Podcast

Dmitry Orlov: Russia's Patience Is Wearing Thin

The lines of communication are shutting down
Saturday, November 29, 2014, 1:01 PM

Having lived in the former USSR before immigrating to the US, Dmitry Orlov has an invaluable perspective on both the US and Russian perspectives, as well as Ukraine.

With the western propaganda flying thick and heavy, it's more important than ever to cut through the chaff and learn what we can about the most important geopolitical realignment (and renewed tensions) in recent memory.

Well, look, Russia is a place that's extremely dynamic as changing response to challenging environment, to changed environment, very popular throughout the world, at peace with most of the world, even with nations that are at war with each other, both sides will still talk to Russia and have friendly relations. Russia has a splendid relationship with both Israel and Iran for instance.

The United States is a nation that can't get anything together, can't get anything on, not education, not healthcare, nothing. It's basically sinking into a cesspool of its own making it can't respond at all. And now, it is basically being shown up to be quite incompetent in playing this international game. Now, what happens if you can't play a game by the rules is you're penalized and you forfeit the game. So, either the US leadership will learn how to play by the rules or they forfeit. I see those are as the only two real outcomes.

There's a difference to how the Russians approach the world and how the Americans approach the world. So, for instance, Americans like to threaten. If you don't do this, then we will do X, Y and Z. That's a typical American behavior.

That's not something that the Russians would ever do because they don't threaten, they just act because if you threaten, then you take away the element of surprise which is very important. The other thing is Americans refuse to talk to their enemies, they won't negotiate with terrorists, they won't do X, Y and Z and can't be reasoned with at all. You can just listen to them and do what they say or they'll bomb you whereas the Russians always talk to their enemies. Russia keeps the channels of communication open.

And the other thing is that all of this endless trash talking is very detrimental to the business of democracy and there's been a constant stream of basically garbage emanating from the west, some of it social media, some of it through the old fashioned press. But, just basically all kinds of lies and disinformation and slander, which makes the tedious business of diplomacy establishing various links at various levels very difficult, if not impossible. So there's just this incredible level of disgust with their, as they say, partners in the west in Moscow and the result is they're not really eager to talk anymore. They're not very interested in communicating. They're far more interested in acting. So, what we'll probably see is a constant stream of surprises coming from Russia that will be completely unannounced and not predicted by anyone.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Dmitry Orlov (51m:10s):

Transcript: 

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity Podcast, I am your host Chris Martenson. And today, at the top of my mind is what's happening in Russia and Ukraine and the very obvious and massive geopolitical shifts happening as Russia realigns herself with China. And the recent APEC, the APEC meeting in Beijing and the G20 in Brisbane, hey, those both confirm for me that Europe, Japan and United States are quite intent it seems on both creating and enlarging a rift between Russia and them.

Now, why would they do this? This has been puzzling me, I don't have a good answer for it and it just doesn't make sense on most levels when we look at it through the lens of what's being presented to us in the Western media, that's for sure.

Fortunately, we have with us today one of the very keenest, astute and humorous even observers and commentators on the whole US, Russia dynamic. Dmitry Orlov was born and raised in Leningrad in the former Soviet Union and then immigrated to the United States in the mid 70s. And he was an eye witness to the Soviet collapse over several extended visits to his Russian homeland in the late '80s and mid '90s.

Dmitry is an engineer who has contributed to fields as diverse as high energy physics and internet security. And as you know, it's especially those who are comfortable with numbers who most rapidly seem to understand our modern predicaments. Now, starting in 2005, he has written extensively on the subject of the approaching collapse of the United States and the many similarities and differences between the post American and post Soviet experience. Dmitry argues that collapse of the US, although inevitable, is survivable given the right attitude and some timely preparation. So, we're in complete agreement on that. He is the author of Reinventing Collapse, The Soviet Experience and American Prospects, written in 2011. And he runs the blog, Club Orlov at cluborlov.blogspot.com. I'm quite excited to have Dmitry here on the show today because of his unique perspective on the US, Russia and what is still happening in Ukraine. Welcome, Dmitry.

Dmitry Orlov: Thank you Chris. Great to be on your show.

Chris Martenson: Well, Ukraine, let's begin there because I think so much springs from there. The Western narrative is that back in February of 2014, the former President Yanukovych, he was corrupt, he was democratically ousted, and now freedom and democracy can flourish in Ukraine. Is there anything wrong with that story?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, everything. Yeah. I mean first of all, there are no noncorrupt Ukrainian politicians. The place has been pretty much cesspool of corruption ever since Ukrainian independence. In fact, the only sort of demographic competition happening in Ukraine is in terms of who can rob the place faster. And there are all sorts of new schemes being hatched all the time. For instance, they just recently figured out how to sell off all of the gold that Ukraine once possessed and they probably pocketed quite a bit of that. So, there's nothing new about Yanukovych being a corrupt bastard. That's par for the course. That's why he was elected. And, he was elected and then he was over thrown and then he was elected again which is also par for the course because you basically have a revolving door of scoundrels in Ukraine that's been going on forever. Nothing new there, but the way he was overthrown was in direct opposition to the constitution. He actually wanted to have early elections. He conceded all of the points that the opposition clamored for. He signed an international accord with the participation of Moscow in terms of the reforms he was going to introduce and he got overthrown anyway. So, basically, the narrative that this is a flourishing of freedom and democracy, is just basically fake.

Chris Martenson: Well, so, this all happened so suddenly, I had to dial back. When it happened, I had to go back and understand why. To me, it happened, his fate was sealed actually I believe in November of 2013 when he failed to sign the agreement the West wanted which was an association agreement with Europe which basically would've opened boarders up and I think taken them one step closer to NATO. That was really something the US was really looking forward I guess and so was much of Europe. And then, Yanukovych didn't sign that. So, I think that's when his fate was sealed. But, boy, everything unwound quickly. I think he was ousted sometime in February 20th, 21st or something, and by the 23rd the United States had recognized the next people who stepped in charge. How did those people actually get in charge so quickly?

Dmitry Orlov: First of all, to back up a little bit, the reason Yanukovych didn't sign the cooperation agreement with the EU was because it was clearly an attempt to do two things. One is bankrupt Ukraine so that it could be basically put up at a fire sale with international investors just picking up the pieces. And secondly, to disrupt the customs union, which is the counterpart to the EU. It's basically everything that was great about the Soviet Union. Nothing was all that great about the Soviet Union except that it unified a gigantic territory into a customs free zone. And that's what the new customs union is. It's basically an attempt to reestablish what was good about the Soviet Union from one large building in Moscow and it's working out pretty well.

Now, if Ukraine joined, then we would've have this gigantic Eurasian trading block that would've competed successfully with the EU and with the United States. And that's what this was an attempt to disrupt. And for the time being, it seems to be working, although the future of Ukraine is very murky at this point. Now, in terms of how the events unfolded, there was this handpicked crew that was thrust into power with the help of the CIA and the state department operatives and NGOs, who've been pretty much running roughshod over Ukraine for years now and so, they know how to manipulate the place. And, there were a lot of very, very nasty elements in the people who took over. There was this Svoboda party, the freedom party who are basically neo-Natzis. There was the right sector who are basically a bunch of jackbooted thugs. And so, the whole thing became quite precarious very quickly because instead of putting these vetted operatives in place, what they ended up with is sort of a hodge-podge of rabid nationalists and racists and all kinds of unsavory characters, which is what we have now.

Chris Martenson: And that's been really fascinating to me as a quick aside because normally the New York Times in particular is highly allergic to Anti-Semitism and this Svoboda party is you would think something that would be meriting a lot of attention. In the western press, they've been given, as far as I can tell, a nearly complete pass. We've got awesome video of people with old SS insignias and torches marching around in Kiev. And I would think that that would be good fodder for news and it's very salacious and all of that and plus it plucks some of the strings. My perspective is like that's been given a complete pass in the West. Do you agree and if so why?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, yes, I mean one of the things I noticed is that—I run a blog where I pretty much publish whatever I want. And it's not hugely popular and I don't actually make an effort to be hugely popular. But, some of my traffic during recent posts especially on subjects around Ukraine has been absolutely through the roof in terms of traffic. And the only explanation for that that I can find is that suddenly, I am a replacement for western media or a big chunk of it because they just won't cover certain stories. And you're absolutely right that certain things are so egregious that not to cover them is basically making western media look ridiculous. I mean why don't you run a story where prisoners, taken prisoner of war by Ukrainian troops end up with swastikas branded on their buttocks? Is that enough to make the bar, to score the right sort of level of interest for western media to carry it? So, the only explanation is that there's an actual blackout. There's an actual news blackout covering all things Ukrainian.

Chris Martenson: And I agree with that because I have to wander all over the world to find what I consider to be useful in current news. Even though things are happening that are quite traumatic, bombings of cities, tales, if not videos of civilian round ups and executions, I mean really awful stuff and it just doesn't show up in my media very often. And so, when I look at some of the earliest statements that Putin was out making and he gave some good ones and also his foreign minister and said some things that I thought were quite reasonable. One of which was "hey, you guys, we've seen what happens when ultranationalists get a foothold in the Ukrainian region in particular. So, since it's on our boarder and there are these eight million Russian-speaking people also in that territory, this is of obvious interest to us and obviously we can't just let this go, so we have to now involve ourselves." That to me felt pretty reasonable but I didn't usually see that that point of view was not reflected well in the western press. It was Russian meddling where they shouldn't and Putin particularly responsible for all kinds of things. But, in your mind, tell us a little bit about Russia's—do I have that right in terms of how we would characterize Russia's interest in say Crimea individually but then the eastern provinces more generally?

Dmitry Orlov: Okay. Well, this is very few degrees of separation for me because my father was born in Ukraine, in Kiev, so I'm technically Ukrainian. And also, I've been to Ukraine. When I listen to Ukrainian, after a little while, I stop understanding that it's Ukrainian because it's similar enough to Russian. It's just sort of like Russian with an accent to me. And my feeling is that the Ukrainians are Russian, always have been, always will be. There isn't really some kind of a national division. The other thing to understand about Ukraine is that it's not just some number of Russian speakers there, it's like 95% of all education there was in Russian and like 99% of the websites were in Russian. If you look at the television they watch, that was all Russian. So, this Ukrainian Nationalist thing is a bunch of politicians learning Ukrainian from a textbook in order to impersonate Ukrainian Nationalists, who are actually very _____ [00:11:19] number. And the weird thing there, they weren't properly de-Nazified after the end of World War II. There is this Nazi element that was sort of maintained the entire time. It was never actually gotten rid off completely. And now, thanks to western NGOs and state department activity and all of that, they have been empowered in Ukraine to the detriment of the population which don't really see the dividing line between Russian and Ukrainian because there really isn't one.

