By Conor Gallagher
“If Russia does not end this war and get out of Ukraine, it will be isolated on a small island with a bunch of sub countries and the rest of us 141 countries will go forward and build a prosperous future, while Russia suffers a complete economic and technological isolation…”
-Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and chief architect of NATO war against Russia, in a March 2022 interview with TASS
Nuland has failed miserably. Instead, Russia’s economy is growing, and the inability to isolate Russia is arguably a larger loss than the one NATO is suffering in Ukraine. Last week The New York Times finally got around to admitting the isolation efforts have failed:
Silverado Policy Accelerator, a Washington nonprofit, recently issued a similar analysis, estimating that the value of Russian imports from the rest of the world had exceeded prewar levels by September.
It marks quite the change in script. Consider this sampling of headlines from the past year:
Russia’s isolation from global markets is withering its economy and will wreck its status as an energy superpower, experts say Business Insider
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will knock 30 years of progress off the Russian economy CNBC
Another Nail In The Coffin Of The Russian Economy Forbes
War against Ukraine has left Russia isolated and struggling — with more tumult ahead NPR
A New Iron Curtain Is Falling: The isolation of the Russian economy is striking in its speed and scope New York Times
It’s been clear that this has never been the case. US allies Japan and South Korea remain unwilling to cut off energy ties to Russia. Chinese and Russian economic integration has grown, as have ties between Moscow and the Persian Gulf states. The US has been particularly frustrated by two countries that have been key to Russia’s economic resiliency: Türkiye and India. Washington has been unable to get Ankara and New Delhi to join the sanctions party, and it’s not for a lack of trying. What the Times’ piece leaves unsaid is that most of these countries have faced unprecedented pressure from the US but have instead ignored the declining power.
The US neocons continue to double down, however, lashing out in increasingly desperate attempts to achieve the Russian isolation they want. How much will they isolate the US in the process? They’ve long enjoyed creating chaos elsewhere while benefiting from the safety of two oceans. Will that geography play a part in their lasting gift to Americans: the cementing of the US into a backwater nation, effectively quarantined from the economic engine in Asia due to its untrustworthy and aggressive behavior?
As for now, if you think Nuland et al are taking stock of their failures and reconsidering, well think again:
Here’s the exchange with Victoria Nuland and Rand Paul where she explains the US position on prosecuting Russian officials. She cites Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo as precedents. Seems very tactful to tell Putin he’ll be getting the Milosevic treatment unless he obliterates Ukraine pic.twitter.com/BbqSfSQi5W
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 27, 2023
The problem for Nuland and the neocons is that Russia was wise to this game, which is summarized here by Glenn Diesen. The Norwegian political scientist who specializes in Russian foreign policy writes:
In the Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Samuel Huntington argued:
“The immediate source of Western expansion, however, was technological: the invention of the means of ocean navigation for reaching distant peoples and the development of the military capabilities for conquering those peoples… The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerns often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do”.
Russia’s economic development was obstructed ever since the disintegration of Kievan Rus as it severed Russia from the maritime arteries of international trade. Russia’s “return to Europe” and subsequently becoming a great power was made possible under Peter the Great by gaining access to the Baltic Sea. Containment of Russia has since relied to some extent on denying Russia reliable access to the sea. …
In Europe, NATO has been instrumental to expand US control over the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Arctic. NATO expansion to Bulgaria, Romania and possibly Ukraine aims to convert the Black Sea into a NATO lake. In the Baltic Sea, NATO membership to Baltic states has extended the reach of the US. Former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, argued that the pending NATO expansion to Sweden and Finland was a strategic victory because “if we wish, we can block all entry and exit to Russia through St. Petersburg”. The US is also expanding its reach in the high north by converting Norway into a frontline in the Arctic with increased military activity and soon to establish four US military bases on Norwegian soil.
Russia has successfully resisted these efforts. Its range of international trade links by sea and land make it impossible for Washington to “isolate” it. While the US can cajole, coerce, bribe, and sabotage to take out one link, say the Nordstream pipelines, it’s not possible to convince the entire world to go against its own economic interest.
The following is a brief rundown of Russia’s arteries of international trade and the efforts of the US to disrupt them.
The US has successfully severed its vassal states from Russia. The Nordstreams are dead, gas exports as a whole are at a record low, and Europe is paying and will pay the price economically for the foreseeable future.
Gulf of Finland ports like St. Petersburg have seen freight reductions (although as we’ll see, all but one of other major Russian ports are seeing increases).
Estonia, which has a population smaller than Russia’s armed forces, is making noise about causing problems in the Gulf of Finland with Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur talking about how Helsinki and Tallinn will integrate their coastal missile defense, which he says would allow the countries to close the Gulf of Finland to Russian warships if necessary. Estonia is also floating the possibility of trying to inspect Russian ships.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies puts forth the following near-term actions for NATO in the Balkans:
- Bring Sweden and Finland into NATO. The ratification of these two nations needs to move forward without delay. Elevating them from strong partners to alliance members changes the calculus of a Baltic conflict significantly. The alliance can immediately leverage these two nations to increase strategic depth.
- Forward stage capabilities. Mines, anti-submarine capabilities, missile defense, and secure supply and logistics infrastructure should be forward staged across all domains, increasing deterrence.
- Increase patrol. A whole-of-government approach from each Baltic nation and its allies is needed to ensure that energy, communications, and sea routes remain secure. This includes Baltic Air Policing, readiness to shift the balance of A2/AD, and the monitoring and protection of maritime infrastructure.
- Strengthen command and control. Existing multi-domain command and control should be tested and ready for use. The need for effective command and control will be swift and will require resilient disaggregated nodes, though an eye should also be kept on future capability.
Moscow’s updated version of the Naval Doctrine of the Russian Federation lists the Baltic Sea and and the Danish Straits as “important areas,” in which the use of force will be available as a last resort after the other options have been exhausted.
The Arctic Basin
Russia says freight turnover rose 4.4 percent year-on-year to 98.5 mln metric tons. Reuters:
Russia is sending more crude oil produced in the Arctic region to China and India, and at steeper discounts, after Europe slammed its doors shut on Russian supplies last month, trade sources and data show.
Over many years Russia has built up its fleet of icebreakers, ships and submarines. Moscow has also developed mining and oil well operations along its 15,000 miles of Arctic coastline.
The US is trying to play catch up by pouring money into existing bases in Alaska and Greenland and establishing four US military bases on Norwegian soil. Russian economic activity in the Arctic is only expected to increase in coming years, and Moscow considers it an “area of existential importance: where it can use all components in the defense of its interests, including force.
Much of the oil and gas from the Russian arctic used to go to Europe. It’s now headed to China and India. India got its first shipment of Arctic liquefied gas last year, and the country’s energy companies are looking at investing in Russian projects there.
The Black Sea
Ports of the Azov-Black Sea Basin increased activity by 2.7 percent to 263.6 mln metric tons in 2022. Türkiye, despite constant pressure from Washington, has transformed into a transport, logistics, and gas hub between Russia and the West. From The Maritime Executive:
Unlike the Russian-Baltic container market, the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk has managed to stabilize the flow of import and export containers, primarily through well-developed Turkish-Russian relations in the trade and logistics sectors.
After a two-month volume fall in the port of Novorossiysk, its container terminals regained nine percent month-over-month in September. Although numbers show (below) that global shipping lines did not carry any considerable volume of shipments to/from Novorossiysk prior to the war, those liner services played a vital role for many businesses in Russia, connecting them to the remote destinations of Asia, Africa, and South America.
