Archives for category: philosophy

Truth is seldom pure and never simple -Oscar Wilde

I’d tacked the Oscar Wilde quote onto my preceding post on Charlottesville as an afterthought. Then, having thought about Wilde’s maxim, considering his dialect and 19th Century literary period, today he might have rather modified his short statement, in effect, ‘Truth is seldom clean and never simple.’

Since, I’ve read both; Glen Ford’s pointing to the USA founded as a racist state; Trump’s protestations of ‘where does it end’ with removing American monuments; so called ‘scholars‘ disputing Trump’s equating General Lee with General Washington; and finally, I’ve read the letter of Stonewall Jackson’s great, great grandsons, Jack and Warren Christian, natives of Richmond, Virginia.

Prior to my conclusions, allow me to inform you all; I am eligible to belong to the fraternal order “Sons of the Confederate Veterans.” In fact, if they had a ‘noble line’ of descent from the families of the old ‘southern aristocracy’, I would certainly qualify.

According to remote memory, family oral history & genealogy (I had been briefed on these in distant past, and am not intimately familiar with the material), if I recall events correctly, my own great, great grandfather was a casualty of the war, while serving in the Southern military. This orphaned my great grandfather who had been taken in by cousins; these migrated to California some years after the war, I seem to recall from the vicinity of Texarkana, Texas. As a not very interested adolescent, I may have this history transposed and it was an orphaned cousin traveled to California with my ancestor. Either way, I am informed we are somehow related to a Captain Daniel of the 9th Texas artillery or Daniel’s Battery of the Confederacy’s Trans-Mississippi Department, although this last may have no direct bearing on my ancestry, I just don’t know. What I do know is, my great grandfather’s surname was “Daniel” (no ‘s’ at the end of the family’s name) and descended from one of the ‘first’ families of Virginia, or as Wikipedia puts it “a [Virginia] family of old colonial heritage.” In any case, this last is not a distant memory’s conjecture on my part, but had been clear, I’m informed I am descended via a Confederate veteran of the Civil War who was of this ‘Daniel’ family; via my maternal line.

Now, for those unfamiliar with arcane American history, I will give example of this highly educated, southern aristocratic family’s progeny: my relative, the Virginian Peter Vivian Daniel, was author of a concurring opinion in the 1857 decision Dred Scott v Sandford in which he stated:

“the African negro race never have been acknowledged as belonging to the family of nations”

Beyond this seeming remote history (I was in Vietnam when the California branch of the Daniel family held a big reunion, drawing more than 1,000 extended family, mostly educated professionals) I can give up a couple of embarrassing family secrets, one of them pretty bad. If it weren’t bad enough one of my great uncles had been named Forrest, for Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose troops murdered en mass the captured Black Union soldiers at Ft Pillow, one of my great aunts (I had many, so her identity is not in danger) once gave me the original lyric to a certain (in)famous slave auction block ditty or southern nursery rhyme:

Enee, Meany, Miney, Moe
Catch a nigger by the toe
If he hollers
Make him pay
With fifty lashes
Every day

My-mother-told-me-to-choose-the-very-best-one

Fortunately, I was not so deeply immersed in these attitudes to prevent mental escape and, had a wider exposure to our world. Although it never crossed my mind to apply for membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I’d now looked and found lingering influence of a White slant to history, as later I’d read “Lee’s Lieutenants” (several large volumes), a “Robert E Lee Reader” and much more. All of this history has a White slant, regardless of whether the author was a Southern or Northern partisan. I should have read Frederick Douglass but I didn’t. My interest in those days had been primarily martial, not social. What I now understand is, for many, the war and the slave owning South are not exactly remote events. Particularly for Black people with Jim Crow only recently off their back, and, it would seem, for those many Whites who cling to White supremacy as a god-given right to White people.

Going to my amended statement of Oscar Wilde where ‘Truth is seldom clean and never simple”, my take on Trump versus Glen Ford is, both have it right but Ford’s truth is ‘cleaner.’ Trump equates General Lee with General Washington as unequivocal American heroes, whereas Glen Ford equates General Lee with General Washington as racists serving the cause of White supremacy. In the USA founding document, where a ‘negro’ is worth 3/5 of a White Man according to Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution…

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons” (in effect, Black people)

…according to our founding document, Glen Ford has it right. The USA was founded as a racist state based on “White privilege”

This recalls the ‘scholars’, one of whom stated:

[the monuments] “force us to contemplate the centrality of slavery to the making of the nation,” said Gregory Downs, a history professor at the University of California, Davis who studies the impact of the Civil War on the United States. But he also said the difference between the nation’s first president, George Washington, and then [sic] man who sought to secede from the nation, Robert E. Lee, isn’t complicated.

“It is obvious that traitors in arms to the nation are not equivalent to those who created it,” he said”

Pardon me Mr Gregory Downs, but both men sought to perpetrate slavery by the willful acts of their own volition in a civic context. How is a man, General Washington, who sought to found a nation (United States of America) perpetrating slavery, any different than a man, General Lee, who sought to found a nation (Confederate States of America) perpetrating slavery? This is not a case of comparing apples to oranges.

I expect there’d be many who would join a new organization called “Dissident Sons of the Confederacy” or even “Dissident Sons of the Revolution.” Maybe there is some handful of motivated persons out there would be interested to invest in such an endeavor. Perhaps they will stumble across this blog post. Meanwhile, my hat is off to Stonewall Jackson’s great, great grandsons Jack and Warren Christian, and particularly, my hat is off to Glen Ford at Black Agenda Report.

Full text of the letter by Jack and Warren Christian:

Dear Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and members of the Monument Avenue Commission,

We are native Richmonders and also the great-great-grandsons of Stonewall Jackson. As two of the closest living relatives to Stonewall, we are writing today to ask for the removal of his statue, as well as the removal of all Confederate statues from Monument Avenue. They are overt symbols of racism and white supremacy, and the time is long overdue for them to depart from public display. Overnight, Baltimore has seen fit to take this action. Richmond should, too.

In making this request, we wish to express our respect and admiration for Mayor Stoney’s leadership while also strongly disagreeing with his claim that “removal of symbols does [nothing] for telling the actual truth [nor] changes the state and culture of racism in this country today.” In our view, the removal of the Jackson statue and others will necessarily further difficult conversations about racial justice. It will begin to tell the truth of us all coming to our senses.

Last weekend, Charlottesville showed us unequivocally that Confederate statues offer pre-existing iconography for racists. The people who descended on Charlottesville last weekend were there to make a naked show of force for white supremacy. To them, the Robert E. Lee statue is a clear symbol of their hateful ideology. The Confederate statues on Monument Avenue are, too—especially Jackson, who faces north, supposedly as if to continue the fight.

We are writing to say that we understand justice very differently from our grandfather’s grandfather, and we wish to make it clear his statue does not represent us.

Through our upbringing and education, we have learned much about Stonewall Jackson. We have learned about his reluctance to fight and his teaching of Sunday School to enslaved peoples in Lexington, Virginia, a potentially criminal activity at the time. We have learned how thoughtful and loving he was toward his family. But we cannot ignore his decision to own slaves, his decision to go to war for the Confederacy, and, ultimately, the fact that he was a white man fighting on the side of white supremacy.

While we are not ashamed of our great-great-grandfather, we are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument.

In fact, instead of lauding Jackson’s violence, we choose to celebrate Stonewall’s sister—our great-great-grandaunt—Laura Jackson Arnold. As an adult Laura became a staunch Unionist and abolitionist. Though she and Stonewall were incredibly close through childhood, she never spoke to Stonewall after his decision to support the Confederacy. We choose to stand on the right side of history with Laura Jackson Arnold.

We are ashamed to benefit from white supremacy while our black family and friends suffer. We are ashamed of the monument.

Confederate monuments like the Jackson statue were never intended as benign symbols. Rather, they were the clearly articulated artwork of white supremacy. Among many examples, we can see this plainly if we look at the dedication of a Confederate statue at the University of North Carolina, in which a speaker proclaimed that the Confederate soldier “saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South.” Disturbingly, he went on to recount a tale of performing the “pleasing duty” of “horse whipping” a black woman in front of federal soldiers. All over the South, this grotesque message is conveyed by similar monuments. As importantly, this message is clear to today’s avowed white supremacists.

There is also historical evidence that the statues on Monument Avenue were rejected by black Richmonders at the time of their construction. In the 1870s, John Mitchell, a black city councilman, called the monuments a tribute to “blood and treason” and voiced strong opposition to the use of public funds for building them. Speaking about the Lee Memorial, he vowed that there would come a time when African Americans would “be there to take it down.”

Ongoing racial disparities in incarceration, educational attainment, police brutality, hiring practices, access to health care, and, perhaps most starkly, wealth, make it clear that these monuments do not stand somehow outside of history. Racism and white supremacy, which undoubtedly continue today, are neither natural nor inevitable. Rather, they were created in order to justify the unjustifiable, in particular slavery.

One thing that bonds our extended family, besides our common ancestor, is that many have worked, often as clergy and as educators, for justice in their communities. While we do not purport to speak for all of Stonewall’s kin, our sense of justice leads us to believe that removing the Stonewall statue and other monuments should be part of a larger project of actively mending the racial disparities that hundreds of years of white supremacy have wrought. We hope other descendants of Confederate generals will stand with us.

As cities all over the South are realizing now, we are not in need of added context. We are in need of a new context—one in which the statues have been taken down.

Respectfully,
William Jackson Christian
Warren Edmund Christian
Great-great-grandsons of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson

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Time to time I delve into the impossible subject of the psychology of ‘god’ in the western incarnation; here is my Sisyphus endeavor again, whence an (authentic) friend drew my attention to this Facebook post:

APPROACHING SAMADHI WITHOUT PLANT MEDICINE

The post’s author begins:

“I really resonate with this article and the timing of its showing up in my life is interesting given what happened yesterday.

