Strengthening Russo-Turkish Alliance Stokes US-Russian Cold War

Yves here. This Real News Network interview gives you the opportunity to see guest poster John Helmer in action. Here, he elaborates on a recent, important article in which he describes an upcoming meeting between Erdogan and Putin as having the potential to lead to much more cooperation between Russia and Turkey, which would represent a significant geopolitical shift.

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SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

A possible new alliance between Russia and Turkey must be unsettling for the U.S. and for NATO. The presidents of Russia and Turkey have agreed to meet in St. Petersburg on August 9 to repair relations at a time when tensions between Turkey and NATO are increasing. The other day, U.S. General Curtis Scaparotti, who is the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said, and I quote: “We will watch closely how the relationship develops, and I would be concerned if they were departing from the values that are the bedrock of the Washington treaty,” meaning NATO, “the rule of law.”

The budding Russia-Turkey alliance represents an important development, because until now, Turkey has always been a steadfast member of NATO. However, following the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, President Erdogan’s and his allied politicians have suggested that the U.S. might have been involved in the coup attempt, while that is hard to verify at this time.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry has criticized Erdogan’s post-coup crackdown, which has led to over 1,000 arrests of officers, tens of thousands of dismissals of government employees, and the shutdown of over 130 media outlets. Now that Russia and Turkey might become allies, it could signal an important geopolitical shift in the region, if Russia succeeds in peeling away Turkey from NATO. It would change the regional dynamics of the war in Syria, and of course, geopolitics altogether.

With us to discuss this development is John Helmer. John is the longest continuous serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only Western journalist to conduct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. An American who has served in Jimmy Carter’s White House, and then as an adviser to Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, he publishes his own widely-syndicated website, Dances With Bears. He joins us today from Moscow. Thank you so much for joining us today, John.

JOHN HELMER: Thank you.

PERIES: So, John, the relationship obviously is changing dynamically between Turkey and Russia. Give us a sense of what is taking place that you think is historically significant. And here I’m making reference to your article that you have recently published.

HELMER: Well, perhaps if I begin by saying it’s essential, if you’re outside of Russia, to understand that Russia, like everywhere else, is concerned to secure its own borders and its own strategic priorities. And securing Russia from terrorism and attempts at the border to threaten the country’s survival, those are the first things that Russia’s been thinking of and that normal states think of at all times.

Turkey has threatened Russia in a number of ways, as has NATO threatened Russia increasingly over the last two years, to the point where Russia finds itself at war on several fronts. Let’s call it the Ukraine front, let’s call it the southern or Syrian front. Active military conflicts in which Russia is threatened and in which the U.S., the NATO alliance, including Turkey, have deployed forces which threaten Russia indirectly and directly.

So while I understand many people see things the other way around, they think Russia is threatening the rest of the world, Russia sees the rest of the world, particularly NATO and Turkey, threatening Russia. So if we begin with the way Russians think then you can begin to understand how Russian policy approaches a country like Turkey.

PERIES: Now, in your article that you have published on your website, you suggest that Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has been plotting not only against Russia and Syria, but also against Turkey, that her actions have resulted in Turkey looking for new allies. Explain that for us.

HELMER: Ms. Nuland has been plotted–she’s not the only official to be plotting like this–plotted the overthrow of President Yanukovych in the Ukraine, plotted the overthrow of President Yanukovych in the Ukraine in February of 2014, with the result that Ukraine is in a state of constant civil war, with the result that the border between Ukraine and Russia is a conflict zone with immeasurable human damage; refugees flowing into Russia and towards the West; with the result that Crimea decided to accede to and join the Russian federation.

The effects of the Ukraine war, for which Ms. Nuland and her colleagues were directly responsible, has also cost the lives of the people on board H17 Malaysia Airlines. Your listeners, the audience can understand very well how much damage that particular war has caused. And Ms. Nuland is one of the individuals personally responsible. Her bureau covers Turkey and most of Europe as well as Russia, so Russia feels and has experienced her scheming and plotting for regime change in a number of other countries, as well as, of course, Russia, because regime change in Russia is the stated policy of U.S. sanctions against so-called cronies of the president of Russia.

