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If ANYONE can handle Mohammad Bin Salman, that person is Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin’s handling of the young French President Emmanuel Macron demonstrates he is uniquely prepared to deal with the brazen Mohammad bin Salman.

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Saudi Crown Price Mohammad Bin Salman is a classic example of the ideological dogma that often clouds the minds of a young man whose ambition exceeds his circumspection, let alone his intelligence. By all accounts Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) is profoundly lacking in both circumspection and intelligence.

The bravado with which he has designed the Saudi war of aggression against Yemen, a war which has killed thousands of civilians and starved many others due to Saudi’s inhumane blockade of Yemen, has failed to achieve any tangible military goal. However, the war has been and continues to be a costly endeavour in a country that has been hit by a recession as world oil prices continue their general downward spiral.

Unlike previous Saudi rulers, the Crown Prince who may soon become King (he already is largely the power behind the throne) tends to take an arrogant and overly personal approach to the art of diplomacy. If someone like Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is a Rembrandt kind of diplomat, MBS is something of a Jackson Pollock wherein anything goes and to the average eye, the results are very messy indeed.

As odd as it sounds, MBS might actually find that Sergey Lavrov and President Putin are among the few masters of diplomacy that can handle the youthful impetuosity of MBS. While certainly not a young man, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan often behaves with all the frivolity, foolish pride and rash attitudes normally associated with youth. While European leaders meet Erdogan’s brash arrogance with a kind of typically beta-male arrogance and both US Presidents Obama and Trump seem not willing to even attempt a respectful relationship with Erdogan, President Putin  has developed a close professional relationship with the Turkish President in spite of many pronounced differences in foreign policy objectives, not least in Syria, although this too may be changing in Russia’s broad favour.

MBS is no Erdogan. Erdogan at least knows what he wants and does know what he is doing. MBS by contrast acts with a heart that seems to be totally disconnected from his head. The fact that he surrounds himself with sycophants in the totally nontransparent Saudi royal court has not done him any favours.

Because of this, a country which behaves as unilaterally, as brazenly and as unaccountably as the United States may find that in time, America’s State Department and even seasoned gentlemen with experience in the Gulf like US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may lose patience with MBS. America is brash and unaccountable and so too is the Saudi royal family. If MBS has any disagreements with the US, something which may in fact happen in the not too distant future, diplomatic deadlock result from the ensuing spat.

However, the best way to handle a spoilt child, which is in fact what MBS is, is by countering impetuosity with maturity. President Putin is perhaps the best example of a mature statesmen for several generations if not more.

During his recent marathon Q and A, President Putin was asked how he deals with being cheated. Putin stated that he tries to understand why the guilty party has acted in a dishonest way and that while he does not immediately react, he never forgets. This is the mature approach with which Putin deals with all foreign adversaries. He even goes so far as to generally refer to them as ‘partners’ even during times of outlandish rhetoric from the opposing side.

President Putin demonstrated this kind of maturity when the newly elected French President Emmaual Macron distorted Russian history, insulted Russian journalists, attempted to rhetorically meddle in Russian internal affairs and criticised Russian policy in the most guttural way, all while in front of an invited guest, the head of state of a larger and more powerful country.

Vladimir Putin did not match Macron’s insults but instead gave the young French leader a lesson in Russia’s history of relations with France. He then drew a parallel to Macron’s insult implying that Russian media is ‘Putin controlled’  by reminding the French leader that from the Russian perspective it is not clear if the French President is in a position to make French Foreign policy while France acts in Syria at the behest of NATO and specifically the United States.

Macron also insulted US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in saying that such men only understand the world in terms of power. Does this mean Macron sees the world in terms of weakness?

Macron topped it all off by implying that his homoerotic handshake with Donald Trump was “not innocent” and was somehow a ploy to force the US President to respect him.

MBS who is 31 and Macron who is 39 are both young men who even so, are immature for their age. They act with impunity simply because they’ve had the personally good fortune to achieve positions of power at a young age. While maturity in terms of age does not guarantee wisdom, MBS and Macron are manifest examples of the folly of youth. Both of these young men act as though their youth is tantamount to a kind of intellectual immortality where they can get away with treating their elders without respect and dignity.

Such individuals rarely last long, certainly not without being taught a few important lessons by life.

Impetuosity, youthful exuberance and a loose tongue of this variety are a recipe for disaster. Many other young leaders develop a sense of purpose and perspective at a young age. Libyan revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi is one such example as is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who was only 35 when he was first elected President in the year 2000. Assad remains beloved by his people due in great part to personal humility.

MBS and Macron still have a lot of growing up to do. Their arrogant boyish attitudes are not sufficient to sustain their positions for long. History has shown this to be the case time and time again.

Just as it was with Macron, Putin may be one of the few statements to be able to handle the Saudi boy who would be king.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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