Monthly Archives: July 2016

STOP…DOING…THIS…NOW!

On numerous occasions I have written about why connecting Trump to Putin is not only a stupid idea, but one which ultimately benefits both Trump and the Russian propaganda machine. Apart from the fact that Trump and Putin couldn’t possibly “get along” if the former were elected (perish the thought),this strategy seems to have been tried with Brexit and look how that worked out. And despite the fact that I’m by no means the only person pointing this out, it appears that the Chicken Littles are doubling down on the Trump-as-agent-of-Putin angle. So much so that now Trump is Putin.

If you’re looking for a sane voice debunking that particular article, I would recommend this one. I am not looking to debunk this idiotic theory anymore, because doing so doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact. Instead, I’m going to do something that many of these pundits are incapable of doing- empathizing with the sort of people who might be swayed by Trump and Russian propaganda. See, I know how the world looks through the eyes of a Kremlin supporter duped by propaganda and living in America because…well…over a decade ago I was one.

Before I can go on to explain the way many of these people see the world I must point out a key difference between them and myself back then. I was “self-radicalized” in the era before RT. You couldn’t really be passively exposed to Russian propaganda back then. This distinction is crucial because I had a personal interest in Russia pre-dating the Putin administration whereas much of the Kremlin’s target foreign audience today knows nothing about Russia and doesn’t care to know. As such, any focus on Russia is lost on them. These people are concerned about domestic issues.

That out of the way, let me tell you how your average populist responds to hysterical wailing about Trump being friendly with Putin. In the fantasy world inhabited by many pundits, people are supposed to read about these real or imagined (or distorted) connections and think: “What’s that? Trump is friendly towards Vladimir Putin?! Well that’s it! Hillary’s got my vote now!” In real life the reaction is something more like: “Well this Putin guy must be pretty good if the politicians I hate seem so upset about him and he likes Trump.”

From the other side of the pond, the goal of Russian propaganda has long been about promoting Russia’s image as some kind of alternative to the “globalized, neoliberal order,” the “establishment.” It really doesn’t matter what your political ideology is. Many neo-Nazis are convinced that Putin is fighting against the “Jewish-controlled New World Order.” Leftists are duped into believing that Putin represents an alternative to free-market “neoliberal” economics and the austerity that followed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Whatever you see as “the establishment,” Russia wants to portray itself as the exact opposite of that. That this image is total bullshit is really irrelevant. Only a tiny portion of this audience will ever actually visit Russia and it is unlikely they’ll discover the truth from their trip thanks to the language barrier and expat privilege.

Trump is playing a similar game, and it’s amazing that the punditry still hasn’t figured it out yet. This is the same thing teenagers do when they’re rebelling against teachers or their own parents. Whatever shocks the adults the most is “cool.” In Trump’s case, he’s been playing this game against two sides. First you have the Obama administration and his opponent, Hillary. On the other side he’s been waging war against the stagnant, traditional side of his own party. If you look at the policies of all these sides, it isn’t hard to understand where Trump’s Russia strategy is coming from.

For an example let us go back to the election of 2012. Remember when Obama got caught on mic telling then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev about how he could be more flexible after the election? Here you can see how GOP candidate Romney played it in a debate:

 

From a traditional conservative standpoint it was a perfect gaffe on Obama’s part. It goes with their line about how Democrats are weaklings who are willing to submit to other countries, including our “enemies.” But Trump, of course, is not a traditional conservative. He’s a populist who’s after a rising number of people who are conservative but who grew weary of the Bush doctrine and its aftermath. At the same time, occasionally spitting out anti-war rhetoric (when he’s not talking about slaughtering terrorists’ families) ingratiates him with a large but politically illiterate radical anti-war movement. And again, virtually none of these people give a shit about Russia.

Thus when pro-Hillary pundits start screaming “Putin! Putin! Russia!” it sounds like they are advocating a new Cold War. Russian propaganda seizes on this and portrays Hillary and anyone who opposes the Kremlin’s regional imperialism as “neocons” out of the Bush era. This just makes their candidate look even more distasteful, more establishment.

The fact is that there are plenty of reasons to hate and revile Trump. There are plenty of reasons why people who currently support him really ought to think twice about the consequences of their actions. Idiotically labeling Trump an agent of Putin isn’t going to sway any of those people. Why not focus on the issue at hand, which is America?

Trump is a candidate who is literally making open racism and neo-Nazism publicly acceptable. Just a few years ago no political candidate would want to have even the most tenuous link to anti-Semites or far right figures. Now we have a candidate who refuses to speak out against any of the numerous open racists supporting him; on the contrary, he often re-tweets their messages. Meanwhile online it seems that people have forgotten why Nazism was evil in the first place. On several occasions critics of Trump who have Jewish heritage have found themselves the target of mass harassment campaigns involving Holocaust-themed imagery. As polarized as the country was during the last Bush administration, such a thing seems unthinkable in those years.

