Tag Archives: America

Endless Two-Front War

Recently The Onion ran a couple of short articles (link, link) lampooning President Trump’s so-called “strategy” in Afghanistan, which seems to amount to “we’ll be there forever.” The Onion’s response may be satirical, but not entirely off the mark. In the coming years, we will have soldiers and marines who have no actual memory of 9/11, which is supposedly the reason why they’re going to Afghanistan. Likewise, some young people are coming of age so that we could have a situation where a son more or less takes over his father’s duties in Afghanistan. Think about that for a second.

Imagine a war without end, where there are several generations of soldiers. Different groups of Afghan War vets have worn different uniforms and carried different weapons. Some of them were well-trained to deal with life in the country; the early birds were wholly unprepared. And while all this has been happening, for the vast majority of Americans Afghanistan might as well be Mars or some other dimension.

Worse still, there is no chance of victory. Nobody even knows what victory means. The leaders of the “free world” want Afghanistan to become a modern democratic country, but they have no idea how to build that. In their minds, this process happens when you have free trade and free markets, which then attract entrepreneurs who give everyone jobs until prosperity ensues. This is something that just isn’t going to happen in Afghanistan. The Taliban and anyone who seeks to ally with them only have to avoid losing. “You may have the watches,” they’ll say, “but we have the time.”

If you think that sounds bleak, it’s not that much different from the situation in the States these days. Our super-genius centrists have no vision of a better future to offer us. If Trump were removed from office tomorrow you can bet your bottom dollar the Democrats would be lining up to work with Mike Pence and the Republicans in Congress. They’d praise the return to “civility” and “dignity.” If you want to see the bizarre utopia centrists live in, here’s a perfect example:

Apart from the delusion that a Republican-dominated congress wouldn’t obstruct all of Clinton’s initiatives the same way they did with Obama, this is the best vision these people can give us of a better future, something better than Trump’s circus. In reality, of course, there’s only one way Clinton would get such a bill passed- she’d cave into every single Republican demand for tax cuts, deregulation, and giveaways to private corporations and then declare victory. This is the best they have to offer.

When you look at it that way, you can kind of understand the mindset of an Afghan villager, patiently listening to some interpreter explaining to him for the seventh time why it is important to support the Afghan central government in Kabul. You can understand why they might be reluctant to put their home and family at risk by collaborating with the authorities when they can just look the other way for the Taliban and sleep soundly at night. Or if that’s not the case, you can at least understand why our hypothetical Afghan villager simply doesn’t give a shit.

We seem to have reached a point in history which earlier revolutionaries such as Lenin predicted prematurely, i.e. the point where capitalism has nothing more to offer most people, in the same way the United States has nothing more to offer Afghanistan than endless war. Millions of people worldwide are already tacitly rejecting the existing order, but unfortunately they are not embracing positive alternatives. If there is any end to this, it won’t be a happy one.

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The Good Stuff VI: Not getting shot

First of all no, I didn’t watch Putin’s speech. The only thing surprising about it was that he apparently didn’t mention Ukraine at all. Other than that it’s the same old bullshit he’s been saying for years now. “Blah blah sovereignty…blah blah…chaos…blah blah there have been some difficulties but things will get better for reasons I won’t go into…blah blah <random idiotic statement>” There, I just saved you the trouble by summing it up for you.

Now on to the good stuff. What’s that you say? I’m still writing the Good Stuff series after everything that’s happened in the last two years? Well yes I am. So long as there is something positive to find here, I’ll acknowledge it, and after last night I’m about to do a lot of acknowledging.

If I haven’t written about it here before, one quandary my wife and I have about moving back to the States is that it’s the easiest place for us to move to, yet it is a very unappealing option, at least for the time being. The ideal choice since we started contemplating leaving Russia has always been some third country, probably in Europe. Part of that is due to career considerations, culture, interests, hobbies, and oh yeah, not wanting to get shot.

