started to talk to them.

The Kosovo adventure had predictable consequences for U.S. prestige in Europe and within NATO. The NATO-occupied province of Serbia soon became a by-word for lawlessness and corruption and soon the “liberation” model began spreading to southern Serbia and Macedonia. Before it was contained, most of continental Europe from Athens to Stockholm scorned the U.S. policy in the Balkans. The Italians were first to have had their doubts about the Kosovo project, being the natural transit point for Albanian drug trafficking (and prostitution rackets) that had just secured a better supply line. France also dissented early, and was never quite on side for the U.S. joyride of humiliating Russia in the Balkans. It was the French press which first cast heavy doubt on the authenticity of the “Racak massacre”. Schroeder’s support for intervention of Kosovo was a shock to his party and most of the German public opinion. The “humanitarian war” did not have many takers, and a wave of criticism hit the media after Luftwaffe bombed Belgrade, in a repeat of an unprovoked attack of 1941. By the time the bombs fell, most of Europe knew about the Rambouillet “annex” that Milosevic refused to sign, which gave NATO the right to occupy de facto any part of the Yugoslav rump. The secret part of the proposed text was put on the KLA Web site by mistake. A number of documents from German courts and Foreign Office Reports were collected and published on the Web by a lawyers organization. They showed duplicity in the claims of genocide against ethnic Albanians. . The war against Milosevic’ Serbia was waged under false pretenses.

The useless war for Kosovo would have cost the U.S. dearly no matter what followed. Europeans had wars waged on their soil in the 20th century and do not particularly care for the experience. In Europe you don’t cry “war”, for the same reason you don’t cry “wolf”. Even more so. But as it happened, barely a year after the Pristina noise finally died in the villages around Nis and Tetovo, the Americans were proposing another excellent war-game adventure in Iraq. Not being able to implicate Saddam in 9/11 - the idea of a Baathist and a Wahhabi plotting , being essentially an junior CIA analyst’s wishful thinking, the Gringos declared him in possession of WMDs. This would be a somewhat more realistic scenario because Saddam was gung-ho on acquiring them in the past. The problem was that Saddam, who had his reactor smashed by the IAF, who was unceremoniously run out of Kuwait, and who laboured for a decade under heavy economic sanctions did not look anything like his former self. It would have been no problem for the U.S. to clone him into a Moammar Gaddafi. The “old” Europe was very suspicious of US motives to remove Saddam and did not go along.

Sixth year into the adventure, the US and its Coalition of the Willing (East European Shitdisturbers) have not stabilized the place they took in three weeks. Iraq, essentially a structure created by British colonial expedients out of three culturally disparate regions would not have survived as a state, had it not been for a ruthless dictator. The U.S. did not think it wise in 2003 to rebuild Iraq’s statehood on the brilliant model of McArthur-occupied Japan. Instead it tinkered trying to find a “democratic” formula to neutralize the numerically dominant Shi’ites (who are hated by everyone else: the traditionalist (Saudi-allied) Sunnis, the western-leaning Sunnis, the Wahhabi-allied Sunnis, and the Kurds). The foolishness of this enterprise is still not apparent to Washington, which apparently believes that Iraq does not work politically because it is being undermined by the meddling of Iran. So, let’s - as Weird Al Yankowich would – “Bo-, bo-, bo-, bomb, bomb, Iran” (on the tune of Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann). Ahmadinejad is now the extended point of the Axis of Evil, the other member having suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and likely hence unable to continue to threaten the security of Lehman Brothers, etc. And this time, we know for sure that the Axis man enriches uranium.

I wonder if senators McCain and Obama have any inkling of the huge political losses the U.S. has suffered in Europe in the moral debacle that was and is Kosovo. It makes no sense to commit to Iraq without a political end-game. None exists today, and will not materialize unless the U.S. radically changes its foreign policy course and starts investing in the ideas of a “concert” that Metternich orchestrated for Europe between Napoleon and the Revolutions of 1848. To win the old Europe back should be the US foreign policy’s primary objective. The further and final integration of Russia into Europe and the world economy, is a big piece of that policy. The best and perhaps the only way how to pacify the Bear, is to let him on the honey. The Russians want peace and prosperity, first and foremost. Listen to Medvedev : get rid of the Sovietologists; get some Russologists !. This, the U.S. can do at no cost to anyone.

The alternative of course is to let the absolute power corrupt the US absolutely. To go into Iran, or doing it without the big players on side, is to continue on the path of the lone geopolitical suicide bomber. That much should be clear by now.

New York Times' Witless Boobs

In the serial lying of Saakashvili, the latest chapter is perhaps the most revealing. Does the guy really take the whole world for witless boobs ? Well, it appears that at least The New York Times has been taken by the latest shenanigans of the hysterical Georgian president or willing to indulge a twit, who, standing next to the US Secretary of State, accused NATO of complicity in the deaths of innocent Georgians in his war with Russia.

