Esper Says Troops Moving Closer to Russia

As part of the Trump Administration’s relatively new shift toward “great power competition” over the war on terror, 5,600 US troops will be moving eastward, toward Russia. The mainstream press continues to tout this “gift” to Putin by pointing to the wind-down of troops deployed in Germany by 12,000. What kind of withdrawal, as Trump certainly continues to tout this move, leaves almost half of the withdrawn troops *closer* to the border of an unfriendly power? Only the Trumpian kind.

The goal of the troops movements is to “deter” the Russians from expanding their influence into the former Eastern Bloc, the basic driving force of Russian concern in the region, particularly in the Ukraine.

The expansion of NATO control of the region is, historically speaking, the primary driver of the divisions now seen at play in Eastern Europe. Russian foreign policy can be neatly analyzed through the lens of “Statist”/”Slavophile” versus “Westernist” tendencies in thinking. The dominant Statist view could parallel political realism, or at least Realpolitik, in the United States exemplified by Henry Kissinger, and sees the Machiavellian expansion of Russian geopolitical power, particularly over broader Eurasia, as the prime goal of the Russian state, whether it be Imperial, Soviet, or contemporary Russia. In this sense, Russia is a fundamentally realist state, pursuing its national interests above ideological concerns. The Encroachment of NATO into the former Eastern Bloc is perhaps the defining stain on Russian power in the eyes of some Russian thinkers, and Esper’s recent announcement can only exacerbate these volatile conditions.

Aggressively provoking a country whose political class is dominated by extreme Realpolitik is a recipe for more violence in the region funded by the Russian government. This violence, of course, will be manipulated by the American imperialist state and the mainstream press to push us further toward another war-for-profit, perhaps in the Ukraine.

The American presence in the region, once the private backyard of the Soviet and Russian empires, is much more extensive than meets the eye. With Blackwater presence in the region a virtual certainty, along with the support provided directly by the US military to the Ukraine, US-trained troops and American mercenaries are our own version of the “little green men” in that conflict. What horrific future awaits yet another country filled with US-trained and armed extremists, this time with the Russians helping out? The weaponization of Poland in this great-power contest will only exacerbate the already high tension in the region.

With whispers of SecDef Mark Esper’s imminent firing, which even more monstrous war criminal will hold that bloody seat? And how might they treat the question of the former Eastern Bloc?

Russian Foreign Policy: Statism and Westernism

Contemporary Russian foreign policy is the outgrowth of centuries of Russian expansion and interaction with the West and the rest of the world. The Statist (or Slavophile) tendency in foreign policy went hand-in-hand with the government during both Imperial and Soviet times, often restricting the extent to which Russia would enter western global organizations and efforts. Russian foreign policy today is a blend of Statism and Westernism, but the longstanding Statist point of view in Russian foreign policy thinking is recognizable throughout the Tsarist period.

Since Statist foreign policy thinking is not a novelty of the Soviet period, it can be traced back through history. The loss of the Crimean War to a coalition of western states in 1856 is one important moment in the shift of Russian concerns toward maintaining its own national interests and balancing global power against the West. The war, much like the contemporary civil war in the Ukraine, hinged on Russian control of the Black Sea, an essential component of Statist thinking in Russia. (Young, 2012) Control of the Black Sea, for the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union, and the contemporary Russian administration, was/is an important means of shifting the European power balance in favor of Russian interests. The autocratic structure of Russian domestic policy reflects the similar role of Soviet leadership in maintaining the statist status quo through the Soviet period.

A defining feature of Tsarist-period foreign policy was its emphasis on rapid expansion. The Russian Empire expanded rapidly during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, conquering much of Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and other Eurasian regions and incorporating them into the Russian Empire. This behavior anticipates later Statist efforts to expand the scope of the Russian state’s power. In this sense, a primitive version of contemporary Statist thinking runs back as far as Ivan the Terrible, when Russian expansion began. (Jonson, 2004)

In the early 20th century, the expansionist nature of Russian foreign policy appeared again in Nicholas II’s attempts to dominate the Balkans and Constantinople. This was a period in which the Russian administration actively opposed western expansion into the Balkans and pushed to maintain the balance between Russia and her western opponents. Eastern interests were expanded as well, with inroads into Manchuria as they attempted to subdue their eastern neighbors and exert the power of the Russian state more forcefully in the eastern sphere. This period ended with the beginning of the Kerensky administration in 1917, and Kerensky attempted a more western-looking foreign policy during his brief period of control. (Global Security) This trend in foreign policy was reversed sharply by his Soviet successors, especially Joseph Stalin.

The relationship between Tsarist foreign policy and contemporary foreign policy is not lost on contemporary commentators. President Vladimir Putin has been compared to his imperial predecessors for his efforts to expand back into the Black Sea and Mediterranean spheres. The annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine in 2014 is a clear example of President Putin pushing the old Tsarist doctrine on the Black Sea by reasserting a military presence there along with a naval presence in the area around Crimea. (Luft, 2014)

The ongoing War in Donbass, whether it is seen as primarily a continuation of Cold War foreign policy goals, or an assertion of a much older doctrine around the Ukraine and the Black Sea, is a clear example of 21st Century echoes from the Statist past. Putin’s goals in foreign policy look very similar to those of Nicholas I during the Crimean War, and of Nicholas II during World War I.

