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Tag Archives: Soviet Union

Post Soviet America, by the Zman

There are similarities between the US now and the old Soviet Union before it collapsed. From the Zman at theburningplatform.com:

Way back in the late stages of the Cold War, the Soviet political class started to fracture and splinter. The reform movement of Gorbachev was one faction, while the old guard that resisted him was another. There were other factions playing both sides against one another, as well as genuine reformers on the fringe. The reason the ruling elite was splintering was the system over which they ruled was no longer functioning. This reality was becoming clear to many, but not everyone in the party agreed.

Intrigue began to dominate party politics in the final stages of the Soviet Union. There was always politics within the party, but it revolved around the ruling center, much as court intrigue would revolve around the king. As the system began to falter, that center collapsed and party politics was conspiracies within conspiracies, as factions jockeyed for power. Eventually, the system collapsed and the party with it. What followed was a period of looting by oligarchs that rushed into to fill the void.

It is an important thing to think about when analyzing what’s happening in current year America. In the West, the response to the end of the Cold War was the replacement of the old sober minded political class with their self-absorbed, amoral children. The most notable example being Bill and Hillary Clinton, who have come to symbolize Baby Boomer political culture. Theirs is a politics of limitless mendacity. Everything is for sale, including the very institution over which they preside.

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Secrecy and Lies: Chernobyl and the U.S. Government, by Jacob G. Hornberger

The truth is no more welcomed by the US government now than it was by the Soviet government after Chernobyl. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not yet seen the excellent HBO miniseries Chernobyl and might yet do so, you might want to wait to read this article until after you have seen the series, as it contains spoilers.

The five-part series documents the catastrophic nuclear explosion that took place at a nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, an event that threatened the lives and health of millions of people, not only in the Soviet Union but also in Europe. The series documents the heroic life-endangering efforts of thousands of people in an effort to resolve the crisis with the least amount of damage and loss of life.

The most powerful part of the series occurs in part 5.

Whenever power plant officials conducted tests on the system, everyone knew that there was a failsafe button in the event that everything went wrong with the test and an explosion became imminent. All that the power plant people had to do was push the failsafe button and the entire plant would come to a halt. The reason was that the button activated the introduction of control rods containing boron into the fissioning uranium, which would cause the entire system to be immediately shut down.

To save money, Soviet officials had used graphite in the rods. In the 1970s, a Soviet nuclear scientist wrote an article stating that the graphite would serve as an accelerator, not a suppressant, of an impending nuclear explosion. He wrote that it was imperative that all the control rods be replaced immediately.

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NATO is a Danger, Not a Guarantor of Peace, by Robert W. Merry

NATO lost its reason to exist when the Soviet Union folded. In searching for new missions, it’s making the world a more dangerous place. From Robert W. Merry at theamericanconservative.com:

Status quo supporters like the New York Times poke fun at Trump for questioning the alliance. But who’s the fool?

Donald Trump at NATO Summit, Brussels, in 2018 Gints Ivuskans/Shutterstock

The New York Times scored a serious scoop when it revealed on Monday that President Trump had questioned in governmental conversations—on more than one occasion, apparently—America’s membership in NATO. Unfortunately the paper then slipped into its typical mode of nostrum journalism. My Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “nostrum” as “quack medicine” entailing “exaggerated claims.” Here we had quack journalism executed in behalf of quack diplomacy.

The central exaggerated claim is contained in the first sentence, in which it is averred that NATO had “deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.” This is wrong, as can be seen through just a spare amount of history.

True, NATO saved Europe from the menace of Russian Bolshevism. But it did so not over 70 years but over 40 years—from 1949 to 1989. That’s when the Soviet Union had 1.3 million Soviet and client-state troops poised on Western Europe’s doorstep, positioned for an invasion of Europe through the lowlands of Germany’s Fulda Gap.

How was this possible? It was possible because Joseph Stalin had pushed his armies farther and farther into the West as the German Wehrmacht collapsed at the end of World War II. In doing so, and in the process capturing nearly all of Eastern Europe, he ensured that the Soviets had no Western enemies within a thousand miles of Leningrad or within 1,200 miles of Moscow. This vast territory represented not only security for the Russian motherland (which enjoys no natural geographical barriers to deter invasion from the West) but also a potent staging area for an invasion of Western Europe.

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Back to the USSR: How to Read Western News, by Patrick Armstrong

Veteran readers of Soviet journalism well know how to deal with Western fake news. From Patrick Armstrong at strategic-culture.org:

The heroes of Dickens’ Pickwick Papers visit the fictional borough of Eatanswill to observe an election between the candidates of the Blue Party and the Buff Party. The town is passionately divided, on all possible issues, between the two parties. Each party has its own newspaper: the Eatanswill Gazette is Blue and entirely devoted to praising the noble Blues and excoriating the perfidious and wicked Buffs; the Eatanswill Independent is equally passionate on the opposite side of every question. No Buff would dream of reading the “that vile and slanderous calumniator, the Gazette”, nor Blue the ”that false and scurrilous print, the Independent”.