Ms. Nuland has also been applying enormous pressure on the Cyprus government to accept a settlement of the Turkish invasion of 1974, which still leaves Turkish troops occupying about 1/3 of Cyprus, the northern part of the island.

What to do? What to say? This story goes on and on. Her involvement with Turkey has largely been one of attempting to get the Turks to sign up to various regime-changing schemes to the north of Turkey, to the west of Turkey, and to some extent to the east of Turkey. But that’s beyond Ms. Nuland’s bureau’s area of operations.

PERIES: Now, in terms of what interest Russia has in all of this, obviously it’s pursuing economic interests at this point with the downed oil prices. It is feeling strangled in terms of the economic crisis in Russia, and of course Turkey is having similar constraints on its economy. So obviously opening up relations and having trade reestablished and getting rid of some of the embargoes that were placed after Turkey’s downing of the Russian aircraft, and so on is of course, that’s obvious in terms of what’s at play.

But what’s really the interest of Russia pursuing this relationship further?

HELMER: The interests of Russia first and foremost is to reduce the amount of border threat, missile threat, wall threat, from the Turkish side towards Russia. In addition, Russia’s concerned that Turkey has been involved in overthrowing the Syrian government. That’s been Turkish policy for some time. To that end, Turkey has encouraged the flow of jihadis, fighters, Daesh, ISIS, ISIL–the names are numerous, the meaning is clear–to fly, to fight in Syria. But Turkey’s also the base for the Chechen terrorist movement seeking to overthrow and cause disruption all across Russia. Turkey’s a major Chechen base.

So neutralizing and ending the Turkish relationship with the Chechen secession, the Chechen terrorist movement, that’s a very important goal of Russian policy, and it’s more important to Russia than reducing Turkish involvement in Syria [inaud.] though. They’re too intimately connected.

PERIES: Now, one very interesting thing that you cite in your article is that you emphasize the new relationship between Russia and Turkey is of historical significance, and even you compare it to the Ottoman alliance with the Russian empire against Napoleon. Give us a sense, a brief history, here, in terms of what all that means.

HELMER: This is a television program. I’m not sure I can–.

PERIES: Give us a rundown of the significance of this alliance now.

HELMER: Well, perhaps if I say it this way. Russia’s been at war with Turkey for several generations. And to the extent that Turkey has been an active member of the NATO alliance, but the only member of the NATO alliance allowed by NATO to invade and occupy another country, that’s to say, Cyprus, to the extent that Greece is constantly threatened by Turkish military action in the air and on the sea. Turkey is one of the most unusual members of, and most aggressive, members of NATO in its own neighborhood.

These things are not new, historically. This region, from–during the Byzantine empire, during the ancient Roman and Greek periods, these regions, this region is one of constant change and tactical alliance for the advantages of the states and ethnic groups and militaries in each. When I’ve tried to describe the potential significance of the change in Turkish policy, I should also explain and emphasize that we’re talking about potential, here. It’s very unusual for Turkey to appear to be changing its commitments with respect to NATO, and therefore changing its hostile action towards Russia. Shooting down the SU24 last November was a calculated act of war. The excuses, justifications, geography, territorial stuff, all unconvincing. And beside the obvious fact that it was an act of war, it was an act of war in a context of other acts of warfare. I’ve mentioned the Chechen secession attempt, Chechen terrorism, that moves from Turkey northwards into Russia and into the Russian Caucasus, and moves from Turkey southwards into Syria.

All of these things are threatening, and if it turns out that the newly revised policy of the Turkish state is not to threaten southwards, northwards, or westwards, then this has revolutionary implications. The history of disappointment, the history of Turkish expansion, the history of warfare between Russia and Turkey, this only tells you that–the best lesson I suppose I could try to sum up from a couple of thousand years of this history–is that Turkey is an expansionist state that has threatened its neighbors. I know that people in the United States and NATO like to think of Russia as an expansionist state. They like to think of NATO as a defensive system against Russian expansion. Russia thinks that NATO is expanding against Russia. So any move that Turkey makes that’s different from the way it’s behaved for the last 50 years is potentially revolutionary in character.

