The sanction saga

What is at stake

Putin on the Ukrainian-Russian relationship:

“Our countries’ companies have developed close ties in all the basic industries: in the fuel and energy sector, which includes nuclear power, in chemical production, in aviation and machine building, space, metallurgy and metals processing, in construction and agriculture. We have developed unique production chains and created technological alliances. Russian capital represents about 32 percent of the Ukrainian banking system.”[1]

The Russian government has been slowly revealing its posture to the world. It is saying “No” to an unfair assault on the people. Instead business is on the cards, everywhere. To have a good understanding of the bigger picture check out the “Energy ballet” that Pepe Escobar has been so eloquently writing about.

The back and forth tossing around of the likes of Master Card and Visa is a good case in point of Russia’s stronger position now[2]. This is not the 90s and the Russians are keen to assert themselves. Upset at being blocked out of his money, the President’s close friend and billionaire is now banking with Union Pay[3].

“We, Russia, cannot talk about any ceasefire conditions whatsoever, or possible agreements between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk,” Putin stated recently in Minsk[4].

This is the real foreign policy difference that has now emerged from the Russian camp.

We recently saw a press conference of the resistance setting the stage for a wider struggle and now we have a green light from Russia. This is the real story of the week.

International Response

The illusion that the world stands with the aggressor is slowly being replaced as the showdown gains momentum. This is a quick snapshot of some leading headlines.

Brazil
Brazil has not received a request from the EU to halt increasing exports to Russia, but if it does, Brasilia wouldn’t care, Ambassador Antonio Jose Vallim Guerreiro told a news conference in Moscow Thursday.”[5]

Ecuador
On sanctions, President Correa said “I want to immediately say that we don’t need to get anybody’s permission to sell products to friendly countries: as far as we know Latin America isn’t a part of the European Union,” [6]

Spain 
The Spanish have been long protesting Russian sanctions and the crisis is only growing worse.  The EU’s measly allocation of €125 million in emergency support is absurd when you consider the actual cost of Russian sanctions. The trade embargo could cost the EU €6.7 billion ($9 billion) and cost up to 130,000 jobs.[7]

Greece
The civil disobedience movement is gaining ground with strong criticism of the EU sanctions.  The veteran leftist Manolis Glezos has even penned an emotional letter to President Putin urging him to exempt Athens from sanctions[8]. The situation is dire.

Serbia
The Serbs have suffered a lot from Nato and the wounds are still fresh. Their solidarity with Russia, despite being hung out to dry during Clinton’s “democracy initiatives”, is commendable[9].

Germany
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has been sending mixed signals through out this conflict. While at one hand she seems to be extending the olive branch, on the other she entices the Ukrainian oligarchy with rebuilding the east (post cleansing).

Germany also played an active part in the coup and what followed. It is an active participant in this conflict, it cannot simply be absolved of all blame. Now, as the plan foils and the Nazi regime falters, we have a sudden realization of goals. All of a sudden there is talk of negotiation and federalisation[10].

This is quite a 180 degree U-turn. This could be a ploy as experienced previously, following resistance momentum and territory gains.

Poodle of the week

Canada has won this weeks “Impress the Emperor” contest. It is eager to show the world that it is standing up to big bad Russia[11].

Internal breakdown of the state:

The Ukrainian state is in total disrepair, it was already crumbling under US sponsored “democracy” initiatives that brought about the rabidly russophobic and fascist government in power.

The zombies that form the popular support base of the Ukrainian regime, are not just paying for their “EU dream” in mere street protests. They are now actively brainwashed, recruited and sent to die in a war[12].

The Russian president has already given in his analysis with a whopping 165 billion needed to revive Ukraine[13]. Right now Ukraine is on the operating table, hopelessly unaware, and soon to be woken up when there is no money for morphine.

It will be a painful awakening for a lawless, corrupt puppet state with a federalised oligarchy. The Minister of Economy has resigned[14] and the choco-king is busy cashing out[15]. It is a free for all right now in Ukraine, anything goes.

Protesters are now demanding that the Defence Minister resign and aid to Ilovaysk be sent[16]. Notice how the population is so much under the influence of state propaganda that it is not questioning any logic here. Why are they fighting the residents in the east? Why can they not be left in peace? A war should always be questioned.

