Monthly Archives: November 2015

Holy Shitsnacks! 500th Post!

Ladies and gentlemen, what better way to celebrate Russia Without BS’ 500th post than to inform you that Russia Insider has finally gone full potato. They have not merely jumped the shark. They have launched a rocket over the shark which escaped Earth’s gravity and is currently on its way out of our solar system. They have crossed into Poe’s Law territory to become self-parody. Behold: How Putin Taught Me a Lesson in Being Christ-like

Yeah. Let that title sink in and feel the “Whaaaaaa?” going through your mind even before you click. Read it if you want to suffer an existential crisis.

First of all, take a look at that author bio:

The author is a well-known Danish journalist trained in theology, who writes on religious affairs. She is a regular contributor to Russia Insider.

Okay. Couple things. First of all, they claim she is “well-known” but I couldn’t find any information on her that doesn’t appear on some pro-Russian site like RT.com, Russia Insider, or Da Russophile. There were a lot of sites in Danish and I’m perfectly able to believe that she might be popular there, but I’m a bit skeptical. That she is a regular contributor to Russia Insider doesn’t surprise me in the least.

Basically I’ll give you the gist of this mass grave of an article: Putin could have started WWIII and destroyed Turkey after the shoot-down of a Russian Su-24, but he didn’t. In other words, he was like Jesus- he turned the other cheek.

Now unlike Ms. Thranholm, I’m not “trained in theology,” but I was raised in the fundamentalist Christian movement and since becoming an atheist many years ago I started actually taking an avid interest in the stuff I pretty much ignored on countless Sundays throughout my childhood and teenage years. Let’s see what Jesus said about turning the other cheek:

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” –Christ, Jesus H., Matthew 5:39*

Now the implication here is that if Putin really wanted to be Christ like, he’d send up another Su-24 for the Turks to shoot down. But what did Putin actually do in response to this act, which in all honesty was a total dick move on the part of Turkey and a war crime on the part of those rebels who murdered the ejected pilot?

Vladimir Putin warns of ‘serious consequences’ following Turkey shooting down Russian jet

Hmmm…Is that what Jesus would do? Very quickly after the news, the Turkish embassy was besieged by protesters who pelted it with rocks and other projectiles, breaking at least one window. Witnesses said police did nothing. Russian consumer authorities suddenly, and quite fortunately discovered listeria contamination in chicken imported from Turkey. Today the Turkish cultural center in Moscow has apparently been shut down.

Thranholm doesn’t stop there though. Check this out.

Putin now invites his foes to cooperate to defeat the menace of terrorism. This is similar to Christ enduring the pain and shame of the cross to save the world. Russia seems to follow the same path.

stupidestthing

Wait a second. Isn’t the campaign against terrorism sort of a revenge thing? This is the guy who annexed part of another Christian nation and whose country waged a dirty war and propaganda war against that same nation all because they drove out a corrupt thief who wanted to go full dictator on everyone’s asses. There are numerous real quotes from Putin where he talks about hunting down terrorists and killing them.

Second, this is nothing like Christ’s “enduring pain and shame of the cross.” What sacrifice has Putin made? This is a man who robs his country so he and his friends can live in lavish palaces. If he has sacrificed anything, it is the ability to go or live abroad like some of his friends still do (those who are not yet sanctioned). Staying in the driver’s seat limits some of his options to enjoy his ill-gotten gains, but it’s still a pretty sweet life nonetheless.

And Russia “seems” to follow that path? Well, Russia certainly suffers like Christ did, I guess. But this has nothing to do with saving the world. Russia suffers because since 1991 it has been run by corrupt thieves who will fight to the last Russian worker to keep their stolen wealth and luxurious lifestyles.

Now before anyone gets permanent brain damage, I’ll quote one last gem to cap off this horror show.

Putin’s political decision is an expression of moral superiority and meekness that springs from being poor in spirit, the first step of following Christ and an ultimately spiritual Christian virtue.

Meekness? This is a man who is routinely depicted wearing military uniforms he never earned on t-shirts, posters, phone cases, and all manner of other souvenirs. This is a man who insists that he alone is capable of leading Russia. Meek my ass.

Is Putin Christ-like? Well Jesus wasn’t too big on stealing. He also said things like:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” -Matthew 6:19

And here we’re talking about a “Christian” man who possesses several palatial residences, yachts, luxury cars, and watches which are collectively worth half a million dollars or more.

This is also a man who divorced his wife after he decided to come back to the presidency. They were living estranged from one another for quite some time, during which he was constantly dogged by persistent rumors that he was having an affair with Russian gymnast Alina Kabaeva.

Now the Russian Orthodox Church apparently allows divorce, but Jayzus don’t:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?’ 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” –Matthew 19 4-6

Also, despite that discrepancy both the ROC and Jesus were pretty down on adultery. And even if the Kabaeva rumors were untrue, it’s clear that Putin obviously failed in his duties as a husband and a father.