Chris Martenson: So, Russia obviously has certainly has to have a fairly strong compelling interest which seems easy for me to understand, from a national standpoint. Not least of which is they don't want the trouble on their border, but they have this—to look at the history of Crimea for instance and particular the battles of Sevastopol that happened through time and the amount of Russian blood that was lost there and over time. It feels to me like there's a lot of very deep, old, entwined history there. And so, in particular, the Crimean annexation is one of the big things that even Angela Merkel comes out and says "oh, that was awful Russia, you shouldn't have done that." How did you see the Crimean referendum vote? Was it as tainted as they try to portray it over here?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, it wasn't tainted; everybody there is Russian. And the other thing you have to understand is, telling Russians that Crimea isn’t Russian is sort of like telling Texans that the Alamo is Mexican. It's exactly like that.

Chris Martenson: Uh-huh.

Dmitry Orlov: So, where are you going to get with that? Why don't you go to Texas and try that and see how well that works as practice for doing that to Russia. And so, these politicians who are mouthing off about Crimea not belonging to Russia—they don't know what they're doing. And the important thing to understand about them is that they're not really actually trying to produce results. They are just sort of... I don't how to put it politely. They're masturbating into public, is what they're doing. They're not going to achieve anything by saying these things.

Chris Martenson: Well, this idea then of what they're after and what they're really doing, this is really the core of what I'm trying to get at in this show because it's been bothering me greatly. We even had Henry Kissinger came out of his bat cave and said, "hey, you guys, diplomacy is about knowing where you're going and I don't you guys know where you are going on this whole Ukraine thing." To me, it feels like there's elements in the state department and the Obama administration that are acting in ways which is to demonize and polarize and push Russia away and I can't understand why that would be. So, with the whole Ukraine piece, I'm trying to establish that Russia does have a compelling interest in the region. Their Alamo is their Alamo. So, just to combat with some of the perspective that's been put out in the western press. But can you turn your turn your attention... like do you have a sense of what the game plan is? What is it that Europe, the EU more widely I guess and the US, what are they after here do you think?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, basically, the EU is just to rubber stamp for Washington. All of their politicians kind of like get a nice golden parachute when they retire, from Washington. And that's why they toe Washington's line. They're not really independent thinkers at all. And the periphery states, like Hungary or even Serbia, they know pretty well that they're going to be dealing with an Orange Revolution of their own if they don't do what Washington's ambassador tells them to do. Right now, they're having a lot of trouble in Serbia because Russia and Serbia are kind of like the same country in a lot of ways. The Serbians would never do anything to offend Russia, and yet they're being asked to impose sanctions on Russia even though Serbia is not even part of the EU yet. So, things like that are a bit troubling around the periphery but the core of Europe is really solidly just basically a rubber-stamp body for Washington.

Now, in terms of the way Washington thinks and acts, they are indisposed to having people to say "no" to them. So, people in Washington, they come up with a policy and they think that everybody in the world should follow it and if somebody says "well, no, that doesn't make any sense," then they figure out what they have to do to make those people follow their policy. Do they have to bomb them? Do they have to impose sanctions on them? So the idea is that they imposed sanctions on Russia, and now Russia will change their tune and actually do what Washington wants. And there is no understanding in Washington that the effect is the exact opposite. If you impose sanctions on Russia, that makes Russia think that you're no longer their friend, and behave accordingly. So, all they're actually getting is an escalation of a crisis they could never control.

Chris Martenson: I agree with that analysis and it still mystifies me because there must be people who can think further ahead than that somewhere in the state department. But, let's turn now, this is something I'd be very interested in is from this side... you read The Economist or Financial Times and they say, "look, Russia is all isolated" and "the economic sanctions are really beginning to bite." I wander as best as I can over into the Russian side of the story and read subtitled news programs and things like that. What I'd love is to know is if you've been touring the Russian press and what's the mood over there and how are people inside Russia viewing this? Are they ready to cave? Have the sanctions driven them to their knees?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, no, not at all. I mean it takes a lot to actually bring Russians to their knees, and there's no real way to do that except physically destroy them. And as the Russian saying goes: "They can't kill us all." That's basically the bottom line.

Chris Martenson: We don't have that saying in America. We don't have that one. But, keep going.

Dmitry Orlov: So, if Washington wants its way, that's the task. I don't think it's happening. And what this has all resulted in is an incredible level of disgust with the West and with the United States in particular. "American" is now a curse word. Russians at large never particularly liked gays, homosexuality, it was never really part of the culture there. So, they used to call people "fagots" there; now they call them "American fagots." And that's kind of the trend there. Whatever the West has won in term of mind share in the Russian population, they have lost this year. So, it's taken 20 years to make a lot of Russians like and respect all sorts of things western, and that's been wiped off. And that's really a very, very interesting turn of events I think.

The other one is that people there are quite attuned to the bad mouthing of Putin that takes place in the West, which is extremely unfair and misplaced because he's actually a very competent manager and very popular. So, what people in the West need to realize is that when their press attacks Putin, they're actually attacking Russians, most of them, something like 80% of them who stand solidly behind their leadership. And that's not very helpful either.

So, I think that what will happen as a result of the sanctions is probably to some extent okay because in Russia recently especially in the big cities, it's been consumerism on steroids. And consumerism is sort of a vapid exercise. And this crisis is giving Russians a reason to rethink consumerism and think that there might be more important things in life to fight for than just the right to mindlessly consume plastic items, imported ones mostly.

The other thing that's happening is that Russia found it very easy to just export gas and some minerals and buy everything. It's just—this is the curse of resource-rich economies. But, now that oil prices are down and they're not making as much revenue from the exports of energy products and minerals (because commodities are down too), they actually have to concentrate on building things again. It will be interesting to see which way Russia goes with that because they're sort of stuck between two giant industrial power houses. China, which has pretty much cornered the market in consumer good, so there's no way Russia can outcompete China in the consumer goods space. And Germany, which is really good at all sorts of industrial products and machinery. So, Russia can't possibly out compete Germany in that segment either. And then, they're dependent on some things that are very difficult to generate locally such as pharmaceuticals, which are mostly imported from the EU.

So, what is Russia good at? Russia is good at gigantic projects that nobody else can possibly tackle. And I think that that's what Russia is going to get involved in and attract other people to it.

In terms of Russia being isolated, well, no, Russia is part of SCO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It's very tight with the BRICS nations. It's signing bilateral agreements with countries left and right. It's very popular around the world. Russia is much more popular around the world than say the United States. And so, I don't see much of a problem there, instead I see Russia being a leader in terms of very large, very important, very visible projects that other nations not aligned with the West will see as their chance and will buy into.

Chris Martenson: Now, speaking of these large projects, the one that caught my eye and I've written about extensively was the first big gas deal that was signed back in March with China and—400 billion dollars, multi-decade kind of a deal. And this is now the world's largest construction project. It's a many thousand kilometer pipeline, and they broke ground on it in September, which I know they've been negotiating this thing for a decade but to me that's light speed. You scratch a deal in March and you're breaking ground by September. That's a very, very large project and seems to be trundling along at good speed. The thing that caught my eye though was that when I add up where I look at Russia's gas production over the past 20 years, it's fairly stable, and I know that it's all accounted for currently and that they just don't produce it and just pile it up somewhere. So, in that accounting, they use some domestically and they export a bunch. And in the exports, a bunch of that goes to Europe. And Europe's here antagonizing Russia and then Russia inks this deal which is going to send 30 to 38 billion cubic meters per year to China. And then, there was this second deal inked at the APEC conference in Beijing, right? Another one for another 30 billion cubic meters. That has to come from existing exports I think. Have you looked at that at all?

Dmitry Orlov: Yes, I think what they're counting on is that European energy demand will continue to fall as Europe spirals down economically. Basically, Russia—the view from Russia is that the western economic model is basically this financialised cesspool that is dragging down those countries and will continue to do so until the banker class is somehow overthrown. So, they're not going to count on Europe being a very good economic partner. Plus there are all these political problems where a lot of the gas transits Ukraine and when they tried to propose the South stream, a lot of countries bought into it (like Austria for instance). But, then, all of these Americans started running around and threatening people if they cooperated and got Brussels' bureaucrats to do the same thing. So, now, that's stuck. So this is a headache.

Russia doesn't really make all that much from gas exports to Europe, they make more money exporting oil. Gas is sort of so far kind of adjunct, but it's a huge headache because gas—it's not as fungible as oil. You can't just figure out where the tankers will go next month. You have to establish pipelines, they have to be kept at pressure, you have to have controlled flow rates and all those sorts of things, which in this environment are a complete headache. So, Russia would rather deal with China where they can ink a deal and it's set in stone for the next however many decades than deal with Europe which might come up with another thing next week. So, that's very easy to understand.

Chris Martenson: I guess I understand it from Russia's perspective. From Europe, I don't because Europe's own native gas production is declining. They get 30% of their gas from one single field, the Groningen Field up there in Holland. The North Sea is basically in decline and the shale gas efforts are going nowhere with Germany blocking it, France blocking it for ten years and forever depending on who we're talking about. Poland's old shale gas turned out to be a complete bust. What they thought was in Romania turned out not to be good because of geology and for other reasons. So, to me, Europe like clearly has a supply problem and I think they just watched a lot what might turn out to be their supply get inked off in a deal with China. I'm surprised at the lack of panic or even commentary on that at this stage.