But I have to stress it’s potential. There’s been no shortage of trade investment relationships, tourism between Russia and Turkey, since the end of the Soviet Union. Everybody understands that. All of that ended with the shootdown of the aircraft last November. It can all be restored. It can be increased. Or it can be put on a slow track of development. Trade, investment, the movement of gas and energy, all of these things can be advanced, accelerated, or slowed down.

But at bottom, what we’re talking about is: does Turkey seriously intend to threaten less? Threaten its neighbors to the south, to the north, and to the west. That’s the key question. And that’s the question that Presidents Erdogan and Putin will have to demonstrate to each other and to the rest of the world that they’re focusing on next Tuesday.

PERIES: Now, John, I imagine not too much gets by the Russian intelligence and secret service. What do we know about what they knew about the coup attempt in Turkey?

HELMER: Typically we can only guess what intelligence agencies knew. And in situations as confused to the Turkish forces on both sides as they were on July 15 and 16, in situations as confusing as that you’ve got to expect that intelligence agencies are also in confusion as to what’s happening.

You’ll have seen that the NATO website called Bellingcat has produced, what they claim to have been intercepted, [inaud.] conversations between Turkish majors, lieutenants, lieutenant-colonels and colonels, engaged in the activity of the night of Friday, July 15 in Istanbul. Maybe it’s as unreliable as everything else Bellingcat produces. Maybe it’s an accurate account. But one thing it establishes: what happened was confusing to those participating in it. In addition, there weren’t as many forces engaged as there needed to be to make their coup successful. They failed. Third, you can expect that Russian intelligence was listening and monitoring the military signals that, electronic communications like the telephone, as were British intelligence, U.S. intelligence, and everybody else with the capability to listen in electronically.

So everybody was listening in. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they were helping either side. Either the U.S. side, the Brits, the Israelis, or anyone else, can be accused of helping one side or the other for doing their job, which was watching and listening and trying to understand. I don’t believe, and nor do any of my sources believe, Russian military surveillance, like the other countries in surveillance, helped move the coup in any direction whatsoever. They simply listened in. And if Bellingcat, a NATO agency, can produce today–yesterday or the day before–vivid transcripts of people talking about what’s to be done and where to go, and how to coordinate when they weren’t able to coordinate themselves in one service, let alone between the army and the air–if that shows confusion, I think it’s safe to say the intelligence agencies watching were also watching confusion and confused themselves.

And you can see from the political statements that were made–Mr. Kerry was in Moscow that evening. It took hours and hours before President Obama made a statement. Everybody was watching to see what would happen and who would emerge the winner.

PERIES: That’s very interesting. I didn’t know that John Kerry was in Moscow at that time.

HELMER: He and Ms. Nuland were having negotiations with Foreign Minister Lavrov on Thursday-Friday. Ms. Nuland had been in Cyprus and the Balkans during the days preceding.

To go back to the question of revolution, meaning change of power, change of policy, this is obviously a huge issue, a question for the Cypriots, as well as for the Greeks, are most affected targets of Turkish expansion after the Syrians, at the moment.

PERIES: John, thank you for joining us today. Many revelations here which we would like to follow up on in the near future. Thank you so much.

HELMER: I hope so. Thank you. Bye.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

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  1. nmb

    It’s rather improbable to see a Russo-Turkish alliance against US and NATO. The US and the Russians have probably already agreed on the new Middle East map which includes Kurdish state. This explains to a great extent why Erdogan is so nervous, making sloppy and dangerous moves.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Um, given reports that the Turks briefly closed the airbase that the US uses to conduct operations in Syria over the weekend, Erdogan seems plenty pissed with the US for not turning over Gulen, as he has repeatedly requested. Europe has agreed to give him only 3 billion euros to halt the refugee flow into Europe, which is hardly adequate, and a vague promise that maybe the EU will give Turks the freedom of movement too. The EU has been jerking Turkey around forever about joining the EU. They clearly intend not to let a Muslim country join but keep pretending they might as a key NATO ally.