Washington’s efforts to coerce NATO-member Türkiye into joining sanctions against Russia have only driven Moscow and Ankara closer together and led to calls to expel Türkiye from NATO.
Washington is increasingly grasping at straws. From the WSJ:
Senior American officials warned last month that Turkish individuals are at risk of jail time, fines, loss of export privileges and other measures if they provide services like refueling and spare parts to U.S.-made planes flying to and from Russia and Belarus in violation of export controls imposed last year, the officials said. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Thea Rozman Kendler delivered the message to Turkish officials during a December visit to Turkey, the officials said.
Türkiye’s upcoming election (in either May or June) could not have higher stakes for the US or Russia. Biden said during his 2020 election campaign that Washington should help the Turkish opposition “take on and defeat Erdogan.”
Freight turnover declined 13.9 percent year-on-year to 6 mln metric tons in the seaports of the Caspian Basin. Part of the decline could have been caused by more vessels “going dark” – when ships turn off their automatic identification systems. According to Maritime Insights & Intelligence:
AIS gaps in the Caspian Sea totalled 440 in September. This is 37% higher than the number recorded in August, and the most since May 2021.
The spike was driven by Russian and Iranian-flagged tankers and general cargoships.
The increase in AIS correlates with a higher number of what appear to be dark ports calls, where ships are mainly trying to hide journeys to Russia or Iran.
The emergence of the land route of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) could have also played a role in the Caspian port decline. These rail routes move goods between Russia and the southeastern Iranian port of Chabahar. Russian Railways report a 26 percent year-on-year growth in freight flow by the corridor.
Western actors are trying to throw a wrench in the INSTC plans via Azerbaijan, a key nexus in both the INSTC and the middle corridor, which seeks to connect Türkiye to China via Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, and then either Kazakhstan (or Turkmenistan), Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
Additionally, Russia is increasing gas pipeline integration throughout central Asia and into southern Asia. From Indian Punchline:
A Russian gas pipeline to Pakistan is in the making. Zardari’s visit to Moscow comes within 3 weeks of a tripartite gas cooperation arrangement between Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan making headlines in the news cycle. The termination of Russia’s decades-old energy ties with Europe, including gas supplies via pipelines, motivates Moscow’s search for new markets, Asian markets being a priority.
Thus, late last year, Moscow proposed a gas union with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan offering to help out the two Central Asian states that are struggling with gas shortages. Earlier this month, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan signed two separate agreements with the Russian giant Gazprom cementing the new partnership. A new vista is opening for Russia to use the existing gas pipelines in these two countries to export gas to their domestic market in immediate terms.
Albeit in a bilateral format, this arrangement also positions Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan potentially as transit countries enabling Russian gas supplies to the regional and world market, especially China, South Asian countries and the ASEAN region.
The ambitious projects will of course face American opposition. According to Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, the US is sponsoring ISIL in Afghanistan to destabilize the country and the region.
The Far East
These ports’ freight turnover increased 1.5 percent and reached 227.8 mln metric tons in 2022. The ports of Vladivostok, Vostochny and Nakhodka, some of the busiest ports in Russia’s east, saw double double-digit growth in traffic in the third quarter, driven largely by general cargo ships and tankers, according to Maritime Insights and Intelligence.
In September China and Russia launched a shipping route between Quanzhou and Vladivostok. Moscow and New Delhi also continue to pursue the Chennai-Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor.
On the pipeline front, Power of Siberia 2 will supply China through Mongolia from western Russia. It will transport roughly the same amount of gas as would have flowed through the Nordstream 2 had
the US not destroyed it not been mysteriously destroyed. Gazprom already operates the Power of Siberia 1 pipeline, stretching from eastern Siberia to northern China.
Japan and India remained stakeholders in the now-Russian-led Sakhalin-1 oil project in the Okhotsk Sea. Exxon Mobil, which had been leading the project, exited from operation with no compensation due to western sanctions. Russia is in the process of building a pipeline across the Tatar Strait from Sakhalin Island to the Russian mainland where the oil will be loaded onto tankers for transport to East Asian markets.
And there will be takers. Despite all the sanctions and coercion, Russian trade is on the upswing. Even the New York Times begrudgingly admits:
Ami Daniel, the chief executive of Windward, a maritime data company, said he had seen hundreds of instances in which people from countries like the United Arab Emirates, India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia bought vessels to try to set up what appeared to be a non-Western trading framework for Russia.
While the US will continue to try to peel off countries still operating freely with Russia, so far its efforts have been an utter failure outside of Europe. For some reason most countries just don’t want to abandon mutually beneficial ties with Russia in order to sacrifice their economies for US benefit.
In between pressure campaigns on other countries, the US should take a closer look at itself and its vassal states in Europe. According to a recent study, only 10 percent of the major Western companies that promised to pull out of Russia after the start of the war in Ukraine have actually left. From bne IntelliNews:
Even amongst US-based companies in Russia less than a fifth (under 18%) have left, whereas 8.3% of EU companies and 15% of Japanese companies have shut up shop.
Amongst those that have ignored pressures to exit Russia include: consumer goods giant Unilever, US fast food franchise Subway and Italian pasta-maker Barilla, which have continued to operate in the country. Other companies have curtailed but not completely halted their operations: BMW is not making cars in Russia anymore but it is still importing parts and honouring its service contracts for existing customers.
This is in stark contrast to the widely cited information from the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute (what a name!). Jeff Sonnenfeld, the founder and CEO of Yale CEIL, wrote “there is no path out of economic oblivion for Russia as long as the allied countries remain unified in maintaining and increasing sanctions pressure against Russia.” Sonnenfeld’s polemic claimed that more than 1,000 Western firms responsible for generating the equivalent of 40 percent of Russia’s GDP had abandoned Russia and that the effects would be devastating. Oops.
Barring any unforeseen event(s), it seems clear where this is headed. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov recently said, “Rest assured that in the near future, we will see a serious drop in the West’s ability to ‘steer’ the global economy the way it pleases. Whether it wants it or not, it will have to sit down and talk.”
The first part of his prediction has already been proven; It now becomes a question of just how many more people must needlessly die before the sitting down and talking begins. Unfortunately, Nuland and her neocon pals have a special talent for ignoring reality.
Great article. The collective west is just proving that it is a paper tiger.
The analogy to the huffing and puffing wolf in the ubiquitous fairy tale seems appropriate.
Still, the balloon was shot down so I guess the war mongers can celebrate that as a “success”.
Given how scary this balloon seemed to be, the US should consider sending a bunch of ballons to the Ukraine.
I have to say that seen from this side of the Atlantic, watching the US completely lose the plot over this balloon was hilarious. You’d think it actually was the Death Star or something.
It would be hilarious, if not for their penchant for starting wars over small events (in the global scheme of things).
Our wonderful State Department is preposterous. Haven’t heard that word in decades. All of this should be more than obvious to Vicki Nutella and Blinkie. So much so that I almost think the objective was to speed up a BRICS payment system to protect western banking. And possibly slow down fossil fuel use. But it almost sounds as though this transition will expand fossil fuel use enormously. Turbo charged. The West has been the great consumer, driving world economies. All that is over. And we can’t intimidate the entire world. So IMO cooperation and conservation is the only way now. Ukraine has proven that war is insane. I am wondering what the narrative will be next.