Dmitry Orlov: Well, I think that there's kind of a disconnect in Western Europe. The one thing that you can definitely assume about Western politicians is that if somebody in Washington tells them to shoot themselves on the foot, they will. Other than that, it's very hard to discern any sort of rational thought going on there, except to keep the game going, keep the financial markets churning for as long as possible. But, there's no level of strategic thinking because if you think along those lines, then it becomes really obvious that all of Western Europe has to partner with Russia in terms of energy—that there's no other solution. Are they doing that? No, I don't think so.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, so again there's just a black hole of logic there for me that I can't cross. I can't understand what's happening. So, I have to either assume it's just as vapid as it looks or that there's some stuff going on behind the scenes. They're fully aware of it but they've got different game plan going on. And on that front... so all this stuff is breaking in Ukraine, we got February. And then, by March, Russia conducts one of the largest nuclear readiness drills ever. And it wasn't just they mobilized 10,000 or 11,000 people who are doing their nuclear stuff, but, they fired every single platform that I could see. They fired missiles from subs, planes, cruise missiles, rocket launchers, mobile transports, silos, you name it, they basically cooked off every single thing they had that could carry a nuclear warhead, filmed it all and put it up on YouTube for the world to see. And to me, that was a really powerful message. Do you think—was that accidental timing or was that Russia saying "hey, look, this stuff still works?"

Dmitry Orlov: Well, I think that this was actually a very reasonable calculation on Russia's part because look, if it turns out that your diplomatic and political counterparts in the West are not worth talking to, who's left in terms of avoiding a military confrontation and potential nuclear war? Well, you still have the Pentagon. So, the bet is that okay, everybody in the state department and the White House are out to launch permanently. But, maybe the people in the Pentagon kind of don't want to die and know what it takes to kill them. And so, maybe if you show them that okay, well, if you escalate this beyond a certain point, then you will die. Then, there will be some level of rationality infusing the process. The joint chiefs of staff will start telling Obama not to do certain things because it's too risky, for instance. So, that's a reasonable calculation I think.

Chris Martenson: I could see it in that vein as well. To me, it was clearly an obvious message. It was pretty powerful to me to see all those things getting lit up and they all flew where they were supposed to. And that's continued; we've seen additional bomber incursions, which I think were always happening, but now we're telling ourselves that they're happening or maybe they are happening more, with Russian bombers flying in various places. Again, it's always misrepresented in the West. They have not invaded any air space yet, they've been flying in international waters, international air space, but closer than they used to I guess is how I read it if I've read that right. And then, there was another missile launch recently where Russia had one of their biggies, one of the ones that can carry ten multiple independent reentry vehicles as they call it—so a 10MIRV. And so, this is all just some posturing again which basically says "look, we're still a force to be reckoned with." I think the confusion as far as I can detect is that nobody in the west seems to be responding in a way that Putin would look back and say that's rational. Like if we did respond rationally to the nuclear readiness drills, it didn't show up in the accounts that I read. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on that.

Dmitry Orlov: Well, there's a difference to how the Russians approach the world and how the Americans approach the world. So, for instance, Americans like to threaten. If you don't do this, then we will do X, Y and Z. That's a typical American behavior. That's not something that the Russians would ever do because they don't threaten, they just act. Because if you threaten, then you take away the element of surprise, which is very important. The other thing is Americans refuse to talk to their enemy, they won't negotiate with terrorists, they won't do X, Y and Z and can't be _____ [00:30:27] at all. You can just listen to them and do what they say or they'll bomb you, whereas the Russians always talk to their enemies. They always keep the channels of communication open. And the other thing is that all of this endless trash talking is very detrimental to the business of democracy and there's been a constant stream of basically garbage emanating from the west, some of it social media, some of it through the old fashioned press. But, just basically all kinds of lies and disinformation and slander, which makes the tedious business of diplomacy establishing various links at various levels, etc. very difficult, if not impossible. So there's just this incredible level of disgust with their, as they say, "partners" in the west, in Moscow. And the result is they're not really eager to talk anymore. They're not very interested in communicating. They're far more interested in acting. So, what we'll probably see is a constant stream of surprises coming from Russia that will be completely unannounced and not predicted by anyone.

Chris Martenson: You know, there was a very interesting piece that just came up. Somebody had analyzed Russia's total export revenues from oil over the last three months and then how much gold they've imported and noted almost a 1:1 correlation, which to me would be the most surprising thing in the world if the number two exporter in the world said "we're now exporting oil for gold," that would be a game changer. And yet, it seems to have happened but there was no real announcement around it, which I think strategically I can understand why you might do it that way, which is let me run this game as long as I can before anybody notices, and then say that's what we're up to. But, whether that's just simple correlation and an accidental line up of numbers or not, it feels to me like a way in which it makes sense because that's one of the few ways I could understand how Russia could separate herself from the petrodollar and the US reserve currency, which Putin had a big, long impassioned speech about a month ago where he said "this is a reserve currency that's being abused. It's basically a 'do what we say, not as we do' sort of a mandate that comes along with it and the extent to which we're exposed to that particular system is the extent to which this is going to continue to be a painful experience for us, so let's get away from it."

Dmitry Orlov: Yes, he did make that point. There's also a kind of behind the scenes, not terribly public, more specialist discussion about making the Ruble gold backed. And how much gold would be sufficient to back every Ruble in circulation. Because that would just make the whole process much simpler in terms of making the Ruble convertible around the world, introducing it as a reserve currency so that people actually stockpile Rubles in order to buy, say, energy products in the future. It would make it much more difficult for the currency traders to attack the Ruble, it would make it unnecessary to have such a level of foreign reserves, including the dollar and Euro reserves in order to defend the Ruble, all of those sorts of things. So, there's a very active discussion in terms of basically introducing the gold Ruble to replace what the Russians fondly called the "wooden Ruble."

Chris Martenson: The wooden Ruble [laughter], okay. Well, that would certainly be a fairly significant game changer and in the vein of you saying Russia doesn't threaten, they act, it feels to me like there's a chance that they've already started to maneuver in that direction, at least with the gold things that are going on. But, the whole gold story is just a big bizarre thing to me because we saw these reports again. Well, here's what I do know. I do know, and you mentioned this earlier, that Ukraine's gold is no longer where it used to be which is in the vaults of the banks with the central bank, it's gone. Do we have any sense of where it went?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, the story that was circulated, I don't know whether it's true or not, but sometime this year, earlier this year, all of the gold was secretly loaded onto a plane that took off for the United States. And that's one thing that we heard. And then, I think it was last week or the week before, we heard that Ukraine—this was an official announcement—that Ukraine no longer has much of a gold reserve at all. It's all been sold off and converted into the US Dollar in what must be the most brain-dead trade in the world. Why not do that when gold is at its lowest and the US Dollar is at its highest? Those Ukrainian bankers certainly know how to trade. So, this is all we know.

Chris Martenson: Yup. Well, there's always a great deal of mystery around gold. It's something I've observed before is that when Libya fell apart, its gold went missing; when Iraq fell apart and United States went in, its gold went missing. So, there's a little pattern developing here. Stop me when you've heard this one before but for a substance that's so roundly reviled in Western press, it just seems to command a lot of early interests in the unstable part of a country's undoing. And the United States is somehow always in the story on that one. So, connect those dots how you will.

Here's something that caught me as well was the rough treatment that Putin got at the hands of who I consider to be sort of second rate players on the stage—Harper out of Canada and then Abbott out of Australia. And Abbott in particular wanting to really sort of rub in Putin this whole idea of Putin's responsibility for the MH17 shoot down. And of course immediately after the plane went down within hours, within the first few days, headlines across British press in particular calling Putin a murderer, and all of this stuff. And then, very quietly, it's all gone away and nobody in the press talks about it anymore. But, Russia, as far as I'm reading it, continues to say "you all had these particular assets right over the region at the time of the shoot down, you had this satellite, you should have this telemetry data, you ought to have these pieces, we would very much like to see that information." As far as I know, Russia is the only country out there right now asking for specific information that could be used to conclusively identify what actually happened. You followed this story haven't you?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, yes, from the very beginning. There was this group of hackers, Ukrainian hackers, called Kiber Berkut, CyberBerkut and they get their name from the now dismantled special forces that the Ukrainians had. And they hack into all sorts of things. They recently hacked into one of the laptops that Joe Biden's crew was carrying on him. And that was a revelation, it turned out that the Ukrainian military is on Pentagon's payroll. But, they also…

Chris Martenson: Really?

Dmitry Orlov: Yeah, all of them and they have expense accounts and it's really disgusting, large ones. But, before that, they hacked into another server and actually got phone logs between various people discussing how to stage the false flag attack on that Boeing 777. And it was all like half in Ukrainian, half in Russian, kind of mangled together but it was pretty clear that they were organizing television footage to be put together artificially before the fact, they were going to introduce certain things into the social media to make it look like the rebels did it, etc. So, it appears that the whole thing was staged. But, since it didn't really go the way they wanted and they couldn't really pin it on the rebels for a number of reasons, technical reasons, that are very hard to whittle away at—like the rocket wouldn't have flown that far sort of logic. It would've been out of range. There wasn't any radar system that the rebels had in their possession that could've detected that flight from that far away in order to target it. And then, various other things came out like eye witnesses that said there were jet fighters in the air near where the plane went down. So, basically, once the story started stinking to high heaven, they just basically hushed it up. So, no information about it is ever going to be released in the west. And the Russians, they have the information, they're probably just sitting on it.

Chris Martenson: Well, then, doesn't that… I can't imagine how it must be more diplomatically frustrating. It's almost like you're trying to play big league games and suddenly you're over here at amateur hour. To have somebody like Tony Abbott walk up and say "boy, you have a lot to answer for around MH17," when you know perfectly well everybody at that level should know what's going on. How do you read that besides that being just a really awkward moment in diplomacy?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, I can read Putin pretty well. And from the way he behaved and his early departure from the meeting, it is very indicative of his very complete disgust. I mean his whole demeanor showed that basically he was wasting his time talking to these amateurs about nothing in particular, nothing was going to get done in this conference, so he left. And that's basically it, I mean nobody actually was brave enough to say what his answer to Harper was when Harper said, "I have just one thing to say to you: Get out of Ukraine." People said that it wasn't particularly impolite but they couldn't say exactly what it was, which is kind of indicative that the love is in both directions between those two. And this is sad, but this is what happens when politicians start basing policy on just complete falsehood.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, well, the risks seem high in that. This leads me to the final set of questions, which is around where do you think this goes now? My sense is that relations are sort of not just frosty but I think they're increasingly getting worse, rather than sort of stabilized at a frosty level. Do you agree with that and if so where do you see this is heading?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, I think that the relations will stay frosty and I don't know what exactly could defrost them because it's sort of like you only lose your reputation once. Same thing with any good will that you accumulate. So, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russians looked to the West for consumer products, freedom and democracy, freedom of speech, all sorts of cultural imports, a chance to go and see how people live around the world and copy some of their ways, etc. And the understanding was that if they behaved like Europeans, if they played by the rules, then they'd be allowed to win. And so, that's been the attitude. It's okay, "well, we're weak now, but we'll do everything right, we'll play our cards as we dealt them, we'll play this game and we'll win." And then, a couple of decades go by, first one was very dicey, second one was much better. In this century, Russia has been doing remarkably well and Russia has started winning. And then, it turns out that, new rule: Russia is not allowed to win. That's just a new rule and you have to accept it. So, that didn't really rub them the right way, shall I say. So, their new attitude is "okay, well, if you think that you have your gentlemen's club that we can't be part of, then you can't be in our gentlemen's club either. In fact, you're not gentlemen at all." And, that's going to be the new attitude, so this old way of dealing with Russia that sort of worked for the United States and the west in the past no longer works at all. And it will be a very harsh learning experience, very steep learning curve for the West to figure out that they can't actually exist without Russia and without Russian cooperation. And that what they have to do to secure that cooperation is not threaten, not trash talk their leadership, not impose sanctions, but actually play an honest game.