      Merely assuming an official posture of neutrality, as Nasser famously did, would be a big setback for the US and a big gain for Russia

      1. Russell

        I read that of the nukes stored there, those the US can’t carry away, they plan to cut the detonating wires off of. I am much better at soldering wires together. I even have some stupid “vintage” wires that are hard to get to work.
        It is not a good idea to underestimate the technical prowess of potential enemies. I believe Romans got shot up by Barbarians because the barbarians could shoot their arrows from small horses.
        Swarming is the new Naval tactic.
        The military got around the prohibition against the Carter Neutron Bomb by putting that dial down detonator on them. The bombs, nuclear bombs are not thrown out and there is a standard one in arsenals on foreign territory as is Turkey. The reason is to use them in tank war as Carter anticipated once he was stopped in his aim of ending the era of nuclear weapons.
        In the use of these nuclear weapons the tendency will be to add a few extra kilotons of killing on the dial.
        War by Threat is great till you are set up to be threatened by your own nuclear weapons.
        We expect the lesson to be clear and we expect General Scaparotti to eliminate this threat forthwith.
        Thanks, Russell

  2. Carla

    Thanks for mentioning the Real News Network fundraiser, Yves. They have a dollar-for-dollar matching grant going on as well, doubling the impact of every donation.

  3. Praedor

    The fact that the heads of NATO and the US government, along with their “brain trusts” get so panicky about a possible warming of relations between Russia and Turkey is ridiculous. These asshats have been behaving all along as if the Soviet Union never fell and that Russia is the same thing it was while the heart of the USSR. They take it on faith that the US/West and Russia MUST be at odds, no matter what, to the point that they create out of whole cloth conflicts where none existed before. NATO gets aggressive and spreads itself all over Eastern Europe with the intention of kicking the Bear and then gets its panties in a twist when the Bear, quite reasonably, reacts to their aggressive actions.

    Personally, I couldn’t care less if Turkey and Russia get kissy-faced with each other. Big wup. Russia is NOT preparing to invade Western Europe (as much as NATO WISHES it were). Russia is NOT invading countries and overthrowing their governments to install puppet regimes, that’s the USA and NATO ONLY. The West transgresses, grossly, again and again and when Russia coughs or clears its throat in opposition, it is “RUSSIAN AGGRESSION! Yaaaa! The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!!!!”

    I literally cannot think of a single thing that Russia has done since the end of the Soviet Union that in any way, shape, or form alarms me or makes me think, “These guys are planning to invade or start a war!” On the other hand, I’ve seen nothing BUT war starting by the West. First NATO takes something that wasn’t, in all actuality, THAT bad a situation (the breakup of Yugoslavia) and turns it into a complete hell in Europe.

    US aggression in Syria HAD to be responded to by Russia. Russia has LONG time major military bases in Syria. How would the US respond if Russia turned the UAE into a chaotic shithole in order to try and kick the US out of its HUGE military bases there? The initiating of chaos would be the aggressive act, NOT the US response to the chaos. The generating of massive chaos in Syria (by the US and its allies) was the aggressive act, NOT Russia’s quite reasonable and understandable reaction. Same goes for Ukraine.

    The US is bound and determined to FORCE Russia to be a major foe for Cold War 2.0 whether Russia wants to be or not. The US cannot see any other way to drive its shitty economic system than to fire up the defense industries to full throttle again, ala Cold War 1.0. Instead of dumping the military economic basis to the US and Western economies to focus on truly beneficial development, they are going with the boogieman…both for the economic shot it will provide, but also in an attempt to quell unrest due to income inequality and the rape/pillage economic system of the West. Make the people afraid of being invaded or nuked into oblivion and they wont complain about no more retirement, inability to buy a decent home, or send their kids to college.

