American Maidan

So as my readership is surely aware, the grand jury in the Michael Brown shooting case decided not to indict officer Darren Wilson. To use the words of Gin & Tacos blogger Ed, they didn’t even think the matter was worth discussing. Wilson was a cop, Brown was a young black male. Now of course the media will show us images of rioting, complete with burning police cars. Pundits and politicians will condemn the rioters. They’ll call them “thugs” and accuse them of destroying their own community. To all individuals who do so, and the American media as a whole, please hear my reply. Go fuck yourself.

There’s a breakdown of law and order? Okay, go fuck yourselves.They’re throwing Molotov cocktails? Go fuck yourself. They set a cop car on fire? Good, now go fuck yourselves. They smashed up a Denny’s? Not my property, go fuck yourselves.  Condemn the violence, call for order, go ahead and do all of that, but please don’t forget to go fuck yourselves. Do whatever you like, but more than anything I beg of you- go fuck yourselves. You owe the nation that much. Yourselves, go fuck.

Why such hostility? Well you see, the American media has a habit of jumping on the bandwagon of various protest movements, and often those movements which happen to advance America’s foreign policy goals in one way or another. No matter how lawless or violent these protests become, our media dutifully reports the protesters’ own narrative of the event with virtually no criticism. While Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests certainly had some just demands, there was a significant far right presence within the movement, and near the end there was an explosion of violence which involved Molotov cocktails, the occupation of buildings, and eventually firearms. Indeed, many protesters were unarmed and peaceful, but a very active, thuggish minority deliberately turned the protest into a battle without regard for the civilians who would be caught in the crossfire. If these words sound to you like blaming the victims, I invite you to watch the coverage of the Ferguson riots, because this is exactly what we have heard before and what we will be hearing for the next few weeks.

“Protesters beaten by police? They should have done what the police told them! Why didn’t they vacate the area when they were told? Why did they throw rocks at the police? They should have known this would provoke a violent response!”  This is how Americans respond to protests which get out of hand on American soil. Law and order in Kyiv mean nothing. Let me make this perfectly clear- in spite of my past criticisms of Maidan, I’m not condemning the idea of violent protests against a government. What I’m condemning is a ridiculous double standard whereby Americans and citizens of other Western countries are expected to meekly obey a policeman’s every command, while at the same time our media cheers on foreigners who engage in melee battles with police. In Ferguson they’re “destroying their own community,” but the people who burnt the center of Kyiv are heroic rebels. Condemn all, condemn none, or maybe take a more nuanced approach and discuss the conflict in a critical manner.

Part of me suspects that one reason for the media love affair with foreign protests is that we’re expected to live vicariously through the actions of protesters on the other side of the planet. We’re encouraged to show solidarity with them via social media, and in so doing, we get to imagine that we’re part of some revolutionary movement, something totally forbidden to us at home.  We’re supposed to cheer those who threw Molotovs in Kyiv, while in the US numerous activists have been arrested on spurious claims that they were conspiring to make Molotov cocktails.  Resistance is for those foreigners in a far off land you don’t understand, American, at home you will obey.

The Maidan protesters wanted their government to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. Ferguson residents want assurances that their police won’t be able to murder their sons with impunity.  I think the latter warrants a bit more leeway than the former.  So to every member of the American media who uncritically came out in support for Euromaidan yet condemns the reaction in Missouri, I cannot stress this enough. Go fuck yourselves. To the protesters, you’re America’s Maidan, only more righteous in cause. Burn it to the ground.

“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”    -Abraham Lincoln, 2nd inaugural address

Wither Pickup Artistry? Advice for Young men

Lately the internet has been in an uproar over a particularly contemptible pickup artist(PUA) known as Julien Blanc. Blanc is one of many “professionals” who makes a living off of teaching his “system” via seminars. The reason he came under fire has to do with his unusually aggressive tactics, which in some cases involve literally assaulting women on the street.  Blanc is by no means the first PUA guru to get criticized in the media, but his extreme tactics earned him a far greater backlash.  Whereas most PUA’s are seen as sleazy or creepy but ultimately harmless, the tactics Blanc was teaching men could easily lead to violence. Make no mistake, I think Blanc is a shitbag through and through. That being said, I have extremely mixed feelings about the whole concept of PUA. While there is obviously so much wrong with it, it’s clear to me that today’s young men(and some older men for that matter), need something to help them get on better with women.

