THE RATTLE OF SOVIET SKELETONS
Living in Ukraine, particularly since the poorly disguised Russian invasion began last April, has taught me a lot of what the Soviet Union must have been like.
Petty gangsters and vain nobodies are elevated to positions of power and status. When their Russian handlers disapprove of them, they are murdered in the street (like “Batman”), or simply vanish. Some have reappeared in Moscow doing interviews with Russian media.
Early in the Crimean invasion, a Tartar activist, Reshat Ametov, was kidnapped and his body was found covered with signs of torture. He died a painful, horrible death.
Early in the invasion of Donbas, a local, pro-Ukrainian politician, Volodymyr Rybak, was kidnapped and his body found covered with signs of torture. The reason they lead with such savagery is spelled out in Lenin’s infamous 1918 hand-written hanging order: “Do it in such a fashion that for hundreds of kilometres around the people might see, tremble.”
Civil society is actively dismantled. A distant acquaintance of mine, a petite girl who works in a bookstore and organizes literary events was followed for three days when she went home to Crimea. The agent waited for her outside her home and followed unassumingly throughout the day. I guess for Russia, she was a person of influence and they wanted to let her know they were watching.
Propaganda leads reality in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. There is a cynical joke here that if a bunch of Russian journalists show up and turn on their cameras, get ready, because something is about to explode.
Included in the online instruction manual of Pavel Gubarev was the instruction, “Don’t pass up any opportunity to engage in some atrocity that can be blamed on the junta’s fighters.” I’ve collected these stories as evidence that Russia has been doing everything it can to create civilian massacres which can be blamed on Kyiv.
And while brutality and confusion swallows up Ukraine from the East (with no analogous treatment of Russians), prominent figures in the West make it their job to praise the Russian regime, to tirelessly repeat obvious lies, just like in Soviet times — lies which aren’t even internally consistent with their other lies. Evidence is ignored. When one talking point becomes too uncomfortable they’ll switch to the next. Often, they exactly match the language used by the Kremlin.
AN OBVIOUS LIE
Chris Martenson recently wrote “What’s Really Happening in Ukraine” for the Casey Report. He wrote that US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt tweeted a “crudely doctored photo” which attempted to blame the shooting down of MH-17 on the “Russian backed separatists” (ie Russian mercenaries and military forces).
For libertarians like myself who’ve spent the last decade skeptical and critical about our own government’s false flag attacks, this is very intuitively appealing. We’re sensitive to government lies and false flags. But Chris Martenson is lying. Shamelessly. He just made this up.
Like most Kremlin talking points, this one is designed to help us believe things our intuition wants to believe.
There was no tweet by Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt with satellite imagery showing the shooting down of MH-17, and it gets even stranger the closer we look.
He’s ignoring the mountains of evidence implicating Russia in shooting down MH-17. There have been separate Dutch, German and Malaysian investigations into MH-17, all reaching the same conclusion — the Russian side did it.
This report is a particularly good read. Even barring these official investigations, the evidence against the Russians is pretty damning (collection of links) — they took credit for shooting down the plane on social media and Russian news, and then attempted to cover their tracks when they realized it was a civilian plane.
At the same time, Russia’s various lies and excuses are not even internally consistent. They can’t keep their story straight: the CIA had filled MH-17 with dead bodies, a Spanish air controller (who’s never been found, despite him creating a Twitter account after the attack) redirected MH-17 into Russian-controlled territory to cause the accident, a Ukrainian missile shot down the plane because they thought Putin was aboard, a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter (which is actually too slow to catch a 777 and has too low a ceiling) shot down MH-17.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS & MEMORY
Russian propaganda is very conscious of how memory works. They work like hell to influence first impressions — Ukrainian protesters are Nazis, Russia is not invading Crimea. They also work to dilute and re-wire past memories damaging to their image.
Take Chris Martenson’s lie. The US Ambassador did tweet satellite imagery, but not about MH-17. It was about cross-border artillery bombardments from Russia into Ukraine — something which has since been corroborated by soldier testimony and a detailed crater analysis study by a British investigative journalism group.
Let’s also consider Chris Martenson’s strange choice of words: “crudely doctored photo.” If you have a moment, please Google “MH-17” and “crudely doctored photo.”
