Tag Archives: sanctions

The Evolution of a BS Story

Hey did you hear that Putin has ordered state officials to bring their loved ones back to Russia amid a rising threat of a Third World War? If you read The Daily Mail Online you probably did. No doubt you’re probably reading this blog post on a short break before you get back to constructing your own private bomb shelter. If that’s the case, I’ve got good news for you- the story is bullshit.

First of all, here’s the same story from Meduza, which is based on the same source, Znak.com. Notice that the issue of war isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Meduza article. In fact, war is only mentioned one time in the original article, as a minor point compared to the repeated scandals about the children and relatives of Russia’s elite living luxurious lives in the West.

What you have just witnessed, dear reader, is how a minor story based on highly questionable unnamed sources evolves into panic-mongering clickbait about nuclear war. I too had been asked by someone to write up a story based on the piece in Znak, but quickly decided to kill it when I saw the paucity of sources. I’m only including that personal anecdote in hopes that others will follow the example the next time a sensationalist story like this one pops up.

On the topic of nuclear war I will say this. The children and relatives of the Russian elite would probably rather die in a nuclear holocaust than be pried from their luxury flats in London or their Brooklyn lofts and forced to live in Russia, even for their last days on Earth. Nuclear war these days isn’t just a matter of mutually assured destruction, but for the Russian elite it’s the end of any reason to live even if one survives. What is the point of surviving if, in the end, not only has your own country been reduced to ash (and it will be, Mr. Kiselyov, rest assured of that), but all those glitzy upscale shopping centers and night clubs have also been destroyed by your own warheads? Why go on living when you cannot lord your wealth over the people from whom you stole it?

Supposing there had been a nuclear war between the US and USSR, both countries at least had their own self-sufficient systems. In this way the survivors could hypothetically rebuild according to their own structures, laws, etc., paving the way for all kinds of post-apocalyptic tales. This is not the case today; Russia is integrated into the global economy. As such, it can be severely wounded without its enemies even firing a shot. The idea that the Russian ruling class has recently been imbued with a sense of genuine patriotism and plans to make Russia self-sufficient is nothing but a laughable delusion in the minds of “geopolitical experts.” Their very class existence is rooted in access to Western wealth, Western luxury, Western credit, and so on.

Lastly, it is true that Russia has been engaging in a lot of war-mongering hysteria lately, but I think there’s a logical reason for this. Russia’s antics are that of an unruly teenager craving attention. They want to be seen as a great power and as a spoiler when it comes to the plans of Western countries, in particular the United States. But what is happening right now can most likely be pinned on one thing- the US presidential election. They no doubt correctly calculated that Obama would not take any significant action that might hurt his party’s chances in November, and they’re going to try to get away with everything they can before mom and dad get home, so to speak.

I have no doubt that they’ll continue their current behavior for some time after the election, and possibly into the next administration as well, but I’m predicting the possibility of a noticeable plateau in Kremlin bullshit some time in 2017. Everything points to a Clinton victory at the moment, and they’ve done much to piss her off throughout this campaign. It will be a fresh administration and the US can levy  more sanctions on Russia without any significant losses from the pathetic “counter-sanctions,” unlike little European nations that will throw Ukraine under the bus just to sell their fucking cheese to Russia.

So yeah, we’re in the middle of a “New Cold War,” but this one’s going to be much shorter and sadder than the last.

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News from a parallel universe: ISIS Sanctions Renewed for Another Six Months

RAQQA– The US and European Union states have once again narrowly voted to renew targeted sanctions against the Islamic State (still commonly known as ISIS). In a press conference on Monday morning, US Secretary of State once again reiterated that sanctions would be removed as soon as the Islamic State complies with an agreement which would give the territories they control in Syria special status. ISIS leaders, meanwhile, called the sanctions “counter-productive” and promised “reciprocal measures” against those countries who support the sanctions regime.

Targeted sanctions were first imposed on ISIS following alleged attacks on the Yezidi minority in Iraq, attacks which the ISIS leadership has consistently denied.

“The Yezidi heretics were not killed by our people, but local farmers and tractor drivers who are fed up with Baghdad’s tolerance for heresy,” said an ISIS spokesperson in 2014, when news of the massacre broke.