Reading that article was as excruciating as watching Jesus get flayed in The Passion of the Christ. Before ending this, I just wanted to point out that the author is from Denmark, the country where the infamous Mohammed cartoon scandals started. She has so much admiration for Russia as a defender of Christian civilization, but does she know that Russia has repeatedly forbid publishing caricatures of Mohammed, and the same Danish artists who did so in her native country would face penalties in Russia? Indeed, when Chechen head Kadyrov blessed a polygamous wedding between a 17-year-old girl and a middle-aged man, Russia’s children’s rights advocate Pavel Astakhov and family values politician Duma deputy Elena Mizulina acted like good submissive Russians and publicly approved of the union.

Alright. I’m done. There’s nothing more you can say about that other than hope it is just some sort of elaborate prank. But because we have no reason to make such an assumption, you know what the proper response is:

You said it, movie guy.

 

*Bible quotes all come from the King James Version, aka The One True Holy Bible Accept no Substitutes!

 

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Passive-Aggressive Empire

Both Putin and Medvedev have promised severe consequences for Turkey over the downing of that Russian Su-24 this week. While Medvedev has made threats about canceling projects and banning businesses, so far we have seen the same old passive aggressive measures we always see from these cretins.

For example, Russia’s consumer watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor just coincidentally “discovered” that imported chicken from Turkey was contaminated with listeria. Hmmm….I”m sure it’s just a coincidence that this discovery was made the day after Turkey shot down a Russian plane. I’m totally sure that had that not happened, the authorities would have stopped those imports because they definitely discovered listeria contamination. Actually I must confess I hope they are making this up, because if not I would not be surprised at all to learn that they were letting contaminated meat products into the country. Maybe we should thank Turkey for that.

Of course the situation with tourism agencies is another matter. It’s not clear whether tour operators are being forced or simply encouraged to stop selling tours to Turkey. Some companies, claiming patriotism but more likely fearful, seem to have voluntarily stopped offering package tours to Turkey. In more tourism-related wackiness, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement to Russian travelers.

“Due to continuing terrorist threats in Turkey, we reiterate our recommendation that Russian citizens refrain from visiting the Republic of Turkey, and we recommend that Russians staying there for personal reasons return home.” 

Ah yes, “continuing terrorist threats.” That’s interesting. Where was that warning over a month ago, when this happened?

This is pretty much par for the course with the Russian authorities. At times they’ll flat out ban things, as with the so-called “counter-sanctions” of foodstuffs imports, but on other occasions Rosselkhoznadzor will suddenly “discover” some problem with imports from a country that just happens to be pissing Russia off the most at the moment. Then people online, possibly paid trolls, will talk about how they showed Poland/Turkey/Ukraine etc. It even happened last year with several McDonald’s restaurants, which were all closed for “sanitation” reasons. If you’re familiar with McDonald’s and other restaurants in Russia, you know why this is bullshit.

So this is the great superpower that Putin raised from its knees. Half the time it can’t even openly levy sanctions on anybody, and when it does it’s laughable because such sanctions typically don’t do any significant damage to the economies of the targeted nations. When Ukraine went Maidan, vatniks laughed about how they were going to freeze in the winter without gas. And like a judge at a chili competition, Ukraine got plenty of gas. The only people who were threatened by lack of gas for heating during the winter were in the rebel-held areas, where they were being “rescued” from the Banderite Nazis by Russia. Today Russia continues to play trade wars with Ukraine, but Ukraine continues to move forward, threatened only by its own homegrown dickheads.

So it shall be with Turkey. The Russian government will wage its passive-aggressive war of unofficial sanctions, typically dressed up as “safety concerns,” and all the while the Russian media will regale the babushkas and the rest of the assorted carpet-on-the-wall types with tales of past victories of the Russian empire against the Ottoman empire. Sadly, none of these people will ever notice the irony- that these historical tales are being told to distract from the fact that the much smaller, NATO member Turkish Republic just gave them a bloody nose and there’s really nothing Tsar Putin can do about it.

 

Clash of the Dickheads

Given what’s happened recently I thought I’d try to lighten the mood a bit with a little joke about the Crimea, but then I decided against it because it’s a little too dark.

As if it wasn’t embarrassing enough having Russia’s crown jewel blacked out all because a couple of towers were knocked down, in turn revealing the fact that the peninsula was still dependent on the hated “Ukropy,” Turkey went and pissed all over Putin’s latest attempt to portray Russia as a world military power. And while panic-mongering predictions of WWII were totally unrealistic, believe me, the buttrage is big this time. After all, this is a NATO country shooting down a Russian aircraft with an American-made F16. So while the Russian government, including prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, issued tough statements about consequences for Turkey, the only results we have seen so far are the typical passive-aggressive, more or less impotent economic measures we’ve seen with the EU, Ukraine, and other Russian neighbors who refuse to put up with the Kremlin’s bullshit and treat Russia like some kind of great power.