The Kremlin briefly became a laughing stock when they released a “crudely doctored photo” of an SU-25 fighter jet (launching a missile even) at MH-17. This can’t be a coincidence. The identical choice of words is an attempt to dilute and re-wire people’s memories from scraps of things which they heard some months ago.
These propagandists produce crap faster than anyone can shovel. Their goal is not to be right or win the argument. Their goal is to distract, demoralize, effect first impression, and re-wire memories.
You couldn’t praise Ukrainians overcoming the lethal force of their government after it began killing protesters when libertarians were screaming at the tops of their lungs that we are all Nazis. You couldn’t condemn Russian’s invasion of Crimea when libertarians like Scott Horton and Daniel McAdams were insisting that it wasn’t, in fact, happening. It was all imagined, presumably.
This is why I’m trying to strike the root by questioning Chris Martenson’s credibility. He’s a shameless liar and propagandist for Russia. But I’ll make a few more arguments:
KREMLIN TALKING POINTS, VERBATIM
Chris Martenson writes, “Western-supported and installed leadership in Kiev is losing the campaign.” (Similarly, the secretive libertarian writer and assumed sock-puppet persona Robert Wenzel wrote, “The ‘libertarian’ supporters of the current Ukrainian government never address this fact. Can they please tell us why it is legitimate for the U.S. government to be involved in the overthrow?” Dear Robert, please review my work including “Putin’s Libertarians.” Also, who are you?)
There’s no evidence for the leadership being “Western-installed.”. I refute this theory exhaustively in “Putin’s Libertarians.” Point by point. What happened in Ukraine was a revolution by the people. All my friends were on Maidan. My lead developer would quit work every time violence flared up and drove his SUV to be on Maidan. He earns twenty five dollars an hours. (Paul Craig Roberts insisted that Maidan protesters were motivated by twenty dollars a day paid by western intelligence, and had the audacity to tell me I was wrong.) My developer, like many Ukrainians, considered it his duty.
We see a thriving Poland to the west with property rights and rule of law, and a corrupt, savage, impoverished, propaganda-saturated Russia in the east, which has for centuries worked to destroy Ukrainian identity. Russia’s leaders regularly insist that Ukraine doesn’t really exist.
We’ve been fighting Muskovite occupation since before the CIA (or even the USA) existed. So far, help from the West has been very, very little and very, very welcome.
To counter this glaring contrast between European and Russian civilizations (you can also compare the standard of living in Belarus to the Baltics), Robert Wenzel resorts to the Soviet-era rhetorical strategy of whataboutism. He argues that they’re all states, so what’s the difference? As if living in Poland is the same as living in Russia, and living in South Korea is the same as living in North Korea.
The desire for a better life, much less for survival, is not a CIA conspiracy. Does is bother these Putin libertarians that people from Putin’s inner circle have called for genocide against Ukrainians? Or that within living memory, the Russians (Bolsheviks) inflicted it — killing up to 25% of Ukraine’s population in the 20s and early 30s?
Robert Wenzel is an idiot for drawing a moral equivalence.
Chris Martenson writes, “Ukraine Hides Devastating Losses as Russia-Backed Fighters Surge Forward.”
I do think Ukraine has been minimizing the losses in a Pollyanna sort of way, but Chris manages to ignore what has largely been the story of this conflict. Russia hides its dead.
Russia, like the Soviet Union cannot countenance its own weakness. During WWII, Soviet soldiers who became prisoners of war were considered non-persons. According to many sources, including Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s epic Gulag Archipelago, if they were returned into Soviet hands, they’d be shipped off to Siberia.
Perhaps a similar mentality informs the arrival of portable crematories in Russian held territory. They’ll burn their dead not far from the front.
For Russia, the need to appear strong is so fundamental, it’s almost a metaphysics. In their low trust society, everybody suspects everyone else of everything. The appearance of strength is a basic necessity as a deterrence. They can’t comprehend how idealistic westerners are.
Of course, Chris Martenson writes about “civil war.”
From the very beginning, this has been an invasion, both in Crimea and in Donbas. There is a video from April, 2014 of the notorious Bezler at the seized Horlivka PD “I’m a colonel of Russian Army” he said. (Later in the war, he admitted to executing Ukrainian prisoners of war. After MH17, he vanished and re-appeared in Moscow.)
This is an invasion. There is no civil war.
The number of personal friends I have from Eastern Ukraine is not two or three, it’s in the dozens, and includes some of my closest friends. What the hell is wrong with libertarians? Who the hell are they to lecture me about the sentiments of my friends?
