Friday, July 25, 2014

Brainwashed sheep's obsession with "villain" Vladimir Putin

Several people who largely share my appraisal of the events in Ukraine and around Ukraine have sent me lots of incredible photographs and articles showing that the "mainstream" Western media got completely obsessed with Vladimir Putin.

This 29-year-old lady was threatened by a mayor to be deported from Holland and finally she fled the country by herself – taking BF Jorrit Faasen, 34, with her. In the current hysteria, the sufficient reason is the following: she is Maria Putin, Putin's daughter.

It's enough to search Google News for Putin if you want to obtain a rather incredible collection of totally nutty titles and whole articles about Putin. Just some of the titles (I didn't really have to filter it much):
US General Dempsey: Putin May 'Light a Fire' He Can't Stop in Ukraine

Dempsey: Putin's Moves Like 1939 Poland

Putin's voracious appetite is not sated

Putin’s Pal [a nasty attack against Stephen Cohen]

Putin's inner circle sheds light on his "sinister, lonely life"

The growing calls to strip Putin and Russia of the 2018 World Cup

Putin's Crime, Europe's Cowardice

Vladimir Putin is responsible for shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. His next move will matter most of all.
I could go on and on and on, for hours. Vladimir Putin is perhaps the next Adolf Hitler, maybe Adolf Hitler on steroids. He must have personally shot the Dutch airplane down, too.

Well, I have been following the Ukrainian events since the late 2013 very closely and one may see that Vladimir Putin hasn't done a damn thing. Perhaps the only thing he did was to do nothing ;-) against the Crimeans' efforts to escape a Ukraine that was conquered by a nationalist hysteria. Needless to say, every other Russian leader – and most leaders of other powers – would do exactly the same thing when their currently threatened, historical region massively asked for re-annexation.

But concerning MH17: are you joking? It was probably shot down by a separatist by mistake. Maybe he wanted to shoot a nearby Kiev military plane and it occurred by a very unlucky accident. The Kiev fighter jets have been claimed to hide behind civilian airplanes already a month ago. Maybe the airplane was shot by the Kiev forces in another unlucky accident. But what does Vladimir Putin have to do with any of that?

The missile that destroyed MH17 was arguably Buk [=Beech wood], produced in Russia. But what's unexpected about the Russian origin of weapons that are used thirty miles from Russia? Naturally, Russia is a major producer of weapons. The 300 passengers and crew members died in a piece of metal that was constructed by American hands, by Boeing. And the soldiers may have used iPhones to order others to shoot the plane down. Does it mean that America is responsible? Are you joking?

And even if Russia were "responsible" for that, why Putin?

There are many possibilities why the plane was shot down and nothing can be "quite" eliminated. But Putin's personal role in the sad event is still one of the possibilities close to the theory about the moonlanding staged in Arizona. And what about his longer-term, "strategic" responsibility?

I think that it is a totally idiotic idea, too. The plane was officially shot down above the territory of Ukraine. In the case of every other country, the country's government would share a major part of the responsibility for the accident. After all, the government in Kiev was paid for giving the permission to MH17 (and others) to fly over the Donetsk region. Some perpetrators of 9/11 originated from Afghanistan (and were trained in non-governmental camps over there) which was enough for the U.S. to start a war against the whole country – it was a decision that was as "morally understandable" by the world's public as Austria-Hungary's decision to wage a war against Serbia after the 1914 assassination of the prospective emperor.

So of course that among the world's *governments*, the current Kiev government is the most directly responsible one for the downing of MH17. No one seems to even "dare" to think about this self-evident fact in the "mainstream" Western media that have apparently decided that all current rulers of Ukraine are holier than Jesus Christ.

And what about the long-term, strategic, global responsibility? Well, all the suffering including the downing of MH17 may be blamed on those who started this insane "Maidan revolution" based on the idea that Ukraine may assume to live in the vacuum and morph into an anti-Russian country overnight. Nothing bad could come out of it, right? Surely everyone in Ukraine agrees with the complete change of the direction where Ukraine develops and with the overthrowing of the last legitimately elected government.