Another issue that ought to get far more attention than Trump’s contrived Russia links is the rise of what some have dubbed “post-fact” society. Vox fact-checked Trump’s recent speech and as it would turn out, he actually managed to get a few things correct. It’s worth reading just to see what he was right on, because some of those points help explain Trump’s success and Hillary’s obstacles. But while Trump’s speech was more distortions than outright lies, the orange man has been pulling claims straight out of his ass since the beginning of his campaign. There is a serious problem with out society when a person can make up something that never happened, have their claim thoroughly debunked beyond any shadow of a doubt, and yet people are still willing to support him, fanatically even. When objective reality no longer matters, things get bad. That’s how you get ISIS. I’d say that’s how you get Nazi Germany, but this is the internet in 2016 and I’m afraid there are too many people out there who would need me to explain in painstaking detail why that’s bad.

These are just two of the major dangers of the Trump campaign- that he is causing division and discord in America and that he is waging a war on objective reality itself. Our media would do well to focus on these subjects instead of casting Trump as the Manchurian candidate of a county and leader most Americans don’t give a rat’s ass about.

Connecting the dots

Things haven’t been going well for the alarmist defenders of the status quo lately. The brilliant strategy of linking Putin to Brexit failed, while Brexit itself succeeded (assuming you can call that success). The dictators of Turkey and Russia appear to be embracing each other once again after that little lovers’ quarrel last year. Hillary’s lead over Trump is far from comfortable. As such, it looks like some of the pundits are starting to despair. At least that’s the feeling you get from this Edward Lucas article.

To his credit, he doesn’t pin any of this on Putin, unlike some other pundits who apparently haven’t learned how Russian propaganda works (PROTIP: Claims that make Putin look like an omnipotent strategist only help his image). But there are two passages that raise an eyebrow.

First there’s this:

“The West’s values of rule of law, democracy and capitalism form the best combination of political and economic arrangements the world has ever seen. So we don’t need “sovereign democracy” because our own system works fine. Nor do we need a “new European security architecture” (code for giving Russia the right to meddle in its neighbors’ affairs) because the existing setup—based on the Paris Charter and the OSCE—works perfectly well.”

Now my reaction there was that in spite of the Western system’s clear accomplishments, it is far from “fine” for most of the world’s population. Oddly enough, Lucas goes on to acknowledge this from another angle:

“This argument can sound complacent, but it is in fact the opposite. We assume that things go wrong in our system. The issue is how we deal with them when they do. The Western system, in essence, is a means for settling disputes peacefully and fairly—in elections, in courts, or by negotiation.”

Then there’s this:

“This argument can sound complacent, but it is in fact the opposite. We assume that things go wrong in our system. The issue is how we deal with them when they do. The Western system, in essence, is a means for settling disputes peacefully and fairly—in elections, in courts, or by negotiation.”

Followed by this admission:

“But the foundations of that system are under strain. We don’t have an answer to mass migration. We don’t know how to deal with terrorism. We don’t have an answer to politicians such as Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who uses a democratic mandate to crush opposition. Our economies are doing an increasingly bad job in distributing the fruits of prosperity.”

Now having read all that, I’m surprised that Lucas doesn’t connect the dots and realize that these symptoms exist because there is something wrong with the liberal system, and in fact things like Putinist Russia and authoritarian Turkey are just two more examples of by-products. Can he really believe that it’s just an accident that this system, that supposedly allows everyone to settle everything via peaceful means, is simply “doing an increasingly bad job in distributing the fruits of prosperity?” Here’s a hint- take a look at who “picks” that fruit and then who has been getting an increasing share.

The truth is that the Western liberal system is failing because at its core, it really isn’t about human rights, prosperity for all, or justice. That half of the equation the Kremlin-fans actually get right on some level. Liberalism began as the philosophy of a rising European middle class- the bourgeoisie. The liberty and equality they originally sought was to be limited to themselves- property owners. Liberalism had to be “tamed,” so to speak, over centuries by radicals- those who insisted that equality and liberty should be enjoyed by all instead of a privileged few.

While Lucas is correct that countries like Russia and China offer no decent alternative to his “Western” system, and indeed they are much worse, the fact remains that we do need an alternative. Humankind simply cannot go on inhabiting this planet if it is unable to master the use of our finite resources and peaceably solve the conflicts that plague us. We cannot fully solve these problems within the confines of a system which relies on capitalists’ profit motives to address them. Tech billionaires and venture capitalists aren’t going to save us.

We must eventually evolve to the point where the idea of people suffering from malnutrition or being homeless when there is a surplus of housing and food seems as immoral as child marriage. We must come to see that forcing people by virtue of birth to work for such low wages that they are spending years if not decades of their lives just trying to stave off destitution is a modern form of slavery. In short, our system is great; I will not deny Western liberal capitalism any credit it has rightly earned. But civilization can do better. Humankind must do better.