So Turkish-Russian relations have fallen apart, again. No big deal. They weren’t really that great before. Sure, there’s tourism, but I’ve had Turks tell me about various protectionist measures against their country by the Russian government years ago. When Putin made a big deal about the new “Turkish Stream” pipeline during his state visit to Turkey on 1 December 2014, the Russia press predictably made a big fanfare about it. Putin’s done it again! Another country is turning its back on the West and turning toward Russia! Then, as with their deal with China, the pipeline project immediately ran into serious trouble.

removekebab

Obviously Turkey and Russia have a great deal of cooperation, and this isn’t limited to the tourism business. Turkish firms are all over Russia, particularly in construction. Cancelling their projects would hurt Russia just as much, if not more so. But as the “counter-sanctions” of 2014 taught us, this is not a government run by rational, well-informed men. The vatniks are furious and will get even angrier if they don’t see blood. While they won’t be satisfied, Putin is more than capable of making more economic blunders that will dick the country up even more.

The funny thing about Russia and Turkey is that for all their inability to get on well with each other, they have so much in common. I became interested in Turkey and Turkic peoples after moving to Russia, and for me one of the most glaring commonalities is that Turkey occupies a similar role in my heart to that of Russia. I love the countries and the people, but I hate their governments. The resemblance goes deeper, however. What we’re looking at here is a conflict which could arguably be called “Clash of the Dickheads.”

Both countries are run by conservative dictators who make up the rules as they go along to remain in power. Both dictators are extremely corrupt and believed to possess large fortunes of ill-gotten wealth. In terms of electoral fraud and corruption, Turkey often gives Russia a run for its money. Turkey is also much harder on journalists and much more quick to resort to censorship. Turkey famously banned Twitter in an attempt to stop the dissemination of information about a corruption scandal between then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Youtube has been banned numerous times in Turkey, the most recent being in April of this year.

Whereas Russia sees itself as a global superpower, it is only able to act in a very limited way within a very limited area that it sees as its natural sphere of influence. Turkey does not have the same pretensions, but it definitely sees itself as a regional power. Russia intervened in Ukraine because doing so was assumed to be their right. Ditto with Turkey in Syria. Both have justified their interventions by claiming a need to protect ethnic brethren on the other side of their borders.

Erdogan and the AK Party have been notorious for deepening the influence of religion in what used to be a highly secular state. Putin has also been breaking down Russia’s secular legacy, in violation of the constitution’s very clear establishment of separation between church and state. The AK Party in Turkey is associated with the glorification and idealization of the Ottoman Empire. While naive or ignorant pundits constantly characterize Putin as trying to rehabilitate and glorify the Soviet Union, there has been a steady undercurrent of rehabilitating and promoting the Russian Empire. Annexing the Crimea, denying the existence of Ukrainians as a nation, and attempting to partition the country are all the actions of a revived Russian Empire and not a Soviet Union.

In this latest scandal, Turkmen rebel forces essentially executed an unarmed Russian pilot who was unable to defend himself. While these particular rebels are not jihadists like the thugs of Al Nusra and certainly not ISIS, what they did to the pilot was a genuine war crime, and Turkey has been backing them. Likewise, in Ukraine Russia armed and supported thugs like Givi and Motorola, the former being caught on camera abusing and torturing prisoners and the latter claiming in an interview that he executed prisoners. And speaking of illegal invasions and annexations, Turkey has been backing a pseudo-state on Cyprus since 1974, but to Turkey’s credit, unlike Russia they’ve managed to keep their colony supplied with both electricity and water.

Both countries got into this mess because of the dishonest way they have elected to wage war beyond their borders. Turkey had warned Russia about violating its airspace before, but the best evidence outside of Russia suggests that if the SU-24 did indeed violate said airspace, they did so only for a matter of seconds. Turkey would not have been in any danger had they taken a more cautious approach. The rapid decision to engage and fire on the Russian plane has been labeled an “overreaction.” Meanwhile, had Russia’s air force actually been engaged in bombing ISIS positions instead of anybody ISIS, that plane shouldn’t have been anywhere near the Turkish border. I shudder to think what those pilots would have encountered had they been shot down over ISIS territory. Ideally, they’d have been shot down over Ukraine and eject there. Then they’d definitely be alive.

When all’s said and done, I have to say I’m a little surprised by all this. First of all I didn’t think Russia was going to get deeply involved in Syria, given the amount of personnel and equipment they put in the country and the fact that Russia’s own goal in Ukraine is already too much of a burden to start a really decisive campaign. As such, I tended to disregard those predictions that Syria would become another Afghanistan. I could see that eventually happening, but I thought that was a long way off. Hell, I expected that any Russian planes falling out of the skies over Syria would be due to more technical failures rather than enemy action. Now it’s happening a bit more quickly. A Russian helicopter sent to rescue the remaining pilot was destroyed, killing a Russian marine. Grisly videos of the rebels shooting at the ejected pilot surfaced, along with video of rebels gloating over his dead body in an image reminiscent of the Chechen Wars or the US debacle in Mogadishu back in 1993. The Syrian campaign might have begun as just another slick reality show for the cameras, but now it’s definitely gone off script.