Well, have you lost your mind? It has always been 100% guaranteed that such developments, often directly and openly encouraged by various powerful agents in the West, including the governments, would lead to a form of a civil war and a huge tension between those who try to "intervene" in this way on one side and Russia on the other side. Among the foreign influences, it's the pro-Maidan Western interventionists who are most responsible for the 1,000 or so dead people since the early 2014, including the casualties of the MH17 tragedy, and for lots of other problems and economic destruction that took place in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin and the government of Russia would play at most a passive role. As far as I can say, he hasn't done a damn thing. But he could have and he may do something important in the future.

If I were the Russian President, I would have probably order the occupation of Ukraine many months ago because I would view these developments to be dangerous for the existential interests of my country. He has been as restrained as you can get. But of course that people understand that he would safely conquer Ukraine if it were the only foe. So I think that people are doing some sort of "psychological projection". They know it's a very natural decision for a power that is being as indirectly harmed as Russia has been since the "Maidan revolution" in Ukraine to protect itself. They may deny that they would think about the defense of their country's interests but it's a fact that every responsible politician in such a power has to think about this option.

Of course that I am not promising you that Vladimir Putin will never invade Ukraine. But given the escalation of the atmosphere – which was done by someone completely different than Vladimir Putin – it would be understandable for him to retake Ukraine. But at this moment, these are pure speculations and fantasies. Vladimir Putin hasn't done a damn thing – except for his nearly pacifist and very pragmatic speeches – which is why all these anti-Putin "mainstream" media don't know what they're talking about.

There are surely hundreds of millions of people in Western countries who have been brainwashed by this totally baseless propaganda. I apologize but I can't respect these people as observers or as human beings, for that matter. One must be an incredibly gullible moron to buy the bulk of this anti-Putin propaganda. The individuals who are buying this crap are much closer to the four-legged sheep, intellectually speaking, than they are to ourselves.

I am scared by this intellectual and moral degradation of the West. I understand very well that this is extremely far from being the first moment when the public of otherwise civilized countries got brainwashed in this way. The anti-Jewish hysteria in Germany of the 1930s was no different from the current anti-Russian hysteria. It was much worse because we already know that the anti-Jewish hysteria had led to 6 million casualties of the Holocaust while the number of casualties of the current anti-Russian hysteria is comparable to 1,000 only. But the analogy between the current atmosphere pumped by the "mainstream" media addressed to the intellectual bottom – and bulk – of the Western nations on one side and an *earlier* moment in the history of Nazi Germany may be a very appropriate one.

So average people, please, try not to be idiots. Or at least, try not to be *complete* idiots. Vladimir Putin didn't shoot MH17 down. You can't divide the Eastern Slavic nations to the "nice ones" like Ukrainians and the "villains" like the Russians. They are pretty much the same people, with the same statistical distributions of pretty much all traits, living in slightly different political situations. Eastern Ukraine has been a multi-national area for many centuries and the people simply have to co-exist in some way. The Russian leaders and the Russian government are doing nothing extraordinary. They are still trying to protect some interests of theirs. Every competent leader is doing it in one way or another – except that some try to mask what they are doing. Everyone who believes that we live in a "brave new world" in which politicians no longer protect any nations' or classes' interests is a lunatic and should relocate himself to a psychiatric asylum.

The people who have decided to see the tensions in the area in a black-and-white way and who still work to influence the events are the true strategic culprits of the misery that escalated over there in 2014. In reality, all the people over there are similar to each other and a violent conflict is unlikely to be good for either side. To spread the propaganda that Vladimir Putin is a villain whom one is obliged to hate are as dangerous and simple-minded psychopaths as the warriors and Islamic bigots in ISIL, among others. The world just isn't this simple. The real post-Soviet world doesn't really resemble the caricature in the "mainstream" Western media at all.


  1. Exactly, Holger. After the spying incidents, it's at least debatable whether Germany should be more afraid of Russia or America, and be closer friends with Russia or America.

    Elsewhere, France is being criticized by Britain for selling a ship to Russia. Needless to say, Britain also sells weapons over there, and has tons of wealthy Russians in the Financial City of London.

    I would also like to know how the apparently "uniform" class managed to conquer pretty much all mainstream media even though it can't correspond to the distribution of what the readers expect and want to read and believe.

    In the Czech context, we have a certain uniform class of intellectuals that are somewhat sloppily referred to as Havlists and they're in some sense in charge of all the mainstream media and various official cultural (and largely scientific) institutions. They're arguably a minority in the society when one demands several defining features at the same moment. I used to think that this takeover by another uniform group was an inevitably heritage of communism which forced everyone to be uniform as well (the diversity then could have actually been higher, something I am not happy at all to admit), but even in countries without communist heritage, it's similar if not worse.

