Russia

Russia’s Move Toward a Fascist State, Part 3: Putin’s Possible Overreach

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Ralph Peters recently commented that Vladimir Putin’s personality makes it very possible that he will overreach. I believe he already has. First, even though some critics have complained about a weak initial response by President Obama, (Peters believes the response was too weak), I think that Putin is rather taken aback by the US response, which has been incrementally tough.

First, Obama did the correct thing in hitting Russia with economic sanctions. Russia’s economy, insufficiently diversified, is its weakness. Additionally, the incremental approach is best, for it does not allow Putin to declare that the US and NATO are unjustly harming the Russian people, just as the Versailles Treaty allowed Hitler.

The US deployed warships to the Black Sea. Again, I do not believe that Putin expected this. Given his past negotiations with President Obama, Putin thought the US president would flinch, he expected concessions and platitudes. He actually got harsh words, even from European leaders. Additionally, the US and other NATO nations began military exercises in Poland, in an effort to communicate US resolve in providing security to its Eastern European allies. Eastern Europe, unlike some nations in Western Europe, feel no sense of entitlement when it comes to their security and the US’ role in that security; these nations have felt Russia breathing down their necks since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and most of them greatly appreciate the US’ help. Indeed, most of the countries in Eastern Europe have backed the US all along the way during the War on Terror. They are valuable and faithful allies. We should return the favor.

Vladimir Putin may have backed himself into a corner. For now, he is riding a nationalist wave in Russia. These things burn out quickly, particularly without a foe to fight. If Putin backs down, he may seal his doom in a country rife with domestic problems; a dying population, is not the least of those problems.  If he invades Ukraine, he invites more economic sanctions and perhaps even military intervention on the part of Europe, something that Putin definitely does not want, despite his tough talk. Putin will not be talked down via rational debate. NATO will have to stand firm, and use action to stop him. Again, he does not want confrontation, as he knows he can’t win in a direct military confrontation with a united NATO. His tactics, ever since he took power over a decade ago, has been to divide NATO. If Putin perceives that NATO will not stand up to him, he will not hesitate to pounce. Russia has undergone significant military improvements since 2008. It’s 2008 military campaign in South Ossetia resembled the Nazis’ test run of their Blitzkreig tactics and newer military equipment in the Spanish Civil War. But now, Putin has no good options. His most powerful weapon remains his state run media, such as RT, and a credulous American and Russian people.  His Edward Snowden operation was a masterstroke, but it’s wearing thin and it won’t make up for one stumble by Putin, who’s played the game as well as it can be played for quite a while. But the game may now be up.

 

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Russia’s move toward a fascist state, part 2: The Nashi

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Look at these young men and boys! What material! I shall eradicate the thousands of years of human domestication. Brutal youth–that is what I am after…I want to see once more in the its eyes the gleam…of the beast of prey. With these I can make a new world…and create a new order! ~Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf

Vladimir Putin, like Adolph Hitler and VI Lenin, knows that the best place to start is in the beginning. If one wishes to truly change society, it’s important to begin indoctrination during the most impressionable stages, when the lessons will truly stick. Thus Putin and his administration are deeply involved in a Russian youth movement known as the Nashi (Ours). As of 2002, Nashi held over 50,000 members.

Nashi Logo

Not surprisingly, Vladislav Surkov, a Russian government official who provided large sums of money to Putin during elections, is the patron of Nashi. Surkov is a major power broker in the Russian government; he is one of 7 Russian officials sanctioned by the US government after the Russian annexation of Crimea. 

Vladislav Surkov

 

Interestingly enough, and completely in line with the Russian government’s talenty for seizing upon international, academic, and media zeitgeist, Nashi creator Vasily Grigoryevich Yakemenko says the movement was created to battle “skin heads and Nazis” in Russia. Remember, this was the same language used to justify Russia’s initial intervention in Crimea. This rhetoic is intended to dissuade criticism from liberal groups, whom reflexively hate fascism.  Nashi has been accused of intimidation of rival youth groups.  Nashi has even established its own political party, registered with the Kremlin.

Nashi is used for political demonstrations against the West, the US in particular. This is a growing trend in Russia, fully supported and endorsed by the Kremlin.