Another interesting development from after the Tsarist period is Russian industrialization. In the same way that rapid expansion was a defining feature of the Tsarist period, the disorganized and agricultural nature of pre-20th century Russia was also a defining feature. The development of Russia out of the agricultural and disorganized sate it was in prior to the 20th century was an important part of Soviet domestic policy. This is the sense in which Soviet policy was influenced by the Tsar. Joseph Stalin, learning from the failures of the Tsarist regime, build Russia into a more formidable force to stand against the West. (Global Security)

Russian foreign policy is a complex program of interactions between western interests, Russian national interests, and the varying geopolitical features which underly those conflicts. Tsarist Russian thought in foreign policy clearly carried from era to era, influencing the Soviet regime and even President Vladimir Putin’s contemporary political and military engagements. Today, Statism and Westernism have merged into the pragmatic politics of contemporary Russia.

Works Cited
Lena Jonson (2004). Vladimir Putin and Central Asia: The Shaping of Russian Foreign Policy. I.B.Tauris. pp. 24–25.

“Foreign Policy of Nicholas II,” Global Security. https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/czar-nicholas-ii-policy.htm

Luft, Gal (2014). “Tsar Vladimir the First,” Foreign Policy. http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/08/06/tsar-vladimir-the-first/

Peter Young, “Historiography of the Origins of the Crimean War”, International History: Diplomatic and Military History since the Middle Ages (2012)

The Demonic Cripple

My midnight nip of prozac and fruit juice,
Or is it Clomipramine these days?
I think perhaps the doctor doesn’t know.
The doctor doesn’t know how low I am.
The doctor doesn’t feel this fucking pain.
Crippled by major depression, then
By minor pains in my legs and my arms,
Then by the crippling love of my parents,
Then by my crippling hatred of myself.
My midnight nips must have to end someday.
I am alone in the company of
Everyone who gives a shit for me;
Broken by this demonic brain of mine.

Pompeo’s “Alliance of Democracies”: Newfound Multilateralism or US Imperialism?

Remember the bribes paid by George Bush Senior, that brutal imperialist, to assemble his “international coalition” during the first Gulf War. The same dirty bargain is being struck in response to China, and it has us hurtling towards conflict. Blustering chauvinist Mike Pompeo claims the tide is turning on the China issue. This New Cold War is an organized effort by maniacal neoconservative ideologues and politically connected arms dealers to sell you, the American public, a war. Sadly, it would seem, the American people are falling for it again.

China is no dove, but it is a fundamentally defensive power, interested in advancing its interests through economic growth and investment. It’s most violent impulses are exhibited internally, whereas we, the United States, are the global aggressor. We invade and bomb countries arbitrarily in advancement of our colonial interests in the Third World. We topple regimes and administrations to advance the interests of global capital, which suffers to some extent under China’s state capitalism. Cheered on by the corporate media, this new effort, long-term, represents the exact same market-opening militaristic imperialism we’ve exhibited in Iraq, Venezuela, Bolivia, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere, writ-large. This would be the ultimate regime-change experiment. The Chinese, for their part, are participating in just the same sort of neocolonial investment and intervention in the Third World and infiltration of global institutions we have been for decades, minus out military exhibitionism. The United States is losing the helm of neoliberal globalism, i.e. Empire, to China, and the response looks to be another wasteful conflict, this time directed far East.

This is a Cold War between two Neo-Nationalist strongmen, and yet it seemingly receives the endorsement of the entire western ruling class. This Cold War has been made inevitable by the domestic political contest between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump is desperately seeking some way to win against Biden, this time by accusing him of being weak on China. With the beltway masters of our oligarchy set on conflict with China, it seems neither administration will be friendly toward China, and the Chinese are looking equally jingoistic with their attention on Taiwan. There is little hope for detente.

 

Meanwhile the American people clamor for blood in response to China’s domestic abuses, seemingly ignoring of our own choke-hold, so to speak, on domestic abuses. Further, in our haste to punish human rights abuses, we ignore our complicity in the genocide in Yemen, an ongoing catastrophe which is objectively worse than the bloodless genocide of the Uyghurs in China. I say this, pull in your horns, America. You’re playing into the interests of a class of rulers you don’t even realize you have, and it won’t end any better this time than the last dozen.

Musk: “We will coup whoever we want!”

Elon Musk said the quiet part loud on Friday in response to accusations of working to undermine the Bolivian government of Evo Morales. Lithium and various rare earth metals belonging to the Bolivian people are being stolen by multinationals and the various foreign state interests involved in installing the new fascist regime.

The New York Times was forced to admit to key lies in their reporting and their uniform denunciation of the Morales administration in the lead-up to the right-wing coup in that country. This coup was a clear play by global capital, concentrated in the form of neoliberal and neoconservative policy makers in the US, to open up markets which would otherwise have been monopolized by the Bolivian people for their own benefit.