Once again, you’re not going to see an outpouring of rage directed at the authorities any time soon, at least not while people can still chuck rocks at the Turkish embassy as they did in Moscow today, but trouble is on the horizon. The vatniks want blood that their master Putin cannot deliver to them. What is worse, Russia has no good exit strategy from this new war. Virtually every possible outcome will look like failure, and indeed whatever the details, it will end in failure because there was never any hope for victory. Russia’s not going to get rid of ISIS, and the rest of the anti-ISIS coalition is likely to stamp them out in the near future. As long as they are there, something is wrong. The best they can hope for is some political decision that leaves Assad in charge of some kind of rump state which will keep the Russian bases already there, but that agreement can easily fall apart very quickly.

Russia’s unlikely to lose a lot of men and material in this conflict, but they stand to lose face. Inability to bring victory or significantly change the situation on the ground may look like impotence. And why not? Russia just got slapped in the face by at best, a second-rate NATO member, and there’s really nothing they can do about it but shake their fists and make threats than Turkey need not fear. Cancel the Turkish Stream? Obviously if the Turks valued that project so much they wouldn’t have been throwing up all kinds of obstacles to its construction.

In the end, the lesson is that if you want to act like a superpower, you’d better be able to back it up with action. Far from opposing what they see as American imperialism, the Kremlin and its supporters admire and envy it. What they don’t understand is that imperialism is fundamentally bad, and even if we ignore that, being an empire has certain prerequisites which Russia simply lacks. The blame can be laid squarely at the feet of Putin and his cronies, because however much they value the idea of a Russian superpower making history all over the globe, they valued stealing and material wealth more.

UPDATE!!!

You know when I wrote this, I was being a bit closed minded and remembered that we need to “question more,” as RT says. And that’s when it hit me. I remembered the totally believable evidence Russia put forth in its many investigations of the MH17 disaster, and I realized that there’s good reason to question the “official story” and conclude that the Russian air force shot its own plane down.

What is my basis for this belief? Well as the long time reader is no doubt aware, Russia’s alternative explanation for the downing of MH17 was that a Ukrainian air force Su-25 was responsible for the crime…except when it was a Ukrainian Buk SAM…but then it was a Su-25 again…but then it was a bomb on the plane…then a Su-25…then a Buk. Well you get the idea. The thing is that the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed there was a Su-25 in the sky in the vicinity of MH17. Nobody else can confirm this, but we can trust a government ministry which has been caught in plenty of lies in the past because this is Russia, not the Pentagon.

As it turns out, there are at least 12 Russian Su-25s operating in Syria, some of them no doubt covering the same territory in which the Su-24 was shot down. So can we rule out that the Russians shot down their own plane as a false flag? If not, why not? I’m just asking questions, folks.

Question more.

Neocons and idiots

Hey remember how I’ve said a gajillion times that since 2014, the Kremlin and its supporters abandoned all pretense of believing in national sovereignty and non-intervention and became the very same “neocons” they claim to oppose? Well shit, looks like I’m right again. Just look at that headline:

Shock and Awe: Deadly Weapons Unleashed by Russia Against ISIL in Syria

That’s right, “shock and awe.” When the US does it, it’s bad (because it actually is), but when Russia does it, it’s awesome (no, it’s not). The slideshow of shiny Russian weapons and things that explodes even contains this hilarious line at the bottom:

These are the weapons that turned the tide of the Syrian conflict and will hopefully help save the country from the encroaching Islamic State.

Turned the tide? Saved Bashar’s ass, maybe, but from the look of things we’ve yet to see Operation Bagration 2015. As it turns out, Putin’s latest brilliant gambit has only managed to help the Syrian government forces regain a pitiful amount of territory.

Anyway, with all this Russian neoconservatism, I can’t help but ask where’s Russia’s Toby Keith to make a song about this? You know what I’m talking about. How could any American forget this train wreck of a country song:

Maybe Putin can contract Keith to write a new song for Russia’s neocon war on terror, entitled “Courtesy of the White, Blue, and Red.”

CHORUS

Putin put your name, somewhere on his list

and millions of vatniks started shaking their fists

And two-headed eagle will fly

And it’s gonna be hell

When you hear Mother Russia as her head starts to swell

In it feels like the the whole world is raining down on you

Brought to your courtesy of- HEY WHO TURNED OUT THE LIGHTS?! GODDAMMIT WHAT IS HAPPENING?

 

Wow that was fun wasn’t it? Well now let’s go on to the idiots feature, where we have another gem from the smug red pill taking cool kids at Zero Hedge. As always, the author is Tyler Durden, named after a fictional character from a book so bad the movie was considerably better, though it transformed countless males of my generation into insufferable douchebags.

In this article, Tyler smacks us sheeple upside the head and drops some major knowledge on us about the Syrian war. Turns out, the US has been giving TOW anti-tank missiles to Al Qaeda! Oh wait, hang on a second. Who is their source on that?

Well now, in what can only be described as an embarrassment of truly epic proportions, al-Qaeda has released a video thanking the FSA for supplying al-Nusra with American-made TOWs. Here’s Sputnik:

Yup, Sputnik. So I followed the link to find their source.

A recently released video shows an Al-Nusra Front field commander thanking the FSA commanders for giving his forces TOW missiles, according to a report released by the Iranian news agency FARS.