So let’s look at the so called ‘fresh evidence’ that the paper famously sees fit to print.

Essentially, Saakashvili is trying to make us believe that a fighting force of Russian armour passed through the Roki tunnel early in the morning (before 4am on the 7th August), which information forced him to order twenty hours later an all-out onslaught on Tskhinvali held by Ossetian military units and a force of about 500 Russian peacekeepers manning 18 observation posts .

The critical elements of this information and its import are these:

1) When - at what time - did president Saakashvili learn of the armoured units entering South Ossetia ? How does this ‘fresh new information’ square with what president Saakashvili and people in his government publicly said and did on the 7th and 8th August ?

2) Did the two Georgian brigades which attacked and entered South Ossetia know about the large column of Russian armoured vehicles moving south ?

3) How does the president explain the delay in the deployment of the fighting armoured units which, according, to the timeline published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia , were first deployed at 18:44, August 8th at Tskhinvali ?

18:44 A motorcade of Russian tanks, armored vehicles and trucks loaded with different kinds of weapons reach Tskinvali by the Dzara by-pass road, 2 kilometers west of Tskinvali. The Russians open intensive fire towards Georgian forces located in Tskinvali and on the neighboring heights. A second motorcade, which also came from Russia via the Roki tunnel, is stopped near the Georgian government controlled area of Dmenisi, 7 kilometers north of Tskinvali, and Russians open heavy fire toward Georgian forces.

And why does the MFA timeline record 05:30 of August 8th as the entry of the first Russian troops through the tunnel ?

5:30: First Russian troops enter through Roki tunnel South Ossetia, passed Java, crossed Gufta bridge and moved by Dzara road towards Tskhinvali.

Both texts are here .

To understand the issues and the gullibility of the NYT crew that prepared the report let us consult the timeline of major events in the war as prepared by professor Nicolai Petro of the University of Rhode Island.

There seems to be nothing in the public statements Saakashvili made either on the 7th or 8th August which would indicate his knowledge of the report of the ‘armor and men’ in the tunnel early on the 7th August. He appeared on Rustavi 2 TV, in mid afternoon of August 7th with a bizarre account of an assault by the separatists to which he was forced to react by ordering an immediate ceasefire. He promised an amnesty if the “separatists” lay down their weapons. He addressed the Russians as Georgia’s “natural ally”. He was merely asking that the “so-called ministers” of the South Ossetia government who were Russian return to Russia. He said he was in contact with the Russian Foreign Ministry: We are in permanent contact with the leadership of the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Russian Foreign Ministry is trying - as they say, they are trying but not managing - to get the separatists to cease fire. (Russian FM Lavrov denied such statements were made by his people.)

Not a word was breathed about Russia’s escalation of the conflict by moving combat troops into South Ossetia. The ceasefire was cancelled within three hours, ostensibly because the Ossetian militias broke it.

The next day (8th) on CNN evening news, Saakashvili first said that Russians were bombarding Georgia and “just” starting to move their armour into Georgia, then corrected himself saying that they actually began moving “yesterday”. He denied he was talking to Russian authorities, in direct contradiction to his public statement of the previous day. Evidently, even on the eighth, Saakashvili knew nothing about his forces only responding to Russia inserting combat troops into South Ossetia. He did say that Russia was looking for a “suitable pretext” to attack his country, which apparently they found "yesterday". He did not elaborate what pretext Russia actually used to move its armour from North Ossetia at the time it did.

The most damning piece of evidence against Saakashvili’s hopeless fumbling and dissembling, was the appearance of general Kurashvili, the chief of Georgia peacekeeprs, on Georgian TV (at 19:05, Aug. 7 accourding to Petro) announcing the cancelling of the ceasefire and the decision of the country’s leaders to “restore constitutional order” in the Tskhinvali region. This was – consistent with Saakashvili’s speech of earlier that day – an operation against the separatists, and against them only. The operation was code named “Clear Field” and was co-ordinated by the Interior Ministry.

There are also other indications that the Russians really were responding to Georgia’s attempt to reattach South Ossetia by force, rather than attacking for some obscure reasons. If they acted before he assaulted Tskhinvali then why ? What was the context ? And how does one explain that the Georgian troops did not expect to be attacked by the Russians ? Or at least this is what some have said.

The timeline of the Russian side supports their story. They say they were surprised by the attack, scrambled for response and went to the UN Security Council for a resolution. Only after they were rebuffed there (6:51 am 8th, see professor Petro's timeline) the first bombs fell on Georgia. The Russians claim that their first combat armour entered through the tunnel at 2:30 pm ( the 8th ) and indeed that squares with its first deployment about 50 km south four hours later, by Georgia's own account.

So far, the best theory why Georgia did not defend the Roki tunnel, came from the former Georgia’s Defence minister Irakli Okruashvili now exiled in Paris. Military plans to attack both South Ossetia and Abkhazia existed. The operation launched by Georgia on Aug 8th was different only in that it did not attempt to shut down the tunnel connecting the Ossetias. The over-confident President apparently believed Russia's use of the facility would be blocked diplomatically by the US. But much to Mikheil's chagrin, the Russians did not follow the script after being snowed by the Security Council.