It’s not just about getting shot. People in Syria and Ukraine are getting shot at all the time. There’s just something extra infuriating about living in one of the world’s leading economies, once the country with the highest standards of living in the entire world, and then getting unexpectedly gunned down by some “gentle loner” who was upset about abortion. Or maybe it’s a young man who’s upset that girls won’t have sex with him. Or maybe it’s a little terrorist who blames black people for the failures in his life. Maybe it’s a group of terrorists who shot members of Black Lives Matter, but according to their lawyer are “white supremacists,” not racists. Yeah. Or maybe some idiot mother owned numerous assault weapons (Yes, they are assault weapons) and let her fuck-up of a son get to them so he could go murder children. Or maybe It’s just some whackjob who somehow managed to get ahold of an assault weapon and ammunition with no trouble whatsoever, all so he could go and murder people trying to watch a shitty Batman movie.

And then, of course, we had yesterday’s shooting in California, a shooting that occurred even before some of the victims from the last shooting spree, the one in Colorado, were buried. Think about that for a second. But hey, so far I’ve read that at least one of the shooters may be non-white and Muslim, so at least this crime will get labeled terrorism.

These things are becoming so repetitive that I worry I’m becoming repetitive as well. I’ve seen other writers and commentators compare it to a sort of after-shooting ritual where we go through the motions. Hoping that I’m not repeating myself here, I’d like to share an anecdote that really underscores what I’m talking about when I say I’d rather not move back to the States.

A few days after the Aurora shooting, I went to the cinema. We’re sitting in the middle row and as the lights dim I suddenly come to a realization. I could go to cinemas in this country every goddamned day and never have to even consider the possibility that some jackass will come in and start pumping rifle rounds into somebody. Yeah, there was Nord-Ost, but that was a terrorist attack. Those people had to plan and finance their vile mission. The Sandy Hook shooter just had to take his mom’s guns.

This sense of security has always been with me here, no matter how bad things get. I go to shopping malls, events, public squares, crowded metro stations, and the last thing I’m thinking about is “Maybe someone will start shooting as many people as he can see.” Yes, we still have the threat of terrorism, but I’ve got to hand it to those FSB guys- they’ve been doing a pretty good job, at least in Russian territory. Better than the French or Belgian authorities, that’s for sure. Then again, if they do slip up, the last hostage crisis you want to be in is one where your rescuers are Russian counter-terrorism teams. After Beslan I wouldn’t be surprised if the next “rescue” operation involves leveling the building with a Buratino.

Again, though, that’s terrorism. It’s rare in most of the developed world. Yet in nearly ten years in Russia I’ve never heard a single real gunshot, unlike in my old neighborhood back home. The closest it gets are blanks in historical reenactments. The only time I was anywhere near a crazed Russian maniac wielding an assault rifle was when I was in Avdiivka. And speaking of Avdiivka, prior to that the only shots I’d heard fired in anger were back home, and that just a few days before I left the States, ostensibly for good. Think about that. To hear more people shooting at each other I had to go to the front line of a war zone. There is something very wrong with that.

Yes, there is violence in Russia. Yes the homicide rate is higher than in the States, though there are a number of factors which skew that and others which must be taken into consideration. At the same time, most developed nations with sensible gun control laws have homicide rates that are far lower, ridiculously lower than the American rate. No, the “criminals” don’t get guns anyway. These countries just have flat out lower gun crime, in some cases nearly non-existent gun crime, and yet somehow don’t turn into dictatorial tyrannies either. Imagine that.

I’ve never faced real violence in Russia but I feel a lot better about the fact that here, I feel like I’d at least have a fighting chance. If not that, like in a situation where the person is armed with a knife, there’s always this very effective knife defense known as running away. Try outrunning a bullet.

I’m perfectly fine with people having reasonable access to guns, including semi-automatic models, but there needs to be rigorous regulations and restrictions to make sure they are only in responsible, competent hands. Plenty of people have pointed out that it is more difficult to get a drivers license in the US than a gun. Let’s start there. Demonstrate competence in storing, using, and maintaining firearms, and obtain a license after a thorough background check. It’s not perfect but it’s a start. In the military you have shit tons of firearms and ammunition on post, yet access is restricted and everyone is trained and qualified. And guest what- army posts and Marine bases aren’t having shoot outs every few days or so. In fact, they’re actually somewhat rare. Could that have something to do with the fact that firearms ownership is restricted on military bases?