If I remember correctly, I probably happened upon the world of pickup artistry in early 2009. Like most people who study this community, I was initially bogged down by the endless jargon. Negs, 10’s, AFC’s, IOI’s, kino; you need a dictionary to read some of these articles.  In defense of the writers I encountered, I will say that they seemed to be very different than the sort of PUA’s people are talking about these days.  The general tenor of their advice was to appear confidence, don’t be a dick, don’t be needy or submissive, don’t fall in love at the drop of a hat, and maintain proper form and hygiene. I didn’t see anything today’s internet would call “rapey.” I’ve personally seen PUA’s say or write that any resistance you might encounter is a sign to back off immediately; you’ve done something wrong. Don’t get angry, don’t get mad, just back off.  One particularly good point an anonymous author made was that getting laid doesn’t have to mean no respecting women. You can be nice without being a “nice guy.”  I’m fully aware of the fact that what I read might not be representative. I realize that I might have been picking out things I agreed with. What I saw, however, was enough to tell me that there might be something of value behind this whole PUA phenomenon, and we’d best not throw that out with the bathwater.

I’m nearly 32, born in the last year of “Generation X” in spite of every media hack’s ahistorical attempt to lump me in with “millennials.” In recent years, I’ve looked back on my childhood and early adulthood and based on having heard countless similar stories from other cohorts as well as younger people, I have come to the conclusion that heterosexual men of my generation, as well as subsequent ones, have been poorly equipped, if not set up for failure when it comes to relations with women.  We have been raised on Disney movies and romantic comedies which taught us to fall in love with women we barely know, simply based on their appearance or mannerisms, and then in the attempt to get them to love us back we believe we need to “prove” ourselves to them.

Don’t take my word for it. Think about all the movies you saw in childhood which have that scene, the one where our hero sees the main love interest for the first time. In many cases the female lead isn’t even interacting with our hero; she’s engaged in something else and he watched, entranced. He puts her on a pedestal and assumes he’s not worthy from the very beginning. In many of these films, the male protagonist will usually make a few failed attempts to impress the object of his desire. Often, however, the hero’s successful completion of his quest, whatever that may entail, finally convinces the female love interest to reward him with her affection. There are themes of sacrificing for the sake of a woman, even if it seems one’s love is unrequited, themes of fighting for a woman’s honor, themes of going to great lengths to prove one’s worthiness to a woman.

All of these ideas are terrible. For one thing, you don’t really know this woman. She could be a truly horrible individual. She might be cute in public or in the work place, but she may be terribly boring or annoying to anyone forced to spend hours on end around her. Also you need to look at the other side of the equation. Your average woman has all manner of hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities, doubts, and stress to deal with. Would she feel pleased to know that some man she barely knows is “sacrificing” something for her sake? Even if the sacrifice is real, it just makes it that much more creepy and disturbing. Young men, use your imagination for a moment. Say there’s this woman that you have absolutely no sexual chemistry with whatsoever. You get on well in school or the workplace, but you have zero attraction to her.  Now this woman starts buying you presents. She starts telling you about all the things she would do for you, if you would only “reciprocate.” Would this not feel, at best, very awkward?  Wouldn’t you feel guilty knowing that someone is spending their hard earned money in an attempt to win something you’re not willing to give?  Now you know how it feels.

Of course that’s just the tip of the iceberg, but however we look at it, I don’t think we can avoid the reality that millions of men are poorly equipped to deal with the opposite sex. The fact that PUA is such a profitable industry in spite of being largely pseudo-scientific bullshit only goes to prove that many men are starting to wake up to their utter lack of “game” and they are willing to shell out massive amounts of money in an attempt to rectify themselves.  A recent article in The Guardian goes inside a PUA seminar, where participants paid £700 for a weekend course. The author notes that some of the participants seemed so frightened of talking to women in public that they had essentially thrown their money down the toilet.  This might lead one to conclude, much as the author does, that PUA is nothing but a con- bullshit on par with faith healing or various self-help courses based on “positive thinking” and various carnival tricks to build personal confidence.  I, on the other hand, favor a more nuanced approach.