The “early” appearance of the Russians at the tunnel, as reported by Tbilisi (per professor Petro timeline on the 7th and 8th ) simply does not look real, as the Russians, a day later passed through the facility and down the roads with minimum opposition. Saakashvili's self-correction on CNN on the time of the Russian armour deployment was interesting. I believe it relates to an early version of his lie, that was to make the Russians diplomats trying to stop him at the UN in New York, look like deceivers. This would also explain the 5:30, 8/8 "time stamp" issued by his Foreign Ministry.

The nutty theory that the Russian actions were “unprovoked” and that Saakashvili was simply forced to level Tskhinvali to intercept the neo-bolshevik hordes pouring out of the Roki tunnel, may not even originate with the Georgian authorities. The idea was making rounds weeks ago on the chat circuits after a Tbilisi blogger let out the trial balloon. Again, one would expect a team of professional reporters of The New York Times to be familiar with the facts and relevant events on which they are reporting and make use of them to put the would-be revelations in a proper context.

God bless the Internet.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Message for Sarah Palin

September 14, 2008

Dear Ms Palin,
tried to contact you through your governor’s office but could not get past the ID panel as my address is outside of the US. So I have decided to post my message to you on my blog instead. I remain confident that if you are meant to receive it (both literally and figuratively), God will arrange for it.

I am a Canadian, and of course our two nations being so close, and the US so much bigger and powerful than us, we will be with the U.S. wherever the U.S. goes, whether or not we actually want to go there. That is why I think you should be exposed to as many views from Canada as possible, even the seemingly ‘Neanderthal’ ones such as mine.

I hold no grudge against you, nor do I have a problem with anything you have done or said, nor do I have any opinions about your family or its size in relation to the extent of your public responsibilities. Quite to the contrary, I believe you to be a bright and capable chief executive of the state of Alaska. Nothing else really matters, beyond this and your confidence in accepting the nomination of being a presidential running mate. It is up to the American people to judge whether to entrust the Republicans and you with the office, and how much your own view of your preparedness for it is relevant in making that call.

The writing below is from a discussion I participated in in 1999, on one of the usenet groups. I have decided to share it with you to give you a sense of the complexities of the world on the outside of Alaska you would be facing.

As, I am sure you are aware, Russia is no longer in the state of disarray as I described it nine years ago. If that is so, much credit for it goes to Vladimir Putin who, like yourself in Alaska, took on big oil in Russia and made it serve the people of his country, ….well, perhaps somewhat more forcefully. He has managed to consolidate Russia and make it more confident in its ability to counter American policy if it becomes too aggressive in Russia’s neighbourhood.

FYI, in case you are curious, the former Yeltsin’s National Security Advisor, Alexander Lebed (mentioned below), who in the years of deep decline teased about the possibility of nuclear exchange with the U.S., is no longer with us. He became a governor of the largest Siberian region and later opposed Putin’s policy of one Russia. He died in a tragic helicopter crash in 2002.

I wish you the best, and remain yours,

……..


James hit on a theme which has exercised me personally for some time and which I consider of primary importance in uderstanding the current Balkan events, our failing grasp on reality, and our possible demise as species. It's the problem of 'cultural feminization' (or obversely a 'rapid cultural demasculization') and its destructive power as it projects on the civilizing institutional framework in the West. The lament lies with our emotional brain so brilliantly exposed by Arthur Koestler and so ingeniously described by Oscar Wilde in The Ballad of Reading Gaol: 'each man kills the thing he loves'.

The NATO propaganda in the Kosovo crisis has a strange new and yet familiar clamour about it, a quality of 'protesting-too-much'. The idea of throwing bombs to save lives, or threatening war to produce goodwill, or dropping cluster bombs in 'good faith', all have insanity written about them, yet it is a constitutional insanity of homo sapiens, not individual pathology. Consider Exodus 4.21: And the Lord said unto Moses. When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart , that he shall not let the people go. Well, this is the Omnipotent's idea of negotiations, Madeleine Albright's infallible instinct telling her what comes after Rambouillet: (Exodus 7.3-4) And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders, in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth my armies, and m y people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgements. Of course in Madeleine's Testament Egypt shrinks and Egyptians are exiled, but that's a detail. What is important is 'the idea of having the sentence first', the realization of that we possess the technological means of destroying utterly those whom we don't like without having to worry about the consequences.