Sometimes I ask myself why bother even talking about this. Just as readily as I can provoke whatabouts from Kremlin supporters, all I have to do is say “Maybe we should think about doing something about guns…” and the tsunami of stupid crashes over me. “MUH RIGHTS! CAWNSTITUSHUN! IF ONLY THEY’D HAD A GUN AT THAT SCHOOL! <RANDOM BUMPER STICKER QUOTE>!”

Yes, yes. You’re right. If you restrict gun sales or ownership in any way, shape, or form, the US will become a dystopian tyranny, a la the UK, Germany, Australia, Norway, Japan, Canada, etc. Yeah I know, if only those Jews had guns there’d be no Holocaust. That’s why Germany goosestepped all over Europe until 1943- nobody had ever thought of opposing them with guns. Yeah I know, if you had been there with your concealed carry Glock, you would have stopped the Aurora shooter, the Sandy Hook shooter, the Columbine Killers…just pick one. Yeah, good luck with that.

So yeah. I’m pretty much done. Barring someone giving me a shit-ton of money so I can travel outside the US frequently, I’d really rather move to just about any country between Russia and my bullet-riddled former home.

Point for Russia here, folks.

 

UPDATE: Earlier in this article I used a link which claimed there have been more mass shootings than days in 2015. This link, however, disputes that. While I would dispute some of their own claims, they raise enough solid points to show that the definition of “mass shootings” picked up by some media is ridiculously vague. In spite of that, other firearms homicides, accidents, and attempted mass shootings are still a serious problem.

Show your work

A while back I published an article about “expat privilege.” While I didn’t dig into it so much in that article, one of the greatest privileges an expat has, though one that is somewhat invisible, is the ability to basically ignore a lot of annoying shit. What do I mean? Are you reading this in the US? What’s dominating your news cycle? What can’t you stop hearing about, and won’t stop hearing about until next November? Yup, election coverage, and even worse- the Republican primaries.

Yes, obviously I get a lot of news from the US, via Twitter and Facebook. But what I’m getting is nothing like what you’re probably experiencing in the States. I’m dancing around a lawn sprinkler while you get blasted with a fire hose. Now keeping in mind that I am mercifully spared from feeling the full force of the GOP primary shit-circus, you can forgive me for not being 100% on the ball when it comes to the issues being discussed. So is it just me or does it seem like 90% of the Republican contest seems to revolve around who can be the biggest dick to immigrants, illegal or otherwise? I mean it really does seem as though the Republicans, having lost on gay marriage and going to war at the drop of a hat, have decided to shuffle off every single issue under the sun except immigration. Oh…And Muslims of course. I mean look at this shit:

How could anyone watch that exchange and not demand a coast-to-coast minute of silence, not out of mourning but pure shame?

I don’t want to digress to the topic of Muslims in America, but on that topic I’ll say this: If you think there are Muslim terrorist training camps in America, you pay my airfare and expenses, plus a modest fee, and we’ll go to one of these camps. That’s right. You say they exist, and they’ve obviously got you scared shitless, so being the hardcore badass that I am, I’ll personally escort you, unarmed, to these locations so you can rest assured that ISIS is not building a secret army in America. Call me the James Randi of political bullshit in that case.

Let me get back to this immigrant thing, though. When it comes to anti-immigrant rhetoric I’ve heard it all. Hell, I’m by no means innocent of subscribing to that bullshit myself. But there’s something I just don’t understand.

You see, there’s plenty of research disproving common claims such as how illegal immigrants steal jobs or how they’re committing more crimes or that they’re some how sucking the country’s coffers dry. The evidence against these claims is pretty much overwhelming, to the point where the only way one can continue to object to it is by alleging a massive conspiracy to falsify all of it. But let’s just ignore all that for a moment.

Even if you ignore all that evidence and believe some or all of the illegal immigration rhetoric, is there no point at which you start asking yourself what precisely these immigrants are doing to you? Let me rephrase that. Say you’re an employed, middle class white person, possibly a homeowner. Do you ever start to wonder about the ways, if any, your life is affected by these immigrants, legal or otherwise?