“On Thursday, June 8, 2017 (a date I will record in my diary) I had a profound encounter with the numinous and entered an altered state analogous to what I experience with psilocybin mushrooms or edible cannabis, without the assistance of such plants. This is something I’d hoped for, eventually, but was surprised that happened the first time I sat down for a serious long meditation session in a long while.

“The teacher plants appear to have opened up some kind of portal or neural pathway for me to the universal awareness that exists silently behind all things, which functions like the operating system of a computer — entraining all experience embedded in the software of this dimension. Like training wheels, the plants taught me how it “feels” to ride the bike. Yesterday I rode on my own for the first time…”

Referencing this article which includes:

“The integral SELF [emphasis on SELF is original to the article] is therefore a yoking of the ego (our time bound self) with the soul (our eternal self). The point is that there is no good reason to assume that just because forms are temporary that they are not holy. The higher-self within us often hates to be confined or defined into forms, and the material self within us often hates to be taken outside of its familiar home or trappings into the boundless freedom of the higher self.

“Freedom, true freedom, is perhaps ultimately found in acceptance and balance”

This preceding is actually narcissism underlined and emphasized; where all is focused on the ‘self’ returning to ‘god’ (my deliberate lower case g) whereas in the ancient native community (the article’s author seems to think this had influenced his upbringing) the ‘self’ is at the bottom of the ‘totem pole’ (forgive, if not overlook my irreverence.) EVERYONE was expected to integrate to surrounding reality in sense of community sans ‘self’ interest and that’s where all dwelled, except that community elevated one via path of community observation (all eyes are on you) for purpose of sharing exceptional sight. Exceptional sight in this sense had precisely zero to do with any individual path.

It was considered ‘cheating’ to do psychedelics in the tradition where I spent decades. There is no substitute for hard work on shaping the interior to opening to awareness requiring (for westerners) narcissism die or the total death of the ego-self.

Actually ‘ego’, as experienced by the westerners’ sense of self, had been in indigenous cultures, diagnosed and treated as a mental disorder.

The object sought in our tradition is a background state of awareness in which there is no entry or exit, no coming and going, an ever present state where both; you deal with mundane task or life complexity equally and persistently in a state of ‘the spirit puts into the mind of a man to know what to do.’ No high or low, all experience is to be found in a steady state of ‘level.’

As MJ Zimmerman notes in her Being in Nature’s Mind:

“Carl Jung once warned that Western people who take up Eastern spiritual practices run the danger, first, of doing those practices inauthentically, since they are not beginning with an Eastern psychic structure, and secondly, of using those practices to avoid the real psychological work they, as people with Western psyches, need to do to ever become ready for higher spiritual practice

“I believe that the same warning applies to modern urban people who take up Native American practices. I am glad that there is growing interest in Native American thought because I believe it is a deep and subtle source of wisdom which the planet needs; however, it will serve no one to have Westerners appropriate Native ceremonies or practices and act them out while staying completely within Western ontological assumptions and Western psychological experiences. A more radical deconstruction of the Western mind is required in order for Europeans to finally begin to see into another way of being and other ways of knowing” (Zimmerman’s free pdf on the web)

I had, on previous occasion, attempted to explain the ancient native perception in these precise terms:

“Our existence is Macro-Gaia (in the big picture) or all is [inter] related, from sub-atomic particle to planetary structures, with an element of Vitalism (the ‘great mystery’), taken together presenting as quasi or mimic intelligent design. The intelligent design would be ‘quasi’ because the native take on this aspect would be better described as intelligent expression, ‘design’ implies an egoic projection or attribution, whereas ‘expression’ should not. This thought goes to the native persona of humility: There are some things one simply cannot know”

This why (in our native view) we cannot know ‘god’ except as a projection where man has created god in man’s image. The mystery of our existence cannot be individuated except in a sense of arrogant projection of self, or the ultimate false perception.

Our creation is named a “mystery” for the very fact of its’ indecipherable nature; and when we accept this, as a community in its entirety, the mystery opens at several levels but always with a caveat: none of us can know absolutes; as ‘reality’ is an elastic thing with frequently shifting parameters and any related ‘truths’ are often of fleeting relevance.

This is why, example given, Indo-European ‘civilization’ has a habit of rising and falling; wherein this western civilized perception ‘truths’ can become absolute, leading to a brittle construction when the elasticity of reality shifts away from any particular society’s foundation in the Indo-European family of nations. Brittle constructions imply impending collapse as the given society’s parameter of ‘perceived reality’ which is actually a state of inter-generational perception in stasis, becomes farther and farther removed from shifting reality in actuality.

I somehow doubt the major Indo-European enlightened figures, whether in the historical order of Krishna, Buddha, (or the adopted) Jesus and Mohammed, made any pretense to embody the entirety of the Great Mystery of our existence but it didn’t matter, lesser men were certain to falsely confer this upon them; insuring lesser ideas became fixtures of those respective cultures. These are example of the Indo-European stasis or inter-generational inflexibility of thought pointing to collapse, of which there is likely no greater coming probability than that of Europe and Plato.

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Notes on the preceding: I’m not aware of whether any motive for the (South America) Native Americans providing Ayahuasca to European and North American Whites is a great source of amusement as might be expected in more northerly Native communities (how many crucified Jesus joke did I hear over the decades? Countless.) But no doubt it has been a source of revenue to the Native communities that is much appreciated. Do the Natives have a real grasp of how the European mentality is constructed and the fact any Ayahuasca experience provided in a ‘spiritual’ context to these people is almost certainly worthless from the indigenous perspective? Probably not. Little different to Brant Secunda‘s self-deceits the Huichol way is appropriate to the numerous Americans and Europeans he has ex-filtrated that peoples’ ceremony to. I use the especially harsh term ‘ex-filtrate’ on account of the multiple deceits involved in superimposing a Native ceremony on non-Native community without multiple disclaimers concerning absence of contextual validity. The native thinking and world view just isn’t there.

What approaches criminal in the preceding, is the dearth of understanding of the indigenous mentality from which numerous co-opted practices derive. It should be the responsibility of the teachers to explore (deeply) how it is those practices might mean entirely different things to the separate communities, indigenous & western, and challenge the western (particularly) to understand if these practices are to become anything resembling a healthy, valid practice, it will require (noting the previously mentioned work of MJ Zimmerman) a radical deconstruction of the western mentality; in effect, doing what westerner’s simply do not do – take responsibility for the damage western culture is inflicting not only on the other cultures, but on life itself. This should require, at minimum, a radical departure from pursuit of wealth in a context of success per the western modality. How many would do it? Certainly Brant hasn’t. You probably couldn’t count the number on one hand, of westerners practicing the co-opted ceremonies that have (zero.)

Altogether separately, anyone inclined to believe the Peyote experience of the Native American Church is somehow an ancient cultural phenomenon could not be more self-deceived. Today’s Native American Church is a Native American version of evangelical Christianity created from an amalgam of the ancient Ghost Dance as reinterpreted by the Paiute, Wovoka, incorporating Evangelical Christianity and a southern Native Peyote ceremony. It is not yet 150 years old.

 

As I bail out of the game, here is the gift of all (or nearly all) of the ronaldthomaswest.com articles in a single page of links; beginning with stories of travels through India, then, my personal life adventures largely centered in Native America, if only because I believe this is my most under-appreciated work and deserves greater exposure. Following these accounts are things I personally find interesting, next are external links to books authored by myself and then my satire. Lastly, scroll down to find that work I most detest, the work which had inspired the satire (a sort of therapy) – to discover the real evils of geopolitics.

My Madcap Adventure (tales of a journey to India)

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 1 From Indian country to India

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 2 New Delhi, round one

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 3 On character

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 4 Into the Himalayan foothills

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 5 Sanarth & the Buddha

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 6 Varanasi part one

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 7 Varanasi part two

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 8 Varanasi part three

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 9 Katmandu

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 10 Trisuli River

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 11 Chitwan National Park

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 12 Katmandu reprise

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 13 Back to Hotel Imperial

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 14 The riots begin

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 15 To the Taj Palace Hotel

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 16 Out of Delhi!

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 17 Cairo-London-New York

My Madcap Adventure, Episode 18 Aftermath

My Madcap Adventure, Epilogue (Notes) corrections/disclaimers

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Life in Indian Country:

Life in Blackfoot Country Learning to go hungry

Keeping a Pipe On forgotten knowledge

Pipe Maker A story with a moral

The Novice A story with a moral

The Stick Game Native quantum mechanics (the witches)

The Legend of the Blackfoot Titan Mik-api

Happy the Indian Guide Indian stereotypes

Raven and Thunder Blackfoot Law of Matriarchy

Strawberry Medicine Men and a Stellar Jay

Napi in the New Age A ‘red apple’ story (satire)

Essay on Native American Humor Why I’m not politically correct

Junípero Serra On house breaking dogs (Catholic style)

The DIA and Shamanism Failed exploitation of indigenous knowledge

Native Americans and Race Race is BS to authentic Indians

Michele Bachmann & Wild Indians Satire

Apple Indians & Anthropology Anthropology as a faith-based initiative

Modern Indian Society A short history of cultural transition

Losers A Native perspective of Plato & western science

The Legacy of Russell Means ‘think twice’

New Age Homicide for $MONEY$ ‘think thrice’

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Just stuff:

Nixtamal

Condensed for the Absolutely & Truly Dense

Thomas Paine

French Peacekeepers

Raphael’s Paradox

Brownie, a Weimaraner A folk story

Original Sin is a Hate Crime Abuse of women & nature

The Gospel According to Ronald On the historical Jesus

To Forgive is a Crime To excuse the inexcusable

Ron’s Conspiracy Theory Cosmology is the conspiracy

You’ve Got Apes! European cultural mentality

A Spy in the House of the Unloved Refuting Anias Nin

A Coward Called Machismo Observations on Machismo

How I rose from the dead (40 years after)