And that’s it. An Iranian news agency. We don’t get to see the video they report. So I did a little research into this matter of TOWs to the FSA and found a few articles in slightly more reputable sources. This link contains a video with some information about the TOWs. In the video, note that some of the men are clearly wearing the eagle insignia of the Free Syrian Army and not anything that would suggest they are jihadists like the Al Nusra fighters.

Also note that the word moderate appears in quotes on the video. That article linked above does mention that in at least one case, Al Nusra jihadists bragged about capturing some TOW missiles from a group that was supplied by the CIA. Here’s a link to that article. So when push comes to shove, the US has certainly risked its weapons falling into the hands of Al Qaeda linked groups like Al Nusra, which is one reason they have consistently opposed supplying any rebels with man portable surface to air missiles such as Stingers. That being said, it’s a far cry from supplying Al Qaeda directly or even indirectly. Al Nusra actively fights against other Syrian rebel groups (including ISIS, incidentally), and their “thank you” to the FSA for the TOWs, if it happened at all, was most likely gloating over loot they took from a defeated enemy.

Getting back to the Zero Hedge article, the third photograph used in the post is not a TOW at all, but rather a Russian-made missile or licensed copy. I’m guessing a Kornet. Tyler Durden finishes off this failure with this pithy line:

Hopefully no one from al-Qaeda ends up firing a TOW at a Paris cafe.

Well Tyler, if you actually knew anything about TOW missiles you’d understand how idiotic that idea is, and if someone actually did manage to do that, I bet at least half of your readership would claim the whole thing was a “false flag.”

You know this guy really is kind of like Tyler Durden, in the sense that reading his theories makes you want to shoot yourself in the face to make him go away.

 

Oblivious

One of the most incredible things about Putin fanboys is their total inability to detect irony. While to be fair, these folks inhabit a broad space on the political spectrum, most of them claim to be anti-war, anti-imperialism, anti-militarism, and so forth. Yet when Russia goes to war using the same rhetoric, even right down to the “fight them there or fight them here” line originally used by right-wing pundits to justify prolonged occupation in Iraq, the so-called “anti-war” left and right line up to kiss Putin’s ass and cheer him on.

Here’s a perfect example for you: A Russia Insider Putin fanboy gushes over a quote from Putin that turned out to be fake (yes, to their credit they updated the story with that info, probably after their original source did so). No fake quote or no, US and other NATO leaders make tough statements about fighting terrorists all the time. And what is the average American or Western “dissident’s” response to those statements and claims? Bullshit, of course. Responses range from concern over civilian casualties to idiotic conspiracy theories accusing the government of orchestrating 9/11 and creating ISIS. But if this politician from a country they know little about gets up and says he’s going to kick some terrorist ass, many of the same people suddenly start cheering him on.

In the case of the US, regardless of whether the War on Terror strategy actually does what it’s supposed to do, you cannot deny that America has killed a lot of terrorists since 9/11. Sure, the ways it has gone about this has also created a lot of them, but if you know what you’re talking about you simply cannot deny that yes, ‘Murica has killed her a lotta turrists! In spite of that, you’ll never see one of those people reacting to American leaders’ tough talk on terrorism with anything but skepticism at best and counter-accusations at worst.

If I haven’t driven home the point on how oblivious these people are to their own hypocrisy, just check out the sources in the Russia Insider article- Fox News and The Daily Beast. That’s right, the “honest” “media skeptics” at Russia Insider are apparently more than happy to cite Fox News and the “anti-Russian” Daily Beast so long as it suits their purposes. Naturally they could claim that this particular Daily Beast article is actually reporting the truth, but then that would go against the claim that there’s a deliberate information war being waged against Russia by dozens of private and public media outlets around the world. After all, if the idea is to continually demonize Russia and wage information war against her, why would you ever allow accurate information to get through? I read the article in question, which is about the massive Russian bombing raid on the Islamic State “capital” of Raqqa, and it basically takes Russian claims at face value without raising any questions about civilian casualties which would inevitably result from such a large bombing raid on a populated area.

And once again that shows us how hypocritical some people can be. For whether it was bombing Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 or the president’s international drone warfare program, Americans, Westerners, leftists, and others have routinely criticized or at least questioned the wisdom and morality of aerial bombing campaigns. As well they should, but the fact is that since 1991 Russia has slaughtered quite a few of its own citizens with all kinds of bombardment, and since 2014 Ukrainians have got a taste of it as well. Despite these indisputable facts, Putin’s fanboys refuse to even discuss civilian casualties as a result of Russia’s recent campaign in Syria. Everyone a Russian bomb hits is a “terrorist.” Sound familiar?

In contrast to this breathless Putin-worship and cheerleading for what is essentially a cheap knockoff of Bush’s War on Terror, leftists and other opponents of that war began protesting as early as 29 September, 2001. The totally biased, “Western mainstream media” reported on civilian casualties from US bombing in Afghanistan practically from the beginning. Just look at the lead from the above-linked BBC article:

“The number of Afghan civilians killed by US bombs has surpassed the death toll of the 11 September attacks…”

It doesn’t get much clearer than that when it comes to assigning blame. And let’s fast forward back to the present. Here’s an article from The Guardian, which is about medical facilities which have been allegedly bombed by Russian airstrikes in Syria. “Ah, but what about the US bombing of the MSF hospital in Afgh…Oh wait. What’s that just under the headline?”