    1. Ralph Reed

      If the first Presidents Bush and Clinton had attempted conversion and used some crumbs to mitigate the Soviet collapse, instead of unleashing the worst pack of intellectual sophists, strategists, and black market dregs, then Russia today would probably be neatly colonized into an international system, but after the violent class conflict of decolonization during the Cold War a new world order that appeared like Gore Vidal’s semi-sarcastic paradigm-shattering essay in the Nation would prematurely speed up de-colonization with “white privilege” too uncamouflaged:

       There is now only one way out. The time has come for the United States to make common cause with the Soviet Union. The bringing together of the Soviet landmass (with all its natural resources) and our island empire (with all its technological resources) would be of great benefit to each society, not to mention the world. Also, to recall the wisdom of the Four Horsemen who gave us our empire, the Soviet Union and our section of North America combined would be a match, industrially and technologically, for the Sino-Japanese axis that will dominate the future just as Japan dominates world trade today. But where the horsemen thought of war as the supreme solvent, we now know that war is worse than useless. Therefore, the alliance of the two great powers of the Northern Hemisphere will double the strength of each and give us, working together, an opportunity to survive, economically, in a highly centralized Asiatic world.

      Then again, the international co-operation around protecting the ozone layer could have been deepened if the Red Greens hadn’t already been promised as sacrificial lambs to the Gladio remnants, their old money benefactors, Western intelligence agencies, Mossad, the CIA, FBI, and disgruntled Russian elites who already hated hippies.

      1. Ralph Reed (@RalphWalterReed)

        Rereading this it sacrifices coherence to venting. The premise is that historical contiguity with the racial residues of empire could be confronted or not if they were more simply transparent.

        The bigger point I wanted to make is the current demographic disaster may be intentional if one looks at the recent Russian experience as an experiment. Broken Force? Then social pressure through thwarting the traditional modes of reproduction of labor leading to a reinvigorated military economy in 15 years.

    2. digi_owl

      Yeah the whole “soviet threat” issue vanished the day Stalin passed. But i fear that the US, and thus NATO, needed it to maintain compliance within their own nations.

      And thus the threat was stoked until the 90s, then it was eased back as they thought they had the old bear chained down while Yeltsin was in office, only for their antics to cause a blowback that is still ongoing once Putin took over.

      1. Plenue

        There was no threat even when Stalin was around, since he’s the one who came up with the ‘Socialism in One Country’ policy.

  4. TheCatSaid

    Great interview. It’s good to see Helmer on TRNN.

    Last week I got curious to have a better understanding of the Turkey situation than what I was getting from MSM. I decided to see if Sibel Edmonds had spoken up–and discovered that she predicted this coup 18 months ago.

    There are a number of insightful interviews she has given about Turkey over the last 18 months. Here are a couple:

    Lengthy video interview with Edmonds about
    Turkey / Gulen background from 2014, “Sibel Edmonds Explains the CIA’s “Reverse Engineering” of Erdogan”. She says it is easy to document Gulen’s close links to the CIA, and makes a strong case for his status as being strongly protected by the USA. It references articles she’s written including “Turkish PM Erdogan: The Speedy Transformation of an Imperial Puppet“.

    Two recent interviews since the coup.
    Sibel Edmonds Dissects the Turkish Coup

    Breaking News: Turkey’s Coup Plotters are Members of NATO’s Rapid Deployable Corps (July 24 2016)

    The “BellingTheCat” website with WhatsApp translated messages of Turkish military during the coup, which Helmers also mentions, are here. Helmers says this website is a NATO-sponsored website and that it is not always trustworthy, but isn’t sure in this case. Edmonds doesn’t mention this website being linked to NATO.

    For background on Edmonds see “Kill the Messenger“, a 2006 documentary about her whistleblowing within the FBI.

    1. jagger

      Thank you. I have been wondering about the relationship between the Gulen movement and the CIA. that relationship might shed light about whether the US was involved in or pushed or green lighted the coup. Of course, CIA assets have been known to go rogue as well.

      1. TheCatSaid

        Something I found intriguing:

        While exploring this subject, there’s a good article and talk given by a career CIA case officer (undercover) who now works for a think tank of some sort. (So I assume she’s still with the CIA, even if supposedly she’s not.) Her book describes the extent of the Gulen network, including the criminal investigations underway for Gulen’s charter schools network. (Did you know Gulen has the largest network of charter schools in the USA?!) This presentation implicitly acknowledged the dangerous / illegal aspects to the Gulen movement.

        But at a higher, strategic level, CIA seems to be obviously harboring and supporting Gulen, as Edmonds says.