Obviously the first arguments such people would bring up would be stealing jobs, but even if that were true, their job clearly wasn’t stolen. I’ve never met someone who admitted they’d lost their job to an illegal immigrant. I’m not saying it’s never happened, but as comedian Doug Stanhope once pointed out in a routine- you’ve got to be pretty unqualified to be replaced by an illegal immigrant in any job that isn’t ditch digging.

With job stealing out of the way, that will leave the alleged tax burden. Okay then, get out your tax info and a calculator and show me how much money you personally are losing out on thanks to illegal immigrants. Oh, you don’t know? Well do some research then. Typically those programs which are available to illegal immigrants are also available to the US population as well, so it’s not like the illegal immigrants are getting some kind of benefit set aside for them.

Even if you start talking about things like crime, aside from the fact that both legal and illegal immigrants offend on a far lower rate than that of the native population, you have to concede that a crime committed by an immigrant is not somehow worse than one committed by a citizen. Assault, rape, and murder are just as bad regardless of who commits them, and we also know that these crimes all tend to take place among people who know each other.

So the point here is that while the topic of immigrants always seems to rapidly rile people up, it’s really kind of abstract. I mean if you’re going to get extremely angry about something, you should be able to actually explain how this thing is affecting you. It doesn’t necessarily need to be blatantly obvious too. Whenever you hear politicians wringing their hands and telling you “there’s just not enough money,” you can always cast an eye towards the Pentagon and find millions, if not billions of dollars that are being pissed away.

I’ve talked in the past before about how some Americans just seem to be perpetually angry, often about stuff that isn’t even happening. They never seem to be relieved when you tell them the thing they’re constantly angry about isn’t really a thing at all. But fine, if you want to be angry, shouldn’t you at least be able to explain why?

Think of all the people killed or maimed in car accidents in America. The second most common cause of accidents is excessive speed, number three is drunk driving. Incidentally number one is “distracted driving,” but that’s rather vague so I’ll stick with two and three. Why don’t you see more people screaming about speeding and demanding more speed cameras? There’s a case where it’s laughably easy to explain why you’re upset about speeding- they cause accidents, including fatal ones. Drunk driving is even worse, though it isn’t as common a cause as speeding. Yet where is the politician talking about this issue?

The thing that really worries me about this decline in critical thinking and political discourse is that I fear the rise of a sort of vatnik mentality in the US. While the vatnik is content to live in shit so long as he is able to believe that Americans and other Westerners fear his country, I think we have all seen plenty of signs that there is a rising category of Americans who are happy to vote for politicians that continually decrease American living standards, all out of fear that somewhere, somehow, there’s a foreigner who overstayed his visa and who is living it up on government money. They’re wholly unconcerned as to whether this person even exists. The very idea is enough for them to slavishly follow anyone who talks about what he’ll supposedly do about this non-existent state of affairs.

America’s institutions and law will, at least for the foreseeable future, prevent the country from turning into something like Putin’s Russia. But only a fool would think these things can last forever without the vigilance and responsibility of the public. With the right conditions, a growing number of Americans can be duped into demanding the destruction of those laws and institutions. If they protect illegal immigrants, “terrorists,” “criminals,” or unwed mothers, their may be calls for their appeal, or at least wink-wink agreements between public officials and law enforcement to simply ignore such rules.

America’s position in the world in terms of development and freedom is by no means enshrined in stone. So chuckle at Trump and his fanboys at your own risk.

A 4th of July Message

Here at Russia Without BS, we wish you a happy American Independence Day, and hope that you have lots of safe fun on this holiday weekend. We know Russian patriots like Vladimir Zhirinovsky and possibly Sergei Markov sure did.

Yeah, he does this. I bet his pockets are stuffed with hot dogs too.

Yeah, he does this. I bet his pockets are stuffed with hot dogs too.

But there’s one very serious thing everyone needs to remember this 4th of July, and that is the plague on our great nation that is the state of Missouri. On the eve of the American Civil War, US Army Captain Nathaniel Lyon had no illusions about Missouri. When faced with Missouri state officials who had sympathy toward the Confederacy, Lyon famously responded to their objections and obstinacy with these immortal words:

“Rather than concede to the state of Missouri….the right to dictate to my government in any matter however unimportant, I would see you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and every man, woman, and child in the state dead and buried. This means war.”