Meanwhile, on planet earth, the Novurussiyan Armed Forces (NAF) have been gaining ground with the capture of Novoazovsk[17] and are now reported to be marching further ahead as far as Berdyans’k[18].

Prior to the ingenious decision to hand over “Nuclear Material” security to fascists[19] the government had also struck a deal with Fasington for Nuclear fuel. Nuclear fuel that is not just incompatible in comparison to the Russian made fuel (used previously and made for purpose) but will most likely cause a meltdown[20].

It is inhuman, beyond measure, when someone is willing to risk a nuclear disaster for an agenda.

AE


[1] Speech at the meeting of the Customs Union Heads of State with President of Ukraine and European Union representatives (kremlin.ru, english, 26-08-2014)

[2] Mastercard extension: http://rt.com/business/183124-russia-deadline-visa-mastercard/

[3] http://carnegie.ru/2014/08/24/as-us-eu-close-doors-china-russia-open-new-ones/hm81

[4] Minsk conference: http://rt.com/news/182976-putin-poroshenko-ukraine-talks/

[5] Brazil’s response: http://rt.com/business/181876-brazil-russia-eu-sanctions/

[6] Ecuador’s response: http://rt.com/business/179972-ecuador-russia-agriculture-ban/

[7] Spain sanction protest: http://rt.com/news/181992-spanish-farmers-russia-sanctions/

[8] Letter to Putin: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2014/08/10/wwii-hero-greek-eurodeputy-letter-putin-embargo-greece/

[9] Serbia on food deliveries: http://rt.com/business/182076-serbia-food-deliveries-russia/

[10] Germany’s U-turn: http://euobserver.com/foreign/125331

[11] Canada in the Arctic: http://rt.com/news/182992-canada-sovereignty-arctic-russia/

[12] Civilian conscription: http://www.kyivpost.com/multimedia/photo/presentation-civil-defence-training-programm-361080.html

[13] Cost to join EU Association Agreement: http://rt.com/business/182868-russia-ukraine-europe-trade/

[14] Minister of Economy resigns
http://www.voanews.com/content/ukraine-economy-minister-resigns-cites-frustrations/2423091.html

[15] Ukrainian PM selling assets: http://en.itar-tass.com/economy/746201

[16] Demand for Defese Minister to resign: http://rt.com/news/183396-kiev-poroshenko-military-protest/

[17] Capture of Novoazovsk
http://rt.com/news/183368-ukraine-novoazovsk-kiev-troops/

[18] Unconfirmed reports of marching on Berdyans’k
http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.nz/2014/08/not-confirmed-but-maybe-open-thread.html

[19] Ukraine’s deterioting situation: http://www.vineyardsaker.co.nz/2014/08/20/ukraines-descent-into-chaos-and-the-sanction-recoil/

[20] Nuclear deal with the US: http://rt.com/news/183248-nuclear-ukraine-threat-osce/

 

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Power, Corruption and Lies,by Luc Brunet

Pic4

One of my favorite music album many years ago was edited in 1983 by the British group “New Order”. I still now often recall that album and its title.
 
The title of the album was indeed not invented by New Order. It comes from a German artist called Gerhard Richter who vandalized the wall of an art exhibition in Cologne, using those words. Interestingly Richter was born in East Germany and flew to the West some time before he tagged this in Cologne.
 
“Power, Corruption and Lies” are clearly related to the realities of the world, where three concepts are put together. Most of us, looking at those three words, immediately understand or guess that there is a link between them. Can there be Power without Corruption? Can there be Corruption without Lies? Can you get Power without Lies? Many more questions can come to your mind involving one, two or three of those words, and there shall be even many more answers, depending on your moral values, beliefs and culture. But by all means those three terms are in many cases the instruments used by men to dominate others and satisfy their hunger for wealth and domination.
 
Although those concepts are valid and intensively used across all activities of men from the dark ages of history until our present days, I would just spend some time today playing with those three words in the area of politics, at local level but also at the level of international relations.
 
The order of the words tagged by Richter is in fact very right historically speaking.
 