    Journalism must be made by some social class of activists and everyone else must be repelled by that. I understand how this group think works in a particular single newspapers. What I don't understand is how this uniformity could have overtaken *all* mainstream newspapers and channels.

  2. "The world is not this simple". I am sorry Lumo but from reading your posts, the world seems to be very simple for you: Russia/Putin good, West bad. If anything, in a country with such a vertical power structure as Russia, Putin could have stopped the flow of sopthisticated, high power weaponry and guerillas across the border. The whole thing could have been resolved long time ago.

  3. Yeltsin was fighting the Chechens just as enthusiastically as Putin, only Putin finished the job with somewhat more butcher skills, leveling Grozny almost to the ground, so no, Russia would be still in one piece. As for NATO, well maybe, but so what? What would be so wrong about that? NATO is surely not planning to attack the nuclear superpower that is Russia.

  4. Why do you think that NATO would want Russia completely surrounded by bases if they have absolutely no intention of ever claiming that territory?

    Is it for defense? But Russia "is surely not planning to attack the nuclear superpower that is NATO".

    Let's be honest, if world history had just linearly extrapolated from the 1990s all of the former eastern bloc countries would be in NATO, and every single regional nationalist movement in Russia would be propped and supported by the western media with a lot of faux outrage over the atrocity that would be their treatment.

  5. After BNP Paribas, if I were a Frenchman, I'd be asking myself if our guns were pointed in the the right direction.

  6. A question that intrigues me is, "why do the neoliberalcons hate Putin so deeply"? I think the answer is that he ended the Yeltsin era - the era of a weak, corrupt government enabling oligarchs to eat high-priced dinners while homeless children rummaged through the slums of Moscow. He is given credit for sending some of the plutocrats then operating in Russia, packing. But, this is what neoliberalcons want - more suffering for the poor, incredible wealth for themselves, and everyone else believing that this is the natural order of things. This is what they want in the EU, Gaza, and the US (if they can pull it off). What is lacking here is a cadre of Western journalists who are gutsy enough to shine light on these ghouls and their evil agenda.

  7. Hi Lubos and thank you for your hard work, especially CAGW and those enthralled by it. On the Ukraine crisis, and even anything Russia-related, I have found only one news source that is not ill-informed or tendentious. Even the WSJ has been unrelentingly hawkish, almost as if they were nostalgic for the cold war days. His name is Stephen Cohen and he is a regular guest on the John Batchelor show and he also writes for the Nation and other leftist outlets but he is still my go-to guy on Russia.

    The guy has been taking a beating from the left and the right with WSJ calling him one of "the two Steves" (I do not know Steve #2) and the Daily Beast naming him as "Putin's best friend in American media". The New Republic (!) smeared him with this headline: Putin’s American Toady at 'The Nation' Gets Even Toadier. That's it MR, I am canceling my subscription!

  8. I am not a Frenchman but I still gave 10 percent of my savings to a fund managed by BNP Paribas some month+ ago, so I feel this is sort of personally relevant for me, too.

  9. There's a school of thought that says the US and Saudis were up to their eyeballs in Chechnya, backing ideologically extreme Islamic fundamentalists in yet another effort to 'close the circle' on Russia itself. Given how truth is massacred in broad daylight on a normalized basis now in the US and West, I'm not completely confident we've got the whole story right, even sort of right, on Chechnya.

  10. I think we've seen the USG intentionally disrupting smaller players in the global economy to maintain US status and control. I think the same is true with Russia and Ukraine. If it were not so, then why would there be such aggressive expansion of NATO, and such provocation of Ukraine?

    I think we're seeing the US goad Russia into a conflict Russia can ill afford. The US won't back off, because US economic power is at stake. Without the US dollar as the world's reserve currency, (in which international trade takes place), the US economy plunges (far worse than 2008) because of the level of federal debt, which is only made possible because of the huge demand for US dollars. I think they're showing that keeping the US oligarchy strong is more important to the USG, than avoiding nuclear confrontation. Otherwise, NATO expansion would not have happened and the Ukraine crisis would never have begun.