The initial sanctions targeted key individuals in leadership of ISIS, but excluded family members. The sanctions were expanded later the same year when new allegations of ethic cleansing, sexual slavery, and beheadings of Yezidis and Christians surfaced. Not only was the list of travel bans and asset freezes expanded to include more members of the ISIS leadership, but new measures were put in place to limit ISIS’ access to Western financial markets and oil-drilling technology. Such sanctions are expected to severely limit ISIS’ ability to compete economically.

Yet in spite of the sanctions, many American and European banks and companies still do business with the self-proclaimed Caliphate. Timothy Hedges is a director of a London brokerage who says he still does a lot of business with ISIS.

“I don’t believe in letting politics get in the way of business,” Hedges said.

“Look, we live in a capitalist world, a free market world. These ISIS chaps have got money to invest and we’ve got people here who want to invest money there. You can’t let political rhetoric get in the way of that.”

But it’s not just money that’s changing hands when it comes to trade between ISIS and the West. A recent expose on British television shows how real estate agents in London sell luxury property to ISIS members, promising to protect their clients’ identity. On video one realtor is seen advising the undercover journalist posing as an ISIS official to create a special holding company that will officially own a London flat worth over 4 million pounds.

The ISIS presence is noticeable not only in London, but also in New York, where the son of one of ISIS’ propaganda networks has found himself an upscale apartment in gentrified Brooklyn. Ali, 24, laughed when asked about the sanctions on the Islamic State.

“Sanctions? What sanctions? Here I am living among the infidels in their greatest city,” Ali said.

“There are hundreds of us here. Same in London. The sanctions are a joke!”

Now that the sanctions have been in place for two years, continually renewed every six months, there have been signs of weakening resolve among the European states, many of which carried out lucrative trade with ISIS. Fringe politicians from Italy, Belgium, and France have spoken out against the sanctions, calling for them to be removed. Giovanni Buffone is a member of the Veneto parliament and one of the most fervent critics of the sanctions regime.

“We have carried out very lucrative trade with the Caliphate for many years now,” Buffone noted.

“But now because our weak leaders won’t stand up to the will of Washington, we will surely lose business. Is the safety of Iraq really worth it?”

Buffone’s statement is just one example of a growing number of voices in the business world calling for a removal of the sanctions regime.

It is not clear whether the sanctions will be renewed again in six months, but each time US officials have reminded ISIS that they will remove the sanctions as soon as ISIS fulfills its part of the peace agreement. ISIS, on the other hand, insists that it is not a party to the conflict in Iraq and Syria, and accuses the US and NATO of trying to encircle the “Islamic World.”

 

Guest author Alexei Romanov:Sanctions? I SPIT ON YOUR SANCTIONS!

At least that’s what I do when I actually think about your sanctions, but I don’t. I never do! We Russians don’t care about your sanctions. We never cared. When you came out of the blue and slapped sanctions on us for no reason, we were too busy enjoying our traditional values such as rye bread, porridge, bliny, caviar, domestic violence, and adultery to care.  What a complete waste of time your sanctions are! All the more reason to remove them.

Not that it matters if you do or not, because when we think we’re right we never give up. Except in 1917. It was just a re-branding, though. Or in 1991, when we gave up again. But we only did that so as to trick you. We had to overthrow the USSR to bring back the Russian Empire. But this time we will never give up! We will tolerate any deprivation for the sake of our Great Leader Vladimir Putin, even though he and his cronies will not change their lifestyle one bit. This is the Russian way, submitting to a strong leader who occasionally throws you crumbs if you behave. Or not.  Did you really think these sanctions would work? Ridiculous! Might as well remove them. They’re so counter-productive.

Actually, when I think about these sanctions, I’m sure that they will only help Russia just as our great leader has declared. I would think that, however, if only I ever thought about the sanctions. Of course I don’t think about the sanctions, rendering the whole point moot. What utterly useless sanctions these are! Why would you even continue to enforce them if they clearly aren’t having any negative effect?  Seems like a futile effort.

Of course your sanctions, which we do not think about because of our mysterious and deeply enigmatic Russian soul, must be answered in kind. Though we are not afraid of your sanctions and they have no effect on us, we will respond with our own sanctions, which will surely affect you! That is unless you remove your sanctions, in which case we might be inclined to grant you mercy.  Only if you remove your useless, utterly ineffective sanctions, of course.