In the fifties, the American neuropathologist Paul MacLean postulated the thesis of 'limbic system', to this day unchallenged view that our emotional undercarriage is structurally a hostile reptilian brain which is telling us when to placate by submissive rituals (,or to love,) and when to hate. It is also the unique feature of our mental equipment - which explains a lot about the 'victim-striking-back' mentality - that the agressive expansive infantile feelings are neurologically bound to the fright syndrome. In other words, the sensations of Omnipotence carry along with them feelings of acute insecurity. (I find it fascinating that in all the great religious experiences, Jesus', Paul's, Mohammed's, Gautama's, their godlike ascension is immediately followed by a struggle with the 'devil'.)

Our psychohistory of the last five thousand years can be understood in terms of the struggle of the two brains: the neocortex (the machine) has attempted to exercise control over the inveterate ambivalence of the emotional brain (the ghost) to the proposition of life, and its denial of death. This struggle has taken on the form of cultural competition among the different human tribes for an optimum control of productive resources. Cultures clashed in wars and the one better equipped neocortically to handle life's challenges prevailed and imposed its mentograms on the simpler, more primitive or bashful rivals. In this manner we continued to develop culturally until we reached a stage in which viable competition for better mentograms has come to a screeching halt. We have arrived at the end of History of Francis Fukuyama, although he seems quite innocent of the strange reasons why it happened.

Today, at the end of that road, we do not live in the best possible worlds but in one which is suppressing vertical selective social processes which enable us to develop. The VSSPs, as I call them, have been biologically the domain of human males. We have developed in cultures through the stratifications of males in functional hierarchical societies. The primaeval hunting band and its organization gradually gave way to a multiplex of male hierarchies within modern societies which controlled discrete resources and processes and which assured quality by individual and group male competition and separating its members by abilities into ranks. As a result of this cultural competition of male societies, the neocortical imperative and techniques of resource management have conquered the existing human cultural varieties, interconnected the world in a single communication network, and created technologies and organizational blueprints which can sustain human life almost effortlessly.

Unfortunately, at the very moment of triumph of human intellect comes a strange Moebius-like reversal in fortune. Our progress is killing us with kindness by assaulting the very cultural foundation upon which it is built. The neocortical societies are constructed on the premise of control and supression of strong instinctual drives in its individual members and maintaining a level of discipline which allows them to execute complex social functions. But at a certain point in the development of these societies the high level of material comfort, and its effortless acquisition begin to militate strongly against mental organization based on self-denial, transcendent values and the acceptance of self in a subordinate role within a hierarchy. In the measure that these are defining structural elements of male psychology, these societies become feminized, 'flatten out' as it were, and become transformed from a functional manifold striving for excellence to an endless variations on a theme of catering to the immediate needs of members with an overriding emphasis on security which so characterizes human childhood.

There is an immediate danger lurking in this blueprint. When the pundits asked Einstein what he thought changed with the advent of the A-bomb, he said: ‘everything’. The old method of cultural competition - war - became outdated by the accumulation of military technology.
Of course it did not disappear overnight, but its very nature changed. Henceforth, it was not possible to destroy the 'enemy' in war without certain high probability of destroying life itself. So the purpose of war became self-defeating. Some old warriors just could not grasp it. McArthur, who so volubly echoed Einstein's sentiment in Tokyo Bay on the day of Japan's surrender, ended up cursing Truman for refusing to escalate Korea to a nuclear war with China. But Truman was a 'neocort' man; he calculated that the use of nuclear weapons against China would have opened up the US to a likelihood of nuclear attack from Stalin because in the days before MAD, the first strike conferred a huge advantage on the aggressor. By the time of Vietnam, MAD as the new paradigm of 'war-as- self-destruction' so thoroughly confused the politicians and military planners that it ended up on a note of bitter defeat for the U.S.

Yet as we progress along the path to the matriarchal setup, which by the way has absolutely no idea what to do with the human male, the previous complex technological organization is still capable of delivering the self-destructing blow. The unleashing of a nuclear holocaust becomes a distinct possibility because the male neocortical politics of 'balance of terror' have been taken out, together with the logic of a geopolitical strategy. Russia has been devastated by the Western policy of minimization of her influence, and the internal economic decay brought about by dismantling the old communist planned economy and replacing it with the soft, postindustrial, highly-speculative finance bazaar which now utterly dominates. But Russia's nuclear arsenal still counts 7,500 ICBMs and it has passed into the hands of an increasingly unstable and decaying social and political structure. Given the pathetic decline of the Russian military, and the increasingly derelict state of the society itself, coupled with the famed Russian moribund view of life, the scenario of Russia-as-the-nuclear-Cain has acquired an increasingly probabilistic shape. Russia has become so destitute that nuclear-death blackmail may actually become an attractive option in the postcortical Thatcher-Albright-Amarpour version of Balkanized politics. General Lebed, about whom we should be worried because he is a smart chap who does not scare at all ("he who shoots first, laughs last", he once said), has been making noises about escalating the Yugoslav crisis to a tactical nuclear level. He means business because he knows when people have been pushed down culturally to an apocalyptic stupor where they will not feed themselves, the threat of nuclear craters becomes an alternative promise of liberation. He is a tough cookie (said to be a wife-beater) who sees the Western political elite as a spineless bunch of spoiled-brat Marx-sucking sissies - 'chicken-hawks' as Michael Harris calls them - utterly woman dominated, and personally cowardly men: men without qualities. He just might be tempted to trade "cities" with the Clintons. Perhaps, all it might take is another "bad" winter.