Billionaires like Musk represent the height of individualistic American rentier capitalism, and with this tweet he more than dogwhistles his support for US imperialism and global hegemony. The tentacles of Empire have enthralled your Tony Stark, he’s a soulless nation-killer now. Musk is a techno-fascist and should be understood as such by anyone committed to analysis of his role in the governing of the world.

A humane US administration would take on a multilateral position of cooperation with our opponents in pursuit of common interests, such as solving global climate change, but instead we see Empire and imperialism live and well in US foreign policy.

Neoliberal cultural hegemony is now beating down on the unique local and indigenous practices and social solidarity of the Bolivian people. There is now open disdain by a white, Christian ruling class of the broader indigenous population. Musk’s callous disregard for international cooperation and respect for the sovereignty of a foreign nation has installed this apartheid regime in Bolivia.

Trump has set the dogs of imperialism loose, but remember, so did Obama, and so would Biden. These brutes represent each side of the neoliberal coin. Only sustained resistance from below, and a commitment to elect socialists to bully pulpits, including the presidency, can resist these capitalist impulses at the international level.

Trump’s Gestapo Unleashed on Portland

An unknown number of unidentified federal agents have been disappearing activists in Portland, Oregon, further demonstrating the drift toward fascism in our already fully armored police state. The Department of Homeland Security refuses to leave the state, despite the demands of state and local officials. This is a new low for the Trump admin, especially considering it was in response to graffiti, but we can only expect it to worsen as time passes.

Don’t be misled, however, these powers, much like Trump’s concentration camps, are derived from previous administrations. The DHS itself is a product of the Bush admin, despite the newfound liberal love for the Bushes. Police militarization, and the militarization of federal law enforcement agencies are also pre-Trump creations. These features of our police state, ostensibly in place for counterterrorism efforts, fit like a glove when it comes to the fascist Trump administration.

Using Gestapo tactics, literal secret police, might have gone unnoticed under a more “presidential” administration, but thankfully people see the reality of the situation in the case of Portland 2020. We should be thankful, too, for the brave protestors willing to march regardless of this attempted repression.

Now, more than ever, we must demand the abolition of institutions like DHS which exist solely to restrict the rights of Americans. Me must not simply defund, but abolish totally the police state’s apparatus and replace it with new, better institutions and systems. The system is broken, and we need a new one.

Where will the year lead us next?

Baker: “I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t want to get out on the streets.”

A surprisingly positive response from Charlie Baker on protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. “I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t want to get out on the streets,” says the usually very moderate Republican governor of Massachusetts. This response vindicates the importance of these protests which are a long time coming considering the state of race relations in the United States.

The voice of the people, it seems, will be heard. Despite the arrest of the murderer, Chauvin, protests continue around the country. Without an administration as approving of protesters as Baker’s in the White House, what kind of meaningful reforms can be implemented to calm the public? Or, in the midst of a pandemic, will this be the event that sparks some broader struggle for change?

As for the President, he is basically a fascist, and if you don’t believe me, listen to what he has to say about Henry Ford:

He’s a dog whistling anti-Semite, and he threatened to gun down protesters and rioters, not just admitting publicly that US forces would fire on civilians, but that they would do so on US soil. Stranger things have happened!

Trump Targets Social Media Companies Critical of Him

According to Reuters Thursday, Trump is expected to target social media companies like Twitter for their part in fact checking him and his followers, behavior he considers censorship. He ironically turns to just that political tool in response, which is exactly what removal of Section 230 is.

This action would restrict the ability of content creators like me to use platforms like Twitter because it incentivizes social media companies to control the speech of users in order not to be held liable.

Silicon Valley and the social media industry are vehemently opposed to Trump’s order.

Further, the constitutional credibility of Trump’s order is in question. It attempts to circumvent Congress in order to push through the presidents personal vendetta against the social media corporations without so much as a whiff of approval by his “coequal” legislative branch. So much for the Republican Party’s “consitutional conservatism.”

Trump’s pronouncement that “we’re going to regulate it” too seems a departure from traditional liberal conservative Republican values. That party looks more and more like a right-wing nationalist party than a center-right pro-business party.

AntiWar.com: Trump Wants to Make the New Cold War Hot Before it Even Gets Cold

By Michael M. Sweeney at AntiWar.com

After nearly 30 years without nuclear test explosions by the United States, the Trump administration is flirting, in 2020, with resuming explosive tests. This follows on the heels of China’s new security bill on Hong Kong and the flurry of Congressional and executive attempts to accelerate our entry into such a pointless conflict, and it’s backed by, thus far publicly unsubstantiated, claims that the Russians and Chinese are already conducting such tests in secret.

It seems our entire government is engaged in chest-beating… (continue)

Experimental Neurosis

Begging my brain for one more drop of sweetness,
My dopamine is lost like wasted words
On a crumbling page — The techno-knife
Twists its way into the core
Of my mind, flashing all the glorious,
Terrible madness of this age —
When the monster-king sits laughing on
His sadist-throne passing messages of
Good tidings and hate on to
His cackling barbarian kind.
The vice tightens around my skull as an-
-Other drop of dopamine
Escapes the void between my ears and eyes.
I live on brink of death and brink of life.