    The bad news is Russia has every reason now to create a parallel global financial structure to compete against SWIFT (see link below). I'm sure this will need China's cooperation but China is well on the way to undermining the US Dollar anyway, and certainly there are many other countries around the world that would be happy to have an alternative to a US dominated global finance system. (Iran for one, etc).

  11. If Putin acts in honesty on behalf of his people, why control the media and utilize propaganda? Does this not happen in Russia?

  12. The underlying problem is a media dominated by presstitutes; too lazy to think for themselves; to ask informed questions at press conferences and elsewhere; too prejudiced to think about the subject in a way other than their own perspective.

    And don't the Ukrainian/RUssian/USA/EU media wranglers know it!? They rely on it to be able to flood the traditional media to the almost the total exclusion of critical comment. Those presstitutes become proxy propagandists; apathetic of their complicity.

    The public can be too easily led with emotional language to put the blame on targets; creating prejudice even in those who had not throught about such matters previously. Facts become irrelevant. Exploiting the moment is the objective of media. Emotional involvement if at all possible; institutionalised so that those who aren't sucked in already, could begin to feel guilty about not "sharing the moment".

    And so we have ceremonies of organized grief dominating especially the electronic media; from around the globe; 24 hours a day. A different angle; every day; all angles with a clear view on who to blame.

    But no hard facts. No analysis of the "facts" produced by government media agencies.

    Over the past week, we've had pressituttes parrot demands of Putin made by photophilic politicians and "personalities" for the past week; when his media statements from early on the 18th already urged an immediate ceasefire and total cooperation with an impartial, international investigation. They do not see what contradicts their prejudice.

    As recently as yesterday, there were calls to the separatists made by Australian journalists to do more to ensure the safety of investigators and journalist; while the Ukrainian government forces increased their artillery fire on the area. This is simply INSANE!

    Thank you for keeping your head in these difficult times, Luboš.

  13. Lubos,

    I have learned much about the Ukrainian situation from your early posts on the subject, and thank you for it.

    However, you recent direction is very problematic. You apparently are not willing to enforce or even credit the long-established Westphalian system of legal nation states, instead, in this case, favoring ethnicity over law - which puts you in the fine company of many third world nasties.

    Claiming that Russophile identification of many Ukrainians justifies Russia's support of a brutal rebellion is very dangerous. Justifying Russia's annexation of Crimea is beyond the pale - the international system doesn't work when large countries can bully small countries, especially in defiance of a nuclear arms treaty (whereby Ukraine relinquished a large quantity of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons in exchange for a "guarantee" of sovereignty).

    The idea that the current Ukrainian government is illegitimate isn't sufficient. It is at least as legitimate as the murderous kleptocracy that preceded it.

    Now, you may claim that I'm a victim of western propaganda, but I don't think so. The mainstream western media has not been trusted by me for a long time. As a student of propaganda since the '60s when I used to listen to Radio Moscow and Radio Havana, I know BS when I hear it. As I write this, I hear CNN acting as a shill for Hamas, and I don't buy it. As I write this, I hear CNN acting as a shill for Hamas, and I don't buy it.

    But... facts are facts and can be separated from BS.

    Putin is a very bad guy. That's a fact. He arose from the KGB, has robbed his country blind, and is an autocrat. Contrary to your assertion, Russia is far from a Democracy. Yes, it has elections, but the press is muzzled and potentially opposition figures jailed or even killed. This is not just some partial democracy as found all over the world - this is a country with more nuclear weapons than any other, ruled by a mafia chieftan.

    Yes, he's a very popular chieftan. So was Hitler (sorry Godwin), who I invoke only to show that popular chiefs can be very evil. But Putin seems to be popular primarily due to the dysfunction of the Russian populace - people who have never known Democracy and who deeply resent their loss of international power (even though that power was produced through sheer brutality).

    So, when you absolve Russia for its actions in increasing the brutality in the Ukraine, you are ignoring the nature of the regime you are absolving. It is hard to attribute legitimate motives to such a regime, especially when the results are so tragic.

  14. By design and by self-infliction, the average American is stuck in a state of stupor and lethargy that cannot be easily reversed. I am willing to bet that most people in the US would sit idly by and do nothing if half the people on their streets were rounded up and disappeared into the night. I would put money on it. A combination of an empty-calorie diet, mind-numbing and vacuous TV programming, declining school system, way too many mood-altering drugs, and dishonest 'news' channels have successfully made a nation of zombies. Borrowing a line from a Pink Floyd song, there's a look in their eyes like black holes in the sky.