Chris Martenson: That might be a tall order at this stage. So, that gets to the final part which is where you see this going. My assessment is that the current crop of people who are in charge at the US State Department seem uniquely incapable of introspection or humility at this point. That's just my personal assessment of them. It's either my way or the highway. They seem to be very, very clear about that. So, you see this going forward, I mean if you agree with that, then there's sort of intransigence on one side and an unwillingness to deal with people under those terms on the other side. It feels like a stalemate at best.

Dmitry Orlov: Well, look, Russia is a place that's extremely dynamic, fast changing, responds to a challenging environment, a changed environment, very popular throughout the world, at peace with most nations of the world, even nations that are at war with each other still talk to, both sides will still talk to Russia and have friendly relations. Russia has a splendid relationship with both Israel and Iran, for instance. The United States is a nation that can't get anything together, can't get anything _____ [00:49:55], not education, not healthcare, nothing. It's basically sinking into a morass of its own making; it can't respond at all. And now, it's basically being shown up to be quite incompetent at playing this international game. Now, what happens if you can't play a game by the rules is you're penalized and you forfeit the game. So, either the US leadership will learn how to play by the rules or they forfeit. I see those as the only two real outcomes.

Chris Martenson: And how would that play out in your mind? I know you've got lots of material pointing out that the United States is on a path towards collapse. And here's a quick anecdote: I got an Uber lift the other day. I was in South Carolina, the guy who picked me up in his car was from Sudan. He'd escaped here 20 years ago, political asylum. And within a few sentences we connected and he said, "you know, what makes me really sad is that the same things that ultimately led me to leave Sudan 20 years ago, I see those same things beginning to happen here now in the United States." And he was just talking about that, that the obvious lack of rule of law really bothered him between like how the bankers got away with everything but little people still get charged with stuff. It's just basic sort of things like that. And so, the question to you is: When you look at where the United States is headed in this particular trajectory and you say the leaders will have to either forfeit the game or figure out how to change the game, would you agree that they're probably going to forfeit, and how does forfeit play out in your mind? What does that mean?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, to keep their positions, they have to continue posturing and part of that posturing is pretending that you're acting from a position of strength whereas you're actually acting from a position of weakness. That's already happening in the US and the posturing isn't working out very well either. So, in China recently, Obama made a speech about American leadership in the world and all of these young Chinese people in the audience started laughing. Now, if you send your leader somewhere across the world, and young people laugh at him, that's not a good sign, right?

Chris Martenson: Right.

Dmitry Orlov: But, it still plays okay for the domestic audience. So, what I will probably see first is a split between what the Americans are shown, which is this typical rah rah stuff— "we will get our way in the world" sort of nonsense—and very sheepish behavior by American officials when they're abroad. They will probably try to curry personal favor in case they lose their jobs. It's like where in the world do you go if you have to run away? Some of them might start secretly getting foreign passports since they know all these diplomats, they might curry favor and get a passport so they can escape with their families when the time comes. So, that's kind of how it comes apart. It's like on the one hand, they'll still be talking up this superpower game, but secretly they will be looking to buy a sea side cottage in China.

Chris Martenson: All right. Well, I have this personal sense that Russia actually holds a lot of cards in this game and the main cards, one of the biggest ones obviously is the energy card. And that I do agree with you that in this story, I don't know how it plays out, but by the end of it, the West discovers that it needs Russia even more than Russia needs the West at this particular junction probably through time. And my personal assessment is that's going to be a hard learning, because I've lost faith that my crop of leadership has the capability of behaving rationally. When JohnMcCain is one of your senior statesman, I mean my goodness, it's not a good sign. Or if you've got people like Victoria Nuland in there, saying what she says out of the assistant position at the State Department. Those are just hard pieces for me. So, final question: What's the chance in your mind that there's an actual confrontation that spills over—it could be a cyber war, it could be an economic war, it could be a kinetic war between the West and Russia?

Dmitry Orlov: I think there'll be a lot of this sort of mixed conflict going on, a lot of fishing in muddy waters. I don't think there'll be any outright all out confrontation because total war between the United States and Russia is unwinnable by definition. I think that basically, there will be efforts by the US to continue what it tries to do with less and less success, various types of Orange Revolutions. And they're working out worse and worse every time. I mean look at the results. It used to be that they actually kind of got the government they wanted for a little while. But now, they don't even get that for any length of time and the countries that they try to set up, like Libya for instance, fall apart really quickly. If you look at Georgia, where they put in Mikheil Saakashvili as the President, well, now he's basically a wanted men in his own country. He's been hiding out somewhere in the states. It's just not working out very well but they'll continue doing it until it just all falls apart.

Chris Martenson: Well, with that, Dmitry, really it's so good to talk to you because we absolutely need to decode this. I think this is one of the most critical things that's happening is this breakdown and geopolitical realignments that are happening. It's absolutely vital and important and it disappoints me that my own country stirs this stuff up and then gets all inflamed about Kardashian's back side in the next month or so because we've lost interest. So, it really feels like we put some very big things in motion and then lost interest because they didn't resolve themselves quick enough or something. So, I really love what you bring to the conversation, it helped me understand and helped other people. And in that vein, I got your blog that we mentioned at Club Orlov over at cluborlov.blogspot.com. You've got the book I've mentioned. Is there anything else, any other way that people can follow what you're doing, talks you're doing, books you've got coming up?

Dmitry Orlov: Well, no. Actually, right now, I'm working on a completely different project which started out as a teaching English reading to English-speaking kids. Now it's morphing into teaching English to people in other countries. Japan is the first one. And so, I'm going in a completely different direction. Collapse is only a hobby for me. I like to have my hand in other things to. So, I don't have any books right now but I'm just watching the situation. And what's happening now is that once in a while, because Western media is so lame, I get a ridiculous amount of web traffic on my blog because I just run some story that they refuse to run. So, I'll keep doing that. So, keep watching my blog for various types of little blog busters.

Chris Martenson: All right. Very good. And all the best on your entrepreneurial efforts to work with teaching English. I think that's a great thing to do and lots of need for it out there.

Dmitry Orlov: Thank you Chris.

Chris Martenson: All right. Well, thank you Dmitry and I hope we can do this again soon.

Dmitry Orlov: Absolutely.

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56 Comments

pgp's picture
pgp
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Level of Disgust

Brilliant Podcast. Its absolutely riveting to listen to someone like D Orlov, with his unique experience.  The perspective shift you get when you talk to worldly people like him is essential to getting a balanced point of view.  People that have lived in more than one country share a unique perspective on culture and ideals and are exposed to truths they would normally be shielded from within the dogma of a single country. 

I think the worldly, intelligent and open minded few particularly will resonate with the idea of an increasing "level of disgust" with US policy and economics.  You hear it all the time in people who have traveled.  The realisation that the truth is just not being delivered in the western media and that the "world-order" is more a corrupted disorder.  Its that disgust that turns people from the western media to alternative sources of information like RT news and peak-prosperity. 

This podcast was a unique opportunity to hear some resounding truths.  Well done PP, as always, for the honest journalism.

MrAmmo's picture
MrAmmo
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WOW, very enlightening. thank

WOW, very enlightening.

thank you very much

kaimu's picture
kaimu
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THE UGLY AMERICA

ALOHA!! Hmmmm ... oh ... this ... we're back to that?

"For some reason, the [American] people I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They are loud and ostentatious." - Burma journalist, The Ugly American novel, 1960

With modern social media technology now we don't even have to flaunt Americanism by flying to foreign countries being tourists and military. I would say that our " extreme credit driven consumerism" is the new Ugly American! We do that across the board, even environmentalists have adapted well to consumeristic tendencies ... all guilt assuaged by carbon credits.

Throw in the latest oil crash and I am sure most Russians are even more fed up not only with Americans and their politics, but their "crony capitalist" American markets! Imagine if the USD suffered the same recent crash of the Ruble and then topped it off with oil crashing 40%. I saw the Ruble took a hit, down 7% in one day last week.

Maybe the Russians are getting tired of Putin too! I mean an awful lot of Americans are very, very tired of Obama and Congress and the ratings show it! Global unrest is on the rise even in the USA, so much so that I would say guns and ammo will be a growth industry in the next decade! Just recently an Austin police station was raided!

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said McQuilliams fired at the Mexican Consulate, the United States Federal Courthouse and APD's headquarters within a 10-minute period.

Notice all the buildings attacked are government buildings! I guess that would qualify as a "vote against current government"!

Nevermind the continuing effects of the "Fergusonian Syndrome"!

Given the current state of the American Psyche I am not so sure that the average American citizen struggling to make ends meet ,with ever widening income inequality, isn't too far from Russians in their dislike of the US government and US banks!

Allan Dias's picture
Allan Dias
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The changed America

This is an interesting snippet and I look forward to the transcript. I'm in India and I used to be a supporter of America when I was in my teens but I realize I had an outdated view of the country. I had a crate of Popular Science magazines from the 40s to the 60s and my impression of the US was based on that, and a few other magazines and articles. Also, India was rabidly socialist at that time.

Unfortunately America has changed drastically over time and their government policies are totally opposed to the guidelines of their Constitutional fathers. They like to portray themselves as the saviours of the world but are actually living off the rest of the world by abusing the reserve currency privilege. 

Uncletommy's picture
Uncletommy
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To each his own!