Did you forget how we defeated Hitler, who wanted to enslave our nation by giving us contested elections and same-sex marriage? Our people drew on their deep faith in the Orthodox Church and with the guidance of their profoundly religious Russian nationalist leader Ilya Ivanovich Stalin, they defeated the entire German army. In fact it is said that the Germans were demoralized by a vision of St. George which appeared in the sky before them! You Westerners, with your love of “logic” and “evidence” may scoff at that story, but there’s no such thing as objective truth! If you say something, that makes it true. And that’s why Russia will defeat your sanctions the same way it defeated Hitler and Genghis Khan! We have a special historical mission, which is to endure hardship under the unflinching yoke of a strong leader who is utterly isolated from us, for reasons which we cannot explain to you cold, reasoning Westerners.  Seriously though, remove the sanctions. It’s getting silly.

Sanctions! Laughable! If only you could see me laughing at your sanctions! Only a fool would keep these sanctions against Russia! Why don’t you stop embarrassing yourselves and just remove your sanctions. No, really, why don’t you? Come on, this isn’t funny anymore. Prices are rising. Oil keeps falling. I can barely afford buckwheat for God’s sake! Come on and remove these useless, counter-productive sanctions that hurt you more than us! Please! For the love of god! Get rid of these ridiculous sanctions!  Please! I’m begging you! I’m laughing too hard! I might die of laughter provoked by your sanctions! Stop the sanctions!  Stop!  

More tough questions

What great wisdom will the Dear Leader bestow on us today?

What great wisdom will the Dear Leader bestow on us today?

So I’m watching the minute-by-minute updates of Putin’s state of the nation speech on Yandex, and as I expected it is full of delusional bullshit about how sanctions will really help Russia develop(unlike Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and every other country that has ever experienced sanctions). He claimed, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that the sanctions have nothing to do with the annexation of the Crimea when in fact this was the original reason for sanctions in the first place. He went on to claim that the US would use any excuse to put sanctions on Russia, and that the West wants to dismantle the Russian Federation like Yugoslavia. So you know what that means? It’s time for another round of…

INCREDIBLY INCONVENIENT QUESTIONS

Incredibly Inconvenient Questions is the fun new party game where you challenge commonly held beliefs in Russia! Because Kremlin propaganda isn’t meant to be questioned, believers don’t spend too much time wondering as to whether the beliefs they hold are utterly contradictory or mutually exclusive. Help them out by doing the thinking for them. Let’s get ready to play the game!

(For maximum effect: play this song in another tab while you read)

Idea 1: There is no good reason for sanctions. The West just wants to destroy Russia! 

Why does the West want to destroy Russia?

What would America gain by destroying Russia?

Oil? Why? Is oil really expensive?

Why not just invade or otherwise subjugate Norway? It’s already in NATO ergo according to mainstream Russian views it’s half puppet state already.

Why would a country that was strained to the breaking point militarily because it was trying to maintain order in Iraq and Afghanistan decide that it could invade and successfully occupy the largest nation on Earth?

Idea 2: The US wants the Russian Federation to break up.  

What would the US gain from the inevitable civil wars, chaos, and power vacuums that such a break up would cause?

The American economic system is basically based on selling and lending shit to people, often foreigners in other countries. How does losing around 140 million potential consumers advance that system?

American capitalists need places to invest their money. Unstable, basketcase countries don’t make for a good investment climate.

If America wants the Russian Federation to break up, why didn’t it recognize the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria in 1996-2000?  Why didn’t they continue to encourage the independence movement in Tatarstan, also extending recognition? They recognized the shit out of former Yugoslav republics from 1991 onward.

If America has some kind of historic goal of destroying Russia, why didn’t they levy sanctions or use other economic levers against Yeltsin in the 90’s, when Russia was so weak? Why not try something in the beginning of Putin’s first term, when he was busy with the second Chechen War?

Idea 3: Sanctions have nothing to do with the Crimea. They just want to destroy Russia

But I thought all these sanctions were helping Russia? Putin and his media hacks have said so numerous times. Why did they keep warning the West that sanctions would be counter-productive and answered in kind if these sanctions are really helpful? Can’t Western experts listen to all these claims, make their own calculations, and then explain to leaders like Obama and Merkel that the sanctions are actually making Russia stronger?  Are they just total idiots?

