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Thread: Russian political psyche: history and modernity

  1. #21
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    Kaur and others,

    This maybe of interest about revolutions and movements

    ISIS has not emerged from nowhere. They were not ‘fading away’ before the onset of the Syrian civil war; rather, they were regrouping, cleaning up their house (imagine the rooftop discussion between Ali La Pointe and Ben M’Hidi in The Battle of Algiers when he declares that before they take the fight to the French they’re first going to sweep up the pipes and dope dealers in the Casbah). Up to July 2013, at least in Salaheddin province, ISIS’s attacks were paid for by the Turkish government, not private donors from the Gulf as is commonly mistaken. ISIS’s presence in Syria did not ‘just happen’; rather, it was orchestrated by Turkey, which then decided to back up the wrong horse–Nusra, in the Spring of 2013. This last aspect of Victoria’s strategic diagnosis is, in my view, the most worrisome.

    What we are seeing is not ‘just’ a civil war but an incipient schismatic war with thick tentacles linking it abroad in a patently ominous manner...... While speaking with Victoria the first thought of the near future of the Middle East which sprang to mind was one akin to the Balkan tragedy of the 1990s–only on a larger scale, with more money for weapons and willing suppliers, and with even less scope for external mitigation.
    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...556#post157556
    Time to smell the coffee and not get dreamy eyed and hallucinate on a dose of poppy induced govt and jingoistic public delusions .
    Last edited by Ray; 06-17-2014 at 08:52 PM.

  2. #22
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    Ray, why you dragged my point from context? Mirhond was talking about Soviet golden age. What was golden there, when Eastern Europe was under Soviet military occupation? During that age was started also Afganistan war, that should be closer example about golden age for you. During that age Indian politics was manipulated by KGB as they liked, if I belive what Mitrokin wrote. Do you want this age back?

  3. #23
    Council Member mirhond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaur View Post
    Ray, why you dragged my point from context? Mirhond was talking about Soviet golden age. What was golden there, when Eastern Europe was under Soviet military occupation? During that age was started also Afganistan war, that should be closer example about golden age for you.
    I think you need better explanation. Soviet era is considered golden age because life was predictable, social protection was available and just, everyone had jobs and decent income, the wery existence had a noble goal. Eastern Europe occupied? Fu(k it, until we have Polish rags, Romanian furniture and Czech appliances. Eight years of war in Somewherestan? Fu(k it too, besides our guys are kicking lots af asses there.
    During Perestroika and first post-Soviet years we had illusions about capitalistic Elven kingdoms and Empire of Good and Light, but they didn't survived rough reality. That's why collective unconscious full of frustration, unmeet needs and low expectations was so easily hijacked by "bigtime, magor league bull#### story" of Putin's Russia, which is going to reclaim the past. Now almost everything is measured by Soviet scale.
    So, your lamentations about occupation would fall into the deaf ears, the fact is irrelevant to the narrative of newfound paradise.

    During that age Indian politics was manipulated by KGB as they liked, if I belive what Mitrokin wrote. Do you want this age back?
    Outlaw-stile posting without any links and arguments? Come on, provide at least what you've read.
    Last edited by mirhond; 06-18-2014 at 06:01 PM.
    Haeresis est maxima opera maleficarum non credere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaur View Post
    Ray, why you dragged my point from context? Mirhond was talking about Soviet golden age. What was golden there, when Eastern Europe was under Soviet military occupation? During that age was started also Afganistan war, that should be closer example about golden age for you. During that age Indian politics was manipulated by KGB as they liked, if I belive what Mitrokin wrote. Do you want this age back?
    I want that age where we are not manipulated by external powers.

    It is not that India is not flush with western covert funds being funnelled through for dubious purpose.

    As the saying goes in India - Hamam men sab nanga hai (in the hamam (turkish bath) all are nude) i.e. not much to chose from.

    To be frank, Eastern Europe or any other issue does not impact us, except the worry of the Cold War being revisited.

    The Chinese proverb goes - When big fish fight, little fish eaten!
    mere
    Look at the chaos in Iraq and Syria. It has its roots in the Mandates of the League of Nations where arbritary boundaries were drawn to suit colonial interest with total disregard of ground realities. And now were are wondering what to do and what would be the effect.