It has been said:

In Heaven, the machinery is German, the English do the policing, the French do the cooking, The Italians do the love making and the Swiss keep track of the time. In Hell, the Germans do the policing, the cooking is English, the machinery is French, the Italians keep track of the time and the Swiss do the lovemaking.

Where exactly would the Americans fit in? I think Mr. Orlov has nailed it pretty close. (The Canadians are kind of like the Russians, except they apologize for it after asking the Americans if its okay.)

Mr Orlov points out a basic fact that must be remembered. Every society has a M.O. and it usually stems from historical, geographical and ethnic influences. If understanding is ever to be achieved between nations, we need to look past these impediments and focus on the ecological issues that affect us all.

FAT CHANCE! If history teaches us anything, its "After me, everybody else comes first!"

(It is estimated that only 12% of Americans hold a passport. I wonder what that signifies.)

Rector's picture
Rector
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5minutes

That's how long I chuckled over the heaven -hell thing. Thanks. 

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AaronMcKeon
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Cut Short?

Not sure if it's just my computer, but it appears the podcast cuts out just into the beginning of the Uber story.  Was hoping to hear the concluding remarks of both Chris and Dmitry.

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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I would thank you very much

I would thank you very much if you did not mention Abbot.

Here is a beautiful massive project for the Russians to undertake that would be for the ultimate benefit for humanity and life of the planet in general.

Please colonize L4. Then you would control the Ultimate High Ground. Escape from the limiting sphere of the planet would be by invitation only.

Like the transistor this is an idea that started in the USA but had to be developed elsewhere do to lack of vision.

There will be many spin-offs and once demonstrated to be viable will be as common as the flying 200 tonne Jumbo Jets that would have seemed absurd to Captain Cook.

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thatchmo
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missing minutes....

my podcast cut out at 44 minutes.  I'm pretty sure I'm paid up....;^)  Aloha, Steve

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cmartenson's picture
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checking into it...

thatchmo wrote:

my podcast cut out at 44 minutes.  I'm pretty sure I'm paid up....;^)  Aloha, Steve

I'm looking into it.

Thanks for your patience.

ian.k's picture
ian.k
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Great podcast but losing the

Great podcast but losing the final minutes is disappointing. I look forward to the transcript to read what the Sudanese driver had to say.  Congratulations on being prepared to  tell the truth.

What Orlov says, and I believe its true, is that MH17 was a false flag operation. The implication of this is that our glorious leaders and our freedom loving media are a willing party to the murder of nearly 300 innocent  people.

The least we can do, for the victims of MH17, is to give these willfully blind criminals the respect they deserve. None.

They should be confronted with their duplicity at every opportunity.  

KennethPollinger's picture
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NYTimes Sunday Magazine

does another lengthy put-down of Putin and Russia--so much enlightenment from MSM!

I guess we at PP.com will be called communists soon, or Putin lovers.

Wolfbay's picture
Wolfbay
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Putin

Although I agree with much of what Orlov and RT say about the USA , Russia is no prize either. They have their macho alpha male dictator, their corruption and connected former Soviet commissars . Criticizing Russia does not necessarily mean you agree with US actions.

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Britannic_2
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About the last seven minutes

About the last seven minutes seem to be missing.

KugsCheese's picture
KugsCheese
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RE: THE UGLY AMERICA

Are you talking about the government or the land (which includes the people)?   You quoted the book that all quote without having read it.

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Full Audio Now Available on YouTube Embed

Thank you all for the patience on the technical issue with the podcast length.  The video has now been replaced on Youtube and in the post above. The mp3 version was the complete version and is available for direct download and off of itunes.  Please post any additional issues you might be experiencing and I will address them as soon as possible.

Jason

funglestrumpet's picture
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Winnability of Modern Nuclear War

Unfortunately, it is a misconception to think that nuclear warfare is still unwinnable. With the pin-point accuracy of today's ICBMs a pre-emptive first-strike is not only winnable, it is winnable in a meaningful way, i.e. it would not be a Pyrrhic victory at all. One day, when the wind is in the right direction (think radio-active fall-out) we might just find out how winnable.

One thing that is for sure is that the side that loses will be too busy burying its dead to mount any retaliation, even if it had any weapons or launch infrastructure anyway. The side that wins only has to say that they discovered that an attack was imminent and were forced to defend their nation, and its population would support them fully for their actions, even if they suspected that they were really the aggressors and no attack at all was imminent.

It's an ill-wind. Any nuclear attack would cool the planet and help with the over-population problem!

We live in interesting times.

Doug's picture
Doug
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Great podcast

Thanks Chris, I have long appreciated Orlov' s perspective on Russia and its place in the world. If only we could get tptb in the US to listen.

Doug

HughK's picture
HughK
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A nuclear elephant in the limits to growth room

funglestrumpet wrote:

Unfortunately, it is a misconception to think that nuclear warfare is still unwinnable. With the pin-point accuracy of today's ICBMs a pre-emptive first-strike is not only winnable, it is winnable in a meaningful way, i.e. it would not be a Pyrrhic victory at all. One day, when the wind is in the right direction (think radio-active fall-out) we might just find out how winnable.

One thing that is for sure is that the side that loses will be too busy burying its dead to mount any retaliation, even if it had any weapons or launch infrastructure anyway. The side that wins only has to say that they discovered that an attack was imminent and were forced to defend their nation, and its population would support them fully for their actions, even if they suspected that they were really the aggressors and no attack at all was imminent.

It's an ill-wind. Any nuclear attack would cool the planet and help with the over-population problem!

We live in interesting times.

Hi funglestrumpet and all,

While I would like to know more about your claim that it would be possible to strike another major nuclear power first in a nuclear war and avoid retaliation, I think you hit the nail on the head when you brought up the massive uncertainty of both the literal and figurative fallout of any major nuclear strike.  The nuclear winter hypothesis certainly plays into this as does the question of whether or not such a massive blow to our complex global industrial civilization could do anything but cause this house of cards to scatter in all directions.  My suspicion is that the claims for a winnable nuclear war are just as specious now as they were in the 1950's and 60's.  

Having said that, I think that nuclear war is sort of the elephant of the room in limits to growth circles.  If/when our complex civilization destabilizes and the pie gets measurably smaller, then what are the chances that at least one of the major nuclear powers will - due either to stress or insanity - initiate a nuclear attack?

The longer we operate with nuclear weapons, the higher the probability that at least one nuclear power will eventually use them, for one reason or another.  If we go long enough with these missiles, the probability approaches 100%.

If I saw a group of children who brought an active hand grenade wherever they went, day after day, I would certainly think that the risk of it eventually exploding would be quite high.  While there may be no one to take our nuclear weapons away from us, are we really wise and prudent enough, as a species and civilization, to ensure that the ultimate WMDs are not used? 

Do our thoughts affect the likelihood or a nuclear war?  Maybe....and if this is the case then we might like to face the very strong possibility that we probably have two choices:  multilateral nuclear disarmament, which requires repeating the mantra that nothing is impossible, or nuclear war, after which very little will be possible.

cmartenson's picture
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Define "winnable"

funglestrumpet wrote:

Unfortunately, it is a misconception to think that nuclear warfare is still unwinnable. With the pin-point accuracy of today's ICBMs a pre-emptive first-strike is not only winnable, it is winnable in a meaningful way, i.e. it would not be a Pyrrhic victory at all. One day, when the wind is in the right direction (think radio-active fall-out) we might just find out how winnable.

I think that would be true if and only if the list of conditions below applies:

  • You can hit every single silo before said silos can launch
  • You know where every single truck-based launcher is located and can hit all of them before they launch
  • You can knock out every bomber that is armed and in the air
  • Most importantly, you know where every boomer sub is located and you can knock them out before they have a chance to launch

If you mess up even one of those bullet points, but especially the last one, you will be facing a minimum retaliation that will kill millions, and probably knock out your electrical grid for a number of months.

For example, the latest class of Russian subs carry 16 nuclear-tipped RSM-56 Bulava missiles, each with 10 independent warheads, designed to thwart evolving Western ballistic-missile defense shields, so that makes 160 'bangs' on your continent if you miss just one. 

That's a lot of major cities....

So I guess we need to define "winnable."

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
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Winnable

Nothing that includes mass death and misery can be defined as winnable, a nuclear exchange would fit into the definition of "insanity". IMHO wars are never won they are endured.

AK GrannyWGrit

davefairtex's picture
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nuclear war

All an adversary has to do is execute an EMP attack over the continental US (3 warheads, as I recall, is all it takes), and they don't need to worry about any other sort of retaliation.  Destroying the electric grid for any substantial amount of time would eliminate the US as a world power.  Not immediately, since a core element of the military would survive, but over the course of 6 months or so as the general population died.

We might retain the missiles, but we wouldn't have any people left to run the place.

The true winners of such a conflict would be anyone who stood by and made a big point of remaining uninvolved.  While our NCA was scrambling around trying to feed everyone and keep the peace in a continent that had suddenly devolved to 1900, after enough time passed, there would be a whole lot of newly-unpopulated land in North America that would most probably find new owners - perhaps Spanish-speaking owners, perhaps Chinese-speaking owners.  With a population of 30 million, we'd rate up there right along with Australia, as soon as we rebuilt.

Yay, victory!

At least we'd have enough oil per capita to last for quite a while, because of the sharp decline in capita.

I don't even want to think about those 104 nuclear plant/meltdowns when the grid goes out for a year.

Yay victory again!

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Duration of the flight of an ICBM

The duration of the flight of an ICBM is about 40 - 60 minutes I understand.  Once a launch is detected you have time to have lunch, email you family goodbye and saunter out to your long range bomber and take-off before they arrive.

I am absolutely certain that massive retaliation is assured.  Can anyone imagine receiving a pinpoint nuclear attack, say on the center of NYC,  and not responding with everything you've got?

Everyone loses everything.

I really agree with Hugh's thoughts on the down-slope phase of the limits to growth population curve.  Humans will fight over the diminishing resources and who knows how much the fighting itself will further diminish resources, goodwill between groups, political freedoms and the beauty of the natural world that we love.