The More Important Blessing Quotes

Mr Chan A true story of real charity

Bruno the Bear Animal stereotypes

Recreating a Hot Spring in Your Bathtub A memory of Yellowstone

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My Books (external links)

Penucquem Speaks 30 years life with Blackfeet Indians

Napi Mephisto on cross-cultural encounters

Queer Chicken Dinner refuting Jack Kerouac

Cosmos & Consciousness on reality

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The Satires

March of the Tickle Dicks pictorial

The Logic Behind The American Vote thumbnail satire

Moot Court The Donald vs Ted Cruz

Whereas the Enemy of Your Friend is Your Favorite F**K

Urolagnetics On Scientology

Junípero Serra On house breaking dogs (Catholic style)

MERGE On Chomsky’s theory

People Who Behave As Stupid As They Look Uh-huh

Who Punked the Cardinal? On Vatican Fashion

Opus Dei creavit monitor lacertae Charlie Hebdo & satire

Alfreda Bikowski & the Definition of Stupid Only at the CIA

Obama’s Speech at Queensland Parody

Liberals On multiculturalism

Obama’s Speech to Skull & Bones A parody of his UN address

Teleprompter Forget it, you don’t want to go there

Thuck Norris Rated ‘S’ for SICK (parental advisory)

Democracy Now! State secrets & the war in Liberacestan

Michele Bachmann & Wild Indians Kerouac in drag

Dick Cheney’s Rottweiler Dog butt-sniffing rituals

Maison de l’Histoire de France Fellatio, Sarkozy & French history

The Great Phuc Uuus Massacre Propaganda trained CIA lizards

Bozo’s Handcock U Speech George Bush & Tony Blair in love

My Life as a Joke Personal Ad (women only please)

The Pachuco Stare Decisis SCOTUS = SCROTUM

The Moron Bernard-Henry Lévy He truly is a moron

How Jesus Gets Kicked Out Of Heaven Naughty George Carlin

NOT My Last Tango in Paris The NSA & cyanide suppositories

Demons Anonymous Addiction to destructive fantasies

Saint Chester Prince of the Church & patron saint of boys

A Conversation With Jon Stewart Barack Obama is a White man!

Scooby Doo is Lyndon LaDouche ‘Rut a retard’

Saki & Barf: killer women of the State Department Just rude

Salinas vs Texas U.S. Supreme Court self inflicted lawyer joke

Life’s Little Surprises A devil teaches law

Happy the Indian Guide On stereotypes

Napi in the New Age A ‘red apple’ Indian story

Mother’s Day and Male Dopes Moms & cannabis

Breakfast at a Pizzaria The German ‘I hate my life’ philosophy

Our Gang rascals too big for their breeches

World Cup Scribbles Rabies & dog muzzles

English Football International competition

Sardonism Adults Playing Cowboys and Indians

The Gospel According to Ronald On the historical Jesus

The Islamic State for Dummies The K.I.S.S. principle

NATO’s Three Chihuahuas Small dog syndrome

Essay On Native American Humor ‘Napi Eats His Butt’ (Best satire)

Perverts of Western Philosophy Locke to de Sade (and more)

A Cheesey Detective Story (the short lived series)

Episode 1

Episode 2

Guest Satire:

Raghead Political satire by Bill Purkayastha

Admiral John Kirby Comedy straight out of the Pentagon

About Clowns DJ Rankin

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The NAZI Meme

Deep State I

Deep State II

Deep State III

Deep State IV

Deep State V

Deep State VI

Hillary Clinton in Four Short Paragraphs

Intelligence Agencies & Wikipedia

The CIA And Nonviolent Resistance

God’s Chosen is a Dumb Idea 

The Secret Team is The Family

Profits of War

Fear of Minor Debris

The Alpha Chronology

Reorganizing Murder Incorporated 

Square Pegs in Round Holes:

“We Tortured Some Folks”

Fear of Minor Debris

Intelligence Agencies & Wikipedia

Laura Poitras’ Myopia

Death of a MOSSAD Agent

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On Ukraine:

Denial

Stratfor Chief

Winning Ugly

Reuters & A Fixed Verdict

Kiev’s Nazis

Black Boxes, Dark Arts & Geopolitics

If Russia Were To Back Down on MH 17 ?

Elliot Higgins on MH 17

Poison Fruit Encore 1

Obama’s Ukraine

The New Great Game

USAID & Chevron

Victoria Nuland’s Wedding

Germany’s Martyrs of the Maidan

John Kerry’s neo-nazi snipers

The CIA and a Liar’s Fastrack

Dominionism’s Fingers in Kiev

The Washington Post & Double Think

The Disinformation Nation

The Ascension of The Morons

Poison Fruit Encore 2

People Who Behave As Stupid As They Look

Admiral John Kirby

Mutti, Piggies and the Minsk Peace Accord

The Intercept Takes A Dive 

The Intercept Takes A Dive Episode 2

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Related stuff:

What Do Putin’s Adviser’s Know? You can listen right here

Sergei Lavrov’s UN Speech Russia’s Foreign Minister on 27 Sept 2014

Putin’s Speech of 24 October 2014 Sane by comparison with NATO

Tactical Nuclear Weapons for Dummies Pentagon fantasies

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Arab Spring:

Overview

Egypt Round Two

Syria Part One

Syria Part Two

Syria Part Three 

Syria Part Four

The Islamic State for Dummies

NATO, God & Military Mafia

Western Democracies, Salafist Militia & Syria 

Litmus Test

Lies by Omission

Friday the 13th in Paris

The Real Intelligence on Our Leaders

Whereas the Enemy of Your Friend is Your Favorite F**K

Letter to Doctors Without Borders 

NATO’s Most Censored Story

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Other stuff:

Parting Shot On media

Throwing Stones From Glass Houses Social-political commentary

Vice and MI6

Seymour Hersh & Mythology

Machine Pistol

Fletcher Prouty and the Secret Team (Today)

Defense One Zero Hedge Drinks The Kool Aid

Médecins Sans Frontiéres

USAID in Central Africa

Reuters & A Fixed Verdict

Truth Jockeys

Why NSA Wants Your Metadata

Farewell to the Black White-Man

Boris Nemtsov

Chevron & USAID

Alfreda Bikowski & the Definition of Stupid

Paranoia of Dianne Feinstein

In the Shoes of an Insurgent

Square Pegs in Round Holes

Metadata & Panorama

Reorganizing Murder Incorporated

Votes and Vanishing Acts

Poison Fruit

The Left’s Anti-Federalist Urban Legend

CIA vs JFK

The Navy Yard Reporting Smells Wrong

MOSSAD and Jews for Jesus

“We Tortured Some Folks”

Hillary Clinton in Four Short Paragraphs

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Mojahedin-e-Khalq

Military Sock Puppets, NSA Trolls & CIA Shills

CIA & The Media

WikiLeaks & Spy Agencies

Noteworthy Information Operations

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More stuff:

Throwing Stones From Glass Houses

Why the FBI Will Never Investigate the Biggest Criminals

CIA and Public Relations

VICE & The CIA

Greek Tragedy

Winning Ugly

Truth Jockeys

Greek Hubris

How To Make Powerful Enemies In Four Short Paragraphs

People Too Stupid to Understand They’re Stupid

Holocaust & Narrative Perversion

See’s Sampler

Stupid is as Stupid Does

NATO’s Three Chihuahuas

Evil Cynics, Stooges & Dupes

Empire & Blow-back

Erik Prince & Pedophile Priests

The NSA’s Egregious Liar

Robert Seldon Lady, CIA Slime-Bag

Cheap Tricks for Jesus

The Economics of Moonshine Whiskey

Celebrating the Anti-Christ

Enlightenment: The Automated Death Machine

Napi Mephisto

Snowden & Snooping

Uncle Sam, Dominionist Puppet

Of Nukes, Courage and Cowards

Outline of a Snowden Legal Defense

Color of Law, Star Chamber, FISA & PRISM

The Greatest Criminal Endeavor

Our Vital National Interests

How to Make Powerful Enemies in Three Short Paragraphs

How to Make Powerful Enemies In a Few Paragraphs

If  The Left Are Sheep, The Right Are Fish

The (No) ‘Establishment’ Clause

North Carolina’s 2nd Secession From the Union

EXBERLINER (1)

EXBERLINER (2)

EXBERLINER (3)

EXBERLINER (4)

Post Modern Teutonic Vision

The USA vs The Teutons

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A little more about books:

GLADIO

Profits of War

Invective

David Ignatius’ Body of Lies

John Le Carre’s A Delicate Truth

Robert Littell’s The Company

No Snowflake in an Avalanche

Dirty Wars

Should I be a Spy Novelist?

To The Far Right Christian Hater

A Report to an Academy

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My blog had begun attracting readers in mid 2014, when I’d been giving it real attention for several months. This upcoming week of 21 March 2016, coinciding with withdrawing from giving ronaldthomaswest.com sustained attention, it will pass the 100,000 hits mark (it stands at 99,685 as I write this.)

Hardly some mega-phenomena but not bad either. Now, it’s just another internet archive –

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All original material copyright Ⓒ 2015 by Ronald Thomas West: For profit & mass paper media redistribution prohibited

 

Updated 23 July 2016:

GLADIO returns to Munich: “A Munich police spokesman says witnesses have reported seeing three shooters with “long guns” who attacked a McDonald’s in a city mall”

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Three gunmen then magically morph into a single shooter who commits suicide: “A teenage German-Iranian gunman who killed nine people in a shooting spree at a busy Munich shopping centre and then committed suicide had likely acted alone, German police said Saturday”

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This preceding would appear to be the more recent USA GLADIO model re-exported to Europe; recalling there has never been a satisfactory explanation for how a recently sold in the USA military grade assault rifle was reported to be employed in the Paris Bataclan massacre: “Milojko Brzakovic of the Zastava arms factory told The Associated Press that the M92 semi-automatic pistol’s serial number matched one his company delivered to an American online arms dealer in May 2013. It was not clear how the gun got back to Europe”

As well at the Bataclan, a member of the band stating: “When I first got to the venue and walked in, I walked past the dude who was supposed to be the security guard for the backstage. I immediately went to the promoter and said: ‘Who’s that guy? I want to put another dude on. Eventually I found out that six or so [band security detail] wouldn’t show up at all.”