There is another scenario perhaps even more likely to materialize. Benjamin Barber's response to the MacWorld neocort rule takes shape in the classic Jihad's limbic response. Not able to comprehend that the push for world integration comes as a result of a historical process of cultural selection, the Jihad forces, among whom Islamic fundamentalism leads the way, resist furiously the agenda of globalization. The Islamic jihad groups, the political wreck of the Left splintered into an anarchic nebula, and the far-right acephalitic mob, will probably acquire one or more types of weapons of mass destruction (Lebed has already announced that 160 of Soviet suitcase nukes went "missing"), and they will assault the civil society of the West, at random, with total disregard to human life. The pseudo-politics of Osama bin Laden will align with the Theo Kazcynski's and Timothy McVeigh's. It will not be a meeting of minds, but a fusion of the diseased human emotional undercarriage. The new paradigm of war will then announce itself as a 'generalized paranoia in the process of getting rid of itself’.


...............

Pumping Cash

Friday morning, driving junior to school past the first gas holdup station, it was noted that the gas price jumped by 10% or 13 cents a liter.
(note to my American readers: “liter” is the unit of measuring liquids everywhere in the world except the US and the U.K. Britain has been in the process of adopting a “rational measure system” since Bishop John Wilkins proposed it to the Royal Society in 1668. The use of non-metric system in U.S. commerce contravenes the Metric Conversion Act signed into law by president Gerald Ford in 1975. 1 liter=0.264172052 US gallon. ).

As is our wont, Gab (my 12-year old) and I speculated on the causes of the sudden jump in the retail price of gas, which as Gab pointed out to me already was proportionately higher on a $106 a barrel than it was on a $147 a barrel three months ago.

Putin bombed the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, I offered. Noting instantly the sarcasm in my voice, he dismissed that possibility. “Naw, I don’t think so”, he said confidently, not wanting to get into too much detail in the geography of that supply line. So, what about a coup in Nigeria ? “Is Nigeria an oil producer ?” he asked. “Big time”, I said. “Possible”, he said. “Naw”, I said. “ It is more likely that a Saudi crown prince had dysentery.” “What’s that ?” “Bad case of shits, like you had in the spring.” “Definitely, a possibility”, he said. “Of a connection ?” He gave me a look of disdain, which he sometimes uses when he is unsure what I am saying. “Don’t think so.”, he then said thoughtfully. “ It’s more likely another hurricane.”

“Yep, there is one in the Gulf right now, heading for Texas.” “I think you hit it right on !”

“But, dad, wasn’t it like…. the prices went up after a hurricane and not before ?” “Excellent observation !”. My chest was swelling in pride over my son’s progress in reading out the designs of petro pashas in picking the consumer pockets.

“Yes, you see, even with Katrina, 3 years ago, the excuse was that a large refining capacity was shut down. Therefore, the oil companies said, there is demand for oil that they cannot satisfy with the production being crippled by the hurricane damage, so they have to jack up the price. So, the gas price went up. But, you see Katrina was not the first hurricane and oil price was never that sensitive to weather before. Why ? Because, there is something called a “refined fuel reserves”, which means gas already refined and ready for shipment. So, if the normal forces of the market prevailed and competition existed among the oil companies, they would – and they did in the past – keep enough supplies of refined oil and gas to deal with any short “dips” in production. So, e.g. Shell having more gas ready than Exxon would help Shell to sell more gas than the competitor during bad weather season. But as it is, instead of competing, they start jacking up the wholesale price right away, or even ahead of storms. Which means easy profit, because this does not cost them extra in making the gas. Get it ?”

“Yep, makes sense”, said Gab while stepping through his pre-selected radio stations. He already knows the gas prices are a ripoff, this is too much information.

Friday, September 12, 2008

If They Want Security They Should Ask Klaus

A friend who saw my last blog (School of Lies) said this was ethnic humour that could not reach the masses. I told him that my blog page is not written for the masses. I don't care about the masses. The idea of the masses stands and falls with the assumption that stupidity is a contagious disease.

So what’s with Klaus anyhow; the guy is a twit. He worships Milton Friedman. He is a smokers’ rights advocate even though he never smoked himself. He went to the UN to argue that global warming is a loony-left conspiracy. He comes across like a regular David Warren(a local pundit who holds similar views, but advocated in the past – half-jokingly - also the levelling of Fallujah, and rebuilding it as a giant parking lot to a Wal-Mart). Well, yeah, I said, but I was not talking about the guy’s passions; les goûts et les coulers on ne discute pas.

So what was I talking about ?