Indeed, PUA is bullshit. The jargon is bullshit, “negging” is bullshit, and even if you were actually successful more than 50% of the time, spending weekends in clubs for the sake of having casual sex with random women is quite frankly a waste of time. It’s perfectly fine to value that when you’re 19 or 20, but if sticking your dick into warm, wet places is still your be-all end-all by the age of 25, there is something seriously wrong with your life and you need to acquire some kind of goal.  You can still fuck like crazy, but just make sure you accomplish something else in the process. Get laid while working in Cairo so you can see the wonder of the pyramids. Work in China and get acquainted the world’s oldest continuous situation while getting laid on weekends. Spend time training your body to be in perfect shape; getting laid will be a side benefit.  Acquaint yourself with philosophy and literature and you’ll be able to land women with whom you can converse in between bouts of passionate sex. Yes, I’m being a bit facetious with these examples, but the underlying point is that simply having lots of sex isn’t much of a long term goal, and part of the problem with PUA is that it doesn’t help young men move beyond that adolescent stage.

I believe, however, that buried deep within the pseudoscientific bullshit of PUA lies some powerful truth which, if presented properly, could benefit many young men.  I think there is something noble in extracting this truth, refining it, spreading it among other men and encouraging parents to pass it on to sons. I think that spreading this idea would benefit women as well, if only because it would make men better. What can be done to salvage the core truth from the coating of bullshit that is PUA? Here are a few of my recommendations.

It’s not “art”

We need a new name for our non-bullshit version of PUA. I suggest something like “relationship skills” or “social skills for dating.” Do not infer that this means excluding “hooking up”, i.e. one night stands or casual sex in favor of long-term relationships. A skill is not the same as some kind of “system,” like those the PUA gurus are selling.  Being attractive and charismatic, for many people, is a learned skill.

Eliminate pseudoscience

Neuro-linguistic programming is bullshit. Theories about dating based on what we supposedly did “40,000 years ago” are bullshit. For most of human history, and pre-history, humans did not “date.” They didn’t go to the stone age club and choose a mate. The goal of social skills training should be to make oneself more attractive; there’s no secret trick that’s going to short circuit a woman’s brain and make her sleep with you.

Always attract

This is one the ladies will like as well. I base this on my personal rule- “always attract.” You don’t pursue, you don’t bother, and you never try to “win” her attention. Your ideal goal in all situations is that the woman approaches you, asks you for your number, invites you to something, etc. Now obviously this isn’t going to happen in every situation, but the point is that this is what you aim for.  Compare the two following scenarios. In the more conventional scenario, you approach her, you strike up a conversation, you hint at getting her phone number, and then it ends with an invitation to coffee “or something.” Almost from the beginning it’s clear you’re attracted to her and you’re doing all the asking; she holds all the cards.  Now in an alternative scenario, you approach her but you lead the conversation without asking for anything, perhaps not even her name. Eventually she decides to give you her number and suggests going out some time.  The second scenario doesn’t perfectly achieve the standard of “always attract” since you approached her, but which of the two scenarios is more likely to lead to something significant in the future? You’re ultimate goal is to build active desire, i.e. “This guy is really interesting! I want to get to know him better,” as opposed to passive compliance, i.e. “Well he’s not Adolf Hitler. I can probably drag him to a photo exhibition and then he’ll be sorry he asked me out.”

Stop demonizing casual sex

There are many legitimate complaints about PUA. The fact that PUA often advocates sleeping with as many women as possible is not one of them. Often I have seen feminists demonizing PUA by saying that it encourages men to see women only as potential sex partners rather than as relationship material. I’m terribly sorry but this is hypocritical for a movement which works hard to remove the stigma surrounding women and casual sex. Sometimes women just want to have sex. Same with men.  That you want it isn’t the problem; it’s how you go about getting it.

Eliminating misogyny

While there is nothing inherently bad in desiring other consenting adults sexually, teaching social skills should work on eliminating ideas such as entitlement and  misogyny among young men, many of whom may be bitter at women for allegedly not “appreciating” them.  Again, the main goal is being more attractive, not trying to deceive and use women for the sake of getting revenge on some ex or unrequited crush in high school.  Misogyny should be seen as a sign of weakness and immaturity.  The man who overcomes these things does not harbor bitterness and hatred toward women.