Moving on to the USA and the recent killing of police in Dallas, immediately, it is apparent the reporting is problematic; with initial reports of multiple snipers firing from elevated positions, which would be consistent with an initial high rate of police casualties. Most of the police appear to have been gunned down in the first minutes. It was also reported the fire (from multiple snipers) was “triangulated” or a professionally set up, coordinated ambush. Former CIA officer & clandestine service Afghanistan veteran William Hurd stated: “When gunfire started exchanging, you had folks in cross positions that were moving towards the target,” the Texas Republican told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” program. “Usually, most folks that have never been in that situation are going the opposite direction. The level of coordination, there seemed to be some type of triangulation”

This information is also stated by the Dallas Chief of Police: “We believe these suspects were positioning themselves in a way to try to triangulate against officers,” Brown said”

But within 48 hours the narrative had dramatically changed; it is now a ‘lone gunman’ whom the police took care to blow up with a robot after they had him cornered (never-mind they’d initially reported he’d shot himself.) Question: Why, after cornering the suspect, instead of holding out for a negotiated surrender and possible critically important intelligence gains, would they take him out with an explosive device?  How could  the professional police of Dallas, many of them military veterans qualified  to make an accurate first assessment, get it all so wrong as to have to change the entire story?

At San Bernardino; three shooters, tall with athletic build: eye witness account. Of course we all are subsequently informed this was a (conveniently dead) lone gunman…

 

Orlando nightclub shooting; eyewitnesses claim more than one shooter and accomplices preventing escapes, blocking exit doors from the outside, while shooting went on. Of course this morphed into a single, dead shooter…

Orlando eyewitnesses part 1:

Orlando eyewitnesses part 2:

 

The Navy Yard shootings generated initial reports of multiple gunmen at more than one location, but ultimately a single lone gunman is dead at the scene. But this one gets a little stickier; a swat team on location was ordered not to intervene and leave scene of the ongoing shooting: “A tactical response team from the force was told by a supervisor to leave the scene instead of aiding municipal officers, police sources told the BBC”

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Aurora: The evidence covered up by law enforcement and the court in the ‘Batman’ theater shooting is nothing short of overwhelming. Video of close eyewitness accounts (<preceding link is expanded witness accounts) clearly detail the shooter(s) had inside help and this evidence is suppressed:

The only difference between the old domestic Gladio which had been western intelligence agencies engineering terror and the current version of domestic Gladio (Gladio B) is the label put on the enemies supposedly responsible; today’s boogeyman is radical Islam whereas previous to the fall of the Soviet Union the terror boogeyman was communism. A fifty minutes documentary of social engineering via GLADIO terror cells employed by intelligence agencies in Europe is a good place to start:

A postscript observation would be concerning historian Daniele Ganser’s otherwise excellent conclusions in his 2004 book NATO’s Secret Armies:

‘Prudent Precaution or source of Terror?’ the international press pointedly asked when the secret stay-behind armies of NATO were discovered across Western Europe following the Gladio revelations in Italy in late 1990.

After more than ten years of research and investigation the answer is now clear: Both. The secret stay-behind armies of NATO were a prudent precaution, as the available documents and testimonies amply demonstrate. Based on the experiences of the Second World War and the rapid and traumatic occupation of most European countries by the German and Italian forces, military experts feared the Soviet Union and became convinced that a stay-behind army could be of strategic value when it came to the liberation of the occupied territory. Behind enemy lines the secret army could have strengthened the resistance spirit of the population, helped in the running of an organised and armed national resistance, sabotaged and harassed the occupying forces, exfiltrated shot down pilots, and gathered intelligence for the government in exile.

Based on the fear of a potential invasion after the Second World War highly placed officials in the national European governments, in the European military secret services, in NATO as well as in the CIA and the MI6 therefore decided that a secret resistance network had to be set up already during peacetime. On a lower level in the hierarchy citizens and military officers in numerous countries of Western Europe shared this assessment, joined the conspiracy and secretly trained for the emergency. These preparations were not limited to the 16 NATO member countries, but included also the four neutral countries in Western Europe, namely Austria, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland, on which the author is preparing a second publication. In retrospect it has become obvious that the fear was without reason and the training had been futile for the invasion of the Red Army never came. Yet such a certainty was not available at the time. And it is telling that the cover of the network, despite repeated exposures in many countries during the entire Cold War, was only blown completely at exactly the same moment when the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed. The secret stay-behind armies of NATO, however, were also a source of terror, as the evidence available now shows. It has been this second feature of the secret war that has attracted a lot of attention and criticism in the last decade, and which in the future will need more investigation and research. As of now the evidence indicates that the governments of the United States and Great Britain after the end of the Second World War feared not only a Soviet invasion, but also the Communist Parties, and to a lesser degree the Socialist Parties. The White House and Downing Street feared that in several countries of Western Europe, and above all in Italy, France, Belgium, Finland and Greece, the Communists might reach positions of influence in the executive and destroy the military alliance NATO from within by betraying military secrets to the Soviet Union. It was in this sense that the Pentagon in Washington together with the CIA, MI6 and NATO in a secret war set up and operated the stay-behind armies as an instrument to manipulate and control the democracies of Western Europe from within, unknown to both European populations and parliaments. This strategy lead to terror and fear, as well as to “humiliation and maltreatment of democratic institutions’, as the European press correctly criticised.

Experts of the Cold War will note that Operation Gladio and NATO’s stay-behind armies cast a new light on the question of sovereignty in Western Europe. It is now clear that as the Cold War divided Europe, brutality and terror was employed to control populations on both sides of the Iron Curtain. As far as Eastern Europe is concerned, this fact has long been recognised, long before it had been openly declared. After the Red Army had in 1968 mercilessly crushed the social reforms in Prag, Soviet leader Leonid Breschnew in Moscow with his infamous ‘Breschnew doctrine’ had openly declared that the countries of Eastern Europe were only allowed to enjoy ‘limited sovereignty’. As far as Western Europe is concerned the conviction of being sovereign and independent was shattered more recently. The data from Operation Gladio and NATO’s stay-behind armies indicates a more subtle and hidden strategy to manipulate and limit the sovereignty, with great differences from country to country. Yet a limitation of sovereignty it was. And in each case where the stay-behind network in the absence of a Soviet invasion functioned as a straightjacket for the democracies of Western Europe, Operation Gladio was the Breschnew doctrine of Washington. The strategic rationale to protect NATO from within cannot be brushed aside lightly. But the manipulation of the democracies of Western Europe by Washington and London on a level which many in the European Union still today find difficult to believe clearly violated the rule of law and will require further debate and investigation. In some operations the secret stay-behind soldiers together with the secret military services monitored and filed left-wing politicians and spread anti-Communist propaganda. In more violent operations the secret war led to bloodshed. Tragically the secret warriors linked up with right-wing terrorists, a combination that led – in some countries including at least Belgium, Italy, France, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Turkey – to massacres, torture, coup d’etats and other violent acts. Most of these state-sponsored terrorist operations, as the subsequent cover-ups and fake trials suggest, enjoyed the encouragement and protection of selected highly placed governmental and military officials in Europe and in the United States. Members of the security apparatus and the government on both sides of the Atlantic who themselves despise being linked up with right-wing terrorism must in the future bring more clarity nd understanding into these tragic dimensions of the secret Cold War in Western Europe.

If Cold War experts will derive new data from NATO’s stay-behind network for their discourse on limited sovereignty during the Cold War, then international legal experts and analysts of dysfunctions of democracies will find data on the breakdown of checks and balances within each nation. The Gladio data indicates that the legislative was unable to control the more hidden branches of the executive, and that parliamentary control of secret services is often non-existing or dysfunctional in democracies on both sides of the Atlantic. Totalitarian states have long been known to have operated a great variety of largely uncontrolled and unaccountable secret services and secret armies. Yet to discover such serious dysfunctions also in numerous democracies comes as a great surprise, to say the least. Within this debate of checks and balances military officials have been correct to point out after the discovery of Operation Gladio and NATO’s stay-behind network that there can never be such a thing as a ‘transparent stay-behind army’, for such a network would be exposed immediately in case of invasion and its members would be killed by the invasion force. Parliamentarians and constitutional lawyers meanwhile have been equally correct to emphasise that both the armed forces and the secret services of a democracy must at all times be transparent, accountable, controlled and supervised closely by civilian representatives of the people as they represent the most powerful instruments of the state.

This clash between mandatory secrecy and mandatory transparency, which lies at the heart of the Gladio phenomenon, directly points to the more general question of how much secrecy should be granted to the executive branch of a democracy. Judged from the Gladio evidence, where a lack of transparency and accountability has lead to corruption, abuse and terror, the answer is clear: The executive should be granted no secrecy and should at all times be controlled by the legislative. For a secret government, as it manifested itself in the United States and parts of Western Europe, can lead to abuse and even state terrorism. The growth of Intelligence abuses reflects a more general failure of our basic institutions’, US Senator Frank Church had wisely noted after a detailed investigation of CIA covert operations already in the 1970s. Gladio repeats this warning with a vengance.

It can hardly be overemphasised that running a secret army and funding an unaccountable intelligence service entails grave risks every democracy should seek to avoid. For the risks do not only include uncontrolled violence against groups of citizens, but mass manipulation of entire countries or continents. Among the most far-reaching findings on the secret war, as seen in the analysis, ranges the fact that the stay-behind network had served as a tool to spread fear amongst the population also in the absence of an invasion. The secret armies in some cases functioned as an almost perfect manipulation system that transported the fears of high-ranking military officers in the Pentagon and NATO to the populations in Western Europe. European citizens, as the strategists in the Pentagon saw it, due to their limited vision were unable to perceive the real and present danger of Communism, and therefore they had to be manipulated. By killing innocent citizens on market squares or in supermarkets and blaming the crime on the Communists the secret armies together with convinced right-wing terrorists effectively translated the fears of Pentagon strategists into very real fears of European citizens.