Well, for all his colourful provocations (the Czech president) Vaclav Klaus, happens to have had a fairly decent record as a prime minister, actually some would say a stellar record, compared with what followed after him. But above all, and what relates to his dislike of Saakashvili directly, Klaus happens to be the architect of the Velvet Divorce. He let the Slovaks go ! He conceived a plan for the breakup of Czechoslovakia and negotiated it with the Slovak former heavyweight boxer (Meciar). If memory serves, it is still the only template available for a bloodless, civilized breakup of a country.

So,.....

it should come as no surprise that Klaus sees the Georgian president as a bully of Abdul Nasser's shoe-size, and his actions on par with the follies of the Pan-arabic fanatic in 1956 and 1967 that started both times with closing the Straits of Tiran to Israel. Klaus does not concern himself much with who fired the first shot in the night of 8/8/8. He understands the problem, and knows instinctively what it is about. The posturing of Georgia toward the two enclaves is all too familiar to a president of a nation which, but for a few intellectuals, would have been itself extinct two hundred years ago. By the early 19.century, the Czech language had no literature. It was a patois of peasants. The towns had very few Czech speakers and even fewer who had any education. There was nothing to read. The co-founder of modern Czech linguistics, Josef Jungmann, wrote his History of the Czech Language in German, the language of the oppressor.

The Western media are mostly clueless about the plight of the Abkhaz and the Ossetians.

There is no such thing as South Ossetia for the Georgian integrists. To them, the Ossetians (a tribe of the ancient Alans) were pushed south to Caucasus from the nothern plains and eventually wandered into the medieval district of Samachablo in the region of Shida Kartli. Georgian propaganda does not even acknowledge there is a distinct ethnic group of Ossetians who are a large majority in the “Tskhinvali region” . The offical line is that the land was taken over by Kokoity separatists. One of the first acts of Zviadist Georgia in 1991 was to make Georgian the only official language in the Thskhinvali administration offices. As that was not ok with the locals who for the most part either did not speak Georgian or knew it only as a third language (after Ossetian and Russian), Zviadist paramilitaries were dispatched to restore order. The shooting began. It is a matter of some irony that those who, like Christopher Hitchens, disclaim any resemblance to Kosovo, overlook that Georgians claim Samachablo as part of the historical kernel of the Georgian state.

Abkhazia, on the other hand, was never a part of the ancient Kartli kingdom, but it is the view of patriotic Georgian historians that it always belonged to Georgia anyways, whatever Georgia actually was at the time. The Georgians were there first. The Abkhaz wandered in afterwards. (Actually, in case you did not know, the Georgians were the first homo erectus human prototype to walk out of Africa. I kid you not !) It is true that the Abkhaz from time to time in the past were dominated by the Mingrelian west-Georgian kingdom of Imereti, but a sober second look would see the land as a Caucasian region very distinct from Georgia, historically and demographically. Its integration into the Czarist Russia followed a different path than Georgia’s and came later. But no sober looks will be forthcoming and the reason is simple. As professor Hobsbawm once put it aptly, “historians are to nationalism, what poppy is to heroin addicts”. Even the human rights people in Georgia, who are asking forgiveness from the Abkhaz, do not find it prudent to mention the causes of their contrition. It is just one of those things you don’t say in Tbilisi: many of the Georgians expelled from Abkhazia (and some who were brutally murdered after Sukhumi was retaken by the Abkhaz forces from Shevardandze in 1993) were the grandsons and granddaughters of the immigrants into Abkhazia brought there by Lavrentii Beria. Beria (a Mingrelian by birth) was Stalin’s most prolific killer and his first lieutenant in the region after it was assigned to Tbilisi in 1931, as part of the Transcaucasian SFSR. He was a notorious madman, and I mean notorious. The 1984 Soviet film classic by the Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze, “Monanienba” (Repentance), is known to every Georgian who finished high school. Abuladze could only hint at Beria, because one could not make a historical movie about Beria in the Soviet Union. Not even in the eighties.

The denial of the two peoples’ existence, and oppression which in both regions outlawed the native scripts, and replaced them with Georgian alphabet, would be enough for me, a Czech by birth. I would say to Saakashvili, bud, you will have to live in a smaller Georgia. You have no idea how to run a federation, and after fifteen years of these people seeing an unstable, immature, violent Georgia, it is time to let them go. There has been enough bloodshed and rancour and it is sound and fury about nothing. Let the Abkhazians and Ossetians go ! Let them go ! In the name of decency, let them go, and find a different role to play than a U.S-financed resurrection of Queen Tamar! Of course, I am a blogging nobody. So please refer to the sitting Czech President, if you want your people to live in a smaller Georgia but one way more comfortable with its neighbours, with Russia, and ultimately - with itself.

Yes, we are all Georgians, and we are all Caucasians out of Africa, just like senator McCain and the archaeologists say. So what's the big deal letting the Georgian separatists in Sukhum and Tkshinvali govern themselves as once the Georgian separatists in the American colonies demanded as their God-given right to liberty ?