End the culture of sexual one-upsmanship  

One of the reasons why “nice guys” get so frustrated is that they live in a cultural context where they’re told that everyone around them is constantly having sex. “Everybody seems to be getting laid but me,” they think. The media, ever eager to sell us the latest moral panic, is constantly telling us that young and younger schoolkids are having sex. College is all about “hook up culture,” and after you graduate, there’s “the club” on the weekend.  Research tends to show, however, that people aren’t having quite as much sex as the popular media would have you believe. Every male, save for perhaps those involved in super-strict religious cults, has lied at least once about his sexual experience. We’ve all told a lie about “this one girl from out of town.”

The funny thing is, however, that under the right conditions, we tend to believe these stories about “this chick” or her best friend, “this one girl.”  One story that comes to mind happened to me in Army AIT(Advanced Individual Training). We had this guy in the class who was constantly bragging about all the women he’d supposedly had back home. As our environment was coed, he’d constantly talk about wanting to get with this girl or that girl.  Indeed, there were plenty of opportunities available to our Romeo, yet he never seemed to actually get with anyone. Eventually, in the course of fifteen weeks, he managed to get laid by a woman who, with all due respect, was not exactly a prize. How is it that such a man of such great sexual prowess and such mastery of “the game” could only land one woman, especially in a high male to female ratio environment which caused the later to lower their standards?  It didn’t dawn on my 18-year-old self at the time, but the answer is obvious. He was full of shit.

Sex and hooking up don’t exactly fit the definition of an “extraordinary” claim requiring extraordinary evidence. It does happen and it does happen a lot, but an experienced, mature adult male ought to be aware that the more you hear some guy talking about it, the less he probably gets in real life. My layman’s opinion is that it’s a defensive strategy. They think everyone in college is getting laid but them, so they spend a lot of time talking about getting laid. Even if they aren’t telling tales of sexual contest, the idea that they arrange their weekend around potentially hooking up implies that they much meet some success due to numbers alone. Oddly enough, we tend to believe this crap, so long as we never really look upon these stories with a more critical eye.

We need to start teaching that sexual one-upsmanship is basically a dick move against your fellow men. You’re making them insecure, compelling them to tell bullshit stories, and in turn start the cycle all over again with other men.  The so-called “red pillers” are a perfect example of how ridiculous men can look when they decide to start telling tall tales about sex. They seem oblivious as to how fake their stories sound, akin to the thirteen year old virgin recounting his “first time.” One of the most pathetic examples I’ve personally witnessed was an article from a particularly notorious “red pill” site, on the topic of Russian women. About halfway through the article it was clear to me that this man had either never dated any Russian women, or if he had, he’d probably had a couple first-and-last dates with women he’d met on some foreign dating service. Having failed at what he thought would be an easy victory, he did what most of these losers do- tell every guy they know about how great Russian women are and how many he banged.  For the record, I chimed in on the comments section, noting that I’m in Russia with years of experience in dating Russian women, and for my trouble I was banned an my posts removed. Given the content of the other comments, it’s clear that the author knew he’d been busted.

Bottom line- stop teaching young men that sex should be the biggest goal in their life, and teach them not to belittle other males on the basis of sexual experience or lack thereof. For one thing, everyone knows that teenage-early 20’s sex is incredibly awkward and rarely satisfying. People don’t even know what they want at that age, inside and outside of the bedroom. In high school and college you’re laying a foundation for the future. If that foundation is solid, you have a good shot at achieving success early on. Success, experience, knowledge are just a few of many things which give you true self-confidence and make you look like a complete person. That’s what women find attractive and like the rule goes, you should always attract.

Teach young men to appreciate other things

I have in the past said that were I to teach a “PUA”-style seminar, at some point I’d tell my audience that upon following my advice, they might suddenly discover that having a girlfriend or even getting laid every weekend might not be the thing they really want at this juncture in their life. Before I was married, there were a couple years in which I achieved a lifestyle that many aspiring “PUAs” and red pillers dream about. I’m talking seemingly effortless lays, one girl on Saturday and another on Sunday.  The secret was that every time this happened, it was always around a point where I’d become fed up with dating. For months I’d get new phone numbers, line up dates for Fridays and Saturdays, text back and forth, try to gauge who was more interested, etc. This typically yielded little in terms of tangible results, because let’s face it- most people on Earth do not want to have a serious relationship with you, much less have sex with you. That much has little to do with looks or anything else.  Eventually I’d get frustrated and just start doing my own thing, whether it was catching up on old Simpsons episodes or playing video games. Inevitably, women I’d interacted with plenty of times before started showing interest, giving me their phone numbers, and coming over my place.