Exactly. From “Compete to Consume” to “Cooperate to Conserve.”
Yes! That’s the necessary paradigm shift.
But first, there is another war that must be fought before we can cross to the Golden Age.
Is this the grand (unspoken) vision of Pax Americana which unites the once dovish Greens with Neocons:
But first, Carthage (Russia) must be destroyed. Oh wait, then China….
Truly! The Golf of Tonkin incident was just a wave…
Reminds me of the media hysteria over Jimmy Carter’s engagement with a “killer rabbit” in a pond.
However, the incident allows Blinken to spend more time with his family.
This looks like a job for – the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOrgLj9lOwk (2:18 mins)
Bwaaaaahahahaha! You win NC today!
Death Star balloon
In the comments recently one commenter actually made light of this, suggesting that if the Chinese had painted the balloon to look like the Death Star, the MIC brains would have exploded (figuratively).
The balloon story was necessary to silence the #Pfertility story. Spy balloons have been flying across borders for decades. There is nothing as threatening in this specific balloon as it is made to look.
Second that – great article, Conor.
Been around financial trading long enough to see the sanctions against Russia and cutting off swift was the greatest geopolitical mistake of the last two centuries. It maybe noted by future historians as the end of the us empire. It wasn’t hard to figure out either if you understand Russias position in commodities. The neocons not only loose wars but not have crossed the rubicon way outside their expertise into finance. I don’t care if you work at Yale. Perhaps working in the extraction and production of commodities would aid in your education. I am sure that’s too low of a position for a Yale boy. But let alone just simple math. How much world production of hydrocarbons, metals, potash, grains etc does Russia produce? How are you going to replace what’s lost to our ally’s? Play stupid games win stupid prizes. The game you played with faulty assumptions has pretty much destroyed everything. Even if you had a plan to hurt Russia economically what is your contingency if things go south. Drag a war out and kill Slavs? Brilliant. Now put the shoe on the other foot what would you feel like if Slavs killed your family? Be pretty upset right? It’s amazing the inability for risk analysis properly and to have some much hubris to think they couldn’t be wrong. The naivety too they we can always fix what we broke is ridiculous. People around the world have seen enough of American stupidity that has killed and maimed people across the globe for absolutely nothing. If this Yale boy wants to fight Slavs go to the front. Don’t ask others to do your bidding.
I used to do formal risk assessments for US DOE. OMB requires every Federal Agency to have an Enterprise Risk Management function. This includes the U.S. State Department.
In US DOE a formal documented risk assessment must be done before any major decision is made.
According to the above-linked State Department document, the DOS Risk Management Program is led by the Under Secretary of Resources (now John R. Bass) and is overseen by an Enterprise Governance Board (EGB) consisting of all of the Under-Secretaries. One of these is, of course. Victoria Nuland.
Even though OMB (a function residing in the White House) requires Risk Management of all Federal Agencies, it appears that OMB itself does not have such a function. It does not appear that NSC has such a function either, although this was recommended back in 2020. Recently, the CRS recommended reforms of the NSC (basically, it needs “better coordination”), but a chief Risk Assessment Officer was not explictly one of them.
I can imagine, somewhere around December 2021 Mr. Bass going to the ESG and the conversation going like this:
Mr. Bass: “The Russians look like they are going to invade Ukraine. Should we do a Risk Assessment?”
Ms. Nuland: “Nah. We’ve got that covered. CIA says there the risks are negligible. First, our embassy people, who are very well connected as you know, think the likelihood of an invasion is low. Putin is just sabre rattling. But, if they do invade, NATO has the Ukrainians very well trained and equipped. Also, it’s a no-brainer that Sanctions will cause the Russian economy to collapse. We are actually hoping they do. That will be the end of Putin.”
Mr. Bass: “Oh, OK. I’m glad we can cross that off our list!”
There is something glorious hypocritical with how Nuland brings up Kosovo as an example of how to deal with Putin, when Putin also referenced that conflict as precedence for Russia intervening in Ukraine.
Do wonder how many of her staff faceplamed when she made that statement.
Sorry lady, this is not UNO. There is no reverse card to play.
Nuland et al are the untalented offspring of Kissinger and Brzezinksi. The staff are hired to promote Nuland. The rot is so ingrained it’s not salvageable. Anyone who said ” hey, we don’t have a great track record in these countries. We might need to offer something before committing to a giant war elsewhere” would be axed.
It’s actual US foreign policy to ask countries we have had a history of meddling to simply hand over defensive weaponry because you can definitely trust the US.
Speaking of UNO, remember when there was a UN, and some countries made a ploy of following international “rules”??? Aahhh, such innocence…
‘Consider this sampling of headlines from the past year’
I would also add the EU State of the Union speech given by Ursula von der Leyen a coupla months ago. This was the one where she said ‘The Russian military is taking chips from dishwashers and refrigerators to fix their military hardware, because there are no semiconductors anymore. Russia’s industry is in tatters’ much to the delight of comedians everywhere. ‘Tatters I tell you, tatters!’
It is just as deluded as what is coming out of Nuland’s mouth or even Boris Johnsons for that matter. The UK is really all aboard with these war crimes trials. The British government has a program to train some 90 Ukrainian judges on how to conduct trials of Russian troops for alleged war crimes. The program is headed by Sir Howard Morrison who was previously involved in the trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic-
I would imagine that Nuland and her colleagues in the UK intend to use it eventually to threaten any Russian official (maybe Lavrov) that leaves the country and as recently the US has arrested a Venezuelan diplomat, they will have no qualms about doing so for a Russian diplomat or official.
Now that would be a massive diplomatic faux pas.
And, of course, there is a strong suspicion that the way the emergency care system is struggling at the moment is playing a key role, too.
Performance was deteriorating before the pandemic, following a decade of squeezed funding, but the pandemic has exacerbated the situation with demand and waits both rising.
Perhaps most worryingly, it is taking ambulance crews much longer than they should to get to 999 calls, and when patients do reach hospital they face further delays – 12-hour waits are at record levels in England.
And these are just the tip of the iceberg – because of the way waiting times are collected these waits include only the time taken after the decision to admit a patient. They may well have spent hours already waiting to be seen in A&E.
About 2.4 million households have borrowed money or used credit to cover their bills so far this year. The current cold snap means households with vulnerable people face the impossible decision over whether to take on more debt to heat their home to the level recommended by health professionals.
Rachelle Earwaker, a senior economist at JRF, said: “The government must see that families will not be able to get through the winter on the current levels of support.
England is a good example of Western governments not being concerned with their people’s health and welfare as waging defacto war against Russia. We are marching down that path as well…
The oligarchy has managed to completely manipulate the press and immerse the population so that the government can demonstratably and indisputably (e.g., rising death rates) act against the interests of the vast majority of their own citizens. It is hard to see how it can get better before it gets much worse…
> And these are just the tip of the iceberg – because of the way waiting times are collected these waits include only the time taken after the decision to admit a patient. They may well have spent hours already waiting to be seen in A&E.
I seem to recall that Campbell’s law got formulated after seeing stretchers having their wheels removed so that they could be listed as beds. Thus exempting the patient on top from wait time statistics.
What you cannot influence you buy.
What you cannot buy you extort.
What you cannot extort you destroy.
