william.scherk

One person whose opinions I wish we could consult right now is the founder of Objectivism. Having a cold eye on the Soviet Union, a cold eye for any unfree state, a cold eye for dictatorships, Ayn Rand would likely be able to add moral clarity to the 'debates' about Russia Russia Russia.

A  couple of folks here have contended that Rand would be enamoured of Donald Trump, a notion I find preposterous. But I could be very wrong.

Message added by william.scherk

What to learn about Russian goals when you don't really care [updated]

william.scherk

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One of the items I fish out of the general Russia Russia Russia hoopla is geopolitical strategy. In other words, setting aside the unproven allegations of the Trump-Russia 'collusion' grab-bag, and putting to one side the actual details of the "Russia hack" of the 2016 US presidential election -- leaving the residual "what is this administration's larger strategy with regard to Russia, its hopes and fears, its ambitions."

This is no easy task. The election campaign revealed just a few rules of thumb that a Trump administration would use in a new relationship. 

Each of us will have an impression of just what President Trump hopes to achieve in relation to Russia between now and 2020. For me, having studied utterances of Michael Flynn and the many Russia/Putin statements from the president, it is to "get along," to cooperate where it serves American interests, and perhaps to let Russia back in from the cold by removing sanctions where appropriate. In an sense, it is a desire to move the 'deep state' off its suspicious foundations in order to make a better partnership with the Eurasian nuclear power. 

(the 'deep state' I envision as the intersection of established policy [of the executive branch, including national security agencies] and law [from the legislature]; it is the entrenched state of affairs, the 'ship of state' -- a vehicle of praxis built up over time. The 'deep state' of course takes its orders not from a shadowy cartel, but from department policy as written, intelligence findings as transmitted, and law. Law as in the welter of official acts and regulations, eg, Magnitsky-related sanctions. The 'deep state' vehicle can be refitted and given new missions, but this takes time, time to install new commanders with clear mission statements, time to legislate and decree a change in direction, speed, goal and targets)

Having established their own briefs on facts and values, strategy and intelligence, law and practice, OLers might like me might have asked themselves the same set of questions -- not of the American 'vehicle' commanded by President Trump, but of the Russian ship of state.

What Russia wants.

-- that boring introduction done, here is a well-written analysis of Russian imperatives:

Russia’s Evolving Grand Eurasia Strategy: Will It Work?

NB: at 4200 words the article is not light reading.  But I suspect readers will be better able to answer the question "What is a proper Russia policy for the USA?" 

One person whose opinions I wish we could consult right now is the founder of Objectivism. Having a cold eye on the Soviet Union, a cold eye for any unfree state, a cold eye for dictatorships, Ayn Rand would likely be able to add moral clarity to the 'debates' about Russia Russia Russia.

A  couple of folks here have contended that Rand would be enamored of Donald Trump, a notion I find preposterous. But I could be very wrong.

[Spelling and grammar plotzes fixed Jan 10, 2018]



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In your near perfect ignorance, operating at the middle–school level as you do, you imagine this is a far–fetched story. You can’t exploit any epistemology on this topic because you have no grasp of the history of CIA activities, (or the honesty to acknowledge them, it’s hard to be certain.) They attacked enemy nuclear facilities, with Stuxnet for example, years after Chernobyl so there is precedent, for starters.

Not surprising you are laughing before hearing any details of the allegation. That’s your dumb shit understanding of adhering to valid epistemology.

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Ivan Golunov is free

-- a deep-dive report from Golunov's peer at Meduza:  Russian officials tried to frame Ivan Golunov. Instead they made him a hero

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[...]

I had no illusions about who might be behind his arrest. Only a few hours earlier, he had filed the most recent draft of his latest investigation to me. He was digging into the Moscow funeral industry – an impossibly corrupt and criminal business, even by Russian standards. It’s a service one can’t refuse: you can’t not die (just as a megapolis like Moscow can’t help but generate millions of tons of garbage every year, which someone gets to process, for a handsome profit). Golunov found that high-ranking officials were involved in violent turf wars for control of Moscow’s most prized cemeteries – exactly the kind of people who can get bent cops to plant drugs on you. Golunov said as much at his preliminary court hearing on Saturday which ruled on the conditions of his custody before the trial. Ivan Kolpakov, Meduza’s editor in chief, vowed to finish the investigation and name those connected to his arrest.

Something almost unthinkable happened at the court hearing. The judge released him from custody but ruled he remain under house arrest until the trial – an unprecedented act of clemency for Russia, where thousands languish in remand prisons for months, sometimes years, before their trial even begins. It doesn’t matter that the evidence against Golunov was demonstrably false; it’s a political case where the judge is not the one who makes the decision. Any independent judge would have thrown the case out, but in Russia, your chances of getting out – even when fully, obviously innocent – are extremely slim: for the country’s top investigator the 0.51% acquittal rate is a matter of pride.

But then another remarkable thing happened: there was a national outpouring of solidarity with Golunov that quickly became impossible to ignore. Since Saturday, people have been standing in line for hours for a chance to mount a “single picket” – the only type of protest still allowed in Russia without permission. Celebrities recorded videos in his support and petitions were signed – over 7,500 signatures from fellow journalists, including those on state-owned outlets, and a Change.org petition is nearing 200,000 signatures.

It’s probably a combination of factors: Golunov’s spotless personal and professional credentials; his undeniable service to the community; and the fact his arrest was an unmitigated PR disaster for Russia as it was unfolding at the time of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, where Putin appeared, hoping to attract global investors. [...]

 

Edited by william.scherk

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From Julia Davis in the Daily Beast ...

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The Russians, Rooting for Trump, Are Loving the Democrats’ Debates
The Kremlin’s Democratic darlings are Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders. Moscow doesn’t think they’ll win, but does think they’ll help Trump to a second term

[...]

Russia’s state media openly enjoy the division and chaos brought to the United States and its allies through the presidency of Donald J. Trump, leaving no doubt that the Kremlin would like to see the incumbent re-elected. 

Mutual affinity between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin is undeniable, as gushing adoration dispensed by the U.S. president is received by the Kremlin’s perennial occupant with a wily snicker. 

[...]

In covering Democratic debates, Russian state media elucidated the Kremlin’s preferences. The title of one segment echoed Trump’s words: “They won’t make America great.” And the hardest hit were the Russians’ least favorite candidates: Former Vice President Joe Biden and California Senator Kamala Harris. The Kremlin’s talking heads mocked Biden as an “elderly candidate,” with a petty, painstaking accounting of his minor slip-ups. Russian state media snickered about Kamala Harris “having her dirty deeds exposed in front of the audience of millions.”

[...]

Clashing with these unflattering descriptions was the upbeat coverage of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. In spite of the fact he’s older than Joe Biden, Sanders faced no criticism for his age. The Russian media portrayed Sanders as the frontrunner of the earlier Democratic debate night, allegedly deemed to be “more impressive” by The Washington Post. (The article in question did not contain such a description.) Russian state TV gushed about its second Democrat darling: “Tulsi Gabbard became the most popular candidate in Google searches.”   

Russia’s ongoing support for Gabbard is not surprising, since her talking points are in perfect alignment with the Kremlin and its allies, including even and especially the Assad regime in Syria. During Wednesday’s debate, Gabbard dramatically proclaimed: “We were all lied to” [by the U.S. government] in perfect synchrony with Russia’s constant assertions that the United States cannot be trusted. RT (formerly Russia Today) previously stated that, “Tulsi Gabbard’s emergence fills a glaring lacuna in a political culture in Washington chronically afflicted with the moral and rabid sickness of an empire that has entered its mad dog days.” 

[...]

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