With those hallowed words, Captain Lyon redefined what it means to be American- hating the state of Missouri. Yet in the decades since then, many of our fellow Americans have become complacent, and have thus allowed Missouri to continue its existence, thus tarnishing our country’s reputation at home and abroad.

Will this be another generation that idly stands by and lets the state of Missouri drag our great nation down into the abyss? Or will we stand up as one and make Captain Lyon’s dying wish a reality? It’s not too late. If we act now, we can stop the state of Missouri for good as early as 2020, according to the latest estimates.

Don’t stand by and let evil triumph. Don’t remain silent. Take a stand against the state of Missouri while there’s still time!

The End

Hey remember how the reason why America’s supposedly trying to crush Russia is to get its sweet, sweet resources? Yeah well…No. The prophesy has been fulfilled- The US has overtaken Russia not only in oil production, but gas production as well.

“U.S. oil production rose to a record last year, gaining 1.6 million barrels a day, according to BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy released on Wednesday. Gas output also climbed, putting America ahead of Russia as a producer of the hydrocarbons combined.”

Go ahead and draw your cartoons with the Russian bear hording his oil and telling Obama off. Go ahead and make jokes about Ukraine’s problems with natural gas. Laugh while you can, because all you unprincipled, submissive, hypocritical “patriots” are basically screwed. The Dear Leader had 15 years to use Russia’s natural resource wealth to diversify the economy and improve infrastructure. Instead the chose to hoard Western luxuries, build palaces, and piss away the rest on boondoggle prestige projects or unrealistic military adventures. Now those triple-digit oil prices are gone and they’re not coming back. All the US has to do now is run out the clock.

Oh yeah, you’re going to team up with China right? Wrong.

“The other major shift BP’s report shows is China’s energy demand growing at the slowest pace since the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s as the economy slows and the country tries to reduce its reliance on heavy industry.

“Growth in some of China’s most energy-intensive sectors, such as steel, iron and cement — which had thrived during China’s rapid industrialization — virtually collapsed in 2014,” said Dale, a former Bank of England chief economist who joined BP last year.”

But don’t worry about China. They’ll pull through. They’ve got this new neo-colony they’ve managed to subdue via loans with strings attached. Among other measures. Oh wait. That’s you. Did you seriously think all this “bear and dragon” nonsense was really going to play out? Don’t you realize how much of China’s economic growth is fueled and dependent on the West, specifically the United States? China lives in the real world, not the fantasy land of “geopolitics.”

Is this unfair? Is this proof of an American conspiracy to subdue Russia? Well excuse me but what should the US do? Should they give Putin and his cronies another 15 years to moderate their kleptomania enough so as to facilitate a more dynamic, diversified economy? American presidents have been promising independence from foreign oil for decades, and now that promise has finally been fulfilled.

Don’t get me wrong, this post isn’t gloating. It’s not about “Ha ha! Russia lost!” I’m the last person to be opposed to the idea of competing against the US on a global scale- but Russia simply isn’t the alternative. It’s like this guy who wants to be a boxer but never trains and eats whatever he wants. Then he gets hammered in the ring every time and I’m supposed to root for him and hate his opponents, those disciplined guys who actually trained? Sorry but no.

In 2014 a lot of people in this country suddenly changed their tune out of fear, perceived necessity, or delusions based on propaganda. I suggest that those people had better wake up and take a whiff of reality real soon. You’re going to need to know what to do when Putin finally runs this country into the ground.

WTF America?!

Well lucky me, I’ve got another post I was compelled to write which I can cite the next time a vatnik or an American vatnik wannabe leaves a comment asking: “WHY DON’T YOU WRITE ANYTHING ABOUT THE WEST?!” Prepare yourself to watch the most shameful video in recent American history.

Did you catch that tactical roll? Look at this shit:

DO A BARREL ROLL!

DO A BARREL ROLL!