One of the Seliger Forum’s managers and Russia’s youngest parliament member, 25-year-old Robert Schlegal, used to be a well-known anti-American activist. Three years ago, Schlegal—sometimes called Putin’s favorite protégé—led a crowd of 12,000 Nashi members to the American embassy in Moscow and played a film in which a cartoon George W. Bush claimed, “I control the world’s oil, economy, wars, culture, science, and information.” While Schlegal still refers to the United States as “the most aggressively dominating empire,” he now says Nashi’s anti-Western attacks are “the old agenda.” 

The most prominent and striking feature of Nashi is that it seemingly seeks to build upon Putin’s cult of personality, its members sporting Putin tshirts and chanting songs in his praise. Putin is building his support for a possible extension of his time in power.

Supporters of Nashi say that Russia has a long history of such groups. They are correct. VI Lenin established The Young Pioneers, which survived until the late Soviet days. The American, Samantha Smith, was even accorded membership on her visit in 1983.

Samantha Smith, with the Young Pioneers in 1983.

 

The Nashi are fully indoctrinated in Russian nationalism and Putin’s regime. The extant of their activies far exceeds that of comparable American organizations, such as the Scouts. The Nashi’s sole reason for existing is to build Putin’s power base, and to crush and shame opposition. Nashi is a political tool.

This is the first entry of my  series, which analyzes Putin’s quest to bend all aspects of the Russian state and people to his will. Aspects of the youth groups will be analyzed in more depth, later.

The New Cold War has begun

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This one may end hotter than the last. US troops in Poland will feed the already fervent Russian nationalism. Do not underestimate the national psychological need to feel “on top.” Americans don’t really know what it feels like to be a member of a nation that used to be strong, but is now considered second tier.

Rational debate will not stem this tide. There are two options: Stand unquestionably strong, drawing a line which the US has every intent to defend. Or do nothing at all. Half-measures will merely stir the coals.

 

Russia’s move toward fascism Part 1

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In the following weeks, I plan on publishing a series of articles analyzing Russia’s transformation into a fascist state, perhaps the only such state in the world. These articles will look at not only current events, but will analyze history, the Russian and Soviet mind, and Vladimir Putin. Russia’s military capabilities as well as the role of the KGB, FSB and GRU (military intelligence) in the current state of world affairs will also be prominent issues.

First, in order to show Russia’s descent to fascism, we must first consider what this term really means or implies. As Orwell noted “fascism” may be one of the most overused and abused words in the English language.  Below is a list of traits typical to fascist regimes, as noted by Dr. Lawrence Britt:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. 4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposedto the government’s policies or actions.9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

An analysis of each of the above points would be sufficient to show that Russia is moving toward, or may even now be, a fascist state. However, there are other points to consider in why this is important, and to show people that much of this was possibly planned years, if not decades ago by Soviet leadership. It is also important because it is possible that certain politicians in Russia may still dream that Russia will dominate Europe, or at least the parts of Europe that were once members of the Soviet Bloc. Some of the analysis concerning possible Soviet plans, the KGB, and Russian intelligence will be conspiratorial in nature. As many know, I’m not much for conspiracies. But, there is there is a plethora of data to prove these points, including released KGB documents, information from defected Soviet intelligence officers, the testimony from exerts in the CIA as well as current world events.

This series is rather broad in scope and will likely require several months to complete.

 

Cyber War

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Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article that stated Shiite insurgent groups were hacking the video signals of US drones. It’s nothing new. It happened in Kosovo too. People who scanned satellite signals were able to watch live feed video from drones. The Pentagon’s known about this problem for years, but decided that the threat of enemy exploitation was minimal.

It is, admittedly, unlikely that insurgents could use the real-time video to make tactically decisive movements on the battlefield, especially in the remote mountain areas of Pakistan where terrain association is difficult. One can only imagine the, “Hey, that’s us!” moment before a Hellfire missile strikes the sneaky extremists.

America’s enemies are trying to exploit any weakness they kind find in her armor. Iran, North Korea and China employ fully devoted cyber warriors whose mission is the penetration of military databases, financial institutes, power grids and industrial combines.  

While it’s easy to be dismissive of small time hackers and even state sponsored cyber attacks, a look at the recent war in Georgia should remind us that professional hackers will play a larger role in the wars of tomorrow than most would care to admit. In Georgia, Russian cyber attacks on various government websites disrupted communications.