Absent a movement dedicated to this purpose, cynicism and moral relativism spread. That’s where the less savory players of the capitalist world worm their way into people’s minds. Like maggots, they prefer to feed on a rotting corpse. So a question remains. How long will leaders of NATO countries take to realize that the most powerful weapon they have against such regimes isn’t in any of their arsenals- it’s their societies? And if they fail to realize this and do not change for the better, then we’d better hope there are enough good-minded, morally upright people left in these societies to fight for a real alternative.

Updating the list

If you’ve been following Russia closely since about 2012, you know that in spite of the fact that Russia is a rising superpower at the head of a future Eurasian Union, and in spite of the fact that NATO, the EU, and the whole “Anglo-American-Atlantic” order is on the point of collapse due to “degeneracy” and “tolerance,” there is still a long list of mortal threats that could easily bring down the mighty Russian state in a matter of days if not dealt with harshly by the state.

Bloggers, performance artists, musicians, internet memes, people’s likes on social media, and even Netflix are just a handful of the many dire threats which might push Russia over the edge of the abyss at any moment should its leaders become too lax and secure in their ability to provide Russia with that all-too-precious “stability.” Well guess what, folks. Today we add something to the list. You should have seen it coming.

According to entirely rational and well-adjusted adult human Evgeny Fedorov, founder of the patriotic “National Liberation Movement,” the first national liberation movement to liberate a country from itself, has declared that Pokemon Go is a potential threat to Russian security. Here’s an excerpt from the article on Meduza:

“Calling the game a mechanism for the “mental debilitation” of the populace, Federov suggested that Pokémon Go was created by forces that seek to “degrade humanity.” Noting the game’s efficiency at getting people to move through the streets, Fedorov argued that it would be simple for its creators, who he stresses are not Russian, to concentrate people in one location, somehow provoke them, and, thereby, bring about mass riots. His conclusion is that the game’s objective is to destabilize Russia.”

Poor Russia just can’t get a break. First the evil US imperialists, who supposedly already occupy and control Russia according to Fedorov, use things like MMORPGs and Netflix to weaken Russian youth by getting them to sit indoors staring at screens for hours on end. Now the diabolical plotters are getting them to run around outside. No doubt they will attempt to lead the masses to converge on Red Square with the lure of rare and powerful pokemon- then they will suddenly pull the plug on the game, sending the crowd into a Maidan-like rage. This is an entirely plausible scenario. Evgeny Fedorov certainly has no need for strong anti-psychotic medication. Everything made outside of Russia is a plot to destabilize Russia. He knows because he’s worked so hard for Russian stability.

Now that Pokemon Go has been added to the list, I’m going to republish it here in order to ensure that my readers are up to speed.

List of things which constitute a dire threat to the integrity of Russia, the rising superpower which will inevitably overtake the decaying, degenerate United States any day now

  • Pokemon Go
  • Netflix
  • Chill
  • Anti-Corruption bloggers
  • Corruption bloggers
  • Pugs
  • Onion powder
  • Performance artists
  • Musicians
  • Memes
  • Liking things on social media
  • Twerking
  • Not using your government post as a vehicle for self-enrichment
  • Failure to remind audiences that it is illegal to join or be a member of ISIS in Russia
  • Imported fruit and cheese

That just about covers the main items of the list. The list will be updated in the future.

Now at this point I should point out that apart from some other jackasses complaining about Pokemon Go, one shouldn’t draw the conclusion that Russia is declaring war on the new game. The state-owned Sberbank has embraced the game and has started offering insurance for Pokemon Go players. Apparently they will pay out if you are injured while playing the game. No word yet on whether your claim will be upheld if you sustain injuries at the hands of Fedorov’s “National Liberation Movement” thugs or cossacks, however.

 

Hollywood Colonel Field Manual

Congratulations on your promotion to full colonel! No doubt when you were still a cadet at the academy, you probably imagined that being a colonel would mean taking on much more responsibility, specifically the command of a battalion or possibly regiment. While this is the typical command for many colonels, now that you have achieved the prestigious rank yourself you might want to take the time to consider two lesser-known, more unconventional options for fulfilling your role as a colonel in your nation’s armed forces.

Evil Colonel

colonelourumov

Colonel Ourumov, Soviet Army Goldeneye (1995)

Being a colonel means you are tasked with controlling a sizable military force, yet unlike a general, you are still in good enough physical condition to take part in operations yourself if need be. For this reason, one of the most popular non-traditional command options for a colonel is that of the evil colonel. While the nomenclature might make it seem as though the evil colonel is a one-dimensional figure, there are actually many sub-roles for evil colonels to play. The variety of duties is quite rich indeed.

The most straightforward role for an evil colonel is almost identical to a conventional battalion command, but with some very important differences. Rather than command the soldiers of your battalion in conventional combat against a conventional or non-conventional enemy, you will most often be using your military resources against a single enemy and possibly his attractive female love interest. It is unlikely that you will be required to conduct operations against anything larger than a squad-sized element at most.

colstrelknikov

Colonel Strelnikov of the Soviet Army Red Dawn (1984)

Unlike a conventional battalion commander, you will take a far more hands-on approach in conducting operations. You will be right behind your men on the front line as they track down an escaped secret agent, a plucky band of partisans, or a top-tier special forces operative tasked with infiltrating a secret military installation. On that note, it is almost certain that your battalion will be stationed in just such an installation, most likely tasked with the security of a highly advanced weapon system capable of overturning the global balance of power.