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Winnability of Modern Nuclear War

Hi HughK, I will try and expand on my comment in the hope it answers your concerns. To begin, if we take the concept of two waring neighbouring farmers. In the old days, we can like it to their being armed with blunderbusses. It did not matter who fired first, they would both end up hurt. Today it is more as though they have snipers' rifles. The one who fires first wins outright. The Hiroshima bomb was detonated about half a mile above the city and had a yield of about 12.5kt. Modern weapons come with yields of around 100kt or 400kt, depending on which model. While Minuteman missiles have only one warhead per missile, Trident is designed to carry twelve (limited to eight under Start II. I know that Russia has similar MIRV capability. What I do not know is how important banning of the Russian Yankee class subs is to the Russians. Their role was to airburst over the missile silos generating EMPs to fry the launch systems and provide x-ray pin down of the missiles (to stop America from opening the silo ready for launch because the guidance and arming would also be fried.)

If we take take the Trident D5 missile, it has a C.E.P. of around 100 meters, probably less considering how out of date my database is. With that sort of accuracy (yes I know C.E.P. is not exactly 'accuracy' but it is good enough for this discussion.) it is possible to destroy any hardened bunker. So, if we consider the targets to be the command, control, communication and intelligence centres (C cubed I) it is possible to consider a pre-emptive first strike that wipes out the enemy's ability to return fire.

There is the small matter of submarine based missiles. Every single seaborne vessel has a unique sound signature, which, by using phased array passive sonar systems, it is possible to get a general idea of where they are. If we then consider that an atomic depth charge can take out a submarine if it can get closer than six miles and possibly even with ten miles is close enough. We can get a measure of just how detectable submarines are by the antics they get up to when leaving port. It is common for them to ride beneath a merchantman on their way to deeper waters, where they have to seek out a thermocline in order to try and hide.

At the end of the Cold War, we had Pershing II missiles a matter of minutes away from the Kremlin. Being so close, they never reached a speed that would be a problem for optical guidance, with the result that they could be flown down any Kremlin chimney of their choosing (well, almost!). This led and still leads to the biggest danger, namely that of a full scale launch resulting from a false alarm. We had some terrible ones in the Cold War and were really lucky to survive it. As things are today, the U.K. Trident fleet relies in a 'fail dangerous' system where there is an ELF transmitter that transmits 24/7. If it stops, then the instructions are to go to the launch position and fire the missiles. (Let's hope that they never have a problem with the transmitter - though I assume there is back up.)

Personally, if I were in charge of either side, I would smuggle into the enemy territory a bunch of atom bombs (battlefield nuclear weapons are delivered in the tip of a 155 mm artillery shell, so they can be quite small) and secrete them in major centers of population, each on a timer. No warnings, just some very loud bangs. How long before the whole economy is belly up? How long before they are fighting for food? (Just in time delivery to supermarkets) How long before the military goes AWOL to look after their families? How long before a bomb disposal team puts back together a detonated bomb in order to identify its origin? How long before pigs fly? Considering false flag attacks, I would make the bombs look as though they had been made in some other country in case one of them is discovered. They would, of course, be booby trapped. Whose to say that they aren't already in situ? I suppose the game is to try and identify nations the could be so devious and are nuclear armed, or perhaps have access to nuclear arms.

I might be wrong about all of the above, I very sincerely hope so. But I fear I might be close enough to the mark to at least win a lollypop, otherwise, why the precision of delivery with such massive weapons in such large numbers when we have all seen what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

As I said, we live in interesting times.

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davefairtex wrote: All an

davefairtex wrote:

All an adversary has to do is execute an EMP attack over the continental US (3 warheads, as I recall, is all it takes), and they don't need to worry about any other sort of retaliation.

This may be a topic for another discussion, but what about that? How specifically are individual people vulnerable to an EMP? Would it take out all our electronics, including computer hard drives? Gone, forever? How can one go about protecting our electronic data? Back it up on external hard drives and bury under 3 feet of concrete and steel? I presume that most of the websites in the world and all the information they hold will disappear forever. Should we be trying to save, archive, and protect those websites that have important or incriminating evidence so that history isn't rewritten by the criminals? The recent silencing of Harvey Organ is a good wakeup call. Luckily he is archived on other sites. Do we need to print out on paper any really important stuff?

This might be a worthwhile topic for a future article.

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Winnability of Modern Nuclear War

You are quite correct regarding ICBMs (though 60 minutes is a bit excessive), that are at the maximum of their range. But if a pre-emptive first-strike were being planned, they would ensure that all their subs were as close as could be. Remember that launch has to be detected and the aggressor has the luxury of knowing where the other side's satellites are and would time the launch of an attack when they were at their worst position for detecting any launch. Don't forget that the targets are not centres of population, but C cubed I i.e. launch infrastructure. Over and above that, the launch would be timed to any known activity that would make the senior personnel with permission to launch an all-out nuclear attack most difficult to contact.

As I mention in another comment, we are at risk of accidental launch due to a false alarm. That would make launch authority extremely restricted (I hope), It would take a brave soldier to intrude on a Heads of State meeting to ask the president for launch authority and anyway, they aren't going to give it willy-nilly. He or she will ask some very important questions etc. etc. By now we are looking at far less than sixty minutes, I fear.

And I repeat, why the accuracy? Why the massive yeilds? Why so many?

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Winnability of Modern Nuclear War

I repeat, why the accuracy? Why the high yields? And why the number of missiles? Someone, somewhere sees the need to destroy hardened targets and a lot of them. You do not need 400kt delivered to within a diameter of 100 meters and detonated at ground level to destroy a city,look at Hiroshima.

"define winnable" In the current world situation, I can imagine some who would be content that they had destroyed the enemy's launch infrastructure and vast swathes of its population in the process (many of the bunkers in which that structure is housed are inside cities). Yes, there would possibly be some retaliation, but if my side survived in far more numbers, then I imagine that there are some who would consider that a success, especially if we had sufficient military left to defeat the rump of the enemy.

I suppose the main point is that a pre-emptive first-strike is possible and there are some who would prefer to get it over and done with rather than wait for the other side to fire first. And anyway, all this talk is about military bombs.delivered courtesy of military missiles. Whose to say that the initial strike would not be by careful placement of suitcase bombs in buildings close enough to C cubed I targets? Detonate them all at the same time and you would know you were under attack, but not by whom? and if you do not know that you do not know the target to retalliate against until they launch their ground based weapons, assuming your satellite links have survived well enough to still detect them.

I might be wrong, but I think it is folly to dismiss the idea that a nuclear war is unwinnable. We have left the age of MAD, so if destruction is not mutually assured, then by inference one side is not destroyed and if it isn't destroyed, it wins.

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Russia is probably not as popular globally as Orlov claims

Dmitry Orlov said:

"In terms of Russia being isolated, well, no, Russia is part of SCO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It's very tight with the BRICS nations. It's signing bilateral agreements with countries left and right. It's very popular around the world. Russia is much more popular around the world than, say, the United States."

I really like Orlov's commentary, but this is an example of a very brilliant person just sharing an opinion as if it is a fact.  And when smart people like Orlov do this, it's easy for the rest of us to just assume he's stating a fact, instead of an opinion.

Here is one piece of data for that, a BBC World Service poll, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA, charting the global popularity of a number of countries.  This poll shows that Russia is not seen as positively as the US, but neither Russia or the US make it into the top ten most positively viewed countries listed here:

While one might argue that this poll is biased, even slightly different numbers would probably not come up with the result supporting Orlov's claim that "Russia is much more popular around the world than, say, the United States."

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Shades of the Sumerian Civilization

From my research on the end of the Sumerian Civilization, it appears that is exactly what happened. Nuclear bombs went off and it was the "Evil Wind" (radioactive whirlwind) that destroyed that civilization.

See: The Wars of Gods and Men, by Zecharia Sitchin, Chp.14 The Nuclear Holocaust. Pages 324 and on:

"The Erra Epic not only explains the nature and causes of the conflict that led to the unleashing of the Ultimate Weapon against inhabited cities..."  'The product of seven awesome weapons .......created the Evil Wind."  pages 336-337

Now THIS:

"The death was not by the hand of an enemy; it was an unseen death. which roams the street, is let loose in the road; it stands beside a man--yet none can see it; when it enters a house, its appearance is unknown.  There is no defense against this "evil which has assailed the land like a ghost . . .The highest walls, the thickest walls, it passes as a flood; no door can shut it out, no bolt can turn it back; through the door like a snake it glides, through the hinge like a wind it blows in . .  .Those who hid behind doors were felled inside; those who ran to rooftops died on the rooftops; those who fled to the streets were stricken in the streets; cough and phlegm weakened the chest, the mouth was filled with spittle and foam  . . . dumbness and daze have come upon them, an unwholesome numbness .  ..an evil curse, a headache  . . .their spirit abandoned their bodies." As they died, it was a most gruesome death.

Ken: And on and on.  You must read this stuff as what you are all talking about here SEEMS to be a repeat of the past.  Sitchen has 14 books, all of which I have studied in-depth. Most see all this as mythology but others, like me, see it as prehistory based on the Sumerian clay tablets written in the cunneform language  His foundational book: The 12th Planet.

From The Uruk Lament; Lamentation Over the Destruction of Ur; Lamentation Over the Destruction of Sumer and Ur; The Eridu Lament.   All the way to page 342

PLEASE, let's not repeat this possible past!!

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Sitchin: a further comment

Sitchin came to my Center three times and so I have known him personally.  I, along with others, can vouch for his impeccable scholarly research, even though mainstream critics disagree with his take on the tablets.

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A follow up to Hugh's post

A follow up to Hugh's post challenging Orlov's

"In terms of Russia being isolated, well, no, Russia is part of SCO, Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It's very tight with the BRICS nations. It's signing bilateral agreements with countries left and right. It's very popular around the world. Russia is much more popular around the world than, say, the United States."

My gut agrees w Orlov so I dug a bit, here are the participating countries:

(source)

Some bias there perhaps. Not much input from the Middle East or Africa, and what there is from Africa is not favorable for the US.

Negative views of the USA are also up in all three African countries surveyed—up 13 points in Kenya, ten points in Ghana, and seven points in Nigeria.

And done for the BBC by US/UK/CA organizations, UK w the 3rd highest rating.....mmmmm.

Polling was conducted for BBC World Service by the international polling firm GlobeScan (offices in Toronto, London, and San Francisco) and its research partners in each country, together with the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.

The poll was mostly conducted before events in the Crimea.

I'll be interested to see the next poll. I know my opinion as to which country has behaved more reasonably has shifted significantly since the last.