The destructive spiral of manipulation, fear and violence did not end with the fall of the Soviet Union and the discovery of the secret armies in 1990, but on the contrary gained momentum. Ever since the vicious terrorist attacks on the population of the United States on September 11, 2001 and the beginning of the ‘War on Terrorism’ fear and violence dominate not only the headlines across the globe but also the consciousness of millions. In the West the ‘evil Communist’ of the Cold War era has swiftly been replaced with the ‘evil Islamist’ of the war on terrorism era. With almost 3,000 civilians killed on September 11, and several thousands killed in the US-led war on terrorism so far with no end in sight, a new level of brutality has been reached.

Such an environment of fear, as the Gladio evidence shows, is ideally suited to manipulate the masses on both sides into more radical positions. Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaida terror network manipulated millions of Muslims, above all young male adults, to take up a radical position and believe in violence. On the other side also the White House and the administration of George Bush junior has fuelled the spiral of violence and fear and lead millions of Christians and seculars in the United States and in Europe to believe in the necessity and justice of killing other human beings in order to enhance their own security. Yet human security is not being advanced, but on the contrary decays, as the atmosphere is drenched with manipulation, violence and fear. Where the manipulation and the violence originate from and where they lead to, is at times very difficult to dissect. Hitler and the Nazis had profited greatly from manipulation and the fear in the wake of the mysterious Reichstagsbrand in Berlin in 1933, whereupon the Third Reich and Second World War followed. In 2001 the war on terrorism began, and once again radical critics have argued that the White House had manipulated 9/11, the largest terrorist attack in history, for geostrategic purposes.

As people across the globe share a vague sensation ‘that it cannot go on like that’ many search for an exit strategy from the spiral of violence, fear and manipulation. In Europe a consensus is building that terrorism cannot be defeated by war, as the latter feeds the spiral of violence, and hence the war on terrorism is not part of the solution but part of the problem. Furthermore also more high-tech – from retina scanning to smart containers – seems unable to really protect potential targets from terror attacks. More technology might even increase the challenges ahead when exploited for terrorist purposes and asymmetric warfare, a development observable ever since the invention of dynamite in the nineteenth century. Arguably more technology and more violence will therefore not solve the challenges ahead. A potential exit strategy from the spiral of fear, manipulation and violence might have to focus on the individual human being itself and a change of consciousness. Given its free will the individual can decide to focus on non-violent solutions of given problems and promote a dialogue of understanding and forgiveness in order to reduce extremist positions. The individual can break free from fear and manipulation by consciously concentrating on his or her very own feelings, thoughts, words and actions, and by focusing all of them on peaceful solutions. As more secrecy and more bloodshed are unlikely to solve the problems ahead the new millennium seems a particularly adequate time to begin with such a shift in consciousness which can have positive effects both for the world and for oneself.

Following on his excellent deconstructive analysis of GLADIO, Ganser’s epic fail is in the last paragraph where…

A potential exit strategy from the spiral of fear, manipulation and violence might have to focus on the individual human being itself and a change of consciousness. Given its free will the individual can decide to focus on non-violent solutions of given problems and promote a dialogue of understanding and forgiveness in order to reduce extremist positions. The individual can break free from fear and manipulation by consciously concentrating on his or her very own feelings, thoughts, words and actions, and by focusing all of them on peaceful solutions

…naively presuming the class of psychopaths risen to rule from the shadow will somehow magically correct the organic deficit in their personalities. What’s more and what’s worse is, on top of ‘leopards don’t shed their spots’ or criminals do not voluntarily surrender their business models, utterly missing is the ‘how’ that will be required; to weed out a pervasive criminal ‘deep state’ apparatus rooted in every branch and at every level across western democratic institutions. This septic infection of western democratic institutions has become the world’s largest and most entrenched organized crime family, where military-industrial corporate boards are fused with rogue intelligence agencies and ‘terror’ is essential to their bottom line: PROFIT. The stark reality is, generating terror has become a money making venture of such magnitude, were the symbiotic relationship between deliberately generated terror, and the armaments and related industries that derive immense profits from the same, were interrupted, the western culture’s economic engine would collapse.

Insofar as Genser’s ‘non-violence’ proposal, that is well and good, provided it is not manipulated akin to the Gene Sharp model where Ghandi’s moral and ethical principles had been suborned to amoral utilitarian ends based in ‘color revolutions.’ This evil, and those who’ve perpetrated it, must be put away. As well, Genser’s last paragraph should not be construed to allow the GLADIO criminal elements forgiveness along the lines of a ‘truth and reconciliation’ process, which is inconsistent with accountability and the rule of law. If the criminals were to walk free, the principle of deterence is not only rendered meaningless, recidivism would reinfect every institution.

The cycle of revolution attending the ‘rise and fall’ phenomena of the western civilized hierarchies throughout history demonstrates a failed model. At the end of the day, that required going forward will be more along the lines of a ‘reverse’ Social Darwinism where decentralization is the habit and the rule, and all those aspiring to the rise of hierarchy are speedily and effectively squelched; demanding an entirely new social perspective. The impediments to this are formidable.

Example given, rather than initiate a program to convert eastern Europe’s small farmers to organic production, when expanding, the European Union has forced tens (perhaps hundreds) of thousands of small farmers off the land with required equipment and farm to market ‘upgrades’ these small farmers could not afford or had no access to where the infrastructure did not exist, effectively handing ‘food security’ to multinational conglomerates such as Monsanto and Syngenta. Already a new generation is coming up having lost critical knowledge in community self-sufficiency. There have been few less criminal and anti-democratic acts in the annals of democracy; where the actual facts demand surrender of a community right to self-sufficiency. On the pretext of ‘sanitation’ the EU took away the largest source of clean, community produced foodstuffs and has positioned the likes of Monsanto and Syngenta to replace this vanished community produce with product that, were it labelled honestly, would sport a skull and crossed bones.

Every day that passes with these sort of events left unchecked, reduces the chances of intelligent dismantling of a system gone horrendously wrong; sans violence and escalated social trauma. Everyday that passes under the current criminal class of leadership, those GLADIO false flag actors represented in Obama, Cameron, Merkel, Hollande & company, who either cannot or will not look and act beyond the amorality of ‘Realpolitik’ and move on behalf of people rather than a corporate system which feeds on people, compounds the problem.

Each day of deferred action determines increased gravity in coming, inevitable, social collapse. It is the undeniable repeat history of western civilization. Short of intelligent dismantlement, a radical event in the age of the most lethal weapons the world has ever seen, there almost certainly will be no ‘phoenix’ rise from the western civilization’s ashes, this time. C’est la mort.

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Related:

Deep State IV NATO & Gladio

Deep State V Economics & counter-insurgency

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Ron10

In any democracy, ethics, self restraint, tolerance and honesty will always take a second seat to narcissism, avarice, bigotry & persecution, if only because people who play by the rules in any democracy are at a disadvantage to those who easily subvert the rules to their own advantage (Ronald’s Maxim)

In 2012, Germany celebrated Fredrick the Great and Prussian militarism, and by default foreskin tickling moustaches & a legacy of pedophilia, sacked cities and mass rape, so proud! Today, as we celebrate the German NATO alliance with Turkey, we add the aspiring Turkish ‘honorable mentions’ to the ‘Tickle Dick Hall of Fame.’ On behalf of those tens of thousands Turkish citizens prosecuted by Sultan Erdogan, inclusive of academics, journalists & ordinary citizens, including children, for “insulting the President of Turkey” or otherwise drawing that dickhead’s ire while NATO looks the other way, even as the Turkish regime arms and provides chemical weapons to Salifist militants and launders Islamic State oil (and more)

The Tickle Dick Hall of Fame

turk

Beware! My moustache will gore your foreskin like the Bulls of Pamplona!

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turk2

Won’t give me a blow-job? I’ll put you in chains!!

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turk3

My sweet little goat-herd .. we train them well with practice on the animals .. from the earliest age!

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turk4

The crown of syphilis adorns my headdress!

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turk5

Privilege of Prussian field marshals, a sweet collection in the stable!

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turk6

A man dead for each bit of string on right, a woman raped or a boy-child bred for every string on the left! I am so proud of my soldiers!

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turk7

Even the serfs emulate us!

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turk8

That boy! His tunic! May I slip it off unseen!?!

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turk9

Try it and I’ll tickle your dick with my hammer! (they shot that kid)

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turk10

How might I tickle thee? Let me count the ways!

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turk11

First choice you fuck the sheep, if none is available, it must be the boy, and if no boys? Ah dear colleague, might we retire and refresh ourselves with a session of ‘tickle-dickia’? Not possible this afternoon? Then we must find women to rape! That makes a man!

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turk12

The syphilitic badge of honor!

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turk13

When he grows up?

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turk14

A great Tickle Dick!

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turk15

Inspired by the ‘little fishies’ of a certain Roman emperor Tiberius! Caesar, Kaiser, Sultan, we are the same!

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turk16

A medal for every city sacked, one loop in the braid for every rape, that history may never forget!! Let us celebrate the Tickle Dick!!!!

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turk17

Do not shy away dear vanquished foe, oral sex performed upon your Prussian captor is not such a bad fate!

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turk18

Ah yes, behind closed doors with the children!

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turk19

We ‘love’ our captive children in the garden, in secret, no problem!

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turk20

‘Tickle Dick Hall of Fame’ celebrates ‘the child’  Frederick!

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turk21

Immortalized militarist’s sweetheart!