In old models of society, Power was basically the only instrument to achieve domination. And Power here mainly refers to pure physical force and the fear generated by such force. Nothing else was very much needed to establish and maintain domination in most models of society we can see in history. The fear of God came as a complementary tool to stabilize those societies. The dominant elites could decide to go to war against other elites and simple people (peasants) just went to war without question, as it was the Will of God and the will of the local Lord or whatever his name was. In most cases simple soldiers fought and died without knowing why there was a war, and well possibly without really knowing who were the guys being killed on the other side. The idea to ask and to discuss those questions was totally outside of their area of knowledge and initiative.
 
Such a situation remained for many centuries, but changes in society put an end to that. The major one was the progressive alphabetization of the population, that became generalized in most of western Europe in the 18th and 19th century. The proliferation of books and the apparition of the Press completely changed the rules of domination. Sending people to war or asking them exorbitant taxes to finance a war or the construction of a new castle could not be achieved by force and fear anymore, or it proved very difficult and unreliable. A new concept appeared that would play a key role in the way countries had to be ruled: public opinion. Even before the birth of the first modern democracies in Europe, public opinion started to be important and the elite needed to address that. To make the issue even more complicated, another consequence of alphabetization was the decline of religion, fast or slow depending of the region in Europe. Using the Will of God also became problematic, and often impossible.
 
Other arguments had to be invented to make people march in battalions and attack their neighbors. Patriotism became a key element and was instilled very early into the brain of the population – at school. Patriotism is by far not always a negative state of mind fueled by the hate of the neighbor, and often can be a positive force in society, helping to keep it together and strong. But it was mostly used in the negative way in order to prepare population for the next war. Children in France at the beginning of the 20th century were educated at school to get revenge against the “boches” (Germans) who “stole” Alsace and Lorraine from France during the 1870 war. Entire books were edited for adults and children explaining how Germans behave like beasts and cut the hands of innocent children.

For God, Homeland and King

For God, Homeland and King

All was done to maintain the hate of the German in the population, and when WW I started, although for reasons not at all linked to those lost French regions, people went at war convinced that they were fulfilling the sacred task of getting those martyr regions back to France. They mostly never heard about or did not understand the tectonic changes that were happening between the European superpowers of that time.  
 
But the genuine patriotism of the start of the 20th century had limits, as demonstrated by the growing demoralization of the troops, especially during the second half of the conflict. German and French soldiers on each side of the trenches tended to fraternize and understand that the war was not theirs. Many French soldiers were court marshaled for that and shot, a fact that was kept secret for many years.
 
A new, terribly effective tool had to be invented, and the new raising totalitarian European powers used it as a fundamental building block of their universe: propaganda. Both the Nazi and the Communist regime had specialized groups and ministries working on propaganda, literally building a virtual reality for their population. 
 
For both of them, patriotism (of a negative type) was not enough, and by far. Although it was clearly apparent in their propaganda, it was only a part of a much bigger picture. The Lie had to be enormous and subjugate the crowds. As Goebbels clearly stated:

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels

An unhappy Joseph Goebbels upon learning of
An unhappy Joseph Goebbels upon learning of the Jewish photographer

Above, two unique pictures of Goebbels in 1933. He just went through a good photo session (left picture) with a photografer (Alfred Eisenstaedt) but then looks at him with a load of hate, seconds after learning Eisenstaedt was jewish. Showing his real soul…
 
However, the two regimes worked here as well on two different modes. The Nazi regime used a very modern – even in todays terms! – form of propaganda, taking full advantage of all available techniques, including a new technology called radio diffusion. It also made intensive use of esthetically refined techniques, using music, sounds and visual effects to make the demonstration of force not only physically impressive, but also fascinating. The uniform of the Waffen SS were designed to be not only frightening for the enemy, but also elegant and in their own way beautiful for the German public. The soldiers and officers had to be proud to wear it, the public had to be proud to be watch them. Enormous evening events were organized in stadiums with lights, music and a sense of “design” until now never equaled…
 
Do not believe please that I turned into an admirer of the Nazis, but I bet most of us would have been shaken and impressed to be in the Nuremberg stadium in 1938 or 1939. This was the purpose and it worked so well that until 1944, the Nazi regime was never really forced to use a lot of brutal force against its Arian population. It did not need to, and all the hate was focused on the external enemies of the Reich. The German population lived in a virtual world, totally overwhelmed by the formidable propaganda engine, and when they understood, they were already in hell.
 