I watched some of the Sunday Morning BS this morning and realized I was hearing nothing about what I consider to be an issue of paramount importance: falling U. S. life expectancy. In the long list of Biden failures as provided by Republican Chris Christie, our falling life expectancy or excess deaths were never mentioned. The compellingly moral Donna Brazille never brought it up either.
As pointed out by Patrick Deneen in a Harper’s dialogue linked here yesterday, Deneen responds to the quartet’s Libertarian’s Pollyanna take on our situation:
To me, this is an overwhelming case against Biden. Now I certainly don’t expect anybody on the Squad or the Progressive Caucus to talk about it. Jayapal was making the rounds this morning as a loyal Biden defender. But why are the Republicans afraid of it?
Excess deaths/falling life expectancy is a taboo topic now in American politics just like “peace” is a taboo word.
The bad stats on life expectancy go back much farther than Biden and even the previous three Presidents.
According to the book Deaths of Despair by Duncan and Case, in some U.S. states deaths per 100K population started rising noticeably (vs. historical) as early as the late ’90’s. And kept rising. And kept rising. These dismal statistics were (apparently) off the radar because they were generally in parts of the country (rural/urban working class/poor) that the U.S. generally ignores or lumps in with other regions that are doing better. Interestingly, White and poor of middle age and above are dying off the fastest, whereas the trend for blacks keeps improving (though from a much higher average death rate than whites).
This divergence between poor and affluent whites was first identified by Case and Duncan around 2015 (they got the Nobel for this work). It has, if anything, gotten worse ( e.g. the rising deaths from Fentanyl overdoses). I think it explains much of the resentment in Trump country because these problems seem of little import to the DC leadership class (compared to, say, Ukraine).
Carter started it but Reagan took the credit, but the most responsible were, Bill and Hillary Clinton.
If there was any justice in the universe, Nuland, Kagan, Applebaum, Cheney, Kissinger, and all their poisonous kind would be condemned to live a long life where no one could hear or read anything they said or wrote. That they would be cursed to live out their wretched existence as bitter spirits, incapable of influencing anything or anyone, screaming in impotence at people while their foul works were destroyed. If only we could see God move in real time, then perhaps such a fate would be visited upon all the warmongers of the West. Because Lord knows they will never be tried for war crimes.
Since I don’t believe the Lord is going to perform that kind of anti-miracle, I guess it fails to us to really change things. I’m not sure how to do that since we sure as hell didn’t vote our way into this mess. I can’t even start a campaign to pillory a legislator for their pro-Ukraine war vote, because there hasn’t been one. We’ve just miraculously decided that we’re currently doing isn’t war and our president has decided he doesn’t need war powers to direct a war we’re supporting. This is the worst deus ex machina I can imagine to be trapped in on the worst stage in recent human history.
The only solace I can find is that these people are destroying the foundations of the institutions which support them. That the world will stand up to the US and NATO and refuse to comply. Then we might learn what peace is like. Then we might actually see what happens when the US doesn’t have to lie itself into a war.
I haven’t read Huntingdon, but very apt quote:
“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerns often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do”
One further point: the Industrial and Scientific Revolution of the west was fuelled by empire – theft of land and resources, enslavement, etc. That accumulated wealth went into universities and industries, and drove R&D, and further militarisation. The last century saw this system continued through IMF / World Bank policies, political corruption of leaders and odious debt. All this driven to the benefit of the richest, and with the serving PMCs picking up juicy crumbs to maintain order.
The US empire has risen and fallen within a span of 80 years – due to its own internal corruption and accelerating inequality. Russia and China, both poor countries at the start of the 20th century, now pose a viable threat to the rules-based order. Interesting that both went through a period of revolution and socialism.
Now US elites are desperate to stop being overtaken. The PMC are still bought, averting their gaze so as not to have to put the puzzle pieces together.
Decline seems inevitable: especially if a vibrant eastern trading block emerges, free of the USD. Further, international bodies (UN, OPCW, ICC, etc) are losing legitimacy, as they so often follow western dictats.
That leaves three potential response scenarios for western elites:
1) Encourage Poland and Baltic states into the confrontation with Russia to double down. They already seem very keen to self-immolate.
2) Shift the fight to China – especially is, as many argue, the window of opportunity is narrowing. Hard to believe they could be that stupid, having lost (militarily and economically) in Ukraine.
3) Accept defeat in Ukraine, pursue covert operations to subvert the emerging eastern bloc, and all the while cannabilising western populations. Europe particularly, already in dire straits, will be ravaged (e.g. US privatisation of the NHS). The risk here for empire, is that some European countries break away, and seek to establish ties with the ‘east’ (vide causal risk factor for Nordstream 2 destruction).
Given that (3) implies continued decline, impoverishment and discontent, responses (1) and (2) may well seem attractive to our rulers. The empire has backed itself into a corner, with no attractive options – given that exceptionalism has replaced collaboration, and having repeatedly proven (over centuries) to be agreement incapable.
The Chinese curse seems apposite: may you live in interesting times.
Theft of Land and Resources, at the time when the victims of those processes were uninformed and or uneducated enough to be able to resist.
Now the whole world can see what is going on. The former Victims are informed and increasingly educated and industrious. The Resources are being channelled towards the former Victims leaving the Former Empires to eat each other in the scramble for scraps of an ever diminishing pie. The biggest will eat up the small ones and then implode.
I’d not be at all surprised to see in 3 or 5 or so years, all the energy and resource intensive industries that created wealth in places like Germany and Holland and France, reincarnated in previously forgotten and remote places, like Asian ‘stans and such like.
This has always seemed very odd to me. In Ukraine you have the explanation of corruption braking down democracy, and privatized juntas forcing public policy. Is anything so dramatic happening in Poland or the Baltic’s to drive policy so radically towards direct war?
The easiest explanation is that the political class in Eastern Europe has sold out its own peoples’ interests for cozy retirements in Kent and Maryland. Is there something else here though? Some internal tension about which way these states should actually be aligned? Say Nato loses in Ukraine and is seen to lose. How does that change the inclination to western alignment or neutrality amongst all the states closest to the bear’s claws?
I think there will be “subversive” operations in eastern europe one way or the other. The Right-Sector/National-Corps/Azov/PMC model works. With outside backing and media support, it’s an effective veto against the democratic process, and peacemaking in general. Too effective not to be tried elsewhere if escalation is wanted.
This article clarified a lot for me about Zelensky’s position, and what has been done to democracy in Ukraine. Zelensky was elected as a peace candidate, got agreement with the army for a ceasefire in 2019, but this was then vetoed by what seems to be to be a privatized militia (oft described as the army proper, but not so at the time at least), with international backing. Zelensky gambled with a media pressure gambit, but lost. However the world gained a lot of insight into the nature of how the popular will is being sidelined in Ukraine, and how it probably will be sidelined in more countries in the years to come.
Unless states make serious, determined efforts to upload their own institutions, democracy, and prevent their own takeover by black-bloc juntas, their fate is in the hands of whoever can recruit the most angry young men. And I don’t see the Baltics, or even Poland making any efforts at all.
I think it’s more about avoiding handling national trauma properly. All of these countries became part of the Russian Empire in the 17th century, so in theory they all turned into modern states while still under Russian influence. Except they didn’t – under the “Russian rule” the local elites retained or even improved their lot at the expense of everyone else.