Other hands-on aspects of such a command include interrogating intruders or those helping them. This requires skills in both psychology and persuasion. Such a command will not be suitable for someone who is averse to the use of extremely enhanced interrogation techniques. In this respect, it is also important to cultivate a certain image as a cold-blooded, sadistic individual. While a colonel in a conventional command may make the grade by earning a reputation of “running a tight ship,” this will not suffice for an evil colonel. Be prepared to either occasionally execute one of your own subordinates should they fail at a task you assign them, or at least spread rumors that you will.

Lastly, a colonel serving in this conventional evil colonel role must be able to inspire his men with speeches and sap the morale of any intruder with threats and reminiscences that reveal a dark backstory to prove how violent you can actually be against anyone who dares cross your path. Here are some practical examples of speeches you can make:

To your own men: “Men, we have an intruder in our midst. I expect every one of you to perform your duties to the absolute best of your ability, or you shall face the same fate as our little uninvited guest!”

To an intruder you have captured: “I’m impressed you’ve managed to get this far, but it’s time we end this charade, don’t you think? Now you’re going to tell me exactly who sent you and what you’re after, and you’re going to do it quickly while you still have the ability to speak.”

Another variant on the above: “What you do not understand, Mr. Steele, what you can never understand, is that Mother Russia will not simply vanish into the frozen wasteland. A new Russian empire is rising, and you will be present to witness it’s birth…just before your death!” 

colvogel

SS-Standartenfuhrer (colonel) Vogel Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

 

Another sub-role for the evil colonel is the evil terrorist colonel. This is easily one of the most unconventional specialties in the military sphere. Being an evil terrorist colonel will typically entail either carrying out a terrorist operation in another country, or, in an unexpected twist, against your own country. For this reason, you will typically no longer be on active duty when you become an evil terrorist colonel. You will be officially discharged after a period of training which will be dedicated primarily to backstory forming. This might involve being betrayed by your higher command, or being unjustly discharged for making a command decision that caused too much “collateral damage.” Whatever the case, your men from the battalion still follow your word as they would the word of God, and thus they will still respect the chain of command in order to fulfill the mission you give them.

colstuart

ex-US Special Forces colonel Stuart Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)

Due to the very non-traditional nature of this role, the evil terrorist colonel must work harder to cultivate his image. Fortunately, the colonel who chooses to go the evil terrorist route will find that the restrictions commonly associated with military service are no longer present, in particular those associated with your country’s military justice system. Collateral damage is no longer a consideration- on the contrary it’s often part of the job.

Whereas the more conventional evil colonel is typically tasked with what is more often than not a defensive mission and a static role, the evil terrorist colonel is far more dynamic. In other words, rather than guarding a top secret military installation and the advanced weapons technology therein, you would more likely be tasked with taking over said installation in order to secure said technology and use it to hold the government for ransom.

colgruber

Simon Gruber, ex-colonel of an East German special operations team Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995)

One thing that must be stressed above all is backstory and image. At some point you will be required to justify your actions either to the government you are acting against, or a single, protagonist-like operative who has been sent to impede your operation. The following are some practical examples of backstories you may use for inspiration:

Betrayal motive: “Ten years ago you left me and my men in that valley with no air support, no artillery, no medevac- NOTHING! I watched young, patriotic men in their prime die in agony just so some desk jockey general could get another star and a cowardly, treasonous administration could call it a victory and pat itself on the back while gearing up for an election year. Well, gentlemen, as you’re no doubt aware by now, some of us didn’t die on that mountain. Think of us as ghosts of your dirty past, come to judge you for your crimes. And believe me, gentlemen, if you fail to follow our instructions to the letter, we will unleash the X87 missile on a major city.”

Political motive: “I did what I had to do to save the lives of my men. I did what I had been commissioned to do by this government! If I am guilty of anything it is loving this country too much to bow my head and accept the judgment of cowardly politicians who never faced the business end of an enemy machine gun. My men and I think it’s high time the fatcats in Washington got a taste of the wars they ask us to fight, then condemn us for the way we fight them.”

 Morale-building speech for your henchmen: “Gentlemen! I don’t care what the hypocrites and cowards say about us. You are the finest soldiers I have ever known and I am proud to have served with you on this difficult mission. It has been a hard fight, and some of our own have fallen. But rest assured- now that our little party-crasher is nothing but a charred pile of ashes (pause for cheers), there is nothing left in our way. In eight hours, the device will detonate and we’ll be on our way to a secluded tropical island enjoying our fortunes and new identities.”