And if you don’t want to believe my anecdotal evidence, here is a collection of eleven different survey about sentiments in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Support for Russia has always been low — at most (in Donetsk), it was half the size of support for Ukraine, and by all accounts, it has dropped precipitously since people became acquainted with the brutality and lawlessness of the irregular Russian mercenaries leading the invasion.
Have you noticed that libertarian support for Russia increases in proportion to how far the libertarian lives from Russian? Libertarians from Finland to Ukraine are all appalled at the betrayal. Libertarians in Russia (those who dare speak) feel similarly. Here is an appeal by the Libertarian Party of Russia.
Yet all these Americans are telling us the people in Eastern Ukraine revolted. It’s complete garbage. Russia unleashed hell in Ukraine and propaganda in the West. There is no civil war. There never has been.
The whole thing about Ukraine’s government suppressing the Russian language is also an invention designed to appeal to our intuition, to help us believe the thing that critics of the US government want to believe. The leaders of Ukraine’s two most prominent volunteer battalions, Donbas and Azov are both Russian speakers from Eastern Ukraine.
The leaders of what Chris Martenson calls a “civil war” are all known Russian GRU agents or local gansters. They’ve been rotated frequently at suddenly, with no disruption to the invasion (because the real puppet masters are in Moscow).
Chris Martenson writes, “But the people of Ukraine have to be kicking themselves right about now. Not only did they fall for the rosy promises of change and hope peddled by the West, they also believed the West would be a better partner for them than Russia.”
Go to hell, Chris Martenson, you Kremlin shill. We are fighting for survival. Almost nobody, not ever among their former supporters, believes Russia is better for Ukraine.
The big dismay that most Ukrainians express is that the West won’t offer more support. So far help has been very little and very appreciated.
ARGUING WITH PROFESSIONAL PROPAGANDISTS
This is what Russian propaganda does. It distracts you and consumes your time. After picking apart their Gordian knots of lies, there is little room left to recall the kidnapped and tortured Protestant pastors in Donetsk, kidnapped Catholic priests in Crimea, the almost two dozen Crimean Tartars who have gone missing (out of a population of only 250,000), how they’ve burned Ukrainian books, banned Ukrainian instruction in school, replaced bilingual (Russian and Ukrainians) signs with Russian ones, nationalized over a billion dollars worth of private property in Crimea and redistributed it to their gangsters, posted vidoes of Ukrainian POWs being beated and humiliated, of dead Ukrainians with their hands bound, seemingly executed, their threats to bomb, burn, and/or invade Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, Warsaw, Tallinn, Berlin, London, and Washington DC.
This is what Chris Martenson is defending. Libertarians who support and apologize for Putin are full of crap.
And before anybody listens to the Russian comment trolls who will accuses me of bias, please keep mind my previous positions:
– I (like many libertarians) wanted Russia to be an alternative to the West. Russia makes it very easy for us to believe that it can be an alternative, especially those of us who don’t live close enough to see their savagery and North Korea style, alternate reality lies. In Russia, over 100,000 small business owners and entrepreneurs are in prison for falling out of favor with authorities.
– I wrote an essay called “Why I’m against Ukraine joining the EU and you should be too.”
– Even after the Russians annexed Crimea, I wrote published an essay on the Daily Beast about how the west should still avoid involvement. (I no longer feel this way.)
How is it possible for libertarianism to be so full of Russian propaganda?
Contrary to James Bond movies, the KGB did very, very little espionage. The KGB effected the message. They identified dissenting media everywhere and infiltrated. They identified influential people everywhere (including my acquaintance, the bookstore employee in Crimea) and either suppressed or amplified the message.
In the famous “Deception was my job” interview, former KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov describes how he traveled to California to meet Maharishi Mahesh, leader of the Transcendental Meditation Movement. They felt meditation encouraged Americans to withdraw from society and made them less likely to resist Soviet influence.
Watch it, or watch the Soviet Active Measures interviews to understand how influencing foreign media is a priority for Russian intelligence, and how deliberately they proceed.
If the KGB was that interested in meditation, imagine how interested today’s KGB (the FSB) is in libertarianism everywhere that it intersects with anti-Americanism and military withdrawal.
Libertarians, you are being lied to, and you should feel just as shocked and betrayed by this as you were when you discovered your government was lying to you.