If sanctions help Russia, why do Russian leaders periodically condemn the sanctions and demand that they be removed?

Exactly when and how will these sanctions help Russia? It’s not looking too good so far.

Where is the country in history that benefited from sanctions?

Will Russia’s sanctions on the EU and US help those countries?  If not, why not?

Why didn’t the US or EU try to levy sanctions on Russia in 2008 over the war with Georgia? Why not in 2012 due to the crackdown on protesters or Pussy Riot? Why not over Syria in 2013? Why nothing until the annexation of Ukraine?

Have fun asking Kremlin supporters these questions and experiencing their hilarious reactions.

The Entrepreneur

Upon returning from work, Madison opened her front door and was shocked to see stacks of cardboard boxes lining the foyer. The stacks nearly reached the ceiling and snaked through the corridor toward the kitchen. What on Earth was going on?  Without bothering to take off her coat, she walked into her now-smaller kitchen and found her husband Jeff sitting at the table with one box partially opened.

“You’re home already,” Madison asked, still in a state of confusion.

“Oh yes,” her husband replied, “I didn’t go to work today. I had to stay home to sign for the shipment. I’m sorry I didn’t say anything but I wanted it to be a surprise.”

“Surprise? You mean all these boxes? What are all these for?”

Jeff suddenly leaped out of his wooden chair and opened the box on table, revealing its contents.

“This is our ticket to financial freedom! This is the end of our dead-end jobs! We’re going to start our own business, and we’re going to be rich!”

Madison was a bit concerned, but she managed to maintain her composure.

“What kind of business is this,” she asked, hoping with all her might that he hadn’t fallen for some kind of pyramid scheme.

“T-shirts, hats, and bumper stickers,” said Jeff.  “We’re going to sell ’em!”

“But why would we get rich selling those things?”

Jeff looked as if he were talking to a complete idiot.

“Alright let me explain. So I was browsing the internet and I saw this news item about how in Russia, they’re selling all these anti-American souvenirs. They’re selling t-shirts about the sanctions…”

“What sanctions,” Madison asked, cutting him off.

“I was thinking the same thing, but then I Googled it and found out that our government has put sanctions on Russia. Something about a place called Dumbass in Ukraine and annexing their cream I think. Anyway it’s not important. The important thing is that there are sanctions on Russia.”

“What do we get from Russia?”

“I don’t know, probably vodka or something. The thing is, in this story I saw online, it shows how Russians are selling all these anti-American t-shirts making fun of the sanctions. A lot of people are putting anti-American stickers on their cars too. Apparently it’s a big business over there.”

sanctionstshirt

Madison was just as confused as ever.

“Okay, but how does that help us start a business here?”

Jeff wagged his finger like a madman and slapped the box on the table.

“Think about it! All the pundits say it’s a new Cold War! If the Russians are making all this anti-American merchandise, Americans will want to answer back as soon as possible. Tit-for-tat! There’s going to be a boom in anti-Russian merchandise, and I’m getting in on the ground floor!  As soon as Joe Sixpack has had enough of Russia’s bullshit and decides he’s going to show his patriotism, I’m going to be there to sell him an anti-Russian t-shirt or bumper sticker!  Just look at this one!”

Jeff held up a t-shirt depicting a bald eagle sodomizing a bear. The text on the shirt read, “How do you like those sanctions?”  Madison gasped in horror.

“That’s disgusting! Nobody’s going to buy that!”

“But it’s just like those anti-American memes from Russia! Americans will want to hit back! No matter, I’ve got plenty of more family friendly designs!”

“Jeff, stop for a second. Are you sure Americans even care enough about Russia to buy any merchandise, let alone buy enough within a short enough amount of time so as to make us rich?”

“Of course they will! Did I mention this is a new Cold War? Come on, honey! You do watch the news, right?”

“Well I do, and there are a lot of stories about Russia. It’s just that I don’t think anyone really cares. Nobody I know ever talks about it. What about at your office? What about your friends.”

At that Jeff became completely silent.

“Hmmm…To be honest, I can’t remember anyone talking about Russia at work. But I’m sure that’s going to change in the next few days. I’m sure if I just casually bring up Russia in a conversation, everyone will be talking about it.  New Cold War!”

He shook his head, as though he were shaking off any doubts Madison’s question might have raised.

