Category Archives: History

The Saker Interviews Dmitry Orlov

Dmitry Orlov’s perspective on Russia and its environs is both provocative and probably far closer to the truth than anything promulgated within the US government. This interview is long but well worth the read. From the Saker at unz.com:

“I think that the American empire is very much over already, but it hasn’t been put to any sort of serious stress test yet, and so nobody realizes that this is the case”

If I had to characterize the current international situation using only one word, the word “chaos” would be a pretty decent choice (albeit not the only one). Chaos in the Ukraine, chaos in Venezuela, chaos everywhere the Empire is involved in any capacity and, of course, chaos inside the US. But you wouldn’t know that listening to the talking heads and other “experts” who serve roughly the same function for the Empire as the orchestra did on the Titanic: to distract from the developing disaster(s) for a long as possible.

I decided to turn to the undisputed expert on social and political collapse, Dmitry Orlov whom I have always admired for his very logical, non-ideological, comparative analyses of the collapse of the USSR and the US. The fact that his detractors have to resort to crude and, frankly, stupid ad hominems further convinces me that Dmitry’s views need to be widely shared. Dmitry very kindly agreed to reply to my questions in some detail, for which I am most grateful. I hope that you will find this interview as interesting as I did.

The Saker

* * *

The Saker: How would you assess the current situation in the Ukraine in terms of social, economic and political collapse?

Dmitry Orlov: The Ukraine has never been viable as an independent, sovereign state and so its ongoing disintegration is to be expected. The applicability of the concept of collapse is predicated on the existence of an intact, stand-alone entity capable of collapse, and with the Ukraine this is definitely not the case. Never in its history has it been able to stand alone as a stable, self-sufficient, sovereign entity. As soon as it gained independence, it just fell over. Just as the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), it had reached its peak of economic and social development just as the USSR was about to collapse, and it has been degenerating and losing population ever since. Thus, the right model for discussing it is not one of sudden collapse but of steady degeneration and decay.

The Ukraine’s territory was stuck together by the Bolsheviks—first by Lenin, then by Stalin, then by Khrushchev. It was Lenin who lumped in its eastern regions (Donetsk and Lugansk specifically) who previously were part of Russia proper. Stalin then added eastern lands, which were at various times Polish, Austro-Hungarian or Romanian. Finally, Khrushchev tossed in Russian Crimea in a move that was unconstitutional at the time, since no public referendum had been held in Crimea to decide this question as was required by the Soviet constitution.

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Nearly Everyone Is a Socialist Now, by Alasdair Macleod

Socialism is ubiquitous, and even much of what is termed “capitalism” is actually socialism. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

The expansionary phase of the global economy is almost certainly ending. A combination of excessive debt and trade protectionism is likely to become economically and politically destabilising. If, as seems increasingly likely, the world is destined for another credit and economic crisis, the colour of the political establishment will shape outcomes. This article examines the political scene and concludes that socialist puppet-masters will use the opportunity in an attempt to crush capitalism.

Introduction

In 1975, I watched from the Strangers’ Gallery the debate in the House of Commons when the Referendum Act for membership of the Common Market was in its second reading. It was to be the first referendum ever held in the UK, and as one would imagine was contentious for that reason. The Labour government of the day had laid an act before Parliament for a referendum to ratify the European Communities Act of 1972, in other words, the UK’s membership of the Common Market.

The debate was not about membership, but the precedent of holding a referendum and its potential to undermine parliament’s sole right to take decisions on behalf of the people. In those days, MPs made proper speeches, not the time-limited five or so minutes permitted by Mr Speaker. A debate of this sort was worth listening to.

I was struck by the similarities of argument put forward by the two greatest parliamentary orators of the day. Michael Foot was the doyen of the extreme left in the Labour Party, and Enoch Powell was said to be on the extreme right (he wasn’t – he was a staunch free marketeer: more on this to follow). From their different perspectives their arguments were almost identical, and both spoke eloquently without notes.

Foot had a distinctive style we see less of nowadays. He was an old-fashioned socialist rabble-rouser, with his arguments and timing honed to perfection on the hustings. His was the traditional Labour campaigning style; a throw-back to pre-war socialist tub-thumping. He was, at that time, the best exponent of this type of oratory in Parliament, made all the more credible by his unwavering belief in the Marxist cause.