When the Russian Empire collapsed, they all gained independence, hit economical snags (cut off from the imperial tit) and were mortally afraid of political and social equality. Thus they all soon turned into dictatorship upheld by the old elites. By the end of the 1930’s they were politically so unstable they were easy pickings for any greater power that wanted to incorporate them.
Under the Soviet Rule, the new political elite improved their lot at the expense of everyone else. So when the Soviet Union collapsed, and these states re-regained their independence, they kept blaming Russia and Russians for everything bad that had ever happened to them. Only agenda they have ever had was to be free western liberal democratic paradise filled with puppies and rainbows, but always the evil rooskies spoiled that.
A few years back a Latvian composer, Raimonds Pauls (?), said that Latvian culture fared much better during Soviet times than now, since nobody in the West is interested in it but they used to have huge markets in Soviet Union – and government subsidies, too. That did not go down well in modern Latvia.
18th century for the Baltics (and local elites then were mainly German as opposed to the ones that prevailed under naitonal independence), 19th century for Poland. I am not sure what you mean by a “modern state”. Otherwise, yes, pretty much. Although I’d say the real reason why Baltic States were and are easy pickings is because they are tiny and poor. Even the best elite in the world could hardly turn them into independent players if a bigger power wants them to be something else.
In the aftermath of WWII, the US and Canada at least selected, imported, and cultivated the anti-communist nazi sympathizing portions of the baltic and polish peoples. Meant to be used as a weapon against the USSR (“Russia” in the vernacular), these people and their descendants were developed around a core identity founded largely in anti-Russianism.
The years after the fall of the USSR saw a massive opinion-manipulation push by – credit where it is due – the utter best in.the world at marketing and manipulation. This, sustained for a generation and a half, has borne fruit.
At least Lithuania among the Baltics was quite friendly with Russia and Russians ontil only several years ago. But a generation and a half of single-minded focused manipulation (starting with grade school curriculum, and saturating all cultural spheres) has had its results.
We are not a bad or a stupid or a hopeless people. But it will take years to fix the damage you intentionally inflicted on our minds.
Sounds a bit like what i hear about Taiwan under the Green party, the part about grade school curriculum and manipulation. Which i guess isn’t a surprise then.
Not all Eastern Europe is like the Poles and the Balts. Look at Hungary. Romania and Bulgaria will likely decline, thank you very much, said immolation. I cannot figure out the Czechs and the Slovaks. Heck, the eastern third of Germany will say Nein, or worst.
While loot might have helped, the mere presence of more resources does not lead to industrialization. India and China were very rich, but did not develop industrialization. Steam power was known to the Egyptians but there is evidence it was ever exploited except as a party-trick.
The actual causes were Western Culture, the establishment of global trade for wool leading to the replacement of peasants by sheep resulting in a large unemployed labor force, the presence of coal and so on. Also, the reason the West had better weapons was that they fought each other pretty much all the time. (The reason they had better immune systems was that they were ill a lot of the time because they lived in unhygienic cities and because diseases spread across the Eurasian continent more easily which is horizontal than across the vertical continents whose more variable climates make it difficult to travel.) See Empire by Neal Fergusson and Jared Diamond’s work for instance.
Niall Ferguson – not Neal Fergusson. Just grabbed Empire from the library.
Sorry, I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t remember the correct spelling when typing it. Thanks.
200 odd years ago, the societal framework of Western European countries was like several light years away from the rest of the world. USA, China, Russia included. I mean, look at achievements and creations of Einstein, Rutherford, Curries, Mendeleev, Tesla. The art of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Turner, Gauguin and so on. And hundreds like that, apologies for inability to list everyone. But at some point, the cumulative cultural and scientific efforts and results of all those giants, becomes a baseline of knowledge for the entire world. I mean, Newton, Galileo, Maxwell, people like that. Hundreds more like this. But then, actually, now, there is about 8b people on the planet and a lot of them are aware of these historical human achievements and the repercussions of things they discovered on the LIFE of everyone. These folks are coming to realise and understand the true value and meaning of glass beads and mirrors their predecessors took in exchange for their ancestral land and resources.
And the world audience is starting to filter out what is important and what is not. Hot stove in Afghanistan as opposed to the Facebook account. Wheat and bread as opposed to 20 ways of making eggs on a cruise liner. Warm house as opposed to bottoxed derrière or latest Kardashian gimmick.
But the more I look into this. the more I come to realise that the Western worlds lucky streak is coming to an end. I am sitting on a number of properties here in U.K. and I wonder how do I hedge against this tsunami that is most definitely coming to engulf me, within a single digit number of years.
Chinese vs European classical music video:
I just watched a recording of Pavarotti in Hyde Park from some years back. Sorry if I sounded a little distressed because I am-this is kicking.
The Chinese link you provided shows some divine stuff, thanks a lot. I just love this.
German interview with P.´s widow, she said cooking was his other pro-passion, travelling with 25 suitcases full of ingredients he was.
RE: ” …… how do I hedge against this tsunami …”
Buy, and cultivate, open-pollinated seeds (as opposed to hybrid varieties which will not breed true.) Stockpile lots of vodka/gin/aquavit; better than currency as well as excellent for sterilizing wounds (or better yet, build a still!) Collect hand tools and build a library of how-to books. Create strong bonds of friendship and mutual dependency with your neighbors.
“The immediate source of Western expansion, however, was technological: the invention of the means of ocean navigation for reaching distant peoples and the development of the military capabilities for conquering those peoples…”
I’m adding the first part of the referenced Huntington quote, because those early days of western conquering of the Americas come to mind. What exactly were the alleged military capabilities of those angry, indebted fortune seekers?
I can’t remember the the name of the video, but I recall a doc about an archeological dig in South America. The site was one of those famous battles of victory for the conquistadores. However, upon digging the scientists found mostly bones of indigenous fighters and warriors. Tribal divisions and other methods were used to in battles of divide and conquer.
Which brings me to another speculation about the present situation with Russia and NATO.
All of these military tactics, weapons, and sanctions were never going to be the A game for the West.
Their ace play, whether it be against Russia or China, is going to be an attempt to create enough chaos with drawn out conflict until internal divisions (organic and instigated by outside forces) make a way for the change they hope for. For one example, there is a global PMC with roots in academia to draw upon.
Then there is the sheer amount of corruption and greed in all parts of the world to play upon.
Maybe China and Russia have it all under control. I don’t know. But that’s the game also worth paying closer attention to.
In Canada, as long as the settlers vs native ratio was on the side of natives, the settlers behaved. When the ratio started to benefit the settlers, all the hell broke loose…
In the Dawn of Everything, there is a lot of compelling arguments and historical facts that indicate the fact that on the realm of values, the Europeans had nothing to teach the Americans. It seems it was the other way around.
Well, that didn’t work out so well in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Long wars of chaos all.
However, all that I’m hearing (here on NC and elsewhere) is that time is not on Ukraine’s side. If anything, the chaos and internal division is increasing within NATO and the EU. I suspect this may be a reason for the slow advance of Russia in Ukraine. The longer this stretches out, the closer NATO, EU and Ukraine will get to rock bottom and denial will cease. We are already seeing this in more Western MSM noises that this war needs to end, it’s time to negotiate, etc. In other words, impatience is setting in on the West. As Scott Ritter has said, General Winter and General Patience will win this war for Russia. And impatience will lose it for the West.
Ignoring US failures in its previous wars in the Middle East, Ukraine chose the wrong side when it didn’t even need to pick sides. It could have proclaimed its neutrality.