“Latest attack on Idlib hospital left at least 12 people dead and comes less than two weeks after a US attack on Kunduz hospital, Afghanistan”

Hmmm…This story isn’t even about Afghanistan, but they throw that in there anyway. Nothing wrong with that; in spite of geography they are about the same thing- military operations aimed at fighting “terrorists” which end up hitting medical facilities instead. This article from the horribly “anti-Russian” Daily Beast actually begins with a condemnation of the American attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz. And it seems the Daily Beast isn’t so embroiled in the anti-Russian information war that it can’t remind us how idiotic US strategy in Syria has been so far.

Now at some point some Putin fanboy might object, and say that they’re supporting Putin’s campaign in Syria because he’s telling the truth and he really is taking the fight to ISIS. Well to that I say no, no he is clearly not. Reuters has found that four fifths of Russia’s air strikes in Syria don’t target areas where ISIS has a presence. What’s their totally biased, obviously Russophobic source? The Russian Ministry of Defense. Sure, you can claim that they’re lying, but the problem is that their claim meshes with other recent events in the region. For example, ISIS has made gains since the beginning of the Russian campaign, specifically after the Russian MoD’s idiotic claim that they had devastated ISIS in just 24 hours of bombing. And as for supporting the regime’s counter-offensive against the other rebel groups, a very reputable source says that’s not going so well either.

So the bottom line is this- people who claim to be anti-war, anti-imperialism, and anti-militarism and yet who cheer on Putin’s wars and international meddling are quite simply put, full of shit. They have no principle, and in most cases in spite of some kind of political organizing or other activism they usually have no coherent ideology or political theory upon which to base their actions. Everything boils down to: “I’m mad at my government, they’re mad at this other guy in another country, so that guy must be right and that government never lies!” This is an understandable mode of thinking, but it is also completely idiotic in the modern world.

I also know that some leftists will scream, “But we have to oppose imperialism!” when it comes to issues like Syria. I’m not saying don’t oppose imperialism. I’m saying first and foremost oppose all imperialism. Oppose all authoritarian regimes. Don’t act like you’re Che Guevara in your country while assuming that dissidents in other countries must be paid dupes of the CIA because your government doesn’t like that country’s government. What is more, it’s time to admit that the typical Western method of “opposing imperialism” is a complete farce. Where has it actually worked in recent times? It pretty much consists of people holding protests with signs saying: “Hands off (insert country name here)!” At first it may begin with solid arguments, such as “We don’t support Assad but the US policy in response is not likely to improve the situation and may make it worse,” but it almost inevitably ends with the leftists taking up the banner of some dictator, and often in an unwitting or sometimes deliberate alliance with far right figures. If you’re a true neocon and you find yourself in a debate with these people, congratulations. They’re shooting themselves in the foot.

 

 

We are all Stopfake

I had a longer post planned for today, but today, and the night before, proved to be pretty hectic. How hectic? I got hit by a goddamned Porsche SUV less than a block from my home. Nothing serious, but I couldn’t help but notice how the driver sped away immediately after I was clear of her hood.

Fortune smiled upon me, however, when I ran across a hilariously bad viral Facebook meme:

9gag

Hard-hitting politics from 9Gag, the site where teenagers pretend they’re worldly, wizened old souls in order to lecture “the younger generation,” and post jokes from Family Guy and How I Met Your Mother.

Like, Wow! Man! The government’s all like: “We’ve got to kill ISIS,” but like…actually, they’re like…selling them weapons so they can make like money, and get…uh…like…OIL! Yeah, like that Iraq War, when we used to fight the Soviets with Saddam but then like, we paid Bin Laden to be our enemy, and then he did 9/11! But like…I read this one web site that said Bush did 9/11 so, like….yeah.

Alright, seriously now. How idiotic is this picture? Well first off, of all the many photos of ISIS with US weapons they could have chosen, photos which show ISIS fighters posing with everything from M16A2 rifles to American-made humvees, they chose a photo of a possible ISIS fighter holding a Soviet-made AT-3 “Sagger” (Russian name: Malyutka) anti-tank missile, or one of its international variants. Yes, that’s how badly this person fucked it up.

And what about the US weapons in ISIS’ possession? I can’t speak as to whether the 75% figure is even remotely accurate, but in any case I know how they got them, and it wasn’t because the US sold arms to ISIS. If the dipshit who came up with this had a memory spanning more than two years, he would have recalled that ISIS kicked the crap out of the Iraqi army and captured vast quantities of vehicles and arms from them. This bounty included tons of American equipment that had been in Iraqi service.

Here’s an article from this year detailing the American booty ISIS got in Iraq. Oh what’s that? You don’t trust “the government? You “question more?” Fine. Here’s RT telling you the same thing so you can stop questioning. Case closed, indefatigable seekers of truth!