    I wonder if there was any 'golden age' in any country. It is all a figment of imagination and poetic imagery to indicate an era better than another. The travails remain merely comparative.
    Last edited by Ray; 06-18-2014 at 06:31 PM.

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    mirhond, I'm always glad to help you

    http://mitrokhinarchiveii.blogspot.be

  6. #26
    Council Member mirhond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaur View Post
    mirhond, I'm always glad to help you
    http://mitrokhinarchiveii.blogspot.be
    I've read it - it's a good political journalism, I'll put it into bookmarks, thanks.

    KGB rulezz!!!
    Last edited by mirhond; 06-21-2014 at 10:24 AM.
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  7. #27
    Council Member mirhond's Avatar
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    inspired by link davidbfpo has posted in Ukraine thread

    link #1 http://20committee.com/2014/07/03/me...onal-brigades/

    link #2 http://20committee.com/2014/05/05/ru...patriotic-war/

    quote from 2:
    Average Russians are emotionally invested in the potent lies of the Official Narrative and it’s hard to blame them, since most of them have never heard any other version of events. But it’s important to note that lies about 1939-1945 continue to serve as a justification for Russian crimes in Ukraine right now

    Statement in bold is actual Bravo Sierra, because here in Russia we have entire school of folkhistorians preaching the dogma
    USSR was just as complicit as Germany
    . It started in 90-s with Edward Topol famous exposure of "preparations of Soviet agression" and continues nowadays with Mark Solonin same crackpot theories. Anyone who eager to learn a thing about it could buy the books, or download it or resieve the sacraments from the worshippers at the corresponding sites. They aren't popular though, because most of the Russians just don't by this bull####.

    So, the anonimous author of this article knows wery little or nothing about Russian popular beliefs.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-04-2014 at 06:35 PM.
    Haeresis est maxima opera maleficarum non credere.

  8. #28
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    A Soviet Leader Who Saw Russia Clearly is an interesting piece by Leonid Bershidsky about the late Eduard Shevardnadze.

    In 1992, the field commanders who had deposed independent Georgia's first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, invited Shevardnadze to return to his homeland and lead it. As he freely admitted, he was never fully in control. Contrary to his orders, one of the military commanders who had brought Shevardnadze to power led troops to the separatist region of Abkhazia. Shevardnadze tried to stop the advance and even negotiated a peace with the Abkhaz leadership, sealed with a handshake in Moscow in the presence of Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Then Abkhazians, backed by Russian warships and planes as well as well-trained "volunteers" from neighboring Russian regions, such as Chechnya, struck back, and the weak Georgian army was crushed.

    In other words, Shevardnadze was the first post-Soviet leader to see a Russian-backed unofficial military operation on his land. Like Ukrainian politicians today, he called it a war with Russia. Today's military operation in eastern Ukraine is as deniably but transparently Russian-backed as the 1992 war in Abhkazia was. Shevardnadze recalled in his memoirs that Yeltsin proposed splitting Georgia in two to stop the conflict. He called Leonid Kravchuk, then the Ukrainian president, to complain: "Can you imagine someone giving you a friendly recommendation to split Ukraine in two?"

    "The centuries-long process of expansion and 'collection' of other nations' lands by Russia continues in the 21st century," Shevardnadze wrote more than a year before Russian troops openly entered Georgia in 2008 and Moscow recognized the separatists states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
    Personally I think it is rather obvious why that Soviet age glowed so golden for so many. While the seeds of the mighty implosion were sown already early most seem to have been unable to understand that the SU collapsed by it's own making. The sinew was streched till it had to break, and the economic and political result weren't pretty. Other nations were able to clean up the Soviet mess early while Russia and Putin needed the gift of a ressource boom to gain some of the ground lost.

    Collapse of an Empire: Lessons for Modern Russia is indeed a worthy read about that economic tragedy.
    Last edited by Firn; 07-08-2014 at 03:11 PM.
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  9. #29
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Interesting conversation. My thoughts:

    (1) Perceptions are reference dependent on context in time and place. The traumas of the 'shock therapy' during the 1990s colored the public's perception of the time before it - same way conservative politics today in the United States mythologize the 1950s despite the Red Scare, segregation, and so on. The reference point also does the same for experiences gained afterwards; if the first experience with democratic capitalism is chaotic, perceived to be unjust, and difficult, then alternatives will be welcomed.