Be advised that both conventional and terrorist evil colonels typically run a high risk of being killed in action. Research has shown that due to their proficiency with firearms and more conventional weapons, evil colonels tend to be killed via more unconventional means, typically by the hand of a lone, resilient, likeable protagonist-type enemy who simply will not abandon his assigned mission so long as there is air in his lungs and blood in his veins. While this topic will be covered more thoroughly in training, here are a few tips to give you an idea of the risks you’ll have to look out for.

-Be sure to survey your area of operations for any sharp objects which might impale a person. Remove such objects or install proper guardrails to prevent someone from falling on them.

-Look out for cliffs, windows on high floors, and anything else which might pose a falling hazard. Ensure that any windows are made of strong, preferably bulletproof glass. All catwalks should have guardrails. Have your soldiers repeatedly police their assigned positions for trip hazards like extension cords.

-Keep all flammable materials in a safe, secure location, and do not retreat to this area should the battle turn against you.

-If your enemy is escaping, think twice before getting into a helicopter or other military vehicle in order to hunt him down. Many evil colonels die in vehicle accidents, often caused by an enemy targeting some vulnerable feature of their vehicle.

-Be sure to secure the entire area when you are interrogating a prisoner. When making a long speech about your ultimate plan or your motivation, make sure at least three of your men have eyes on your prisoner. They should be carrying locked and loaded.

-Be sure to kill prisoners personally or at least witness their execution. Do not “leave it” to a henchman or utilize any overly complicated killing mechanisms. Plenty of experience shows that these elaborate schemes are doomed to fail and lead to escape.

-At some point you may find yourself in hand-to-hand combat with an enemy. You will no doubt dominate this fight thanks to your advanced martial arts skills and years of combat experience, but be forewarned- should you knock your assailant off a ledge or through a window, be sure to verify that they have actually been killed. In many cases the enemy might have fallen into a conveniently-placed construction dumpster full of discarded foam mattresses, or a series of awnings might have broken their fall. Never assume in combat!

-Remember! Situational awareness is key!

strelkov

Evil Terrorist colonel Igor “Strelkov” Girkin (2014)

 

Wise Mentor Colonel

If evil is not your thing, you might want to try becoming a wise mentor colonel. Just be aware that there is an age requirement. This may be waived on a case-by-case basis depending on appearance, however. Typically gray hair will be sufficient.

Mentor colonels do not actually command troops. Their specialty is motivating highly skilled, veteran operators to carry out the most dangerous missions, in some cases against an evil colonel.

 

coltrautman

US Special Forces colonel Trautman Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

The operative is the most important aspect of a mentor colonel’s mission. Typically this operative will be someone who served under your command in combat, back when you were a more junior rank with a conventional command. In the heat of battle, you taught him many key lessons, but you also learned a lot from him, because he was by far the best soldier you’d ever commanded in combat. There was only one problem. He was too emotional, too much rage, too much intensity. If he only knew how to channel that energy he’d be unstoppable- exactly the type of person you need for the most dangerous mission. Take a moment to reflect on your military career and ask yourself if you’ve ever worked with a soldier like that. If you have, that’s your operative.

Simply knowing an operative is not enough for the mentor colonel, however. Volumes of military literature attest to the fact that being the best-of-the-best, elite-of-the-elite, eventually leads to something known as “hero burnout.” Afflicted operatives will typically leave the service, sometimes under other than honorable conditions, and then cut themselves off from the rest of society in an attempt to put the horrors of war behind them. As a mentor colonel, you’re first mission after mentally hand-picking an operative will be to go out into the world and track that operative down. Here is a list of possible locations where you might find such an operative.

-Rundown taverns or honky-tonk bars in remote, rural towns are one of the most common gathering places for ex-special operations veterans trying to drown the nightmares with drink. The more remote, the more likely you are to find a top-tier special operative.

-Remote cabins in nearly inaccessible wilderness areas. Top-tier special operatives with emotional baggage from their last and final operation often want to cut off contact from the world as much as possible. As such, they may purchase a small cabin somewhere in a depths of a vast forest, perhaps in the Yukon territory. You will most likely find them outside, chopping wood. Be prepared to deal with wolves or other potentially dangerous wildlife.

-Religious institutions. The kind of special operative you need is most likely struggling with an army of personal demons associated with his past actions in combat. As such, it is only natural for them to seek out the solitude of religious sanctuaries such as Buddhist temples, Catholic monasteries, Sufi tekkes, or on rare occasions, Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

-Prison. Veterans with so much combat experience often find it difficult to adjust to civilian life. As such, they might find themselves in trouble with the law. One possibility is that they were defending some young woman from a group of rape-hungry assailants, and in the process they lost control and used one of their deadly secret martial arts techniques on one or more of the attackers. Civilian courts and jurors rarely appreciate the mental state of such veterans and thus might be inclined to pass a guilty verdict. Alternatively, your operative might be found within a military prison, either wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, or for disobeying what was in reality an illegal order, but it was his word against an officer’s. One advantage of finding your operative in prison is that you can easily use a full pardon as an incentive to join your mission.