I realize that if you’re a young man reading that, you might think that lifestyle sounds great. A few weeks of pointless, boring dates might seem like a fair price to pay for a weekend of sex with two different women. If that’s what you think however, your horizons are terribly narrow. I’ve been living in Russia for over eight years, abroad for roughly nine. In that time I’ve visited many sites within Russia and many countries, from China to Morocco.  In this current economic crisis, however, I’m forced to contemplate a move back to the United States, and as I try to form a bucket list of the places I want to visit in this hemisphere before I go, I can’t help but notice how easily I could have crossed some of those places off years ago had I managed my time and money properly. I can’t even begin to count how many weekend dates I valued more than a trip to Kursk, Minsk, or Kharkiv. Svetlana was amazing physically, but these days I’d do anything to trade our short-lived, bullshit relationship for a trip to Egypt which I could have easily afforded back then.  Today the dream of seeing Samarkand recedes over the horizon, yet it was a realistic option in 2008 and 2009. At least it would have been had I not been spending money in clubs, bars, and restaurants. The reality of my young male stupidity dawned on me in 2013, when my wife and I visited the first city I lived in when I moved abroad. At the end of our first day, I realized that I had done more than I ever did in six months of living there.  In fact, once I got married and was able to step out of the game, I developed rapidly on all fronts. I read books I’d always sworn I’d get around to. I wrote things that I’d put off for years. I got in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life. It’s no coincidence that women started flirting with me all the time as well. Obviously being married I don’t take advantage of the situation, but I have to say that every man should have the experience of brushing off a highly attractive woman who approaches them at a social occasion. You get to experience what it’s like for the other side.

I realize that this will sound corny or overly sentimental to some young men out there, but you’d better take this to heart- You have only one life to live. Most of you will have very few resources in this life. How do you want to spend most of them? Playing the numbers game in clubs and bars, hoping to find some female willing to let you stick your dick in her for a few hours? Or would you rather develop yourself into the best individual you can be, not just for others, but for yourself? Would you rather amass a wealth of experience and skills which help you master your own life?  One day you will hit a certain age where these things will be the currency to attract women. In college you partied, went to clubs, and got laid frequently, but now your current girlfriend is working with this older guy who’s smarter, more eloquent, and has a wealth of interesting and entertaining stories that make her laugh and make her think.  You keep putting up this facade of “manliness” with the traditional trappings of masculinity, but your girlfriend notices that her co-worker doesn’t seem to have this insecurity. He’s complete, he’s confident, he doesn’t need her or anyone else, and damn it if he isn’t more attractive than you because of all that. Congratulations, son, you’re a beta.  You didn’t invest your time and effort wisely and now you don’t have as much to offer the opposite sex.

Too long? Here’s the short version- Go out and live your life.

Destroy pop culture ideas

In the beginning of this article, I highlighted one of the main enemies young men face when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. My shorthand is usually “Disney movies,” but this applies to pop culture as a whole. We need to ruthlessly and mercilessly pick apart these movies, and try to catalog the ones which influenced us growing up. I’d even recommend that male movie critics, both amateur and professional, start calling this bullshit out when we see it in current films. What bullshit am I referring to? A partial list would include:

-Protagonists instantly falling for female love interests

-Protagonists attempting to woo female leads with feats, sacrifice, presents, etc.

-Smitten protagonists stuttering and looking nervous when first talking to female leads, or at least have the female lead react very negatively toward this sort of behavior and have the male protagonist realize this was a serious fuck-up on his part.

-Having female leads fall for the protagonist as a “reward.” Perhaps have no attraction between the two in the beginning, but let it grow naturally via their shared experiences. Facing adversity together can often lead to people bonding on a very deep, emotional level, which can often lead to a sexual relationship.