The chaos they attempt doesn’t have to be relegated to the battle field. Failure in Vietnam didn’t stop the future excursions into the Mid-East.
The state of mind of “the world is ours” will persist even with a pause or stop on the battlefield.
And ways will be sought outside of sanctions as well to continue the spread of the neoliberal religion.
Neoliberalism is multi-lingual.
They just keep gearing up for crusade after crusade.
The British Empire – the Coal empire.
The American Empire – the Oil empire.
Now no more global empires since oil is a diminishing resource, and other resources (coal, minerals etc.) are concentrated in countries which do not want a global empire but a regional one.
Western Europe will never be the center of the world again.
I am watching this movie called Remains of the Day and there’s this one scene where an American Congressman character played by Christopher Reeve (you might recall him from Superman) stands up and says the following: “… international affairs should never be run by gentlemen amateurs.” You ain’t kidding, sir because here we are where amateurs are clearly running the US foreign policy.
Sadly he was too specific, as the people are very much amateurs, but not gentlemen, and thus get a pass given his criteria…
Something tells if a President did what should have been done long ago – fire Nuland and all the neocons infested in our government agencies – that President would face the same fate as Lincoln or Kennedy. If they (speculating here) did it to Seth Rich over a less directly consequential matter, they’d surely do it over a whole sale cleaning house.
BTW on a similar note, in his last live video at The New Atlas, Brian Berletic and guest sort of stumbled into this wording: If Taiwan is part of China as stated by the US government own website, the recent addition of US troops into Taiwan is thus a totally unprovoked invasion of China.
I suspect China sees it that way even if she doesn’t say it out loud.
I think there’s quite a bit of evidence that the president is also a neo-con. He was Viceroy for Ukraine as vice-president under Obama. During that time, they overthrew the legitimately elected government of Ukraine in the Maidan coup, and put it on its current path.
Biden (or his handlers) installed Nuland in the White House.
At the time I remember reading that Putin “despised Nuland”.
If an inconsequential US citizen could read that in the media, Biden or his staff had to know that a Nuland appointment would be an “in your face” insult to Putin, harming future Russian-US diplomacy.
The Biden administration installed her anyway.,
But with the Nuland appointment, the Biden administration may have telegraphed future Ukrainian intentions to Putin, allowing Putin (and Russia) to prepare.
Are you sure it wasn’t the other way around, and Nuland et al. installed Biden?
Exactly. Let’s all remember that Vicki Nuland (Kagan) was Dick Cheney’s girl Friday.
Agreed. Biden’s a neocon. But he’s not a neocon through any kind of principles, Nuland, Blinken, etc. is from family history and hatred (in Spanish, tienen mala leche – they have bad (mother’s) milk).
He’s a neocon like the Clintons, Pelosi, and endless other American politicians – the kind that have flexible principles and run with the pack. Because money (corruption). In a different era he’d be something else. But America is in the neocon era.
Which makes them something more evil in the way that they are amoral (this could stretch to the the apparent sexual immorality of the Bidens and Clintons, they have no regard for other people, no scruples). Trump is fairly similar but has more morality and more of a twisted personality. As a non-American, I much preferred his foreign policy.
True neocons have a twisted morality, but they do have some kind of morality. They are also evil.
This is our saving grace in the current political situation, in that if at some point the money and power in Ukraine is gone, they will exit the situation. At the moment the money is gone, and the power is diminished.
However there is one little twist with Biden. He also seems to think he’s in some second rate gangster movie, “No one f—s with a Biden.” This is a major negative aspect of his character. But in reality (if you remember his presidential campaign where he basically hid away, he’s a weak, cowardly person faking a tough guy – like a second rate gangster.)
If you look at just one of his children, Hunter, he isn’t a nice guy, but he’s to be a, complete mess psychologically. In a different environment (and with some psychological help, he could be a valuable member of society).
I’m stretching a lot here, so feel free to criticize.
The ineptitude of the response to Trump suggests otherwise (As does the ineptitude of the preparedness for the Ukraine War, despite instigating it). Trump _did_ fire Nuland and probably stalled the entire neocon project for 4 years, but survived with the debacle of Russiagate being the only serious junta-ish move against his government.
It’s unlikely to be too difficult to get rid of the Blob. Probably no more than a few dozen people, if that, direct the rest of the palace court to whatever the latest half baked scheme is being shopped at the door. The rest being career brown-nosers. If they were as astute as people think, the United States (and Europe) wouldn’t be in this mess right now.
great movie! And I think it does a great job of showing the upper class didn’t mind that little guy with a mustache if they could make a buck.
Another high point in U.S. pseudo-intellectualism: “it will be isolated on a small island with a bunch of sub countries and the rest of us 141 countries will go forward” from up top.
You know, shithole countries like China.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world will be on another island, like Survivor, engaged in U.S. high-school antics, which is what Survivor is all about.
The problem is that Nuland is a war criminal. Let’s start there. If we go by Jacques Baud’s adage about mirroring statements about Ukraine, one wonders (one knows full well) about the many war crimes that she is covering for.
I may dispute Conor Gallagher’s last assertion: “ignoring reality.” It may not be that. What we see is power corrupting absolutely. So we now get to witness the zombified unhinged like Ursula the Incompetent, Victoria the Spiteful, and Biden the Old Macho spewing. They believe that there are no consequences.
One has to ask how it is that the “West” has so completely managed to get itself such a reprehensible batch of leaders. And I think the answer has to be neoliberalism. The age of finacial colonialism justified as extending freedom and prosperity when it does the exact opposite. And unfortunately for the average person, it will not end until there is disaster – I just don’t see the West “democracies” being able to self correct anymore.
Neo-liberalism also turned Congress into a marketplace where political donations went to the highest bidder.
A “well bought” politician needs to be an ambitious and winsome salesmen on the stump (i.e. winner of elections) but otherwise rather dim-witted and obedient. A person capable of independent thought; a sense of public purpose; a record of accomplishment; and high character will be disqualified. A politician, then, is an instrument for return on investment. I think that well characterizes the current leadership class of the US, EU and the UK.
So, we have the leadership of, by and for the highest bidder. Is it any wonder the American empire and Europe are visibly and rapidly degenerating?
Nuland is guilty of crimes of empire. Calling her a war criminal is beneath her achievements for empire.
The West is trying to make its own reality. It did work 400, 300, 200 years ago but it is not working that way any longer. The technological genie is out of the bottle.
And all this chip wars and what not is not leading anywhere, because it is not materially that significant. Yes, on trades it is a big chunk, but the technological edge in matters of war is really not that evident. The chips and the algorithms are not intelligent.
In the case of people like Nuland and Blinken, they are willing to sacrifice tens of thousands of lives in order to “win” one of their geostrategic games against a perceived adversary. I can’t think of any other descriptor for such people other than psychopath. Since sleepy Joe is not on top of things, I think it is safe to say that Nuland, Blinken and their crowd are actually running the show. The real problem for the world is, psychopaths rarely back down, they usually double down.
What makes you think that Biden is not at least a sociopath, if not a full blown psychopath?
If the simplest explanation is best, I think he’s just a guy of very limited capacities who is way over his head, surrounded by careerists of similar ilk. Not the best and the brightest, but reliable — as befits minions of the donor class.