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turk22

The March of the Tickle Dicks

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turk23

^ Read about it HERE

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Red rag & pink flag
Black shirt & brown
Strut-mince & Stink-brag
Have all come to town

Some like it shot
Some like it hung
Some like it in the twot
Nine months young

-EE Cummings

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Franconia’s guest entry

turk24

Bonaparte |ˈbōnəˌpärt|
verb [ trans. ] (bone + apart)
(chiefly in historical contexts) sack of a city by organized erections
Origin of ‘boner’

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Aspiring ‘members’

turk25

orifice |ˈôrəfis|
noun
an opening, as of one in the body, such as a mouth or the anus.
ORIGIN late Middle English: from French, from late Latin orificium, from os, or- ‘mouth’ + facere ‘make.’

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Related:

Raphael’s Paradox

Whereas the Enemy of Your Friend Is Your Favorite Fuck

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Two weeks away from my (behind schedule) vanishing act, in couple of hours respite from untangling 8 years overstay in the European Union, includes surviving several assassination attempts and interior ministry order expelling me, I picked up a set of pastels and a sheet of paper and did what I had not in some 35 years; played the artist.

This is encouraging, when the maize and other crops are in, if there is inopportune weather for taking up fishing rod, I’ve found something to do; despite my neurological impairment. Pastels are forgiving media.

Drawing.jpg - 1

Paintings on wall

The little collection of impressionist paintings is beings disposed of; but will be recalled with this single, modest effort –

APEC-SUMMIT

ALEXANDER KADOBNOV/AFP/GettyImages

 

“if someone is not happy with our stance, they could find a better option than declaring us an enemy every time. Would not it be better to listen to us, to critically reflect on what we say, to agree to something and to look for a common solution?” -Vladimir Putin, 5 January 2016

Vladimir Putin’s interview with [German newspaper] Bild:

Bild: Mr President, We have just marked the 25th anniversary of the end of the Cold War. Last year, we witnessed a great number of wars and crises across the world, something that had not happened for many years. What did we do wrong?

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: You have started just with the key question. We did everything wrong from the outset. We did not overcome Europe’s division: 25 years ago the Berlin Wall fell, but Europe’s division was not overcome, invisible walls simply moved to the East. This created the foundation for mutual reproaches, misunderstanding, and crises in the future. Many people, including in the Federal Republic [of Germany], criticise me for my well-known speech at the Munich Conference on Security. But what was so unusual that I said?

After the Berlin Wall fell, there were talks that NATO would not expand to the East. As far as I remember, the then Secretary General of NATO, national of the Federal Republic Manfred Woerner said that. By the way, some German politicians of that time gave warnings and proposed their solutions, for example, Egon Bahr.

You know, before meeting with German journalists I, naturally, thought that we would anyway come to the issue you have touched upon now, so I took archived records of talks of that period (1990) between Soviet leaders and some German politicians, including Mr Bahr. They have never been published.

Bild: Are these interviews?

Vladimir Putin: No, these are working discussions between German politicians Genscher, Kohl, Bahr and Soviet leadership (Mr Gorbachev, Mr Falin, who, I think, headed the International Division of the Central Committee of the Communist Party). They have never been made public. You and your readers will be the first to learn about this talk of 1990. Look what Mr Bahr said: “If while uniting Germany we do not take decisive steps to overcome the division of Europe into hostile blocs, the developments can take such an unfavourable turn that the USSR will be doomed to international isolation.” That was said on June 26, 1990.

Mr Bahr made concrete proposals. He spoke about the necessity to create a new alliance in the centre of Europe. Europe should not go to NATO. The whole of Central Europe, either with East Germany or without it, should have formed a separate alliance with participation of both the Soviet Union and the United States. And then he says: “NATO as an organisation, at least its military structures must not extend to include Central Europe.” At that time, he already was the patriarch of European politics, he had his own vision of Europe’s future, and he was telling his Soviet colleagues: “If you do not agree with it, but on the contrary agree with NATO’s expansion, and the Soviet Union agrees with it, I will never come to Moscow again.” You see, he was very smart. He saw a deep meaning in that, he was convinced that it was necessary to change the format radically, move away from the times of the Cold War. But we did nothing.

Bild: Did he come to Moscow again?

Vladimir Putin: I do not know. This talk took place on February 27, 1990. This is a record of the conversation between Mr Falin representing the Soviet Union and Mr Bahr and Mr Voigt representing German politicians.

So what has actually happened? What Mr Bahr had warned about – that’s what has happened. He warned that the military structure – the North Atlantic Alliance – must not expand to the East. That something common, uniting the whole of Europe must be created. Nothing like that has happened; just the opposite has happened what he had warned about: NATO started moving eastwards and it expanded.

We have heard a thousand times the mantra from our American and European politicians, who say: “Each country has the right to choose its own security arrangements.” Yes, we know that. This is true. But it is also true that other countries have the right to make decisions to expand their own organisation or not, act as they consider appropriate in terms of global security. And leading NATO members could have said: “We are happy that you want to join us, but we are not going to expand our organisation, we see the future of Europe in a different way.”

In the last 20–25 years, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union when the second centre of gravity in the world disappeared, there was a desire to fully enjoy one’s sole presence at the pinnacle of world fame, power and prosperity. There was absolutely no desire to turn either to international law or to the United Nations Charter. Wherever they became an obstacle, the UN was immediately declared outdated.

Apart from NATO’s expansion eastwards, the anti-ballistic missile system has become an issue in terms of security. All this is being developed in Europe under the pretext of addressing the Iranian nuclear threat.

In 2009, current President of the United States Barack Obama said that if Iran’s nuclear threat no longer existed there would be no incentive for establishing the ABM system; this incentive would disappear. However, the agreement with Iran has been signed. And now the lifting of sanctions is being considered, everything is under the IAEA control; first shipments of uranium are already being transported to the Russian territory for processing, but the ABM system is being further developed. Bilateral agreements have been signed with Turkey, Romania, Poland, and Spain. Naval forces that should operate as part of missile defence are deployed in Spain. A positioning area has already been created in Romania, another one will be created in Poland by 2018; a radar is being installed in Turkey.

We strongly objected to developments taking place, say, in Iraq, Libya or some other countries. We said: “Don’t do this, don’t go there, and don’t make mistakes.” Nobody listened to us! On the contrary, they thought we took an anti-Western position, a hostile stance towards the West. And now, when you have hundreds of thousands, already one million of refugees, do you think our position was anti-Western or pro-Western?

Bild: As far as I understood, you have summed up the mistakes made by the West with regard to your country. Do you believe that Russia on its part has made any during these 25 years?

Vladimir Putin: Yes, it has. We have failed to assert our national interests, while we should have done that from the outset. Then the whole world could have been more balanced.

Bild: What you just said, does that mean that starting from 1990–1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, all the years after it, Russia has failed to clearly assert its national interests?

Vladimir Putin: Absolutely.

Bild: We know that you have special attitude towards Germany. Ten years ago in an interview given to us on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II you said: “Russia and Germany have never been so close to each other as they are now.”

What do you believe has been left of that closeness to this day?

Vladimir Putin: Our relations are based, most importantly, on mutual attraction of our peoples.

Bild: So nothing has changed in this respect?

Vladimir Putin: I think, no. Despite all the attempts (you and your colleagues have been making) to upset our relations using mass media and anti-Russia rhetoric, I believe that you have failed to do this to the extent that you wanted to. Of course, I do not mean you personally. I refer to the media in general, including German ones. In Germany, the media are under a strong foreign influence, first and foremost from the other side of the Atlantic.

You have said that I have summed up everything that we see as the mistakes made by the West. That was far from everything, I have named but a few most important points. After the Soviet Union collapsed, equally adverse processes emerged inside Russia itself. Those included a drop in industrial production, the collapse of social system, separatism, and the most evident onslaught of international terrorism.

Certainly, we are responsible, there is no one but us to blame. At the same time, for us it was an obvious fact that the international terrorism was also used as a means of fighting against Russia, while everyone either turned a blind eye on that or provided support to terrorists (I refer to political, information, financial or in some cases even armed support to the actors fighting against the Russian state). Certainly, at that moment we realised that discussions and geopolitical interests are completely different things.

As for the Russian-German relations, indeed, they reached an excellent level in 2005, and would have developed successfully further. The trade turnover between our two countries grew to over $80 billion.

In Germany, a huge number of jobs were created thanks to Russian-German cooperation. We tried to prevent negative developments in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, together.

We made major steps in furthering our energy cooperation. A lot of German entrepreneurs opened businesses in Russia, and thousands of enterprises were established. Exchanges between our citizens expanded, and humanitarian contacts developed. The Petersburg Dialogue public forum was also established at that time.

As I have said, our trade turnover used to reach $83–85 billion, and in the first months of 2015 it fell by half. I believe as of the end of the year it will stand at about $40 billion, at 50 percent of what it was. Nevertheless, we maintain relations, and the Federal Chancellor and I meet regularly at various events. I think, I met her seven times, and had 20 telephone conversations with her in 2015. We still hold reciprocal Years of the Russian Language and Literature in Germany and Years of the German Language and Literature in Russia. This year is to be the year of youth exchanges. So the relations are still developing, thank God, and I hope they will develop further. We will overcome the difficulties we are facing today.

Bild: If I got you right, NATO should have told the East European states there and then that it would not admit them? Do you believe NATO could have survived that?

Vladimir Putin: Certainly.

Bild: Yet this has been set forth in the NATO Charter.

Vladimir Putin: The Charter is written by people, isn’t it? Does the Charter say that NATO is obliged to admit everyone who would like to join? No. There should be certain criteria and conditions. If there had been political will, if they had wanted to, they could have done anything. They just did not want to. They wanted to reign.

So they sat on the throne. And then? And then came crises that we are now discussing. If they had followed the advice the old wise German, Mr Egon Bahr gave them, they would have created something new that would unite Europe and prevent crises. The situation would have been different, there would have been different issues. Perhaps they would not have been that acute, you see.

Bild: There is a theory saying that there are two Mr Putins: the first one was young pre-2007 Mr Putin who showed solidarity with the United States and who was friends with Mr Schroeder, and then, after 2007, another Mr Putin came. Back in 2000 you said, “We should have no confrontations in Europe, we should do everything to overcome them.” And now we have found ourselves in such confrontation.