As usual with Dickens it is both exaggerated and accurate. Newspapers used to be screamingly partisan before “journalism” was invented. Soon followed journalism schools, journalism ethics and journalism objectivity: “real journalism” as they like to call it (RT isn’t of course). “Journalism” became a profession gilded with academical folderol; no longer the refuge of dropouts, boozers, failures, budding novelists and magnates like Lord Copper who know what they want and pay for it. But, despite the pretence of objectivity and standards, there were still Lord Coppers and a lot of Eatanswill. Nonetheless, there were more or less serious efforts to get the facts and balance the story. And Lord Coppers came and went: great newspaper empires rose and fell and there was actually quite a variety of ownership and news outlets. There was sufficient variance that a reader, who was neither Blue nor Buff, could triangulate and form a sense of what was going on.

In the Soviet Union news was controlled; there was no “free press”; there was one owner and the flavours were only slightly varied: the army paper, the party paper, the government paper, papers for people interested in literature or sports. But they all said the same thing about the big subjects. The two principal newspapers were Pravda (“truth”) and Izvestiya (“news”). This swiftly led to the joke that there was no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestiya. It was all pretty heavy handed stuff: lots of fat capitalists in top hats and money bags; Uncle Sam’s clothing dripping with bombs; no problems over here, nothing but problems over there. And it wasn’t very successful propaganda: most of their audience came to believe that the Soviet media was lying both about the USSR and about the West.

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If Truth Cannot Prevail Over Material Agendas We Are Doomed, by Paul Craig Roberts

The views of Steven Cohen, one of the few Russia experts out there who’s brain is not plugged into the national security establishment. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

Throughout the long Cold War Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University was a voice of reason. He refused to allow his patriotism to blind him to Washington’s contribution to the confict and to criticize only the Soviet contribution. Cohen’s interest was not to blame the enemy but to work toward a mutual understanding that would remove the threat of nuclear war. Although a Democrat and left-leaning, Cohen would have been at home in the Reagan administration, as Reagan’s first priority was to end the Cold War. I know this because I was part of the effort. Pat Buchanan will tell you the same thing.

In 1974 a notorious cold warrior, Albert Wohlstetter, absurdly accused the CIA of underestimating the Soviet threat. As the CIA had every incentive for reasons of budget and power to overestimate the Soviet threat, and today the “Russian threat,” Wohlstetter’s accusation made no sense on its face. However he succeeded in stirring up enough concern that CIA director George H.W. Bush, later Vice President and President, agreed to a Team B to investigate the CIA’s assessment, headed by the Russiaphobic Harvard professor Richard Pipes. Team B concluded that the Soviets thought they could win a nuclear war and were building the forces with which to attack the US.

The report was mainly nonsense, and it must have have troubled Stephen Cohen to experience the setback to negotiations that Team B caused.

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Learning the Real Lessons of Yalta to Prevent World War III, by Martin Sieff

When the Yalta conference was held, the Soviets were in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe and the other allies were not. Yalta may have simply recognized reality: the British and Americans weren’t going to fight another war to drive the Soviets out. From Martin Sieff at strategic-culture.org:

Politically aware Americans, especially self-proclaimed “tough” neo-liberals and neo-conservatives have had a hate obsession with the Crimea for 73 years since proclaiming the myth of an “evil” sell-out of Eastern Europe that supposedly took place at the Yalta summit conference in February 1945 between Josef Stalin, Winston Churchill and a dying US President Franklin Roosevelt.

Instead, as is often the case in the age of George Orwell’s “big lie” in modern America and Britain, the opposite was the case. The Yalta conference was a triumph of realpolitik that kept the global peace between the superpowers almost three quarter s of a century so far.

It is, therefore enormously ironic that the peace of the world should now be threatened over US and UK outrage in particular over Russia asserting its legal and sovereign rights after a blatant breach of agreements and sovereignty by the Ukrainian vessels in Kerch Strait separating Crimea from mainland Russia.

The kneejerk US and UK reactions, based on mindlessly swallowing generations of dangerous mythmaking by both Republicans and Democrats in the United States and by the revered demigod Winston Churchill in Britain is that at Yalta Roosevelt cynically – and possibly in full senility – “sold out” all the countries of Eastern Europe to Stalin and thereby threatened the survival of the West.

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Still No Peace On Earth, by David Stockman

The United States blew the best opportunity for peace in several generations. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:

Read part 1, part 2, and part 3

When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later as Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the red army tanks in front of Moscow’s White House, a dark era in human history came to an end.

As we have seen, the world had descended into what was in effect an unbroken global war, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. The “77 Years War” is the appropriate name for it.

If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations which germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into the second world war and cold war which followed inexorably thereupon.

To wit, upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped-out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.

So the seminal point cannot be gainsaid. The end of the cold war meant the chance for a new start toward world peace was finally at hand. Yet 27 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.

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