    (2) The liberals/Westernizers in the early 1990s of the Yeltsin administration made great efforts in integrating Russia into the West's model of a Westphalian nation-state committed to democratic capitalism. It held elections. It sold off state property. It abandoned Russia's historical empire, creating numerous states of the dominant nations. This trend only tampered off recently, even the Putin administration pushed for Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization.

    (3) Yes, the West did dismantle the Russian empire (there are 15 states where there used to be one, in addition to the former Warsaw Pact states). The problem is that the West never fully embraced Moscow, and Yeltsin's poor performance never met the challenges posed by the realists and nationalists. Russia's experiences with Yugoslavia, Kosovo, shock therapy, NATO expansion, and missile defense only empowered the realists and nationalists, and the second economic crisis in the late 1990s finally pushed Russian politics in their favor.

    (4) Yeltsin virtually abdicated to Putin, paving the way for a relatively peaceful transition from the Westernizers to the Realists. During Putin's early years, he still had some of the same ambitions as his predecessor, but the abandonment of the democratic-capitalism project was necessary to save what the realists and nationalists believed to be at risk at the time: the very existence of Russia. The dissolution of the USSR and Yugoslavia, and the wars in Chechnya and Dageston were traumatic events from this perspective. All of Russia's wars from 1991 to 2014 involve former Soviet republics and all of them involve questions of territorial integrity and political sovereignty. These conflicts are a direct result of the dismantling of the Soviet empire - the very policy advocated here (and initially opposed by the Bush I administration).

    (5) So, collapse of the USSR was a decentering of political power away from Moscow - and this triggered political and economic crisis throughout the entire post-Soviet region (it also untethered the international security regime from the bipolarity of the Cold War, making life more complicated for everyone). The West and some of those post-Soviet states took full advantage of this opportunity to make a clean break from Moscow. Good for them. The Putin administration has been working diligently to restore centralized political power - it started with the Second Chechen War and is continuining today through Ukraine. Despite it all, Russia has managed to build relatively constructive relations with continental Europe even as the U.S. has been generally confrontational and suspicious of Russia's efforts.

    (6) Russia is still a second-rate power compared to the U.S.; the problem is that the Russian elite knows this and despises being in that position. That they are buoyed by the political attitudes of the general population is not surprising, but it should also be a signal that there are legitimate problems that need to resolved (preferably not through force of arms).
    Last edited by AmericanPride; 07-09-2014 at 05:07 PM.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  10. #30
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    AmericanPride, could you elaborate your point. You were talking about Russia and then you added Ukraine to Russia. Were are the geographical limits of centralization?

    The Putin administration has been working diligently to restore centralized political power - it started with the Second Chechen War and is continuining today through Ukraine.
    Ps who is shouting Shouting the Battle Cry of Freedom today in Ukraine?

  11. #31
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    D. Trenin has written nice book about rose and collapse od Russian empire.

    http://carnegieendowment.org/pdf/book/post-imperium.pdf

    In Russia this topic is very actual like this article shows.

    http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.be/...esponding.html

    Legendary Russian sociologist Yuri Levada studies "Soviet man" and without this aspect it is hard to uncode the events in Russia and connected with Russia.

    http://cdclv.unlv.edu//yla/

  12. #32
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Kaur,

    That's part of the problem in de-centering an imperial power: where are the legitimate boundaries? Which norms make those boundaries legitimate? The Westphalian nation-state model provides some answers, but that's a different paradigm than the one under which the Russian state operates. The historical references of Moscow are not the same as those of Washington, London, etc. In the Russian experience, boundaries (and nationalities) are mobile, and state systems are less defined by their geographic scope than their political reach through networks of patronage. During the Yeltsin years, the Russian elite attempted to make this transformation from an imperial power to a Westphalian one, but that project ended in failure.

    EDIT: There is not a differentiation between internal and external in an imperial system, or a recognition of subordinate but equal political units. The Westphalian model emphasizes the creation of nation-states, but Russia has historically been a single state with multiple nations. Whatever political structures were granted to these nations were subordinated to the centralized power in St. Petersburg and/or Moscow. So what the dismantling of the USSR did was create numerous issues about the territorial integrity and sovereignty of of new political units created for nations that were not, on the whole, independent historically. So what are the geographical limits of centralization? There are none because imperial power is not defined by geography. We use the Westphalian typology that makes clear demarcations between internal and external to describe the construction of states, which makes it difficult to describe the importance of the term 'Near Abroad' in the Russian foreign policy lexicon. Essentially, from Moscow's perspective, there is no difference between Ukraine and any of Russia's 22 republics.
    Last edited by AmericanPride; 07-09-2014 at 10:48 PM.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  13. #33
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    AmericanPride, fact is that in Russia-Urkaine war Russian side has violated several agreements.

    http://www.dw.de/bound-by-treaty-rus...mea/a-17487632

    Some Russians claim that this is the beginning of new era of international relations and old agreements are not binding.