May I ask you a straightforward question? When we are going to have the first Mr Putin back?

Vladimir Putin: I have never changed. First, I still feel young today. I was and I continue to be Mr Schroeder’s friend. Nothing has changed.

My attitude to such issues as the fight against terrorism has not changed either. It is true, on September 11 I was the first to call President Bush and express my solidarity. Indeed, we stood ready to do everything to combat terrorism together. Not so long ago, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, I called and then met the President of France.

If anyone had listened to Gerhard Schroeder, to Jacques Chirac, to me, perhaps there would have been none of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, as there would have been no upsurge of terrorism in Iraq, Libya, or other countries in the Middle East.

We are faced with common threats, and we still want all countries, both in Europe and the whole world, to join their efforts to combat these threats, and we are still striving for this. I refer not only to terrorism, but also to crime, trafficking in persons, environmental protection, and many other common challenges. Yet this does not mean that it is us who should agree with everything that others decide on these or other matters. Furthermore, if someone is not happy with our stance, they could find a better option than declaring us an enemy every time. Would not it be better to listen to us, to critically reflect on what we say, to agree to something and to look for a common solution? That was what I referred to at the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in New York.

Bild: I would like to express the view that today the fight against Islamic terrorism is such an acute issue that it could bring Russia and the West back together in this fight, but the problem of Crimea arises. Is Crimea really worth putting cooperation with the West at stake?

Vladimir Putin: What do you mean when you say ‘Crimea’?

Bild: Redrawn boundaries.

Vladimir Putin: And what I mean is people – 2.5 million of them. These are the people that were frightened by the coup; let’s be frank, they were worried by the coup d’état in Ukraine. And after the coup in Kiev – and it was nothing but a coup d’état, no matter how the extreme nationalist forces, the forces that were coming to power at that moment and largely stayed there, tried to sugar it up – they just began to openly threaten people. To threaten Russians and Russian-speaking people living in Ukraine and in Crimea in particular, because it was more densely populated by Russians and Russian-speaking than other parts of Ukraine.

What was our reaction? We did not make war, nor did we occupy anyone; there was no shooting, no one got killed during the events in Crimea. Not a single person! We used the Armed Forces only to stop more than 20,000 Ukrainian service members stationed there from interfering with the free expression of will by the residents of Crimea. People came to the referendum and cast their vote. They chose to be part of Russia.

Here is a question: what is democracy? Democracy is the will of the people. People voted for the life they wanted. It is not the territory and borders that I am concerned about but the fates of people.

Bild: But borders are a component of the European political order. You have previously said that this is actually very important, including in the context of the NATO expansion.

Vladimir Putin: It is important to always respect international law. In Crimea, there was no violation of international law. Under the United Nations Charter, every nation has the right to self-determination. Concerning Kosovo, the UN International Court of Justice ruled that, when it comes to sovereignty, the opinion of the central government can be ignored. If you are a serious periodical that is honest with its readers, find the transcript of the statement made by the German representative in the International Court of Justice in the archives and cite it. Take the letter, which I believe was written by the US Department of State, or the statement made by the British representative. Find them and read them. Kosovo declared its independence, and the whole world accepted it. Do you know how it in fact happened?

Bild: After the war?

Vladimir Putin: No, it was done by a decision of the Parliament. There was even no referendum held.

What happened in Crimea? Firstly, the Crimean Parliament was elected in 2010, that is when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. This fact I am talking about is extremely important. The Parliament that had been elected while Crimea was part of Ukraine met and voted for independence and called a referendum. Then the citizens voted at the referendum for reunification with Russia. Moreover, as you pointed out quite correctly, the events in Kosovo took place after several years of war and the de-facto intervention by NATO countries, after the bombing of Yugoslavia and missile strikes targeting Belgrade.

Now I want to ask you this: if the Kosovans in Kosovo have the right to self-determination, why don’t the Crimeans have the same right? If we want the relations between Russia and our friends and neighbours in Europe and around the world to develop in a positive and constructive manner, at least one condition must be observed: we need to respect each other, each other’s interests and follow the same rules instead of constantly changing them to suit someone’s interests.

You asked me if I was a friend or not. The relations between states are a little different from those between individuals. I am no friend, bride or groom; I am the President of the Russian Federation. That is 146 million people! These people have their own interests, and I must protect those interests. We are ready to do this in a non-confrontational manner, to look for compromise but, of course, based on international law, which must be understood uniformly by all.

Bild: If, as you say, there was no violation of international law in Crimea, how can you explain to your people that because of that step the West, including at Ms Merkel’s initiative, imposed sanctions against Russia that the Russian population is now suffering from?

Vladimir Putin: You know, the Russian people feel in their hearts and understand in their minds very well what is happening. Napoleon once said that justice is the embodiment of God on earth. In this sense, the reunification of Crimea with Russia was a just decision.

As to the reaction of our western partners, I believe that it was wrong and it was not aimed at supporting Ukraine but at suppressing the growth of Russia’s capabilities. I believe that this should not be done and this is the main mistake; on the contrary, we need to use each other’s capabilities for mutual growth, to address common issues together.

You have mentioned sanctions. In my view, this was a foolish decision and a harmful one. I have said that our turnover with Germany amounted to $83–85 billion, and thousands of jobs were created in Germany as a result of this cooperation. And what are the restrictions that we are facing? This is not the worst thing we are going through, but it is harmful for our economy anyway, since it affects our access to international financial markets.

As to the worst harm inflicted by today’s situation, first of all on our economy, it is the harm caused by the falling prices on our traditional export goods. However, both the former and the latter have their positive aspects. When oil prices are high, it is very difficult for us to resist spending oil revenues to cover current expenses. I believe that our non-oil and gas deficit had risen to a very dangerous level. So now we are forced to lower it. And this is healthy…

Bild: For the budget deficit?

Vladimir Putin: We divide it. There is the total deficit and then there are non-oil and gas revenues. There are revenues from oil and gas, and we divide all the rest as well.

The total deficit is quite small. But when you subtract the non-oil and gas deficit, then you see that the oil and gas deficit is too large. In order to reduce it, such countries as Norway, for example, put a significant proportion of non-oil and gas revenues into the reserve. It is very difficult, I repeat, to resist spending oil and gas revenues to cover current expenses. It is the reduction of these expenses that improves the economy. That is the first point.

Second point. You can buy anything with petrodollars. High oil revenues discourage development, especially in the high technology sectors. We are witnessing a decrease in GDP by 3.8 percent, in industrial production by 3.3 percent and an increase in inflation, which has reached 12.7 percent. This is a lot, but we still have a surplus in foreign trade, and the total exports of goods with high added value have grown significantly for the first time in years. That is an expressly positive trend in the economy.

The reserves are still at a high level, and the Central Bank has about 340 billion in gold and foreign currency reserves. If I am not mistaken, they amount to over 300. There are also two reserve funds of the Government of the Russian Federation, each of which amounts to $70 to $80 billion. One of them holds $70 billion, the other – $80 billion. We believe that we will be steadily moving towards stabilisation and economic growth. We have adopted a whole range of programmes, including those aimed at import replacement, which means investing in high technologies.

Bild: You have often discussed the issue of sanctions as well as the issue of Crimea with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. Do you understand her? Do you trust her?

Vladimir Putin: I am certain that she is a very sincere person. There is a framework within which she has to work but I have no doubt that she is sincere in her efforts to find solutions, including to the situation in southeast Ukraine.

You spoke of sanctions. Everyone says that the Minsk Agreements must be implemented and then the sanctions issue may be reconsidered. This is beginning to resemble the theatre of the absurd because everything essential that needs to be done with regard to implementing the Minsk Agreements is the responsibility of the current Kiev authorities. You cannot demand that Moscow do something that needs to be done by Kiev. For example, the main, the key issue in the settlement process is political in its nature and the constitutional reform lies in its core. This is Point 11 of the Minsk Agreements. It expressly states that the constitutional reform must be carried out and it is not Moscow that is to make these decisions.

Look, everything is provided for: Ukraine is to carry out a constitutional reform with its entry into force by the end of 2015 (Paragraph 11). Now 2015 is over.

Bild: The constitutional reform must be carried out after the end of all military hostilities. Is that what the paragraph says?

Vladimir Putin: No, it is not.

Look, I will give you the English version. What does it say? Paragraph 9 – reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine based on the Ukrainian law on constitutional reform by the end of 2015, provided that Paragraph 11 has been fulfilled, which stipulates constitutional reform.

Consequently, the constitutional reform and political processes are to be implemented first, followed by confidence building on the basis of those reforms and the completion of all processes, including the border closure. I believe that our European partners, both the German Chancellor and the French President should scrutinise these matters more thoroughly.

Bild: Do you think this is not so?

Vladimir Putin: I think they have a lot of problems of their own. But if we are addressing this matter then we must scrutinise it. For example, it says here that changes to the Constitution should be permanent. The Ukrainian Government introduced the law on the special status of those territories, a law that had been adopted earlier, into the transitional provisions. But this law, which they incorporated in the Constitution, was adopted for the duration of three years only. Two years have already passed. When we met in Paris, both the German Chancellor and the French President agreed that this law should be changed and included in the Constitution on a permanent basis. Both the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany confirmed that. Moreover, the current version of the Constitution has not even been approved and the law has not become permanent. How can demands be made on Moscow to do what in fact must be done inline with the decisions of our colleagues in Kiev?

Bild: What is your attitude towards the Federal Chancellor now? You said some time ago that you admired many of her personal qualities. How do things stand now?

Vladimir Putin: When did I say that?

Bild: That you respect her.

Vladimir Putin: I feel the same way now. I have already said that she is very sincere and highly professional. In any case, I think the level of trust between us is very high.

Bild: Let me ask you a personal question. When the Federal Chancellor visited you in Sochi in January 2007, did you know that she was afraid of dogs?