  15. Dear Lubos,
    when I think about the West in positive terms and it is for me still to a large extend a positive term I ultimately think about the French revolution. With my limited Western world view I would still view it as the most important event in history. But if we look back to the French revolution there is one important fact which for me has some significance for the Ukraine crisis. If you think the values of the French revolution such as that all humans have equal born rights through to their logical conclusion it is clear that the French nation is also just an equal nations among others. But looking at the following time it seems the French nation didn't fully understand it or forgot it during the Napoleonic times. I don't want to say that things are simple here because without skillful generals such as Napoleon the ancient regime in the other states would have simply undone the French revolution by military force. Still I think it is fair to say that the French revolution with its universal values at its core didn't quite disentagle itself from some French nationalism. And it was perhaps the tragedy of Germany that the Germans also found it very hard to fully endorse the values of the French revolution when they came from its biggest rival. (They partly did as the revolution of 1848 showed.) So can we disentangle the situation in the Ukrain from any pan Slawic nationalism. Would you endorse the French revolution in the same way I did it here?

  16. You have to be pretty paranoid to think that the western powers retain any political capability for colonialism or imperialism, regardless of the US's military capabilities.

    Russia would have been perfectly safe with NATO on its borders. And if Russia was peaceful, and didn't join NATO, NATO would have faded away due to lack of mission. Not only that, but ironically, a friendly Russia would likely have been invited into NATO.

  17. The cold war was started by Russia, and if it arises again, it will be due to behavior of Russia. The west has no interest in a cold war, unless its for defense.

    The somewhat one sided behavior of Europe and the US towards the complex situation in the Ukriane is more easily explained by a utopian desire to add more countries to the (rather absurd) EU, not some evil intentions towards Russia, combined with historically and recently justified fear of Russian misbehavior. It is also a result of some delusions that people who act "progressive" and mouth Europhile pieties are the ones to support.

    As fpr spying on Merkel's phone - that's what spies do. Merkel is only upset because Germany has not been allowed to join the 5-eyes intelligence cooperative. The outrage is just nonsense. Furthermore, does anyone imagine that the Germans' wouldn't be tapping Obama's calls if they had the capabilit?

  18. Lubos, the idea that Germany might have more to fear from the US than Russia is, simply, absurd. The nature of governments and culture are extremely important in deducing the intent and dangers of other countries. Looked at that way, the US is hardly a threat.

  19. Mesocyclone, experience surely shows something else. In the last 20 years, the U.S. government was much more dangerous for other countries of the globe than Russia that just left other nations to live.

    Moreover, I don't really believe with your idea that "culture" makes governments non-dangerous. The Third Reich wasn't really "uncultural" in the conventional definition.

    You may think you are cultural and the U.S. is never hurting others except that the reality is something completely different. Germany doesn't understand - and I don't understand - why it's being spied on. Obviously, something must be wrong from the U.S. viewpoint, a viewpoint we don't understand much like we may misunderstand some of the Russian attitudes.

    It may be that the U.S. government is pissed off just by the very fact that Germany hasn't declared a trade war against Russia. If that's the reason, then the current U.S. government is indeed very dangerous because I think that pretty much everyone who matters in Germany knows that a full-fledged trade war would be a catastrophe for Germany, too.

  20. I'm actually a little surprised you're not worried that Putin wants to bring back the Iron Curtain and Soviet Bloc. If I recall correctly, Czechoslovakia didn't fare so well with the Russians before.

  21. I am not worried because I know that such things are baseless. We clearly belong to the Western side of the Iron Curtain - and with the exception of 40 years, we have belonged there for 1,000 years - so we should be as worried about becoming a part of Russia as Americans should worry.

    Also, we know something about the reality because we're meeting Russians and doing business with Russians every day so we know that those who are imagining Russians to be monsters waiting to conquer everything are just idiots.

  22. Another thing - despite the noise, with Obama as President we're certainly not going to actually do anything, so I don't think you need to worry about the western media.

  23. What do you count to "anything"? Can you promise me that the U.S. won't blackmail us and force us to stop all trade with Russia? It's 5% of our imports and 5% of our exports and the percentage is much higher in some other countries.