-Any venue that involves underground fighting for money is likely to attract men whose bare hands are lethal weapons and who have no skills outside of killing. If the audience at such a venue consists almost entirely of chain-smoking Chinese men furiously waving betting slips, chances are you’ve found your man.

ramboiii

Top-tier special operations operatives typically acquire PTSD from their many dangerous missions over the years. As such, they may seek an escape from the violence, such as underground old-school Thai boxing. Rambo III (1988)

Once a mentor colonel has found his operative, his work is by no means done. Now begins the hard part. The colonel must convince the operative to return to duty so as to take on one last mission that no other operative or military asset could possibly accomplish.

The first step is positively identifying your operative. Oftentimes they will be sitting alone at a bar stool, hunched over a shot of whiskey or a beer. They will most likely be intoxicated and they are unlikely to make eye contact even if you sit down next to them. As such, the typical method for addressing them is to stand behind them and deliver your introductory speech to their back, as in the following example:

“Sergeant First Class Steele, Joseph. Top of your class US Army airborne school, sniper school, Ranger school. Combat missions with the 75th Ranger regiment, then you transferred to US Special Forces and then on to Delta. Combat missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, North Korea… Wounded in action six times, three silver stars. They would have given you the Medal of Honor if that particular mission weren’t classified. You’re the best of the best. The finest soldier I’ve ever commanded. And that’s exactly what our country needs right now!”

At this point you’re likely to start encountering objections from the operative. It is here that the wise mentor colonel must use all of his wits in order to convince the operative to return to duty and complete the mission. Here is a list of common operative objections and possible responses to them:

Objection: “(Name) doesn’t exist anymore. He’s dead.”

Response: “The (Name of operative) I knew wouldn’t talk that way. He was a survivor.”

Objection: “I’m out of the game.”

Response: “Defending our country isn’t some game you can just quit when the going gets tough! We need you back!”

Objection: “Why me? What’s so special about me? I’m just a washed-up dead-ender trying to die in peace!”

Response: “No you’re NOT! You’re the finest fighting machine this country has ever trained. You don’t belong here, crying into your beer. You belong with your old unit- what’s left of it at least!” 

Objection: “I’ve had enough killing. I’m through with violence. I want to live my life in peace.”

Response: “Don’t we all? But while you’ve had enough of war, the terrorists haven’t. And nobody’s going to live in peace if they’re allowed to carry out their latest plan!”

Objection: “I was good, but I got careless. I got people killed.”

Response: “You can’t keep living in the past!” 

Objection: “Twenty civilians died because of me!” 

Response: “You can’t keep living in the past!” 

Objection: “You say I was your best soldier,  but would you be saying that if you knew about that time I robbed your house and pawned your wife’s antique jewelry so I could pay back that payday loan?”

Response: “You can’t keep…Wait…What?”

Occasionally you will have to use stronger tactics of persuasion. These may include, but are not limited to, the following:

-Inform the operative that someone close to them has been captured by the enemy you want them to fight. If you plan on going this route, be sure to do your homework ahead of time.

-Get yourself captured and have a subordinate inform the operative that you have gone missing in action. Hopefully the strong bond you formed earlier in the service will motivate the operative to come rescue you.

-You could try accepting the operative’s refusal and leaving. Inevitably someone close to the operative will be killed by the enemy either directly or indirectly, and this will force them to commit to the mission.

Once you have recruited the operative and properly briefed him, you will have to provide them with guidance during the mission. Radio is the best way of accomplishing this.

colcampbell

Colonel Roy Campbell provides guidance for operative Solid Snake Metal Gear Solid (1998)

Be sure to give the operative an extra briefing once they arrive in the area of operations. They haven’t been in the game a while so they may be slightly forgetful from all the binge drinking, underground Burmese boxing, or Siberian bear wrestling.

It is important that you monitor the radio at all times and be prepared to offer helpful hints on anything the operative might encounter. If you suddenly lose contact with the operative, be sure to loudly shout the operative’s name into the radio repeatedly in order to reestablish contact and determine the cause of the communications breakdown.

Be advised that it is often necessary to leave out some crucial information about the mission or the enemy leader in your initial briefing. The best time to reveal such information is roughly two thirds into the mission, typically at a point where your operative is experiencing heavy opposition and is wounded or nearly dead. As a rule, your operative is unlikely to react positively to this news, but it is mission essential information that they must have, at least at this point. Armed with this extra intel, your operative will inevitably work out the best solution with which to confront the enemy and neutralize them.

Metal_Gear_2-Solid_Snake_(PS2)_07

For the wise mentor colonel, pre-combat inspections are unnecessary. Here colonel Campbell tells Snake how his equipment works in the field. Metal Gear 2 Solid Snake (1990)

Generally, being a wise mentor colonel is oftentimes much safer than being an evil colonel, as you will have the highly-trained veteran operative on your side rather than the other way around. Still, there are risks you should be aware of. One obvious risk is enemy action in those cases where you must become captured in order to motivate your operative to undertake the mission. However, there are cases when a wise mentor colonel may be required to sacrifice his own life for the sake of the mission. In this case you will most likely die a painful, slow death, slow enough for the devastated operative to cradle you in his arms, tell you it’s nothing and that you’re going to make it, and generally lose all hope. If you should find yourself in this situation, realize that you must give the operative the mission essential information, whatever it may be, at this time!