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Russiagate is Dead! Long Live Russiagate! by Gerald Sussman

Russia is not the threat to world peace, the US is. From Gerald Sussman at counterpunch.org:

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Now that Mueller’s $40 million Humpty Trumpty investigation is over and found wanting of its original purpose (to retire Trump), perhaps the ruling class can return without interruption to the business of destroying the world with ordnance, greenhouse gases, and regime changes. A few more CIA-organized blackouts in Venezuela (it’s a simple trick if one follows the Agency’s “Freedom Fighter’s Manual”), and the US will come to the rescue, Grenada style, and set up yet another neoliberal regime. There is a small solace that with Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton, there is at least a semblance of transparency in their reckless interventions. The assessed value of Guaido and Salman, they forthrightly admit, is in their countries’ oil reserves. And Russians better respect the Monroe Doctrine and manifest destiny if they know what’s good for them. Crude as they may be, Trump’s men tell it like it is. And when Bolton speaks of “the Western Hemisphere’s shared goals of democracy, security, and the rule of law,” he is of course referring to US-backed coups, military juntas, debt bondage, invasions, embargoes, assassinations, and other forms of gunboat diplomacy.

That the US is not already formally at war with Russia (even with NATO forces all along its borders) has only to do with the latter’s nuclear arsenal deterrent. Since World War II, a period some describe as a “a period of unprecedented peace,” the US war machine has wiped out some 20 million people, including more than 1 million in Iraq since 2003, engaged in regime change of at least 36 governments, intervened in at least 82 foreign elections, including Russia (1996), planned more than 50 assassinations of foreign leaders, and bombed over 30 countries. This is documented here and here.

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Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight, by Philip Giraldi

The US is now the most belligerent country in the world. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.com:

Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

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Trump’s Embrace of Netanyahu Will Haunt the Middle East for Years, by Phyllis Bennis

Not too long ago there were stories about a Trump-Putin “bromance.” If you’re looking for a bromance, how about Trump-Netanyahu, with Netanyahu clearly the dominant one? From Phyllis Bennis at antiwar.com:

For Israelis, the questions had been hovering for months.

Would the right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claim victory and a fifth term, moving his far-right Likud government coalition even further right? Or would the supposedly “centrist” challenger, former army chief of staff General Benny Gantz, ride to victory among corruption allegations against Netanyahu?

Netanyahu faces three – and potentially as many as five – separate indictments for various scandals. If his Likud party forms the new government, which now seems likely, will it pass a new law prohibiting the indictment of a sitting prime minister?

Those questions remain central to Israeli political discussion. But among Palestinians, there was little need to ask about what the election meant for them: Whatever government emerged seemed guaranteed to maintain current Israeli positions in support of occupation and apartheid, against international law, for war with Iran, for full-throated alliance with the US president and US military aid, and against human rights for Palestinians and equality for all.

During the campaign, Netanyahu not only vowed to annex illegal Israeli West Banks settlements in violation of international law, but also expressly disavowed the state of Israel’s obligations to its Palestinian citizens. Yet his challenger Gantz was little better, running ads bragging about how many Palestinians he killed bombing Gaza “back to the stone age” while commanding Israel’s 2014 military assault on Gaza.

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Notre Dame: Symbol of a Failing Culture, by Tom Luongo

When people cheer the Notre Dame fire, it’s another indication of the depravity of so much of our culture. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Like many I was horrified on so many levels by the news of the fire which engulfed the iconic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

The thing that makes me truly sad is that my first reaction to the news wasn’t basic human safety concerns. My first reaction was to jump to the political ramifications and ask cui bono?

Who benefits from this?

In this hyper-politicized world every act has an agenda. And with so many false flags, failing governments, simmering (or actually boiling) culture wars and rampant ideological insanity it is nearly impossible to dismiss them.

Meanwhile, one of the great symbols and repositories of human achievement was nearly destroyed by either carelessness, neglect, malicious intent or a sinister combination of all three.

And people were cheering this.

While I’m lamenting my cynical initial reaction there were people all across the globe cheering the destruction of an integral part of human history.

That should frighten you.

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From The Ashes, by Joel Bowman

The global black market, even excluding drugs, arms, and other contraband, is huge. From Joel Bowman at internationalman.com:

“Nothing makes a man so adventurous as an empty pocket.”

~ Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

As Paris’ most iconic cathedral was engulfed in flames earlier this week, crowds of somber onlookers gathered on the banks of the Seine.

They sang hymns. They embraced each other. They watched in shocked, helpless silence as 850 years of history looked as though it might collapse.

“It feels like a national hero was shot,” writes a friend, who was standing amongst the crowd. “The mood in the air is like at a funeral. Everyone is in mourning.”

Thankfully, all was not lost. Although the Gothic spire – once the highest point in the city – fell… and the roof was badly damaged… the 12th century oak beams stood, and the towers remain.

The city will rebuild, says the president. (Already, €300 million has been pledged for the purpose, mostly from wealthy families and private companies.)

Of course, the cathedral was more than simply a religious structure. It was a symbol of human achievement… and perseverance.

Recalling our own time living in Paris, where we stayed not two blocks from La Grande Dame, we remember vividly another sort of strength, a type of character that is forged in the crucible of necessity and adversity and even deprivation.

You see it on the streets… and in the peripheral arrondissements … particularly late at night.

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