    To follow your logic there must be done grand scale borders redrawing in Middle East. Let's start with Iraq and Afganistan. Sounds good?

    http://www.oilempire.us/oil-jpg/afj...._map_after.JPG

    Should we follow Huntington's map?

    If you follow this Putin's definition I'm wondering when he intends to come to Brighton beach and liberate all Russian jews from Israel

    [O]ur compatriots [sootechestvenniki], Russian people [russkiie lyudi], people of other ethnicities, their language, history, culture, their legitimate rights. When I say Russian people and Russian-speaking [russkoyazychnyie) citizens, I mean people who sense that they are a part of the broad Russian World, not necessarily of Russian ethnicity, but everyone who feels to be a Russian person [russkiy chelovek].
    http://www.jamestown.org/programs/ed...c#.U7207mIaySM

  14. #34
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaur View Post
    AmericanPride, fact is that in Russia-Urkaine war Russian side has violated several agreements.
    Hypocrisy and deception have always been a part of politics, Russian or otherwise.

    Some Russians claim that this is the beginning of new era of international relations and old agreements are not binding.
    True - to an extent. Power differentials between U.S., Russia, China, and Europe are changing, and this is having different effects in their respective capitals. Russia's perception of success is dependent on its historical reference points, most recently the collapse of the USSR and the chaos of the Yeltsin years. Emerging from this period, even as an authoritarian 'sovereign democracy', is a welcome change from the Russian perspective. Moscow is more assertive because opportunities exist, and those opportunities exist because the relative power balance between the U.S. and Russia has changed in Russia's favor since 2003.

    To follow your logic there must be done grand scale borders redrawing in Middle East. Let's start with Iraq and Afganistan. Sounds good?
    The logic of empire in Russia is not the same as the political logic in the Middle East - and there's no universal underlying political logic in the Middle East, anyway, that contextualizes the policies of the states in that region. The Arab monarchies, Arab republics, Iranian theocracy, Israel, and Turkey all have different reference points, values, and assumptions. The problem in the ME isn't the drawing of boundaries, but the inherent weakness of the region's states that makes them incapable of monopolizing political power within their assigned boundaries. That the legitimacy of these boundaries are also questioned does not add to the region's stability. Anyway - there are some arguments out there supporting a revolutionary redrawing of the ME's borders on sectarian/ethnic lines. That's something with which I disagree since homogeniety is not a guarantor of stability (or of democratization).

    Should we follow Huntington's map?
    Huntington's thesis is not useful. Dividing people on sectarian basis is an assured way to drive conflict on a sectarian basis.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    True - to an extent. Power differentials between U.S., Russia, China, and Europe are changing, and this is having different effects in their respective capitals. Russia's perception of success is dependent on its historical reference points, most recently the collapse of the USSR and the chaos of the Yeltsin years. Emerging from this period, even as an authoritarian 'sovereign democracy', is a welcome change from the Russian perspective. Moscow is more assertive because opportunities exist, and those opportunities exist because the relative power balance between the U.S. and Russia has changed in Russia's favor since 2003.
    Mm, how is this Ukraine case connected with USA and China. This war started because there was revolt in Kiev that was initated because Janukovish decided not to join AA/DCFTA agreement with EU. Putin with his hawks perceived this like NATO enlargement to Ukraine. Did they miscalculate? Is EU USA Troyan horse? I doubt seriously. Russia just grabbed land violating international agreements. Should this be tolerated?

    What power balance? Count the national power of both and you see that they are uncompearable. What Russia has is aggressive stance and will to use arms, that USA lacks in former Russian empire area. If will power can be calculated then I agree with you.

    About Huntington. Am I stupid, but it seems that Putin with his definition is preaching that civilization thing.
    Last edited by kaur; 07-09-2014 at 11:40 PM.