        Within the CIA there are therefore different angles / understandings / strategies. The upper echelon strategy seems to be about supporting Gulen (including helping clandestinely Gulen–or his puppet-master(s)–to effect regime change). LIHOP is too weak an argument, given the kind of support Gulen receives from his USA base. Probably he’s just a figurehead and the real power is out of view. (USA? Off-world?)

        Edmonds has also done some amazing work regarding Hastert’s pedophile connections–reported this formally to US law agencies in multiple years, and was interviewed for a triple-fact-checked Vanity Fair article. The FBI agents who were doing the investigating (knowing about Hastert’s pedophilia 10-20 years ago) thought they were preparing for a criminal investigation. They became disillusioned when they realized after a couple of years that their FBI higher-ups had no intention of prosecuting. Apparently the issue is so widespread, and everyone knows–Edmonds describes a certain palace in Turkey where US Congress members get taken on VIP trips, where the VIP suites were being monitored / videotapes simultaneously by FBI, DIA, DoJ, criminal gangs, and foreign governments. Yet when most recently Hastert comes to public attention, all the known pedophile activities are not mentioned, just the financial money-laundering aspects. Because so many of our officials & media & prominent people have been compromised by pedophilia that no one is willing to speak out about it.

  5. TheCatSaid

    Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has a number of insightful video interviews and papers about Turkey. She predicted the coup about 18 months ago–pointing out that the CIA was preparing to replace Erdogan, and showing the pattern with other regime changes with USA involvement. Both the recent and past interviews give a lot of insight–e.g., into Gulen’s CIA-backed financial, cultural and political empire spanning Turkey, Turkik-friendly caucasus countries and deeply embedded within the USA and Congress.

    A longer post with a number of links has been sidetracked to moderation. In case it disappears I’m posting this short comment.

    For background on Sibel Edmonds, a short 2006 documentary “Kill the Messenger” about her whistleblowing while an FBI translator is a good starting point.

  6. jagger

    How would the US respond if Russia turned the UAE into a chaotic shithole in order to try and kick the US out of its HUGE military bases there?

    Ever wondered why Russia hasn’t attempted to internally overthrow any of the Gulf States or Saudi Arabia since the Iraqi invasion? They are definitely fragile, internally vulnerable states and closely aligned with the west. Two can definitely play these color revolution games. I suspect it is due to the vulnerability of their own, Russian, populations and increased Middle east instability could produce blowback in Russia proper. However the US and allies have been playing hard this game of disrupting Middle East stability for the last 13 years. At what point, would the Russians decide, well, Middle East stability is already gone and it is time to strike back at US allies using our own tactics? Personally, I think Putin is too smart for that but what about after Putin?

  7. dbk

    This thread seems to have petered out rather early on, not sure how much to add.

    For those (if anyone is still out there) interested, Pat Lang’s site SST has been posting regularly on Turkey, and he has commenters from the region and who are knowledgeable about ME/NE military and political affairs.

    I had read the John Helmer piece on his blog when it was first posted, and forwarded it to a friend who’s similar in many respects to Lang (career military officer, now retired; author of historical studies and books; keen student of the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey, Cyprus, the Balkans) except that he’s Greek.

    In return he sent me a link to his own latest two pieces on a Greek blog. One discusses the “coup” in considerable detail. Some random factoids I picked up on, in no particular order or hierarchy:

    -Russia is not interested in regime change in Turkey at the moment;
    -Russia is very interested in maintaining its buffer zone (called “The Rimland” by the late Nicholas Spykman, a geopolitics theoretician), of which Turkey forms perhaps the key part (historically, and now);
    -Russia turned the shooting down of that SU 24 into an opportunity to install S400s or possibly, S500s, in Syria;
    -The current situation in Syria is more or less a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia;
    -Russia has recently become very active in the so-called “Northern Corridor” (aka, the Arctic Circle), something most analysts forget;
    -By 2020, Russia will be 100% self-sufficient in food production;
    -It is likely that Russian surveillance technology picked up the news of the impending coup and informed Erdogan of it;
    -The presence of nuclear weapons at Incirlik is in violation of Article 2 of the 1975 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
    -Russia wants/needs a “southern corridor” to move LNG to the Med. Turkey is in the right geographic location to serve this purpose.