You know, long before Russian propaganda and viral memes we had the notorious chain emails. I used to hate these idiotic stories that are perpetually rehashed and forwarded by conservative aunts, uncles, and grandmothers all over the US. The chain email brought us things like Marine Todd, and the rough and tough female Marine who tells off a French soldier in a mysterious alternative universe where Camp Bondsteel is in Bosnia instead of Kosovo. In those days our “Stopfake” was Snopes.com.  It’s still a useful site today.

But nowadays, the stupid isn’t just lurking in your inbox. It’s all over your newsfeed. This is the double edged sword of the information age. We have more access to more information than ever before, but we also have just as much access to even more bullshit than before. Sites like Snopes and Stopfake.org can’t do the heavy lifting for us critical thinkers. The responsibility is on all of us to call out bullshit wherever we see it.

To arms!

UPDATE: Here’s a useful article for debunking some of the most popular ISIS bullshit.

UPDATE II: Here are a couple more links for debunking ISIS myths. LINK 1, LINK 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, they want that

As you are no doubt aware, the recent attacks in Paris have led to an outpouring of sympathy and hospitality toward the throngs of refugees trying to escape exactly that sort of terror, which was happening in their neighborhood on an almost daily basis. Oh wait…No. The “cawmun sense” brigade was all over the internet and the air, using the attacks as an excuse to shut the refugees out. Who could have predicted such a callous, calculated tactic?

Well surely these anti-refugee types changed their minds once they learned that thus far, none of the attackers have been identified as Syrian refugees, and even the phony Syrian passport that appeared at the scene of one of the attacks may have been “planted,” according to a German government minister, right? Well no, facts don’t really faze these people much.

From the other side, many pundits and writers have suggested that ISIS actually wants to provoke a backlash against refugees, or in more general terms against Muslims, in hopes that this will radicalize both and bring in more recruits. Obviously the purveyors of “cawmun sense” know this is nothing but a load of liberal hippy bullshit, but if you actually think about this critically, this theory actually makes a lot of sense. It just takes decent knowledge of Islam and the workings of “extremist” groups (I’ll clarify what I mean by extremist later).  Exposure to recent Russian propaganda is a big help as well.

First of all, ISIS and similar movements have a very strong motive to provoke persecution against Muslims. This persecution is key, because if your movement is about defending Islam and claims to follow the proper interpretation of Islam, persecution is a necessary precursor to fighting a jihad according to Islamic notions of just war. Granted, many people who join ISIS seem to know as much about Islam as your average Islamophobe, but it stands to reason you’re going to get people who will ask questions as to whether this jihad is truly righteous or not.

When we look to Islamic history and the Quran, we see the first revelation to the Prophet in Sura 22 39:40. Before quoting this, it’s important to understand the historical context. Mohammed and the early Muslims were not liked by the rulers of their home city, Mecca. Their monotheistic faith threatened the city’s economy as a…well…Mecca for pilgrims of various religions, many of which were polytheistic. Mohammed also expressed other teachings which were threatening to the powers that be, and thus he soon fell afoul of the authorities.

At this time, however, Mohammed’s Islam was utterly pacifistic. Violence, even in self-defense, was not explicitly allowed. Over time the persecution of Muslims led to migration from Mecca, ultimately leading to the Hegira or Hijrah, when Mohammed himself was forced to escape a plot against his life. This migration to a city called Yathrib, which would later be known as Madina, occurred in 622 CE, the beginning of the Muslim calendar.

Unfortunately for the Muslims, not all of their brethren were able to leave Mecca, and thus they continued to face persecution. The Meccans also weren’t about to leave the Muslims alone in Yathrib, and they refused to allow Muslims to return to their city and visit the Ka’aba.

In this context, and quite conveniently, Mohammed received the revelations regarding when it is permitted for a Muslim to engage in violence against their enemies. (The following are from the Yusuf Ali translation of the Quran -Author)

To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid. (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, “our Lord is Allah”. Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause);- for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will).

And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!

Now obviously, Salafist and other radical terrorist groups don’t necessarily follow the words of the Quran. Many of these groups have their own workarounds they use for justifying the violation of commands in the holy text. For example, some will claim that later revelations nullify earlier ones. But the point is, persecution and defense are important concepts in justifying war.

It’s easy for jihadists in some countries to attract people to their cause by claiming that Muslims are persecuted and thus are obligated to fight back. If you live in Afghanistan or Gaza, for example, the persecution looks like a massive explosion from a bomb or rocket. Persecution is checkpoints, humiliating searches, and arrests in the middle of the night. In Western and other industrialized nations, it’s another story, however.

It’s a fact that with few exceptions, Muslims in those horrible, decadent industrialized nations tend to live far better than their brethren in historically Muslim nations, not to mention in areas plagued by active wars involving jihadists. Yes, Muslims do face things like racism and stereotypes, but it’s nothing compared to the persecution they would face in some of their ancestral countries, often at the hands of other Muslims. So how do you get those Muslims to believe their being persecuted in a war on Islam, to the point that they’ll migrate to Syria to join the jihad or carry out terrorist actions wherever they currently reside? Obviously you need them to be more alienated, more isolated, and more persecuted. It comes in handy when a potential recruit, who may know very little about Islam at all, asks: “Hey brothers, are you sure it’s alright to be fighting like this?”