Oh Say Can You See ?

But I have no illusions about how far anyone would get with Mikheil. He argues even with the sane half of himself. Take a look at a most revealing interview of him. It comes at the end of Kira Kay’s excellent report made for the Pulitzer Center On Crisis Reporting. Watch how he answers the question whether Georgia would use force to retake Abkhazia the night before he launched the assault on South Ossetia. Then ask yourself: If I was Putin or Medvedev, would I want to be dealing with Saakashvili ?
……

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

School of Lies Handy in Understanding Georgia

As someone who grew up in Eastern Europe in a period of History’s relentless push to communism, I learned early to detect when the official sources lied to me and how to deal with it. The ability to understand the meaning, and to plumb the depth, of a lie was every intelligent man’s or woman’s basic survival skill. If you as a pioneer (communist boy scout) could not find a way to a red-star badge of a Young Builder, that was awarded for 100 hours of community work by putting in 10 hours, then you were a born sucker. No twelve-year-old could possibly spare two and a half weeks of precious life cliping shrubs, painting school-yard fences, and picking up back-alley garbage for a stupid badge. But everyone had to have one. Not having one meant you did not know how to work the system, or, God forbid, you engaged in sabotaging the inevitable victory of communism in the world.

As I grew up, I learned to distinguish among different types of official lies. The Young-Builder-red-star-badge lie would be an example of Harmless Bullshit, of the Bonding Lie class. It prepared you for the rock bottom rule of the socialist economy: you pretend to work; the state pretends to pay you. Then there was the necessary Noble Lie. An example of a Noble Lie would be: “the Red Army liberated Prague on 9th May 1945”. Everyone knew that the Vlasov Army chased the Nazis out of the city the day before. But you could not say that because Vlasov’s men were double traitors: first they betrayed the Great Stalin, then the Nazis, to save their own skin in both cases. So, it was only fair to lie and give the credit to the Great Stalin.

Which brings us to the Dialectical Synthesis. The Dialectical Synthesis was technically not a lie. It was a process whereby something that used to be true, no longer was true based on the historical practice of socialism. So e.g. the Party determined at the XX. Congress, that Stalin was not Great at all and removed his corpse from the Red Square mausoleum. What the Party discovered was that Stalin had a cult of personality, which meant that Stalin made many serious mistakes because he did not believe in the collective leadership of the Party, like Nikita Sergeevich. Which of course was a couple of Noble Lies: one, Stalin did not make any mistakes - he murdered millions, which you could not say because that could sabotage the inevitable victory of communism in the world, and two, Khruschev himself liked to throw his weight around, which would be unfair to say considering he was not engaging in gross violations of socialist legality (which meant he did not kill Bulganin after he removed him from the Poliburo).

Another important type was a Lie for the Protection of the Socialist Establishment in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. A classical example of that would be in president Novotny's favourite saying: “we have not promised you a rose garden”. That actually was a Silly Lie because he was promising that all the time, and usually in the very sentence that followed. No, the “Protection Lie” was that president Novotny had brains. Now, if you ask why is that not a Noble Lie, you don’t understand. The guy was an execrable idiot and everybody knew that ! It was necessary to protect him because most people bought into socialism knowing full-well it was a shameless racket. And from there it follows that we had all sorts of Cheap Automatic Lies like the one that said ‘99.9% voters endorsed the candidates of the National Front’ in an election. It’s not that there never were any Florida-style recounts. It went well beyond hanging chads. Everyone clued in on what the bosses wanted, so no counting was necessary in the first place . The containers were sealed and delivered with the prescribed quota of approved candidates. No sweat, no Michael Moore bitching !

So, what do I think of the Saakashvili account of the night of 8. August ? I knew you were going to ask (harmless bullshit) and I was going to get to that (fake).

Well, to someone like the current president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, it would not be a mystery. He had the same schooling in Lies as I did. Vaclav Klaus was in Tokyo on urgent business (diplomatic lie) when Saakashvili’s Flying Circus arrived in Prague. From Japan, Klaus took a solemn moment to embarrass the Czech government, its NATO allies and EU partners by telling it like it is. Unfortunately, due to the circumstances calling for a “Protection Lie” (described above) applied in the western media, the wire was picked up only by ITAR-TASS .