    The historical relationship between Turkey and Russia comes out a bit garbled in Helmer’s (original post) title, i.e. “The New Byzantine Alliance: The Kremlin and the Porte,” etc.

    Russia’s historical ties were with the Byzantine Empire, with which it shared – after the 9th century A.D. – a crucial common feature, viz. Orthodoxy. The center of Orthodoxy was of course Constantinople, with which the Russian Archbishopric and later, Patriarchate, experienced complicated relations. Upon the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, and the loss of Constantinople to Orthodoxy, Russia envisioned its own capital, Moscow, as taking up the mantle and succeeding Constantinople (the “Second Rome”) as Christendom’s “Third Rome”. The title conflates the relationship between the two countries/empires in the Byzantine period with that during the Ottoman period (i.e., the [Sublime] “Porte”).

    Short version: when you start messing around in somebody else’s backyard, trouble ensues.

    The 2016 election offers voters two rather stark choices. Another blog I read, LGM, recently had a comment on a thread about Trump-Clinton (there are so many, one loses count) that laid out why voters are choosing one or the other candidate very neatly. If one is in the U.S. and is relatively or very well-off, the Democrats’ championing (qualified, I would say) of identity politics looks pretty good, or at least, not as bad as the Republicans’ (I’m still aghast at how black voters are so staunchly supportive of someone whose husband shoved TANF through in place of AFDC, but hey). But for non-U.S. citizens and U.S. citizens who live near the world’s hottest geopolitical hotspot, the prospect of Victoria Nuland (of Ukraine regime change fame) as SoS is not at all a happy one.

    1. TheCatSaid

      Interesting, thanks for posting this.

      Regarding your last paragraph about the 2016 election, “expert” analyses unfortunately don’t take into consideration the abundant evidence of election fraud. The official results are hard to make sense of because they were fictional. If you’re interested in nitty gritty detail, have a look at (e.g., Richard Hayes Phillips detailed report on the 2016 primary results–he pokes holes in the accepted meme that blacks did not vote for Sanders. There’s evidence a significantly greater number of blacks voted for Sanders than were recorded in the official results–in fact, it was in highly black precincts that there were some of the most anomalous results. Phillips’ report explains this.)

      A good overview is Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s article from 2006 about the theft of the 2004 election–an excellent well-referenced description of the multitude of tactics that were used in different precincts and demographics–and the same range of tactics are still used today, plus the Fraction Magic strategies only recently uncovered. If you prefer video, Richard Hayes Phillips’ talk is funny, inspiring, and unsettling. He shows examples of actual ballot tampering.

  8. Fiver

    Erdogan is one slippery character and Putin couldn’t trust him on anything important. Claims of extensive connections between CIA and other US interests with the individuals and groups identified as targets in Erdogan’s purge would if true lend credence to the notion Erdogan has jumped the rails on some aspect of his critical relationship the with US, but equally, the US would have no trouble with the notion of ‘losing’ 60,000 Turks if it facilitated something else deemed ‘worth it’.

    I cannot believe Hillary Clinton is going to be President – she will not move one micron off the current, disastrous US posture and trajectory of constant neo-imperial confrontation and violence until the usual suspects finally get the war they really want. With Dick Cheney protege Victoria Nuland at the helm in Clinton’s anything-goes State Department, it’s going to be another “You are either with us or…” Admin, but without bothering to give the speech.

    I wonder if progressives time is better spent now just ignoring this election entirely, and organize immediately for a massive anti-TPP campaign with the pre-conceived ability to, immediately upon resolution of that critical fight, switch to a new, vigorous and far more determined anti-war movement. Clinton will no more deliver on real economic or environmental progress than Jethro Clampett – who the Republicans will put in charge if need be to make ‘gridlock’ plausible one more time. No path open that way until 2020. But Obama got a huge pass on an horrific amount of violence, and the rest of the world is desperate to see the American people find the wherewithal to stop this murderous madness.

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