  16. #36
    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaur
    This war started because there was revolt in Kiev that was initated because Janukovish decided not to join AA/DCFTA agreement with EU. Putin with his hawks perceived this like NATO enlargement to Ukraine. Did they miscalculate? Is EU USA Troyan horse? I doubt seriously. Russia just grabbed land violating international agreements. Should this be tolerated?
    That's the proximate cause but not the structural cause. Yanukovych was not inherently pro-Russian - in his first years in office, he attempted to approach the West. Ukraine's domestic politics required him to maintain his distance from both Russia and EU, and eventually the inefficiencies in Ukraine's economy (mainly the black hole of their debt) overturned the boat. Yanukovych wanted to avoid the privatization of Ukraine's economy since its ravaging would cost him his political legitimacy - the intentions of the new government were revealed in the opening days in office when they made it clear they were on a 'suicide' run to sell off state assets, including and perhaps most importantly the state's natural gas infrastructure. 'Austerity' is the price for the West's bailout of Ukraine's economy, but that was a price Yanukovych was unwilling to pay politically. So, after refusing the EU agreement upon seeing the terms he would have to meet, his time ran out. Moscow was happy to provide him cash and on generous terms and seemed for a time content with Ukraine's neutrality. Washington was never pleased with that situation since, as a great power, its interested in relative power gains made by the Russians. The crisis escalated when the Russians realized Washington's soft power grab had no back up plan - hard power trumps soft power any day. Is it worth it for Russia? Who am I to say? I will say that it's unsurprising to me how Russia responded. I've said since the beginning that Russia would not directly intervene to seize eastern Ukraine but that the conflict would persist until Ukraine formed a unity government since absent a neutral Ukraine, a divided and weakened one is prefered.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

  17. #37
    Council Member mirhond's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
    Interesting conversation. My thoughts:

    (6) Russia is still a second-rate power compared to the U.S.; the problem is that the Russian elite knows this and despises being in that position. That they are buoyed by the political attitudes of the general population is not surprising, but it should also be a signal that there are legitimate problems that need to resolved (preferably not through force of arms).
    Here, from inside, I don't see any frustration of the ruling class being second-rate power. Well, they always say so in the media (public love it), but for me personally it doesn't sound very persuasive.

    Essentially, from Moscow's perspective, there is no difference between Ukraine and any of Russia's 22 republics.
    Now it is, stated loud and clear and that's good for all. So, there are geo-political boundaries for the empire, they lay where the state can't project its political influence and military power.
    Last edited by mirhond; 07-10-2014 at 07:59 PM.
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    For months, Western officials have been repeating a mantra that a new Cold War will not break out because there is no ideological basis for such a confrontation. But is it not a form of ideology when Putin states: "It is time we admit one another's right to be different, the right of every country to live its own life rather than to be told what to do by someone else"? Today's world exists in part because leading nations respect certain conventions, and turning the clock back to 1815 threatens that order.

    Essentially, Putin is demanding the right to live in a fictional world and to structure not only Russia's life, but the entire world order, according to long-obsolete rules. The worst thing world leaders can do is to continue to pointlessly explain to Putin that they are not a threat, when he fixedly believes that they absolutely are.
    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/opinio...es/503400.html

  19. #39
    Council Member mirhond's Avatar
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    Aww, sweet bull####, Redictio ad Hitlerum and Outright Lie in one paragraph

    Need I remind readers which European leader spoke of "protecting compatriots abroad" 70 years ago? Putin's regime apparently considers all citizens of the former Soviet republics as "Russians," meaning that his right of intervention extents at the very least to the entire territory of the former Soviet Union.
    Haeresis est maxima opera maleficarum non credere.

  20. #40
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    mirhond

    I think you need better explanation. Soviet era is considered golden age because life was predictable, social protection was available and just, everyone had jobs and decent income, the wery existence had a noble goal.
    FSB guy Strelkov/Girkin's deputy gave interview to Novaya Gazeta, where he justified Stalin's terror in 1930. Terror was ok, because next generation achieved success. Accrding to mirhond definition in 40 years golden era arrived. I think his points illustrate the thinking among top guys in Eastern Ukraine.

    Here is Google translate version.

    http://translate.google.ru/translate...24%26bih%3D425

    PS mirhond, I hope that you survive the possible terror period without harm.
    Last edited by kaur; 08-18-2014 at 12:09 PM.

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