Let me make this absolutely clear. I’m not advocating Tumblr-style lynchmobs against Hollywood studios, nor am I suggesting “censorship” as Redditors and Gamergate types might surely infer. I’m just saying that if you’re a person who reviews movies and you notice bullshit like this, just say so, even if you liked everything else about the film. It’s normal to point out flaws in otherwise great films. Also I should point out that taking into account some of these points could vastly improve screenplays by making them far more realistic. It’s always annoying to see two characters with no chemistry fall in love because the script says they have to.  It’s also annoying to see a sympathetic, otherwise totally confident male protagonist supplicate and grovel before the female lead who doesn’t even know his name.

Do not discount looks

One problem with PUA gurus that a friend of mine pointed out to me is they often totally discount the importance of looks and physical attraction. While they do stress things like good grooming, dress, and hygiene, sometimes looks matter. I’m not just talking about being in shape either. Individual men have their tastes, and so do women. It doesn’t matter how well-dressed or in shape you are, if you remind her of her horrible ex-boyfriend you’re probably not going to get very far with her.  Personally I tend to alternate between beard and no beard, and half the women I meet prefer the former while the other half say I’d look better without it.  People don’t like to hear this because it seems out of their control, but tough shit because…

Fight entitlement

Nobody is entitled to anyone else’s affection, period. Elliot Rodger was apparently raised to think otherwise, and now six people are dead and thirteen scarred for life thanks to his delusion. A major problem with PUA is that it teaches men that they can be in control. They might fail again and again, but if they just drop enough neg hits or fix their opener, they’ll eventually reach some higher level where they can land virtually any woman they talk to.

Real life is full of randomness and factors you can’t control. You could be talking to a woman who seriously wants nothing more than to go home with you, but she’s too embarrassed because the food she ate for lunch seems to have given her the runs. Don’t laugh, it happens. Like I wrote earlier, women are individual human beings with doubts, fears, insecurities, and so on. If a woman is feeling super insecure about something, even something which seems really trivial, she’s probably not going to go home with you regardless of whether or not she finds you attractive.  In fact if she finds you really attractive, she’ll be even more likely to brush you off because she doesn’t want to embarrass herself in front of someone she likes. If you don’t take it personally and move on, she might contact you when she’s feeling better. If you pursue and pester her? Forget about it.

Realize that much of life is out of your control, especially the feelings and decisions of other people. Focus on what you can control. Again, live your life. Believe me, nothing is more attractive to the right sort of women than a mature, fully developed man who has a life. Not tricks, not phony stories you memorized off the internet, but a real life, full of interesting events, anecdotes, and experiences. Plenty of women out there want a man but all they can find our boys. Don’t be a boy.

Conclusion

I have to admit that this is a rather long off-topic piece for a blog which analyzes media coverage of Russia, but it’s long only because it contains a lot of things I’ve discussed and written about for years, if only partially. After the Julien Blanc debacle and reading a few articles from The Guardian on the topic, I figured it was time for me to throw in my two rubles. From experience, these off topic articles about men and women get far more views than my on-topic articles, because let’s face it, nobody gives a shit about Russia.  I joke about doing my own “pickup” seminars based on these ideas all the time, but realistically that would be far more likely to earn money than lecturing on the topic of Russian politics. One could argue that such a seminar, one part education, one part support-group for men, could actually perform a great service to society in addition to buying me a house.  On the other hand, others might argue that PUA is profitable because it is bullshit, and because it tells men what they want to hear, especially that they can learn to control women. Who knows which side would be victorious, the well-established community of PUA gurus, or an upstart community of opposite sex social skills coaches?  Place your bets!

A very cold day in hell

Hell must have frozen over, because a Kremlin-linked Russian nationalist has actually taken responsibility for something.  Igor “Strelkov” Girkin, former rebel military commander in Eastern Ukraine and a Russian citizen with ties to intelligence services, has actually claimed personal responsibility for what has happened, and what is currently happening in Ukraine. He has apparently admitted the following:

-There was no real conflict in Ukraine until his unit crossed the border, i.e. from Russia.

-At first, “90 percent” of the rebel forces were local. That apparently changed as they were joined by thousands of Russian military personnel supposedly “on vacation.”

-Russia has definitely been sending material aid to the rebels, in spite of what it has claimed thus far.