Thank you for this excellent piece. Among my circle of friends and acquaintances, it is impossible for me to even mention that Russia or Putin might be entitled to hold a point of view, let alone to act in their own interests. The idea that U.S./NATO hubris is taking the “west” straight over a cliff is so incomprehensible to Americans that (even after Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., etc., etc.) they cannot entertain it for one moment. If not for Naked Capitalism, I would be very lonely indeed.
I know people who assert that “Putin is an absolute dictator who can do anything he wants”
And “Biden is better than Trump”.
And “Trump was worse than Bush”.
I tend to look at the harm a leader does and doesn’t do, and by that simple measure Trump was a great improvement over Bush and Biden is much inferior to Trump.
But sticking up for a consummate asshole such as Trump does not sit well with people.
For many, although Trump’s a consummate asshole, he’s our asshole. And similarly for Biden: he’s a consummate tool, but he’s our tool.
What I find curious is the assumption that all that matters is “trade,” and that if trade volumes are down, then a country is “isolated.” History suggests otherwise. Not only have autarkic and semi-autarkic states been very successful (South Korea is the often-quoted example) but trade in itself is neither good nor bad, and ideally states should only engage in it when they need something they can’t make at home. Every time I see oranges from Spain in the local supermarket, next to oranges from Corsica, and reflect that in Spanish supermarkets you can probably buy Corsican oranges, I reflect how pointless a lot of trade is.
So it very much depends what it is that Russia needs to import, and the degree to which exports are essential to its economy. After all, think of the industrial revolution, which began in Britain because there was coal, iron ore, water and a financing mechanism, the joint-stock company. This produced economic growth which enabled Britain to construct a large Navy (iron ore and coal again) and to acquire colonies and, most of all, control shipping routes for new materials as the economy diversified. The same applied to the US: when I was learning geography at school, we were still told that the US had no need to trade with any other nation. You can date the beginning of the decline of the West from the point where raw materials that the West needed started to slip out of its control, and where it offshored basic technologies. As long as Russia is a major supplier of many raw materials, people will have to find ways to buy them, and as long as it retains a semi-autarkic economy it can do without certain imports.
First and foremost Russia can now feed its people much better than in the past AND can produce military kit, all localized.
RE; the Rand Paul clip.
It looks Mitt Romney is sitting right beside him, or close. I’m guessing when the slimeball warmonger Mittens got to question Nuland (if he did – I’m not going to hunt it down because I’m out of barf bags), he gave her a tongue bath. Mitten’s old buddy Cofer Black sat on the board of Burisma (along with Hunter I think). Makes me wonder how deep into the Ukraine corruption and money laundering cesspool Mitten’s might be?
Hunter, Black, John Kerry’s relation, and even Pelsoi’s relation have ties to Ukraine (who doesn’t it seems). How much of this is about cover ups as much as making war toy companies richer (among others)? Tin foil hat off.
Good article Conor, thank you.
Almost all of the US protagonists are one or two generation immigrants of Jewish Ukrainians, including Nuland.
There is a generational hatred of Russians which is driving the world towards a possibly fatal war. Such a hatred that any reason has long left the room.
Don’t forget Ali Chalupa, apostle of Dear Leader Hillary and a DNC honcho.
Yes, and later Catherine the Great with victories in the Russo-Turkish War (1768–1774) which ousted the Ottomans from Crimea, swaths of what would later be southern Ukraine and would lead to the several partitions of Poland between Austria, Prussia and to the greatest extent, Russia.
Later when Tsar Nicholas I moved forces into Ottoman dominated Romania in 1853, perhaps seeing a liberated Dardanelles, Russia and the Ottomans were at war again. This time Britain and France came to the latter’s aid to block further Russian expansion in what would be known as the Crimean War. The balance of power and all that it entailed. Apologies for a simplistic rendering of history, which, as has been said, is one damn thing after another.
To round things out, the Tartar Mongols destroyed the Kievan Rus, leveling Kiev in 1241. They had also captured Moscow, but Novogorod, under Alexander Nevsky, maintained independence by paying tribute.
As for Nuland mentioning Kosovo and war crimes. The West was happy when Chris Hedges was reporting Serbians slaughtering Albanian Kosovans. They were not so happy when he started reporting the Albanian Kosovans slaughtering ethnic Serbs.
The U.K. MSM headlines from the times when NATO enabled Croatia to expel around 300,000 Serbs from Lika, Krajina and other areas where Serbs lived defending the Western Europe from Islamic forces for the preceding 300 years, was, “Serbs them right”.
This is at the time when the modern Croatia chose to present itself to the world through the face of its WW2 Nazi regime, a faithful ally to Fuhrers 3rd Reich. History books including Enclycopedia Britanica are full of evidence . What at all can you say to such a racist diatribe.
No wonder Russians now say, there is nobody to negotiate with.
I think the previous sentence [“Russia’s economic development was obstructed ever since the disintegration of Kievan Rus as it severed Russia from the maritime arteries of international trade”] is either a bit misleading or miscontructed, since Kievan Rus neither had much sea front not was the world at the time yet thinking along Mahan’s sea powers and sea lines.
The “Kievan Rus” had formed along the great rivers that were magnificent routes of commerce and remained so for long time after Kievan Rus. While a lot has been made of the Mongol invasion, the current understanding seems to be that it actually had very minor effect on the development of Russian princedoms. As long as they paid their taxes, they were free to do as they pleased.
Much bigger threat were the Lithuanians and the Teutonic Knights – when they came, they wanted to stay, build castles and convert the population.
Of course much of the value of rivers as trade vessels was in the fact that they connected to the sea. With a bit of dragging in between, it was entirely possible to get boats and goods from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and thus from Scandinavia to the Byzantine Empire, and back. That was the economic rationale behind the Kievan Rus as a polity. It was indeed disrupted later, but mainly by the collapse of the Byzantines if I am not mistaken.
There is still plenty of debate about the relative impact of the Mongol invasion (whitewashing the Mongols is popular among Eurasianists and Tatar nationalists, and others who find emphasising the primacy of the Western threat convenient for whatever reason). It was immensely destructive at first. Afterwards they did rule with a relatively light hand, though, and arguably there were some benefits from their protection and connection to their trade networks.
As for the Teutons, much has been made of them as well, but I will note that they never actually maanged to seize much Russian territory. They tried, but could not hold on to much of anything. Lithuanians were indeed much more effective, but the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was an odd duck. Its capital was in Polotsk, an ancient Russian (now Belarusian) city. Its bureaucracy was bilingual, Russian and Latin. Orthodoxy was wholly tolerated (small surprise in a state where paganism was also tolerated for a very long time). Russian nobles made up a large part of the ruling elite. Belarus has as good a claim to being medieval Lithuania’s successor as does modern Lithuania I’d say. In brief one can argue that late medieval Lithuania was a half-Russian state anyway, especially early on. Perhaps no less Russian than Muscovy with its injections of Tatar influence and elites.
Well, my main source was an article discussing Mongol oppression versus Lithuanian oppression mentioned in the medieval sources, and I assume those likely have a strong Muscovite bias. The impression is that for those who kept the books, western threat was more serious than the eastern.
If it’s not too much trouble, could you find a link or name for the article? I’m quite curious as to which sources they had in mind. That said, ones produced in Muscovy or smaller independent Russian principalities in the late medieval era probably would not be well-inclined towards Lithuania, yes. Two possible factors that come to mind, in addition to Lithuania’s direct absorption of principalities, are 1) Lithuania being formally Catholic, i.e. schismatic and therefore in some respects worse-than-heathen, and 2) the Mongols being the devil one knows by the time Lithuanian expansion took off. After all their order was already well-established by then and the principalities found some way to live with them.