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Nice work, Denny

If I were Russia or China and looked to the left: USA, Canada, Mexico and Europe; and, then to the right: Japan  Australia and South Korea, and with the American WARS in the Middle East, with the Saudis protecting the Petrodollar, I'd surely want to protect myself and join my nearby neighbor: Russia-China Collaboration. And where is India in all this?

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Nice digging, Denny

Hey Denny and all,

Nice digging.  Looking at the map of participating countries, it certainly does seem that many countries where people are likely to be more sympathetic to Russia were left out.  These include Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba all of which currently have leaders that are challenging the Monroe Doctrine in different ways.  Other countries also likely to be more pro-Russia not polled include Iran, all of the former USSR except for Russia, Serbia, Mongolia.

On the other hand, several populous countries that are likely to be more pro-US not polled include the Philippines and Thailand which, combined have more people than all of the former USSR countries excluding Russia, plus Bolivia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba.  Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and all of Scandinavia were also not included, and these are likely to have seen the US more positively than they see Russia.  

Some other very populous regions/countries missed include the whole Middle East besides Israel and Egypt, Bangladesh, DRC, South Africa,  and all of the medium-sized and smaller countries of Africa, and many other countries.

I also noticed on the Globscan explanation you linked, that Russia was more popular than the US between 2005 (the first year in the time series) and 2009.

All the same, notice that now we are talking about data, whereas Orlov made a claim without presenting any data, which brings me back to the original point: we should be careful when a knowledgeable person presents opinion as fact, especially when the opinion supports that person's worldview.  We all have our anecdotal experience, and many of us here have traveled around the world quite a bit.  While that might be a starting point for forming a hypothesis, anyone who thinks that it's necessary to have empirical data to properly understand the world knows that anecdotal experience is not usually enough.

There is still no evidence that "Russia is much more popular" (Orlov's words) around the world than the United States, and while we may think that Russia SHOULD be more popular for one reason or another, that is not the same as it actually being more popular.  

The next poll could be interesting, and there are actually some other polls out there.  I found this one for Latin America, which includes Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador.  Here's a bar chart from that study:

While the US economy and culture may have a lot of appeal in Latin America, I'm surprised that the US government is perceived so positively in this region considering the US' record of bloody intervention in what Presidents Monroe and T. Roosevelt claimed as our sphere of influence.  So, maybe part of US popularity in Latin America (and the Philippines...) is Stockholm Syndrome.  But, that also may explain Russian popularity in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and other countries that have traditionally been in the Russian sphere of influence, as Mother Russia has been even more bloody than Uncle Sam in terms of the treatment of client states. 

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BBC = controlled by

BBC = controlled by government. Poll is useless.

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CrLaan wrote:BBC =

CrLaan wrote:

BBC = controlled by government. Poll is useless.

In that case, you shouldn't believe Chris' analysis of peak oil because he gets a lot of data from the US Energy Information Agency.  In fact, the International Energy Agency's data can't be trusted either, because that's a consortium of governments and who could trust BP's Statistical Review of World Energy, as that's a big British corporation.  And since most research goes on at government funded universities, we can't trust that either.  And of course, this means we can't trust Russia Today (RT), as it's funded by the Russian executive branch.

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sloppy reporting

Hi Hugh,

Maybe nice digging, but sloppy reporting. Reading your post I realize that although I linked to the 2014 data, I posted the Participating Countries map for the 2013 poll, here is the 2014 map. The difference being in 2014 Argentina and Israel are included while Greece, Poland and Egypt are not.

Participating Countries

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US popularity

HughK-

When I visited Vietnam, I got zero sense that the people there had a problem with Americans.  I visited both Hanoi and HCMC (Saigon) and both places seemed quite welcoming.  I even visited the Uncle Ho (Chi Minh) museum/park in Hanoi, and a collection of old (happy) veterans wearing their ancient army fatigues there at the same time didn't seem to be giving me (one of a very few white faces) any suspicious stares at all.

Stuff fades with time.  That's my only conclusion.  In talking with people in Hanoi I got the sense that the war happened a long time ago, and it seemed like ancient history that happened to someone else and - say, tell me more about America.

I seriously never ran into any anti-American sentiment at all.  And we waged a bloody war there for a decade.  You might suggest the Vietnamese were just being polite - but they can be pretty direct when they want to.

Perhaps the fact that Vietnam won that war helped.  :-)

Also, the Filipinos I know all love the US.  They know about history, but it sure feels like "that was so 100 years ago - now all we want to do is go to the US for ... whatever."

Thais like America for sure.  If they could find a way to get here, they know they can strike it rich if they work hard.  (They all universally miss Thailand - but boy, the thought of striking it rich is quite a lure.)

Its not some kind of Stockholm syndrome.  US movie exports provide a certain image, and the ability to work hard, save money, and basically get rich is something they really can't do in their country.

No kidding, America still is the land of opportunity, at least from the perspective of southeast asia.  The standard thing for Thais is to come here and work (under the table) at a Thai restaurant, pay for their stay, save up money, and go back home much richer than when they came.

People born in a first world country just really have no idea.  We think everything is horrid, no jobs, bad pay, hard to make it in life, etc.  Immigrants from poorer countries know better.

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History and nukes and plagues

I suppose it is possible that the evil wind could be nuclear fallout, especially in this day and age, but what is described in the account sounds more like a plague of a particularly bad Hanson's Disease, or possibly a bad ergot infestation.

If you look what happened in Lithuania following Chernobyl, it wasn't people losing thir neurons and all feeling. Rather, people lost their thyroids, and got some bad skin cancers. But it didn't kill the cities.

These cities were only 30k-50k people, which doesn't sound like a lot, but it means that they had to be developing new food storage and distribution mechanisms. As such, things like an Ergot infestation -- which DOES cause an evil numbness -- are a real possibility. It also causes crazed behavior.

Likewise, food storage issues can lead to vermin infestations, which in turn can bring things lxke leprosy. Again, there can be an evil numbness.

Of the two, I'm more inclined to think Ergot, though.

But yes, nuclear fallout is not good. Let's really NOT GO THERE. I agree.

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Needs to Develop Economically

President Obama said Russia doesn't make things. In term of consumer goods and capital machines, Obama is largely correct. A nation is strong through high productivity. Russia needs to break those oligarchies and promote free economy. It cannot live on build weapons alone. China increasingly makes their own weapons than buy from Russia.  

How and when Russia's parliment Duma was formed? It was after 1903-04 Russo-Japanese war. A revolution broke out after the war where Russia was humiliated by a nation which they then considered primitive. Although the revolution failed, but Czar was forced to set Duma. The trigger as I read was Russians psychologically could  not accept her defeat by Japan. Almost her entire fleet was destroyed by a smaller yet high tech Japanese fleet. Russia was forced to sign a non-equal treat at Portmouth, NH, USA - the only non-equal treaty before WWI where an European power was bullied by an Asian nation.

Japan's modernization started in 2nd half of the 19th century - so called Menji Restoration. Through a series of reform, it raised productivity and economy. Of course, later, Japan shifted to imperialism and military expansion, like USSR during cold war which lead to her fall.

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Thought Provoking Podcast

One constant hope I have is that the world does not think the average US Citizen agrees with much of anything going on in Washington or on Wall Street at this point.  I would hate to be pre-judged by that yardstick.  Non sequitur: Is there such a thing as a meterstick?

Dr. Orlov states that there is no such thing as an honest politician in the Ukraine.  I'd have to argue that there is no such thing in the US either, with a very rare exception.  Perhaps there would be, if our political system was different.  However, in order to get to Washington, you have to accept funds from people who will ask for favors during your term that may or may not be in the best interest of the country or it's citizens.  Then, you have to make promises to the voting public that may also be self serving to get the vote.  It's not the best recipe for honest government that comes to mind.

Mostly, the podcast saddens me that the US has fallen as far as it has, in terms of honesty and integrity.  Also, I've been hoping for years that we could get through the coming collapse without war as a major additional burden.  I've been hoping that everyone would wake up, roll up their sleeves and work together for solutions.  Yes I know the hope has been naive.

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Timing

I think Chris or Dr. Orlov also suggested that Russia probably has the info on the downed flight, but is sitting on it for now.

Thinking about all the gold that is flowing to China, India and Russia, it occurs to me that other countries may be waiting for ideal timing.  The heck with EMPs.  They would look bad in future history books. 

China or Russia can accomplish much the same thing by announcing a gold backed currency after the inevitable US market crash.  Timing the release of information damaging to the US is another blow that could be inflicted during a non-violent take over.

The history books will blame no one but the US if it is ousted from leadership in that fashion.

Then again, perhaps the SCO will just wait it out.  The US is digging it's own grave quite effectively at this point.

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Timing

I think Chris or Dr. Orlov also suggested that Russia probably has the info on the downed flight, but is sitting on it for now.

Thinking about all the gold that is flowing to China, India and Russia, I'm assuming that SCO members are waiting for ideal timing.  The heck with EMPs.  They would look bad in future history books. 

China or Russia can accomplish much the same thing by announcing a gold backed currency after the inevitable US market crash.  Timing the release of information damaging to the US is another blow that could be inflicted during a non-violent take over.

The history books will blame no one but the US if it is ousted from leadership in that fashion.

Then again, perhaps the SCO will just wait it out.  The US is digging it's own grave quite effectively at this point.

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"I might be wrong, but I

"I might be wrong, but I think it is folly to dismiss the idea that a nuclear war is unwinnable."

My take is a little different.  It may certainly be folly to dismiss the idea that there are lunatic sociopaths in positions of power who think nuclear war is winnable, but the idea that either side could realistically expect to hit every single nuclear delivery system of the other - or even a substantial number of them - simultaneously and without warning while making not one single mistake and missing not even one target would seem quite fanciful.  As Iron Mike said, everybody's got a plan until they get punched in the face.

On the countries' respective perceptions abroad it reminded me that despite the late 70's/early 80's cold war propaganda I was taught in school, i.e. to both loathe and also be deathly afraid of the USSR, there was always an undercurrent that there were far more similarities than differences between Americans and the actual Russian people and that they would have a grand old time together at the individual human level notwithstanding the differences between their governments.  It would be nice to think that Russians don't necessarily conflate Americans with their ruling classes.

Anyway back to watching the metals, yikes.