    Some people are struggling for every 0.1% of the GDP, obsessed with tiny and often spurious changes of the GDP, and suddenly someone would like to erase 5% of the GDP just because of some stupid anti-Russian anger? I view this as a huge threat, too. If the threat to antagonize Russia in this big way for no defensible reason became really high, I would prefer to leave NATO.

  24. A suggested mapping from the present to the late nineteen thirties.

    Crimea --> Austria
    Eastern Ukraine --> Sudetenland
    Putin --> ?

  25. What's the purpose of this mapping aside from making one totally deluded about everything?

    Moreover, I agree with the Austria part, to say the last. It was as unnatural for Austria to be in a different country than the rest of Germany as it was for Crimea a few months ago. Austrians obviously wanted to join that project, and Hitler himself was Austrian.

    I won't say the same thing about the Sudetenland because it had been a part of the Czech kingdom territory for 900 years. One can't really say the same thing about the non-Russian Ukraine's control over Eastern Ukraine.

    And again, if you belong among those who are happy about writing Putin=Hitler, I think that you are dumb as a doorknob. I can't have any respect towards these people's thinking about the world of politics or the society.

  26. Generally speaking we should not assign anthropomorphic characteristics to states (or corporations for that matter). States have no ethics, they have interests and needs. They pretend to have ethics to serve their interests; their interests are those of the ruling elite or of the class of ruling elites. Their policies are insect policies. Insects have no ethics, they have needs.

  27. Jon-Anders GrannesJul 26, 2014, 8:54:00 AM

    As I see it there was a western supported "revolution" in Ukraine that ignited much that happened later.
    The Western world hope to rid Putin before Paris 2015?

  28. Oh Lumo, the broad choice of names you managed to call me I am afraid tell more about you than about me. Your narative would be plausible, if you did not use so many assumptions: you "know" what Putin wants and does and does not, you "know" exactly what is happening and what is not. You are either better informed than rest of the world, or your are making your assumptions up as you go, to fit your ideological conviction and your heavy dose of RT, but they often go against the mounting evidence from different parties on the ground. I will leave it there, I don´t see much use of further discussion in the personal tone you use. Just one thing, I have been fully grown up already during the communism era and the bias of RT and the likes, centrally controlled Russian media stinks of the same bias and propaganda like what I experienced back in the commie years. It is only done in more smart and modern way.

  29. Yes, Lubos, I am Dutch and must tell you that I am ashamed of what is happening in the Netherlands. War mongers, very very worrying. Not only the mayor, but also lots of people on the internet and the MSM press are yelling all sorts of things. Pretty disgusting, brainwashed by the media.

  30. Thanks for this understanding and please know that NL is the place where such reactions are at least more justifiable than elsewhere these days.

  31. Putin has lost this media war partly because of reality and partly because he is a villain looking guy by joyce.

  32. In the local right-wing newspaper the headlines are comedy gold.

    The Friday edition features ITS GONE PEAR SHAPED, AND NOW PUTIN HAS HIS BACK TO THE WALL (in which Putin is claimed to fear not the West but his own people) followed (in the same edition) by PUTIN'S VORACIOUS APPETITE IS NOT SATED (in which it is claimed that the Russian people
    will circle the wagons around their embattled hero and cry foul at foreign attempts to denounce him).

    AMBITION FEEDS HIS INTEREST IN DRAGGING MATTERS OUT. These appear to discuss the shooting down of two more planes by the separatists.

    The PM Abbott, in the true style of the bog-standard venal pollie, has speedily jumped on the bandwagon of international self-aggrandisement in order to distract attention away from his troubles at home. Like a true Aussie hero he appears to see himself as leading the pack for truth and justice against no less an enemy than Satan himself.

    Its all gone off rather well, the Saturday edition features an in-depth article from the paper's in-house nutter G. Sheridan entitled ABBOTT ACCRUES DIPLOMATIC CAPITAL FOR CRISIS LEADERSHIP, followed by PURER VIEW OF
    CHARACTER ON DISPLAY AS POLITICS LAID ASIDE (in which the various aspects of the PM's greatness of personality is discussed).

    And in order to make sure we've got the message heading the letters page is ABBOTT'S APPROACH TO PUTIN SHOWS WEST THE WAY.