The Tatar Yoke and Tatar Oppression, by Charles J. Halperin in Russia Mediaevalis, V, 1984.
Although I read it from “Russian and Mongols. Slavs and the Steppe
in Medieval and Early Modern Russia”, a collection of Halperin’s articles published by Romanian Academy, Iași Institute of Archaeology in 2006.
Thank you, will try to find it.
I finished The Greatest Evil is War by Chris Hedges late last night. Sobering as he always is and perfectly on point, with any quibbles fading into well deserved oblivion.
Would that Ms. Nuland and her peeps read it with something approaching intelligence. Never mind, I still dream of replacing Bobby Richardson at second base for the New York Yankees. I have nothing to add to Conor’s outstanding work and the comments, but is this not the exact analog of “Russia! RUSSIA! RUSSIA!“, which is and was always nothing more than PMC hysteria*:
“Türkiye’s upcoming election (in either May or June) could not have higher stakes for the US or Russia. Biden said during his 2020 election campaign that Washington should help the Turkish opposition ‘take on and defeat Erdogan.‘”
*The TDS, it is still strong in this one.
1. I had somehow missed candidate Biden’s opining on the need to intervene in Turkish domestic politics by helping opponents take down Erdogan.
2. The sample of headlines about the isolation and total collapse of the Russian economy could easily be multiplied sevenfold and would include the entire “reputable” press. All of these were published in spite of the facts that
A. This was not happening, and
B. There were no good reasons to believe it would happen.
Pravda and Izvestia never bent reality further.
Mother Jones seriously needs to change its name.
I like the fact that the US wants to drag Russia to some international court when as a country, exceptional and all that, refuses to be a signatory to the ICC for example.
It’s an order based on rules, not on international treaties, law and such.
It’s very simple:
Rule #1: The USA gives the orders.
It is so rich, when the US has the foremost undiminished supply of well documented war criminals, doing speaking tours and doing portrait paintings, no less.
All that is important is to isolate Russia in the mind of the American public.
When both political parties agree that the Russians are war criminals that have to be prosecuted the job is well on the way to being completed.
Read the text of resolution 9.
Including the Jefferson quote ” … to guarantee to everyone of a free exercise of their industry, and the fruits aquired by it.”
The military industrial complex is an industry that acquires fruits.
In spite of the rhetoric, I am skeptical that anyone controlling the u.s. government seriously believed their policies could “isolate” Russia. However, as Michael Hudson has argued, the u.s. policies have worked to isolate Europe and especially Germany from the vital resources in Russian control. NATO policies have worked to disarm an already lightly armed Europe. The u.s. policies have worked to pump money into the u.s. MIC, bolster the profits of the Oil Cartels, and subsidize the loses facing their fracking subsidiaries in the not too distant future.
The throbbing accompaniment with rattling of swords, beating of the war drum, and unparalleled manipulation of public opinion — has so far proven remarkably effective at pulling attention away from the crumbling foundations of the u.s. economy and its shriveling Empire — and — wrapped the whole package in a thick fog completely obscuring the many enormous costs and loses promised to result in the not so distant future. I suppose the u.s. Power Elite decided a multipolar world in some form was inevitable and decided to attempt shaping that multipolar world in such way as to maintain the greatest u.s. hegemony over the minions it could hold on to and assemble into a component of the emergent multipolar world.
Well past the time when the world should have come together to cutback on the use of fossil fuels and other diminishing resources and reshape the world economies to fit a new reality … concern has shifted to conflict, worry about nuclear Armageddon, and a push to find new resources of fossil fuels to exploit. The growing Climate Chaos has been relegated to watching weather reports.
In sum — desperate measures to postpone “Le Deluge” as long as possible.
So far the empire keeps expanding rather than shriveling. According to the Washington Post, the US is about to sign an agreement with the Philippines to establish four new “bases” or “sites” there.
V interesting article, complementary to Conor’s, by Alasdair Macleod:
Excellent; Conner. The Goldmoney article superior read for me. Thank you.
And does Mr. Goldmoney ever write of something other than doom and gloom?
The last part “It now becomes a question of just how many more people must needlessly die before the sitting down and talking begins. ”
Nope. No talking will happen. The US is the Black Knight – https://youtu.be/ZmInkxbvlCs?t=39 “The Black Knight always triumphs”.
The US response to the unfolding multipolar world is the response of a delusional, fading hegemon using the tactics that used to work:
# Take over the partially vassal states (Europe, Australia, Philipines) and make them into US bases,
# Foment internal divisions and colour wars in countries not supporting Ukraine – (Balkans – https://foreignpolicy.com/2023/02/03/russia-serbia-ukraine-war-kosovo-vucic-putin-balkans/)
# Stir up old hatreds – Armenia/Azerbaijan
# Financially weaken the larger countries trading with Russia, including India (https://www.thestar.com.my/aseanplus/aseanplus-news/2023/02/05/india-opposition-attacks-modi-on-silence-over-adani-allegations), Iran, China (https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3205110/dont-expect-us-china-relations-significantly-improve-2023).
But Russia and China can now intervene in ways they were never able to before. So this is a war of attrition as well as a war of proxies, and it will, like bankruptcy, be slow for a long time, then quick.
Some ‘leaks’ out of Israel adding unusual transparency to Ukraine war.
Israeli estimates of losses
from 2:20 Putin, from 2:36 early mediation
the war itself doesn´t cost the US much. It´s a tiny sum for them.
It´s high cost to Russia, Ukraine and Europe.
So why should the war be the end of US empire?
The causes for latter have been around before and might increase independently from the war.
But in essence not much has changed for Washington.
p.s. tiny error in the posted article above :
“The Center for Strategic and International Studies puts forth the following near-term actions for NATO in the Balkans” – instead of Baltic?
If anything it may benefit from the damage to European economic competitors and the reduction in independence of European countries.
If Western Europe is damaged by the current idiocy masquerading as foreign policy, that will be a major loss to the USA. Western Europe has been the USA’s most significant ally since WW2, especially since it is an arrangement which has to large extent benefitted both Western Europe and the USA as International powers.
The pivot to Asia is a policy which is ironically will bring about a multipolar world. Both China and Russia are too strong for America to defeat militarily and together they are not possible to defeat economically.
The USA has maybe one real long term ally in Asia, Japan, and whether that is what the Japanese want, I think the period of Japanese Empire in prior to WW2 has caused long term suspicion of Japanese actions in the military sphere among its neighbours.
Korea traditionally was heavily influenced by China (with conflict it has to be said) but in conflict with Japan, and the current state of affairs is only possible with a divided Korea. How long this will continue I don’t know. Until now there have been benefits to both China, Russia, and the USA, since it acts as a buffer zone. Whether any change is possible to the current situation (unification) is possible without military conflict, I don’t know. I hope so.
Most other Asian countries in the region of China (with the exception of India) will always do their best to play China and the USA off each other.
I think major unexpected change in this region will occur in the 20 to 30 years.
I really hope the resource depletion of oil and other energy supplies will cause a more cooperative international approach over the long term in the Asian region. This will probably not be the case.
Global warming is the most important factor and will determine every single international political decision in the near future.
Would love some feedback positive or negative.