That there is a grown man, an experienced law enforcement officer, acting like he’s in a John Woo film at a pool party for teenagers. How did this “man” ever manage to make it through police academy? I’ve said it plenty of times- police recruitment and selection needs to be a lot harder in order to weed out fantasizers and adult children like this. This isn’t something you can skimp on.

Of course, as with every incident like this, it just gets worse and worse. At least in this case nobody was killed or seriously injured, but as always, white America comes to the cop’s rescue. “They should have done what they’re told. Cops have a tough job. Where are the parents? I crush caterpillar skulls between two plush bears while a kazoo band plays Billy Joel’s greatest hits. Durp da derp de durpity do.” If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it all.

As if that weren’t enough, on my own I’ve found that we’ve actually reached Russia-level bullshit on this, complete with a fake claim from a “resident in the neighborhood” on par with something you’d expect out of St. Petersburg’s troll factory. Check it out:

“Yes, hello, is this bullshit? I just thought I’d give you a call…”

Note that it had 333 likes at that moment. I wasn’t surprised at all. As soon as this story broke, hundreds of thousands if not millions of people had already made up their mind that the cops were right, and the teenagers were wrong. At least 333 of them saw this bullshit comment, composed of all the right stereotypes, and gave their sign of approval in exchange for having their prejudices confirmed.

Here’s what the host of the party had to say about the events:

And then you have the guy who shot the video.

I realize they’re young, but we have a pretty lengthy video and I’m more inclined to believe them over an anonymous “resident of the neighborhood’s” statement posted by someone on Facebook.

I’ve said before that for my wife and I living indefinitely in Russia just isn’t an option (nor would I want to, at this point), but the US is far from my first choice and this is one of the reasons for that. It’s not just that we let adult boys become cops so they can live out their fantasies of heroics while wielding firearms. It’s the constant, vatnik-like support of the police, which now apparently includes making shit up to justify their actions.

It is a goddamned miracle that nobody got shot by this lunatic with a badge. Get your shit together, America, before the red, white, and blue starts looking more like the white, blue, and red.

RT was right. We are doomed. We are just puppet!

I know on 4 May I said that would be my last post before going to Ukraine, but now, even as I prepare to go to the airport, I cannot help but share the pain I have experienced. Look at this painting. LOOK AT IT!

Do not look away! Acknowledge it. Accept it. Despair!

Do not look away! Acknowledge it. Accept it. Despair!

That’s it, folks. That’s what’s happened to my country while I was away. I almost feel personally responsible. RT was right. Igor Panarin was right Max Kaiser was…Well Kaiser is never right BUT the point is all those other guys who said America has lost its way and is on the point of collapse are right.

For God’s sake would you just look at that? It’s all there. Everything. It doesn’t even make sense. I mean it defies logic as the bizarre geometry of Cthulu’s dead city of R’lyeh seems to defy the laws of physics. Attempting to contemplate either is to flirt with insanity. There are the cars, endlessly going around the track “real fast!” There are fighter jets, signifying the audience’s childlike fascination with the military, raw power, and authority. There are fireworks, signifying their love of bright lights and loud noises. There’s a blimp, signifying the unhealthy American diet so full of either added sugar or high fructose corn syrup in almost every single product. There are planes towing signs, whose brief messages signify the audience’s low level of literacy. Sure, a purist could find faults. We don’t see anyone carrying a Bible, nor do we see any pregnant teenagers or firearms. Obviously we can’t hear the playlist of country music and Nickelback blaring out of the PA system. But in spite of those omissions, all the essentials are here. What is left unseen is clearly implied.

Yet I struggle with the logic or lack thereof. If the fighter planes are flying over now, how will the audience focus on the cars goin’ real fast? The fireworks add even more distractions. Also isn’t the airspace over this stadium a little cluttered? You know what? It doesn’t matter. None of this matters. Nothing matters.

How did we let this happen? I feel like Charlton Heston seeing the remains of the Statue of Liberty at the end of Planet of the Apes(SPOILERS!). You know what it was? I’ll tell you what it was- hubris. That’s how it happens. You’re at the top for decades and you get lazy. You let your guard down. Then something like this appears, and it’s too late to do anything about it. Perhaps we had it coming.