The US Army has responded by developing a new “Electronic Warfare Specialist” MOS. Though most of the responsibilities of this new MOS will be targeted at ground operations and tactical situations, there are rumors that the soldiers will receive some training in hacking as well as be issued small computers. One can’t help but think of the “cyberdecks” in William Gibson’s post modern sci fi novel, Neuromancer.

Neuromancer presents some very interesting ideas. Humans “jacking into the system” and using thought controlled graphics to manipulate programs and administer virus, stealing information, even controlling remote devices. There were of course consequences. Black Ice, or retributive programs were sometimes employed by corporations or the military. These programs were capable of injuring or even killing the hackers.

I don’t think cyber warfare will ever reach the levels of Neuromancer. Were corporations or military combines threatened by armies of advanced hackers to the point where they could no longer properly protect themselves, they would simply remove their data bases from the net. Granted, this would be a huge nuisance. Communication would be stilted. Still, it would be better than the other options.

What I do believe is that America’s enemies will continue to attack our weaknesses, not our strengths. We’ve seen the difficulties presented even a powerful army in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan, where the media is now part of the battlefield, and to some extant determines a fight’s outcome. Russia and China in particular have no qualms about thinking outside the box. I believe in some ways, that our conventional superiority has stunted our flexibility.

The electromagnetic spectrum presents more vulnerabilities. China has developed a family of “Assassin’s Mace” technology, or technology that is designed to mitigate the technical superiority of a foe. Electro Magnetic Pulse Weapons, scrambling devices and satellite killers are the order of the day.

Our foes must find inexpensive ways to deal with our exotic weapons. As long as the Pentagon keeps this in mind, and knows that war is about people, not gadgets, America will remain the king of the battlefield. Politicians and fantastical dreamers may long for bloodless war, but we know from history that merely destroying infrastructure and military equipment is not enough to bring victory. Berlin lay flatter than a shadow but the Nazis fought on. Only when the Russians entered the city–a Red swarm extracting a terrible vengeance– did the regime crumble.  It’s a sad truth that with a butcher’s job comes blood–and lots of it.

Let us believe for a moment that future warriors will not wear muddy boots and kevlars, but virtual reality helmets and Vans. They may pilot drones of extraordinary capabilities, or perhaps robotic walkers or tanks, from thousands of miles from the battlefield.  They may control satellites that rain destruction. First these robots will have to meet the enemy’s robots. Should the enemy’s equipment be destroyed, they will then begin the hunt for humans. Idealists will say that they’ve already won the battle, since the enemy’s capability to wage war has been destroyed. But if history is a lesson, we know that without human pain, there is no victory in war. The robots could be directed at enemy nerve centers, such as the areas that the cyber warriors work and control their deadly tools. However, since these command and control areas are likely to be well hidden and probably underground, it’s more likely that the only way an army could apply enough pain would be to attack civilian populations.

The soldier plays the Voodoo doll for his country. Instead of needles, he absorbs bullets. The physical pain he experiences is transferred as psychic pain to the civilians. When the soldiers take enough bullets, the countrymen crumble with the war fighters.

When there are no soldiers–no Voodoo doll–there is only the civilian upon which to unleash the horrors that only a soldier knows.

Russia can save capitalism

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Step aside, comrade. Mother Russia’s more willing to speak the truth than the Western governments. So listen.

This week, the Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) in Moscow released a statement saying: the British Meteorological Office in Exeter probably manipulated data gathered from Russian temperature sensors.

Seems our friends at the Hadley Center in England didn’t like what they found from 40% of the sensors in Russia: There’s been no warming in the 20th and 21st century. So they ignored those sensors and only mentioned the 25% of sensors in Russia that did show temp increases. The 25% of sensors they used were ones located near urban population centers, which need adjustments for the heat-sink affect of cities. But of course, no adjustments were made.

Russian landmass constitutes 12.5% of the entire worlds land surface. This, along with the massive amounts of arctic lands there, makes Russia the best country in which to measure global climate changes.

Ironic, that it could be Russia that saves the world from economy-crushing cap and trade taxes and foolish restrictions on production.