    The whole effect of this relentless and absurd beat-up is like watching a TV cartoon. It's clear that the printed media is now nothing more than an outlet for the favoured political views of whoever controls them. As sources of rational information they are completely worthless. I gave up
    reading the left-wing newspaper decades ago. It looks like its time to give up reading the right-wing newspaper as well.

  33. I have no knowledge of Putin as a person; however, calling Putin a Hitler or suggesting that he's a thug is way out of line.

    What is it that Putin has done to merit these terms? He took back Crimea when an overwhelming majority voted to rejoin Russia in a very democratic referendum. This was done after an attempt by the US to deny Russia warm water access by kicking them out of Crimea.

    By US invasion standards, that hardly merits the 'Hitler' label, and since nobody was killed, the 'thug' label doesn't cut the mustard, either.

    Georgia/South Ossetia in 2008 (during surprise! yet another Olympics) was an invasion sponsored by the US killing over a hundred civilians. Russia withdrew once Georgia was kicked out of South Ossetia. That's hardly Hitler-like.

    Putin was at one time in the KGB, and if that is sufficient for the 'thug' label, then everyone in the CIA or FBI is a thug too.

  34. I’ll say that with all the negative stuff we hear about Putin from the Western media, for the sake of balance, it would be nice to hear some positive stuff about him as well. If a lot of the Western media is to be believed, he’s a blood-sucking dictator who is widely reviled in Russia. Yeah, right — I’m sure there are many negative aspects to him, as there are with anyone who becomes powerful, but a lot of this “Putin is evil” stuff is agitprop. Of course, the fact that I can still post anti-Obama and anti-establishment diatribes proves that we are still somewhat free here in the West. But it’s not the simplistic dichotomy the establishment here portrays it to be.

    As I’ve said before, one Western strategy that has grown in prominence has been to overthrow the Russian and Chinese regimes — and any regime that resists American interests — via color revolutions. It disgusts me how the West pretends to be in favor of democracy and human rights and yet defends the Saudis and Bahrainis, who have been every bit as brutal to their people in recent years as Assad, who America have abandoned because of his links with Iran. And now America is backing al-Qaeda to replace him? Vile.
    Anything that gives dissent a voice is wonderful, in my honest opinion.

  35. Where does this sweeping, racist, Russophobia comes from? How does Russia, whose very national and ethnic character is defined by centuries of savage aggression from the West (and the East too - Genghis Khan, the Golden Horde, The Khanate of Crimea) gets rhetorically transmogrified into, by these same western aggressors, into the aggressor themselves?

    Someone please correct me, but going all the way back to medieval times, when has Russia EVER committed military aggression against a nation outside of, maybe, those on its immediate borders in response to real security threats? Do Russians soldiers sing about savagely invading practically every nation around the world the way the US Marines do?

    The only place I can think of is Afghanistan in the 1980s - and there they were defending a non-religious ruling, female friendly government against the Bin-Laden-led, US-sponsored fanatical religious savage terrorists.

  36. Say what they will about Putin, and there is no lack of vitriol for him in the West as others here point out, but the reality seems to be that he took power in a country that was down on its luck, ruled by a drunken embarrassment, and did much to turn things around and restore a sense of pride for Russians. Russia was looted by the West in the 1990′s, and while there is still looting at least it is done by Russians.

    Is Putin in power through “free and fair” means? Probably not, but is it “free and fair” that two near identical parties in the US control who gets on the ballot? Putin’s reign has been more good than bad, and we get the added benefit that he funds RT for us Western malcontents.

  37. Exactly. It has been a tragedy. I do even think it could have been the separatists, but if so, it was an accident. I do not believe they did that on purpose, since they gain nothing doing this. But without any clear evidence yelling for war with Russia, blaming Putin's daughter (wtf? (sorry for my language)), is beyond belief. Really. I do think that the media in the Netherlands played a very doubtful role, by blaming the Russians from the beginning and not mentioning anything about the American role in the Maidan coup. The large masses are 90% unaware of these dirty games. Good on you to give some counter balance. It's very worrying though. I just want peace for all of us.

  38. Lubos, the US government has been dangerous for a few bad governments. In general, most countries are far better off for it.

    Russia, on the other hand, tends to support bad governments (Assad in Syria, Saddam in his time, Iran). Russia conquered parts of Georgia and more recently, simply stole the Crimea. In other words, Russia ignores international rules and, for that matter, civilized rules, and simply does whatever it has the power to do.