Do you have the secret override code to abort the launch? Tell it. Do you know a hidden vulnerability on the enemy super weapon? Tell him what it is and what sort of weapon to use. Are you the operative’s estranged father? You have to tell him now. Not only will you have provided your operative with crucial information, but he will now be imbued with rage and a thirst for vengeance. He will accomplish the mission.

***

Your armed forces are proud to have you serving as a senior commissioned officer. Now that you know the full potential your rank affords, go out and make the most of it, colonel!

It wasn’t you

Hey remember that time Sunday news host Dmitry Kiselyov ran a story accusing Alexei Navalny of being either a CIA or MI6 agent using the code name Agent Freedom?  And remember how I said this country appears to be run by children? Well guess what- you’re about to see another reason why I get that impression.

In case you weren’t following the case, Navalny responded in two ways. He announced that he would sue the Russian state network for slander, and he also publicly asked the FSB to investigate his alleged ties to foreign intelligence (they categorically refused, indicating that they are either convinced his is not a foreign agent or they are laughably incompetent- you decide). You’re probably no going to be shocked when you learn that the court rejected Navalny’s suit earlier this week. Just wait until you learn why, however.

You can read the story here (or from Navalny himself in Russian), but essentially the representatives of the network claimed that…brace yourselves…that the piece they aired was not about Navalny, and secondly, that the part which accuses not-Navalny of receiving money to overthrow the constitutional order of Russia (something they can easily prosecute you for) is not defamatory. They claimed that “labor relations are allowed” in Russia. While slander can be difficult to prove in some Western courts, you can usually bring in witnesses to help make your case. As is typical in politicized Russian cases, Navalny was not allowed to call his witnesses or enter any documents as evidence.

I say let the viewer be the judge- even if you don’t speak Russian, watch at least part of this video and decide whether or not someone might get the impression that this story is about Navalny.

Now do you see what I mean when I say that this place seems to be run by children? But let’s ignore that for a second, because now that the Russian media company VGTRK has been vindicated in court, there are a couple of important conclusions we can make.

The first and most important conclusion is that based on the decision of the Russian court, the FSB, and the Russian state-run TV network, Alexei Navalny is definitely not a foreign agent. So if you ever hear anyone claiming that he is, you can kindly remind them that the Russian judicial system and its main domestic intelligence service both categorically disagree.

The second conclusion, and this is a very important one, is that Dmitry Kiselyov and his media empire are full of shit. Just recently Kiselyov was interviewed by the BBC, when he pulled the typical whataboutism argument in response to the charges that he is a propagandist. You can watch that video here:

While he manages to score one minor point about the creative use of visuals to create a certain mood about public figures, Kiselyov’s argument fails because no, actually the BBC doesn’t put out propaganda, at least nothing comparable to what he has done. While Western media has often fallen for hoaxes or shown itself to be too reliant on official sources, when has the BBC deliberately produced a story accusing someone of being a Russian spy based on poorly translated documents? Where is the BBC’s “crucified boy?” And when asking these questions, it’s always helpful to remember there is to date no evidence of any big shake ups or firings in response to any of the infamous fake stories Russian state press has run. The answer is always the same. Either it’s our job to prove that it didn’t happen, or “you do it too,” even when you clearly don’t. Again, these people are children.

No, Russia is not going to invade the Baltics

The Russian press seems to have had a field day with the recent NATO conference in Warsaw. As is typical for them, they have portrayed NATO’s exercises and statements about the need for solidarity and responses to Russian aggression as “hysteria” and warmongering. This is rather amusing because at the same time many of these pundits are constantly screaming about “NATO encirclement” of Russia while ignoring the fact that Russia has far more troops on the border now than NATO does, even after the increases since 2014. But oddly enough, on a certain level they have a point. If you are not Ukraine, Georgia, or Moldova, you don’t really need to worry much about Russian aggression, at least not directly.

As some have pointed out recently, Russia’s strategy is based on appearing to be far stronger than it actually is. While half the time pro-Kremlin pundits point and laugh at the supposed alarmist tactics of NATO officials, Russian media often spends the other half talking about how powerful its military forces are and how they could easily conquer the Baltic countries and defeat NATO conventional forces. Sadly it seems some people pay attention to the latter type of propaganda and then fall right into the Russian trap.

I’m by no means the first person to point this out, but let me make it clear- Russia is not going to intentionally go to war with NATO. They are not going to invade the Baltic states. All the while these same pundits talk about how close we are to WWIII, but when a Russian military plane was actually shot down by a NATO member state last year, what actually happened? We got roughly six months of impotent buttrage and then Vladimir and Recep kissed and made up so Russia can get tomatoes and Turkey can get drunk Russian office plankton on its beaches.