-Those who created the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics never intended to create functional states(no shit). They were betting on Russia absorbing them like the Crimea, but instead the Kremlin told them to open a dialog with Kyiv. Even recently, Russia refused to recognize their recent elections. It is curious that Russia’s stance seems to have changed after the first round of modest sanctions were levied on key individuals after the Crimean annexation. It’s hard to pretend as though this wasn’t driven by fear and cold, calculating self-interest on the part of Moscow’s oligarch elite.

The article also notes how Strelkov seemed to “disappear” from state run newscasts, implying that he might have fallen out of favor with the Kremlin’s media. Given the importance of what Strelkov has now admitted, and the fact that he is all but refuting Moscow’s denials about helping the rebellion in Ukraine, it seems that he may be in danger of disappearing altogether.  Months ago Russian nationalist figures were praising him as a potential replacement to Putin, thus marking him as a potential threat to the leader. That alone was bad enough. After this, Mr. Girkin might want to consider slipping across the border and running like hell, before he meets those ever dangerous “unknown masked assailants” who plague Russia’s dissidents and journalists.

Spilling secrets

Anyone paying attention to the news lately has probably noticed Russia’s impotent flopping around on the world stage, in an attempt to appear relevant and threatening on the world stage, and to distract from the fact that its corrupt oligarchy basically stole Russia’s future. Much of said flopping consists of running all kinds of military drills, many of which have led to airspace violations all over Eastern Europe.  Well guess what- turns out all these drills are great training for NATO pilots and radar crews. Not only that, but this has spurred new efforts by Eastern NATO countries to revamp their whole military arsenals with updated equipment. Countries like Sweden and Finland are now considering joining the alliance. Great job, Putin! You found a way to expand NATO when its own leaders were stumped!

Russia’s only hope to do significant damage in a war with a NATO country would necessarily be based on surprise. There are many new Russian weapons which haven’t really been tested in combat against a NATO-equipped foe, and Russia hasn’t been in a conventional war since August of 2008. Now that element of surprise has been pissed away, along with Russia’s economy, reputation, standards of living, and hope for the future. Good one, Vladimir! Are you absolutely sure you still want to go on taking advice from the delusional dipshits you’ve been listening to for the past few years?

The linked article does contain a couple factual errors that I must point out, however. It refers to Moldovan and Georgian territory supposedly annexed by Putin.  In reality the territories in question were taken by local forces with Russian help in the early 90’s.

Q & A

Premise: Russia is standing up to the West!

Q: Why is it standing up to the West?

A: Errr….. Uh… Because of hegemony!

Q: How is it standing up to the West?

A: It is blocking NATO expansion!

Q: Why is NATO expansion bad?

A: Because they want to encircle Russia!

Q: They already have Russia more or less encircled and that hasn’t hurt Russia in any measurable way. Russia has worked with NATO plenty of times before.

A: But when they TOTALLY encircle Russia, they will attack!

Q: Why would they attack?

A: Because of…HEGEMONY!  Yes! Hegemony!

Q: How is Russia stopping the “hegemony” from doing anything right now?

A: It’s opposing the expansion of NATO!

Q: Yes but why is that good?

A: Because if NATO encircles Russia, then they will invade and subjugate her!

Q: Why would they do that?

A: Because they need to expand their hegemony.

Q: How is Russia opposing this “hegemony…” You know what, never mind that for now. Suppose they attack and subjugate Russia. Then what happens?

A: Then the hegemony will be stronger!

Q: That’s assuming a lot, but what will the “hegemony” do then that it can’t do now? Is Russia preventing the hegemony from doing something it wants to do?

A: Yes! It’s opposing the expansion of NATO!

Q: But why…Never mind.

THIS IS WHAT HE ACTUALLY BELIEVES

Vladimir Putin gave a rather bizarre interview to the German press recently. It certainly warrants a few highlights. Here are my picks:

“It lacks, it seems to me, the understanding that to be successful, stable, prosperous, it’s necessary that all people who live in that territory, regardless of which language they speak — whether Hungarian, Russian, Ukrainian, or even Polish — have a feeling that the territory is their Motherland,” Putin said.

Yes, because Russia totally does this. I know Tatar and Bashkir mothers are just thrilled to know their sons can be conscripted and potentially killed for the sake of the “Russkiy Mir.” Minorities feel totally at home in Russia and ethnic Russians are always expressing their concern about issues like xenophobia and exclusion in society, education, media, etc.