So what do we know about the night of 8/8/8 ? Saakashvili now says he dispatched one third of his army to the ‘Tskhinvali (in case you ever wondered, it is pronounced: '[hiccup]' + ‘invali’) region’ to intercept the invading neo-bolshevik hordes that just emerged out of the Roki tunnel. Under normal circumstances this would be a Big Fat Bold-Face Lie. If he was so concerned about the Russians coming through the tunnel, why would he be wasting time for hours reducing the only city in the province to a Vukovar ? A city that had only a few hundred Russian peacekeepers ? But things are never that simple in politics. We are not dealing here with a person who cares for convention , even in the basics of presidential protocol. So it is not clear whether he actually remembers what his top peacekeeper said on TV just before the battery of GRAD rockets opened up on the sleepers in Hiccup- (don’t say ‘hiccup’, do a hiccup!)in-valley. He said that he was going in to restore ‘constitutional order’ in the region. It was a police action ! (Actually that was a Half-Truth; the shelling and assault of the army were coordinated by the Interior Ministry). You would have never guessed from the way Mikheil spoke about Hiccup-in-valley (I knew you could do it !) that the bombarded sleepers were ethnics who mostly do not speak Georgian, or speak it as third language (after Ossetian and Russian) . But the wording had a special significance in the Caucasus. Putin used the same words ('restore constitutional order') as Russia’s prime minister in 1999 to send armour to Chechnya. There was of course a slight difference, lost on a man who does not know that wearing a tie does not imply chewing it. Putin walked in on a Chechen warlord by the name of Basayev and his ally, the Wahhabi warlord al-Khattab (an old pal of the Devil himself), who invaded the neighbouring Dagestan to recreate imam Shamil's islamic confederacy in North Caucasus, defeated by imperial Russia in 1859. Putin wiped out the Chechnya-based marauders in short order, and the FSB eventually hunted down and killed both mujehadin (,actually all the big Chechen islamic warlords). Obviously, there would be a lesson there somewhere to a reasonable leader of a nation of 4 million trying to negotiate a new territorial arrangement with Russia (140 million people) led by a smart judo black belt. Well, evidently not Mikheil.

So I would say, yes it looks closest to a Protection Lie for the Eventual Establishment of NATO in the Caucasus. My guess is that most of those who have no interest in that racket would not see Saakashvili any different than the Czechs and Slovaks saw their president Novotny in the 1960’s.

.............

Monday, September 8, 2008

Palin the Phantasy Woman

There have always been things that genuinely puzzled me about the U.S. One of the first indelible shocks after I immigrated to Canada from communist Eastern Europe was a Billy Graham’s crusade I saw on TV. I had no clue. I knew it had to do with a religious revival, but I had no reference to what ‘religious revival’ looked like or what it was for. The purpose of the 60,000 that gathered to listen to Billy’s thunderous oratory was a complete mystery to me. Billy was incoherent. I was (and remain to this day) at a loss to understand what asking Jesus to come into one’s heart in a football stadium could do for anyone.
Similarly, I could not figure out Wonder Woman. Nothing in my cultural baggage could explain to me the need of women to identify themselves with such an obvious ripoff of Superman. Superman was easy to figure out: it was a compensatory phantasm for premature ejaculations. Anyone who wetted his pants as a teenager in a spot of heavy petting knows the import of instant change of clothing and the essential power to fly off in a jiffy on a heroic mission away from the mess and her doubts of your manhood. But why would women want to copy this particular escapism ? Is it some sort of erectile difficulty envy ?

Reading Bernie Quigley’s idolatrous odes to Sarah Palin last week is another ‘one of those’. Why would a wise guy like Bernie be falling all over himself in superlatives over the Alaska governor ? Yes, yes, she is bright and confident and very good-looking. She has the gift of the gab and definitely lights up the campaign, adding a buzz of genuine flakiness to the utter boredom and banality that McCain and his people have diligently worked to spread across the land. But it would be apparent to a college freshman with a gift of insight that a woman who describes herself on a national convention floor as a pitbull with a lipstick is not assessing herself as primarily brainpower.

Perhaps there are things about America an outsider will never understand. There appears to be a streak of phantasism that runs inside the heads of American politics which on occasion displaces contact with reality. I can think of no parallel to this phenom anywhere on earth. This is not ideology, or some hopelessly misplaced idealism, as it is sometimes made to look. I am talking intermittent suspension of cognitive function in waking states on which the American political soul depends as dolphins do on surfacing to get air into their lungs. Give'em a spot of sheer triumph: Carter’s Iran hostage rescue mission, Reagan’s “outlawing” the Soviets in a press conference, Madeleine Albright’s impassioned radio appeal in heavily accented Serbo-Croatian during Rambouillet urging Serbs to turn against Milosevic, Dick Cheney’s last week’s mission in Baku, telling Aliev to stop selling oil to Putin.

How else does one explain the nomination for VP by the managers of McCain, a septuagenarian presidential candidate who had a recent bout with malignant melanoma ? They landed on an attractive woman 2nd year governor, a post to which she rose from mayor of a town of 9,000. Eight years in politics; BA in journalism from Moscow, Idaho that is. A superstar ! Meteoric riser ! Don’t think about it ! Just play it ! She is an epoch-maker of the statue of Washington, Lincoln, F.D.R. says Bernie. Must be because she theoretically could be. And if the pundits ask stupid question just refer them to the inanities of her putative elders-and-wisers, the Establishment politicians. That will do the job ! Go girl; you can’t really screw up if you are rapture ready, can you now ?!
........