Here’s why Russia isn’t going to invade the Baltic states- it has nothing to gain and everything to lose. In the case of Ukraine, it was a neutral country already within their sphere of influence. The economies of both nations were extremely intertwined, and when you look at the role Ukrainian firms played in Russia’s defense industry, at a time when Russia’s military standardization and modernization reforms were in full swing, you can understand why they were willing to gamble so foolishly on an attempt to maintain this relationship.

Putin and his cronies probably never expected any sanctions or at least serious repercussions from the West at the time. Why would they? The West is where these men hid their stolen fortunes, whether in banks, holding companies, or real estate. While Putin’s claim that Crimea represented “holy land” for Russians was laughably spurious, the holy land for Putin’s elite was no doubt London and various other pricey Western locales. Even from a military standpoint it’s clear that the operation to seize the Crimea went forward simply because the Russian authorities, after carefully testing the waters, saw that they could get away with it.

If we look at the wider war in Ukraine, the motive here is pretty obvious too. The basic goal is to prevent Ukraine from successfully building a functioning, prosperous democratic state at all costs. The Kremlin says Russians are too stupid to take part in the governing of their own affairs. It says they are inferior to Western people whose own political participation is usually not too far beyond that which Russians are allowed to enjoy. So what do you tell your people when they look across the border from Voronezh or the Rostov region and there are millions of Russian-speakers (the Kremlin holds that Russians and Ukrainians are the same people) who are somehow able to enjoy the most basic fruits of Western democracy and what is more, who can travel freely in Europe? On that note the destabilization and destruction of Ukraine serves another narrative purpose- “Don’t protest. Obey the legitimate government no matter what. If you protest you’ll get chaos.” In short, Russia is doing all this to Ukraine because it can, for reasons which are on some level logical, however immoral and reprehensible they might be.

By contrast, what is to be gained from invading the Baltic states? A propaganda coup? Would it really be worth it when the same results could be accomplished with some photo ops or state-sponsored concerts? Alarmists say that the Russian forces could easily defeat the NATO forces currently stationed there. Okay- but at what cost? They moved in the Crimea once they established that there would be no resistance, and this was largely the case. In the Donbas they could rely on proxies and volunteers who wouldn’t be missed in Russia. Even if a Russian invasion force managed to defeat the NATO defenders in the Baltic, it would suffer far more casualties, actual, acknowledged Russian military casualties, than in the Crimea or Donbas. I would not be surprised to see them lose more than they did in the entire war in Ukraine so far. And while there would be a massive campaign to whip up patriotism and glorify the conquest, those dead soldiers have families. The message to every one of them is: “this will cost you.”

And that’s not even talking about sanctions and other measures against Russia. Say goodbye to SWIFT. Say goodbye to virtually any Western investment. The Russian elite will see their assets seized and frozen en masse, which pretty much negates the whole purpose of being part of the Russian elite. And what about arms sales to Ukraine? NATO would start giving the weapons away. Much of Russia’s best forces are tied down in or on the border of eastern Ukraine, and then you’ve got another significant portion tied down in Syria. Taking troops out of Ukraine or off the border leaves the puppet states in the Donbas vulnerable to an offensive, and they’re a juicy target because Russia can’t claim that it was attacked here. NATO, with the help of Turkey and other allies in the region, could launch an all-out attack on the Assad regime and Russian forces stationed in Syria, all while closing the Bosphorus to all Russian shipping. What is Russia going to do then? Invade Turkey? Of course in any scenario they’ll scream and shout about their nuclear missiles, but deep down they know that the launch of one nuke means the end of Russia and much of human civilization as they know it. That and the Russian elite doesn’t want to fry its own children in London, New York, or Paris.

The Russian economy, which is slowly sliding downhill now, will basically go into free fall, and a significant portion of the Russian population will be faced with a choice- stand up for your rights and demand change or starve to death. This is that point that Russia’s current leadership keeps forgetting throughout their country’s history- the point where all that rhetoric about Russians enduring anything indefinitely is revealed to be bullshit. 1905, 1917, 1991, 20xx…

Essentially it would seem that NATO leaders are falling for Russia’s so-called “reflexive control,” and falling hard. Russia makes a lot of noise with exercises and airspace violations, Baltic nations get scared and call for more troops, and then the Russian media says they’re paranoid, reacting to a phantom threat, and warmongering against Russia. Putin needs “NATO encirclement” to look real. The second a majority of people in Russia stop believing in the NATO conspiracy against Russia, they will turn their gaze toward the real enemy of Russia- the government. And this is where NATO countries should focus their attention when it comes to threats.

The Putin regime’s actions and style of government pretty much guarantee widespread instability and chaos in the Russian Federation at some point in the future. When that time comes, Eastern European nations will be faced with a terrible crisis. Massive migrant or refugee waves, organized crime, arms trafficking, and human trafficking from the struggling, possibly fracturing Russian Federation will challenge these states. It is not a resurgent, revanchist Russia bent on restoring the Soviet Union that the NATO countries should be worrying about- it’s the collapse of Russia that is a threat to the region.