Would ISIS strategists actually follow this line of thought? In order to answer that, we have to get back to that “extremist” thing I mentioned earlier. I’m deliberately going to paint broad strokes when using the term extremist here (hence those quotes earlier), so for the sake of explanation let us define “extremist” as any political ideology that seeks to change the political status quo outside the rules of the political system. In other words, outside of constitution norms, elections, and so forth.

Now with this broad definition, you can take virtually any group that falls under that category, from far left Communists to anarchists to right-wing “patriots.” Study any of these enough, and you’ll inevitably find people voicing the “worse is better” concept. It will differ depending on who you hear it from and what movement you’re observing, but it’s the same basic concept. Make or let things get worse, and more people will become radicalized and receptive to your ideas. Conversely, the reason why the group’s message isn’t as potent now is because things are “too good.” Take away their HD TV’s, Netflix, internet, etc., and they will come flocking to your banner. The idea’s not entirely out there either, one can argue it has historical successes behind it.

The extremely dark comedy Four Lions actually lampoons this idea from the POV of jihadists. Super radical British convert Barry, who prefers to be called Azzam al-Britani, wants to bomb a mosque in the hopes that it will radicalize moderate Muslims and lead to an uprising:

 

Obviously this is just a movie, but the idea of “worse is better” and going after people who are sitting on the fence is widespread enough for people in ISIS to think of it.

Lastly, there’s the Russian analogy. As the Russian elite have ramped up their anti-Western propaganda, they’re still forced with a huge contradiction. They love the West. They just love it. The universities where they send their kids, the luxury apartments and villas they buy, the free food they get at Spaso House whenever the US Embassy is putting on an event. They love it. But their people aren’t supposed to love it. They need to put their noses to the grindstone and work harder, if they can work at all, because Russia needs to fight NATO encirclement while working with NATO in a war on terror against ISIS and…Okay that makes no sense but you get the idea.

Yet in spite of all the propaganda, Russians who can move to the West, do move. It’s not just the IT people and engineers either. RT founder and close friend of Putin spurned the birch trees and banyas of the motherland to live in the US, where he owned real estate. After his recent death, his body was buried in one of the most decadent cities in the decaying West- Los Angeles. Lately a lot of readers and friends speak of Russian immigrants or relatives living in the US and Canada and praising Putin and his policies, but strangely, few of them want to live under the Dear Leader’s wise rule. I know of one who got her wish, and now she wants to go back to the decaying West.

Obviously this is very embarrassing for Russia’s self-appointed “patriots.” Similarly, it’s got to be embarrassing for Islamic radicals when they notice that given a choice between join them and their “REAL TRUE 100% ISLAMIC STATE,” the overwhelming majority of Muslims say “No thanks,” and using any transport available, risk death and drowning to find asylum in the decadent Babylon that is Europe. So just as Russia’s patriots can do nothing but shake their fists and scream, “You’ll see! One day you’ll all see!” in spite of the fact that Russia has never really managed to rival any of these countries in terms of living standards, so too must many radical Islamists fume at the inconvenient truth that Muslims seem to prefer anything but their “true” Islamic society.

Of course the harder the anti-Muslim and anti-refugee backlash, the better it is for ISIS. First the refugees. If they’re sent back en masse to Syria or bordering countries, they may join ISIS or other jihadist groups. They’ll have been disillusioned by the West and democracy, desperate with nowhere else to go, and they’ll be fearful of retribution from the jihadists if they don’t offer up their services in some way. As for Muslims already in Europe, increasing racism and right-wing activity (worth pointing out how most European far-right parties have ties with the Russian government) will also create a larger audience for radicals. ISIS, and really any radical jihadist, wants these people to think: “They don’t like you. They hate you. They will always hate you. You’ll never be accepted. They persecute you. They’re degenerate perverts unbelievers; join us and let’s fight back against them!”

So in short, no, the idea that ISIS could be deliberately trying to provoke a backlash against refugees and Muslims in general is not just liberal hippy bullshit that can be dismissed in favor of dropping lotsa’ bombs on stuff. The backlash helps strengthen claims of persecution against Muslims in ISIS’ narrative. Knocking people off the fence and onto your side is a pretty widespread concept, as is the idea of deliberately provoking overreaction so as to garner more recruits.

Our evolution causes us to have overblown fears while ignoring real danger. A primitive, backward part of us wants to imagine that by locking out or restricting Muslims, Arabs, or Syrians, we can somehow be safe. There will be no more 9/11’s, 7/7’s, Charlie Hebdo’s, or Paris massacres. Unfortunately instinctual reactions are more likely to lead to increased violence and a general perpetuation of the cycle of violence as a whole. To paraphrase Cracked.com’s Jason Pargin (aka David Wong), the kind of people behind these attacks aren’t ignorant of our ability to retaliate against them; in fact they are counting on it.