“Trust me. This is going to work. Americans are going to buy my anti-Russian merchandise like hot cakes. These shirts will be flying off the shelves. Our whole life is going to change!”

Madison sighed, and then managed achieve a nervous but genuine smile.

“Okay,” she said. “Just tell me how much you spent on this.”

“Honey,” Jeff started as he took her in his arms, “I’ve spent most of our savings on this. But don’t worry, we’re going to make that back tenfold. Americans are going to want anti-Russian propaganda, and I’m going to be the first guy out there, feeding that demand. Monday morning I’m going to hand my boss my letter of resignation. From then on, I’m going to be a full-time businessman, dealing anti-Russian merchandise! Our whole lives are about to change.”

ONE MONTH LATER…

"Goddammit, Jeff! I told you Americans don't care about Russia!"

“Goddammit, Jeff! I told you Americans don’t care about Russia!”

Your Russian Zen Koans for the Day

Surround yourself in total silence. Sit in a relaxed and comfortable posture. Now contemplate the following until you achieve enlightenment:

Sanctions will only make Russia stronger, but Russian sanctions on Ukraine will destroy that country.

Sanctions will make Russia stronger, but the West is bad for levying sanctions on Russia and other countries.

Sanctions will make Russia stronger, yet all countries which have sanctions against them are either underdeveloped or not economically significant.

Sanctions will make Russia stronger, but the government still warned the West against levying them.

Sanctions will make Russia stronger, but Russia’s counter-sanctions are damaging the European and American economy!

Sanctions will make Russia stronger, even though this hasn’t actually happened at any time in history.

Sanctions will make Russia stronger, but liberal opposition leaders who had been calling for Western sanctions against Russia for years are filthy traitors!

Sanctions will make Russia stronger, but beer coaster coffee cups.

Sanctions will make Russia stronger, but scissors don’t chainsaw cotton candy trees off the side of a refrigerator.

Sanctions will make Russia stronger…

Sanctions will make Russia stronger…

Sanctions…

Stronger…

They will hurt the West more than Russia!

They are counter-productive!

They will make Russia stronger, but don’t you DARE levy sanctions against us!

Sanctions glappa nogawa seliu blarta fleerep!

fantasy_land-1552821

China will grow larger!

As per Hollywood, any story which is about an increase in Chinese power should be accompanied by ominous Chinese music. For maximum effect, I recommend letting this video play in the background while you read. 

So it seems we’ve already seen another Tiger uppercut to the balls of this claim about how China will save Russia. In several recent articles I gave examples of this, from China paying for recent deals in dollars to reasons why Russia won’t be able to waste Chinese investors’ money without serious consequences.  What I learned yesterday, however, I never would have predicted. According to Gazeta.ru, China is more than happy to extend credit to Russian firms, but it comes with a lot of strings attached.

China is lending the money, on the condition that it be spent exclusively on Chinese goods. According to the article this condition is similar to their lending practices in Africa and Central Asia. I’m aware that the US has similar practices with its client states, including Israel. Russia and its banks need financing, and thus China is their only realistic option at the moment. China sees its obvious advantage and is clearly pressing it from the very beginning.  Russia’s giving them raw materials, China furnishes the products and sells them back, reaping that revenue plus interest on what they lent.  The relationship is practically colonial.

As stated before, China has been using similar tactics in Central Asia. They have been referring to this process as the construction of a new “Silk Road.” Like Russia, they are planning their own customs union type of agreement. Of course they have talked about inviting Russia into this union, but its clear who the leader will be. As Russia seeks to dominate Belarus and Ukraine via their own proposed union, China seeks to dominate Central Asia and Russia. Of course Russian officials speaking about this relationship always present it as an agreement between equal partners, but we also know from experience many Russian officials live in a magic fantasy land where up is down, houses are made from gumdrops, and hamburgers eat people.

Long story short, China’s got Russia by the balls and they’re going to do everything they can to press this advantage. Putin put Russia in this position as he scrambled for short-term, low-gain methods of preserving his power.  If at any point Russia balks at China’s demands, the Chinese can merely withhold investment. If they attempt to cheat China, the Middle Country can join the sanctions against them and even threaten military action. This is the reality of the situation in spite of how many Russian officials cluck their tongues about their “equal partnership.”  This is the price of living in fantasy land while you rob your nation blind.