In the Soviet Union, the propaganda engine was less sophisticated, and the use of force ( basic power) and fear played a much bigger role compared to Third Reich Germany. This was also due to other differences between the two regimes, Nazis being focused on hating other groups, generally based on ethnic criteria, while the Soviet Union was mostly killing its own population including its own elite. I recommend on that subject the exceptionally detailed study published in 1973 by Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism. 
 
But Lies and propaganda had still an important role in maintaining the Soviet power in place, although its influence on people slowly diminished to be almost a caricature of itself in the stagnation years starting in the 70’s, at a time when Corruption became a more important role to keep the system working.
 
After the end of WW II,  the role of propaganda in Europe at least decreased a lot, except behind the Iron Curtain. However governments in western Europe had to deal with a new technology that would prove much more powerful than the paper press or even radio broadcasting: television.
 
The new media was immediately put under control of the governments just like Radio by the way, that since its first days before the war was strictly under state control. I remember as a child listening to the French “Minister of Information” Alain Peyrefitte . He explained for example at the occasion of a restructuring of the State Radio and TV company what was the role of the news bulletin on TV every evening and what types of messages the government was expecting to be brought to the public. Those were by the way not words only, and the content of each evening news edition had to be validated before diffusion. I also remember the name of the “pirate” UK radio in the 60’s, that was broadcasting from international waters in the English Channel: Radio Caroline. It was broadcasted from a ship, always in fear of being chased by French or UK authorities, and probably remained on-air because of its focus on music and not politics. 

Pic5

The political power had understood that giving full freedom of speech on radio and TV could be dangerous for them. Probably one fear was to see soviet style propaganda being massively broadcasted. But my guess is that they simply were afraid to lose control and see critics build up against them.
 
But the 80’s (earlier in Italy) saw the end of such state control and the rapid proliferation of independent radios, and the slower development of independent TV’s, partly because of the high cost to launch a TV channel. 
 
Started a period of real freedom on the air, and by the way also on state TV. France for example saw the success of very critical programs and humorists like Coluche or Deprosges, who had virulent texts and stories to tell about politicians of all sides. The press also followed the same trend with edition groups like Liberation. Similar tendencies took place in Germany, Italy and other countries.
 
What we have seen over the past 20 years or so is however a very different evolution.
 
The control of the media is today at least as efficient as it was under state control with Alain Peyrefitte, but on a completely different manner. Corruption took over the role of state censorship, a very complex and vicious type of corruption, by far not as simple as the traditional kick-back system.
 
Most media are now controlled by large financial or industrial groups, or media groups linked to the business world. Journalists have now a very limited freedom of speech and anything not in-line with the interests of the “system” may lead to a loss of job, with very little chances to find a new one. The state censorship of the 60’s was replaced by self-censorship. 
 
In parallel we saw a regain in propaganda, not on systematical manner like in the middle of the previous century, but ad hoc, based on the needs of a crisis. The arms of mass destruction given as a reason to invade Iraq are the most blatant Lie that we saw over the past years, although many other cases could be listed. This case is by far not only a Lie. It is also a deliberate effort to fabricate proofs that were displayed at the infamous UN meeting in February 2003 by General Colin Powell, who never recovered from it, feeling very bitter about being used in that way. Did we get explanations on why the famous proofs were just inventions? Of course no. Powell himself asked the CIA and the Pentagon in 2011 for explanations on how comes he was provided with false information. Did he get answers? Probably not.

Evidence man
Evidence man

The words of Richter and the album by New Order (interesting name by the way…) have never been more timely then today. 
 
                                Power, Corruption and Lies
 
The potential for a larger dissemination of truth in books and journals was quickly put under control with censorship. The same happened to radio and TV, initially through censorship, replaced after it became unsustainable by lobbying and self-censorship. Internet is too open and counts too many actors to be controlled in the same manner, but attempts are done to bring it under control, like the RSA scandal demonstrated. However many technical tricks make such control very difficult. Shall Internet survive as a freedom space? Nobody knows, but the answer is in the hands of each of us!

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