Casey

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Canada and the Harper

This was a very interesting and informative interview.  The issue of what the populations represented by the E.U. leaders, the U.S., Australia, and Canada might take away from this kind of reflection, if they were exposed to it, occupies my own thoughts a lot.  Like many Canadians, I cannot wait until next year's election when, hopefully, Harper will be gone.  His actions at the G20 were repellent; the man does not have a diplomatic bone in his body.  Unfortunately, he took his economic degrees at the University of Calgary, often referred to as the home of Neoliberalism in Canada and he has become fused with U.S. economic, domestic, and foreign policy.

What has troubled me even more is Canada's "No" vote on the U.N. resolution regarding nazism.  The implications of the vote overall seem to me significant in other ways than simply being petty, provocative, and unwise.  It was, in a sense not much discussed, itself a racist vote.  My following comment was submitted to Canadian news sites, but I wanted to share it.

Nearly all of the nations that voted "yes" on this resolution represented populations that would be most vulnerable to any rise in Fascism or Nazism because the "yes" votes were from countries with populations any fascist would consider inferior and therefore dispensable.  And the "white" countries (including most if not all EU) either abstained or voted against it.  In their irrational desire to continue to beat on Russia, our "white" democratic nations have served notice to all other racial, religious, and ethnic groups around the world that they would not be safe from us, or with us.  This may even reflect more than trying to prove to Putin what he obviously already knows; it may actually reflect a complete absence of awareness that the effort to continue the dominance of white, male, value systems is alive and well. 

Very poor leadership by Harper, who does not seem to know what he is doing any longer.  The U.S. and others (including Canada) have been very willing to bomb countries into oblivion as long as their populations are different colours, ethnicity, or religion.  Putting it on record that Canada is in fact not supportive of measures to end racist and fascist policies is grounds to call for Harper's immediate resignation.  We have many minorities in Canada, including Aboriginal and First Nations; they should not have to witness this kind of disgraceful and frightening act from their Prime Minister.  (I have to recognize for the record that many Aboriginal and some First Nations do not consider themselves to be Canadian.)

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Conspiracy Theories

The Vineyard of the Saker posts an op-ed on the subject of conspiracy theories.  He argues that conspiracies are real and a person's capacity to understand how the world actually works depends on being able to look at them and weigh conflicting evidence.

I am noticing with some dismay that some (many?) of you are still firmly the mental clutches of the "conspiracy theories" logical fallacy.

A "conspiracy theory" is, a priori, a good thing.  Why?  Because the world is chock full of conspiracies.  What is a conspiracy? It is a secret plan of a group of people.  Does any of you really believe that with 16+ "intelligence" agencies in the USA there are not thousands of conspiracies hatched every day by tens of thousand of professional people just here, in the USA?  Don't you know that corporations conspire too?  What do you think antitrust laws are all about?  Do you know that the criminal code is also full of conspiracy crimes?  So here is the deal: if you want to understand what happens behind the smokescreen thrown before you by the corporate media and government official you HAVE TO spend most of your time looking into conspiracy theories.  Put simply - if you reject conspiracy theories you are blind.

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The occasional Alpha Male comes in handy sometimes

Respect your view, but my perception is that Russia was in transition and moving forward before this whole mess began. Russia has a future; some of the West may be left with only a past.  I personally admire the patience, restraint, and calmness that Putin and Lavrov have demonstrated and would not blame them at all for whatever steps they need to take to protect their own country.  Both of them, but Putin in particular, actually have many admirers in the West.  As for "democracy" vs "dictatorship", am not sure what either word means any longer. The people certainly do not rule in Canada or the U.S., or probably in Europe.  Putin reminds me sometimes of our former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who, when faced with an untenable situation, was willing to do what had to be done and was also willing to take the full responsibility for it.  With Trudeau, despite howls of protest, a dangerous situation in Canada was averted.  I hope the same for Russia.

2ndiceberg's picture
2ndiceberg
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 1 2014
Posts: 5
You have a lot of company

Liked your comment.  In Canada, many of us feel the same about our government although there are differences.  Mostly, our governments do the job and try not to attract the attention of the voters who do not want to be bothered for the next 4 or 5 years.  We like minority governments, because they can do very little and we don't have to watch them closely.  Unfortunately, we have been saddled with a Prime Minister with a big ego and a party that is a strange coalition of right wing malcontents. 

Please do not even mention a meterstick.  Things that are measured by tens and ones are to me very boring and I do not understand them.  I still work in yards, pounds, and Fahrenheit. 

Hope is good. 

HughK's picture
HughK
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 6 2012
Posts: 759
Perspective of 7 Ukrainian students

Orlov made some statements about the Ukrainian language and culture that I wanted to test against the perceptions of Ukrainians.

So, I made a little online survey with two questions about Orlov's statements regarding Ukraine, and sent it to the 15 Ukrainian students who attend the school where I work.  Seven of have responded since yesterday, and I bet these will be the only ones who will respond.  Most of the respondents were the older students (ages 16-18), who tend to be more proficient in English. 

Here is the questionnaire and the results of this small poll.

Ukraine questionnaire - 2 questions only

Hi Ukrainian students,
 
If you are willing to fill out this two question survey, I would be grateful.  It only has two questions, so it should be very fast.  Here is an explanation, if you would like to know why I am interested in your viewpoints:
 
I am an active member of a website and discussion forum, which had an interesting interview with a Russian-American author recently.  He made some statements about the Russia Ukraine conflict, and I would be interested in seeing your opinion on these statements.    There is a space to write a longer opinion at the end if you would like.
 
I would like to share the results of this survey at the website, but I will share the overall results of the survey, and no specifics from any of you.  In other words, I will respect your privacy, if you are willing to fill this out.  Here is a link to the original interview, which includes audio and a written transcript, if you'd like to see the context of these various statements.   http://www.peakprosperity.com/podcast/89249/dmitry-orlov-russias-patience-wearing-thin
 
The speaker, Dmitri Orlov, spent his childhood in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and moved to the US when he was 11, but he has returned to Russia several times.  His father is Ukrainian.
 
Thanks!
 
1.  Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:
"When I listen to Ukrainian, after a little while, I stop understanding that it's Ukrainian because it's similar enough to Russian. It's just sort of like Russian with an accent to me. And my feeling is that the Ukrainians are Russian, always have been, always will be. There isn't really some kind of a national division." 
 
(1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, 5 = strongly agree)
 
2.  Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:
"The other thing to understand about Ukraine is that it's not just some number of Russian speakers there, it's like 95% of all education there was in Russian and like 99% of the websites were in Russian. If you look at the television they watch, that was all Russian. So, this Ukrainian Nationalist thing is a bunch of politicians learning Ukrainian from a textbook in order to impersonate Ukrainian Nationalists, who are actually very few in number. "
 
(1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neutral, 4 = agree, 5 = strongly agree)
 
Results:
(Blue bar chart is for question 1 and yellow bar chart is for question 2.  The questions themselves don't print out on this "summary of responses" page for some reason.
I also put a blank box with the following text at the end of the survey
If there is anything you would like to write, regarding the quotes above, please do so here.
I received one response to this.  Here it is:
I read over the article from the blog that you posted, so I will include a response to the quotes above and the account given by Dmitry Orlov.



First of all, I would like to point out that it is true that Russian and Ukrainian languages are very similar, nonetheless we, Ukrainians understand Russians easily, whilst they cannot understand Ukrainian, which already highlights the cultural division.



Second of all, it is true that Russian has been a language in Ukraine for a very long time, however it was taken away from us by the government of the Soviet Union. My grandparents speak Ukrainian, and their grandparents too spoke Ukrainian. We had our own language and our culture, nonetheless our country became a part of larger empire and our values have somewhat diffused and assimilated with those of Russia. Personally, I feel Ukrainian and I have Ukrainian spirit; my ancestors were members of this nation and I am proud of who I am. Currently, there are many individuals, who try to restore and bring back these values to our culture, so that everyone will appreciate and love their country. Certainly, our politicians are corrupt and misleading, they have prepared themselves for their roles, but the majority of our population wants to them gone and to live in peace in their own country and not under someones rule.



Also, I would like to voice my opinion about Dmitriy Orlov. First of all, I would like to point out that he is somewhat an extremist. Just looking at his works and life, he reported and wrote many books and articles on the collapse of US and the Soviet Union and he has been investigating this idea, thus expecting the US to collapse. His criticism of US, that they "can't get anything together" only makes me want to laugh, because he has never visited a Russian hospital. All branches of society in the United States are far exceeding the quality of Russian agencies. Just by looking at the hospitals, many doctors are not taught how to read the MRI, simply because it was not installed and not used before. Pensions and retirement facilities for old people are the saddest places in the world. I had a chance to work in a hospital that collaborated with one these institutions. I was absolutely shocked at the fact, that some patient's pampers could have been easily not changed for a week. Second, his comment about "playing by the rules" clearly does not apply to the situation in Ukraine. Just have one question, how is that Putin "playing by the rules"? I just do not understand how he can deny so many accounts of Russian soldiers being on the Ukrainian territory, if soldiers themselves post pictures of the fighting on a social network?



Anyway, these are just some comments regarding this issue, if you have questions or want to discuss this more, I would be delighted to have a chat.



Thank you!
He signed his name, but I left that out for privacy.
 
So, while by no means scientific or statistically significant, these are the opinions of seven 16-18 year old Ukrainian students, who grew up in Ukraine and who still go back to Ukraine when they are not in boarding school.  They see matters somewhat differently than does Orlov.
 
Cheers,
Hugh
 
2ndiceberg's picture
2ndiceberg
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 1 2014
Posts: 5
Ambitious answer

I applaud your efforts to check facts, but "how many [Ukrainian] students you got there?"  Still the replies are interesting and I appreciate your publishing them.   Also, I often wonder about people who understand or don't understand the language of others. People in Quebec are very prone to tell Ontarians that they do not understand them when they speak English and understand them even less when they speak French. So far, we have not figured out a comeback.

It often takes a long time for prophecies about the collapse of an empire to become reality, but Orlov is not alone in his idea.  There is a seminal book "The Closing of the American Mind" written by philosopher Allan Bloom in 1987.  His critique was mainly of a lack of critical thinking in universities, but he extrapolated the dangers of relativism and "openness" to the larger US people and state.  He drew analogies between America and the Weimar Republic and criticized the liberal notion that people are always, only motivated by self-interest. The burgeoning of neoliberal thought and economics might confirm some of his fears.   

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