“For this reason, I do not understand the resistance of Ukrainian political authorities to even listen to the possibility of federalization,” Putin added.

It was my understanding that they did listen, particular when they unilaterally offered the first ceasefire in the whole war. I also suspect that if this were the case, Putin totally understands why they wouldn’t listen. After all, simply publishing talk about that sort of federalization in Russia is specifically prohibited by law.

Under this strategy, according to The Guardian, “each region [in Ukraine] would have control of its economy, taxes, culture, language, education, and ‘external economic and cultural connections with neighboring countries or regions,'” Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said in March.

Again, things they want to deny not only regions in Russia, but federal subjects which constitute the indigenous lands of various nationalities.  Also it’s clear the Donetsk and Lugansk “People’s” Republics aren’t really interested in this if they insist on maintaining their own military forces. As for taxes well, they’ve already been going hat in hand to the “junta” in Kyiv begging them to pay pensions and salaries.  Yes, these are functional countries.  Respect them!

“I will now tell you straight: We are really concerned that [in Ukraine] there will arise a desire to carry out some kind of ethnic cleansing, we are afraid that Ukraine will roll into neo-Nazism,” Putin said. “Well, if people are walking around with swastikas on their sleeves … Or the SS insignia on the helmets of some combat units who are fighting in East Ukraine?

I’ve written plenty about the Ukrainian government’s mindless decision to arm and train far right-wing extremists such as the Azov battalion. That being said, I think I’m far more likely to find non-right wing people on the Ukrainian side than the Cossack and nationalist filled ranks of the DNR and LNR. Unlike them, the Ukrainian government still allows women to go to cafes and bars.

“If this is a civilized nation, where are the authorities looking? At least [they] should force them to remove the uniforms, and the nationalists to take off this insignia,” he said.

As far as things like the Azov battalion go, my recommendation is far more stringent than Putin’s recommendation. Disband the unit, arrest extremist leaders, and run a reeducation program for its members so they understand the concept of citizenship. I consider it pure chance that these thugs never got out of control and made Putin’s “ethnic cleansing” fantasy a reality. That being said, Putin’s solution is quite mild but logical in the context of Russian society. He just wants them to take the patches off. In Russia it’s perfectly normal to agree with every tenet of National Socialism so long as you don’t openly identify with the movement.  You can be a fascist; just don’t call yourself fascist.

No swatikas here! Just a symbol clearly based on the 29th Waffen SS, the infamous "Kaminski brigade."

No swatikas here! Just a symbol clearly based on the 29th Waffen SS, the infamous “Kaminski brigade.”

“Right now in east Ukraine there is fighting occurring,” Putin said. “The central authorities of Ukraine sent an army there, using even ballistic rockets. Is anyone talking about this? Not a word. What does this mean? What does this say about [the situation]? This suggests that you want the central authorities of Ukraine to destroy everyone there, all of their political opponents? Do you want this? We don’t want this. And we won’t let this happen.”

Yes, yes, we all remember how Russia allowed Chechnya to peacefully separate without launching any “ballistic rockets” at Grozny. And Russia strongly criticized Serbia and more recently Syria for their anti-insurgency campaigns. I’m not trying to equate all of these scenarios, but one simple fact is that when you start an armed insurgency against a government, you should expect them to fight back. A government which does not defend itself with deadly force is not a government at all. If your cause is just, by all means give force a chance, but don’t go crying to the world when they open up with artillery.

Having said that, I found Putin’s remarks about the Ukrainian government destroying its political opponents to be rather ridiculous. These people are claiming autonomy and have cut themselves off from Ukraine politically. Ergo they aren’t actually opposing those in government. His claims that Russia “won’t let this happen” are simply hilarious, since Russia’s official stance this whole time has been the exact opposite. They are letting “this” happen, they’ve been letting “this” happen, and the West is being unfair to Russia by sanctioning her for something that’s definitely not happening, i.e. sponsoring the rebellion.  This is the paradox that is going to seriously cripple Putin. He tells Russia that they must defend these poor people from the Nazi junta, while he simultaneously swears up and down that Russia isn’t doing anything to support those people, beyond periodic convoys of “humanitarian aid.”  In other words, he’s playing to nationalists in Russia while simultaneously admitting, in fact insisting, that he is betraying “Novorossiya.” That’s not going to turn out well.