    Needless to say, that is a bit of an oversimplification, but the idea holds.

    There is little mystery about either Russian or US motivations. At this point, Russia is driven primarily by two forces: economic (skewed towards helping the oligarchs and siloviki) and imperialist (fueled by the same thing that fueled the rise of the Nazis: the economic consequences and impact on national pride of losing a huge war). Russia is also paranoid, which is part of its historical culture - it projects its evil motives onto others, such as the US, imagining that we have all sorts of nefarious intents when our motivations are a lot simpler and less evil. Russia behaves like what it's leaders have become: a mafia.

    The US is driven by a confused combination of economic interests and national defense concerns. Unlike Russia, it is unwilling to use military power for economic reasons alone, except for defense of economic interests.

    You misunderstand the use of the word culture. It has nothing to do with "cultural" - it means the nature of the society. Some societies have barbarian cultures (see Somalia). Some have cultures that emphasis cheating and power (see China). Many cultures lead to high degrees of corruption (see most of the world other than the west). The culture, i.e. the attitudes and habits of a society, is one of the most important determinants of how it will behave towards other societies, how it will behave towards its own members, and how successful it will be. This is why western efforts to reform countries through the deus ex machina of democracy so often fail.

    As to spying on Germany... Surely you are not so naive as to believe that countries do not spy on their allies! Germany (at least those who are paying attention) know full well why we spy on them - for the same reason they spy on other countries. Pretty much every country spies on pretty much every other country. This is normal. There is a bit of an exception within the 5-eyes - members tend not to use SIGINT to spy on each other as they share SIGINT. But... when I was in the military, we routinely used classified material that could not even be shared with other 5-eye members (it had NOFORN added to the classification).

  39. I did not call him a Hitler - I mentioned Hitler only to show that evil leaders can be popular. Putin is very popular in Russia right now, but then Putin controls the media in Russia.

    In Crimea and Georgia, Putin took advantage of ethnic dissatisfaction to carve off pieces of the countries and annex them, into Russia. These were acts of war and sufficient that Russia should suffer severe sanctions from the international community. There are ways to deal with these disputes that do not involve violence or territory grabs by force.

    Putin infiltrated special forces into Crimea who then led a military coup to take it over. That is not Democratic.

    He invaded and kept part of Georgia a few years back because he wanted the territory, and that territory remains controlled by Russia and no longer part of Georgia (yes, there's the fig leaf that Russian forces are no longer in those provinces, but the fact that Georgia no longer controls them tells the story). The US did not sponsor any invasion, and Georgia could hardly invade it's own provinces!

    Putin has sold weapons and provided other support (including blocking UN resolutions) to help very bad regimes such as Assad's. Putin was responsible for the murder by Polonium of a former KGB colleague in London. Putin has a long history of using force to subdue domestic and foreign opponents.

    Many of the richest and most powerful people in Russia were Putin's colleagues in the KGB. His past membership in the KGB only means he used to be a thug. His actions more recently shows that he is still a thug. A thug, a chieftan of a vicious mafia, is not the person the world needs in control of a large nuclear-armed state.

  40. It looks like the West is playing their last card. They have already used all their jokers and they can only rely on their best poker faces. Cold blood killings of innocents is part of the game.

  41. You would enslave a people if you thought it better for them.

  42. The plane was almost certainly shot down unintentionally. So, any role by Russia has to be analyzed in a broader context than this one tragic accident of war. The prime cause of it all is that Russia feels entitled to a "sphere of influence". Those who agree that this is a legitimate expectation will not fault Russia for any of the developments in Ukraine, those who disagree will, however, mistrust Russia and Putin as a leader.

  43. John Foster Dulles, for whom I had little admiration at the time, said that nations do not have friends; they have interests. This has always been true and always will be true.
    Putin is using the same methods, generally, as most other national leaders. He is neither a devil nor a saint and demonizing him is ridiculous and dangerous because that is how wars begin. The US has done worse things than Putin’s Russia and certainly much dumber things.
    Perhaps, in retrospect, he should have kept tighter control of Russia’s antiaircraft missiles. Somebody used one to kill almost 300 innocent people and the full story may never be known. But the effect has been harmful both to Russia and to Putin. There is simply no way he can be happy about it.
    I would also kindly suggest avoiding the colored term “elite”. Whoever is in power will act in more or less the same way.