Vladimir Putin: No, of course not. I did not know anything about that. I showed her my dog because I thought she would like it. I told her so later and apologised.

Bild: Mr President, will you take any steps to re-establish the G7 format as the G8?

And another question: what did you think when the US President said that Russia is a regional power?

Vladimir Putin: I did not think anything in particular. Every individual, all the more so the President of the United States, is entitled to his or her own opinion on anything, on partners and on other countries. That is his own opinion, as I also know his opinion that the American nation, the United States is unique. I cannot agree with either of those opinions.

Let me clarify a few things about Russia. First, we do not claim the role of a superpower. This role is very costly and it is meaningless. Our economy is fifth or sixth in the world in terms of volume. It may have moved down to a lower place at present taking into account the economic difficulties I have mentioned but we are confident that we have very good development prospects and potential. We occupy, roughly, the sixth place in the world in terms of purchasing power parity.

If we say that Russia is a regional power, we should first determine what region we are referring to. Look at the map and ask: “What is it, is it part of Europe? Or is it part of the eastern region, bordering on Japan and the United States, if we mean Alaska and China? Or is it part of Asia? Or perhaps the southern region?” Or look at the north. Essentially, in the north we border on Canada across the Arctic Ocean. Or in the south? Where is it? What region are we speaking about? I think that speculations about other countries, an attempt to speak disrespectfully about other countries is an attempt to prove one’s exceptionalism by contrast. In my view, that is a misguided position.

Bild: And what about the G8?

Vladimir Putin: We planned to host the G8 summit in 2014. I think Russia never became a full-fledged G8 member, since there were always separate negotiations between foreign ministers of the other seven countries. I would not say that this mechanism is useless. Meetings, discussions, seeking solutions together are always beneficial.

I believe that Russia’s presence was useful, since it provided an alternative view on some issues under discussion. We examine pretty much the same issues within the G20, APEC in the East and within BRICS. We were ready to host the G8 summit in 2014. It was not us who did not go somewhere; other countries did not come to Russia. If our counterparts decide to come for a visit, they will be most welcome, but we have not booked any tickets yet.

Bild: What do you think about the possibility of re-establishing cooperation, if not within the G8, then, perhaps, with NATO? There was the Russia-NATO Council after all, and you conducted joint military exercises. Is there a chance to re-establish such cooperation or should we forego the prospect altogether?

Vladimir Putin: At the outset, the idea of creating the Council was actively supported, if not initiated, by Mr Berlusconi, the former Prime Minister of Italy, and I believe it was in Italy that we signed the document on establishing the Russia-NATO Council. It was not Russia that cut off cooperation through the G8 or the Russia-NATO Council. We are willing to interact with everyone, once there is a matter for common discussion. We think that there is one, but a relationship can be happy only when the feeling is mutual. If we are not welcome as partners, that is fine with us then.

Bild: Regrettably, at the moment the Russia-NATO relations are at the stage of confrontation, rather than cooperation. Turkish military forces have downed a Russian aircraft, and Russian and Turkish warships are reported to come dangerously close to one another all the more often. Do you think that such developments may at a certain point cause an escalation from a cold war to actual hostilities?

Vladimir Putin: Turkey is a NATO member. However, the problems that have emerged have nothing to do with Turkey’s NATO membership; nobody has attacked Turkey. Instead of trying to provide us with an explanation for the war crime they committed, that is, for downing our fighter jet that was targeting terrorists, the Turkish government rushed to NATO headquarters seeking protection, which looks quite odd and, in my view, humiliating for Turkey.

I repeat, NATO has to protect its members from attack, but nobody has attacked Turkey. If Turkey has vested interests elsewhere in the world, in the adjacent countries, does it mean that NATO must protect and secure these interests? Does it mean that Germany, as a NATO member, must help Turkey to expand into neighbouring territories?

I hope that such incidents will not cause large-scale hostilities. Of course, we all realise that Russia, once under threat, would defend its security interests by all available means at its disposal, should such threats against Russia arise.

Bild: Now let’s turn to Syria, if you do not mind.

We say that we are tackling common challenges there. This is the joint fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, some people in the West say that Russian military forces in Syria are fighting the anti-Assad rebels, rather than ISIS. What would be your response to the allegations that Russia is hitting the wrong targets?

Vladimir Putin: They are telling lies. Look, the videos that support this version appeared before our pilots even started to carry out strikes against terrorists. This can be corroborated. However, those who criticise us prefer to ignore it.

American pilots hit the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, by mistake, I am sure. There were casualties and fatalities among civilians and doctors. Western media outlets have attempted to hush this up, to drop the subject and have a very short memory span when it comes to such things. They mentioned it a couple of times and put it on ice. And those few mentions were only due to foreign citizens from the Doctors Without Borders present there.

Who now remembers the wiped out wedding parties? Over 100 people were killed with a single strike.

Yet this phony evidence about our pilots reportedly striking civilian targets keeps circulating. If we tag the “live pipelines” that consist of thousands of petrol and oil tankers as civilian targets, than, indeed, one might believe that our pilots are bombing these targets, but everyone is bombing them, including the Americans, the French and everyone else.

Bild: However, it is clear that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is carrying out strikes against his own population. Can we say that al-Assad is your ally?

Vladimir Putin: You know, this is a rather subtle issue. I think that President al-Assad has made many mistakes in the course of the Syrian conflict. However, don’t we all realise full well that this conflict would never have escalated to such a degree if it had not been supported from abroad through supplying money, weapons and fighters? Tragically, it is civilians who suffer in such conflicts.

But who is responsible for that? Is it the government, which seeks to secure its sovereignty and fights these anti-constitutional actions, or those who have masterminded the anti-government insurgency?

Regarding your question if al-Assad is an ally or not and our goals in Syria. I can tell you precisely what we do not want to happen: we do not want the Libyan or Iraqi scenario to be repeated in Syria. I have to give due credit to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and I told him this myself, because had he not taken on the responsibility, demonstrated fortitude and brought the country under control, then we might have witnessed the Libyan scenario in Egypt. In my view, no effort should be spared in strengthening legitimate governments in the region’s countries. That also applies to Syria. Emerging state institutions in Iraq and in Libya must be revived and strengthened. Situations in Somalia and other countries must be stabilised. State authority in Afghanistan must be reinforced. However, it does not mean that everything should be left as is. Indeed, this new stability would underpin political reforms.

As far as Syria is concerned, I think that we should work towards a constitutional reform. It is a complicated process. Then, early presidential and parliamentary elections should be held, based on the new Constitution. It is the Syrian people themselves who must decide who and how should run their country. This is the only way to achieve stability and security, to create conditions for economic growth and prosperity, so that people can live in their own homes, in their homeland, rather than flee to Europe.

Bild: But do you believe al-Assad is a legitimate leader if he allows the destruction of his country’s population?

Vladimir Putin: It is not his goal to destroy his country’s population. He is fighting those who rose up against him with deadly force. And if the civilians suffer, I think that the primary responsibility for this is with those who fight against him with deadly force as well as those who assist armed groups.

As I have already said, though, this does not mean that everything is all right out there and that everyone is right. This is exactly why I believe political reforms are needed so much there. The first step in that direction should be to develop and adopt a new Constitution.

Bild: If, contrary to expectations, al-Assad loses the elections, will you grant him the possibility of asylum in your country?

Vladimir Putin: I think it is quite premature to discuss this. We granted asylum to Mr Snowden, which was far more difficult than to do the same for Mr al-Assad.

First, the Syrian people should be given the opportunity to have their say. I assure you, if this process is conducted democratically, then al-Assad will probably not need to leave the country at all. And it is not important whether he remains President or not.

You have been talking about our targets and means, and now you are talking about al-Assad being our ally. Do you know that we support military operations of the armed opposition that combats ISIS? Armed opposition against al-Assad that is fighting ISIS. We coordinate our joint operations with them and support their offensives by airstrikes in various sections of the frontline. This is hundreds, thousands of armed people fighting ISIS. We support both the al-Assad’s army and the armed opposition. Some of them have publicly declared this, others prefer to remain silent, but the work is on-going.

Bild: Finally, I would like to touch upon a topic that has never come up before, that is the rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran, as if Syria was not enough. Does it mean that this rift can lead us to a very grave conflict?

Vladimir Putin: It hampers the efforts to settle the Syrian crisis and the fight against terrorism, as well as the process of halting the inflow of refugees to Europe, that much is certain.

As for whether this will lead to a major regional clash, I do not know. I would rather not talk or even think in these terms. We have very good relations with Iran and our partnership with Saudi Arabia is stable.

Of course, we regret that these things happened there. But you have no death penalty in your country, right? Despite a very hard period in the 1990s–early 2000s, when we were fighting terrorism in Russia, we abolished the death penalty. And there is no death penalty in Russia at present. There are certain countries that use the death penalty – Saudi Arabia, the United States and some others.

We regret this has happened, especially given that the cleric had not been fighting against Saudi Arabia with lethal force. Yet it is true that an embassy attack is a totally unacceptable occurrence in the modern world. As far as I know, the Iranian authorities have arrested several perpetrators of the assault. If our participation in any form is needed, we are ready to do everything possible to resolve the conflict as soon as possible.

Bild: One last question, Mr President.

During the preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, there was heavy criticism in the West of democratic development and human rights situation in Russia. Do you expect similar criticism to arise again during the preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup?

I think the Russian language is more extensive than German. (Noting the long translation of the question from German into Russian.)

Vladimir Putin: I would say the German language is more precise.

The Russian language is more diverse, more elegant. However, such genius minds as, say, Goethe make the German language sound very elegant and beautiful. One can feel its beauty only in German, and to be able to feel it one needs to understand it.

As far as democracy is concerned, the ruling classes usually talk about freedom to pull the wool over the eyes of those whom they govern. There is nothing new about democracy in Russia. As we have already identified, democracy is the rule of the people and the influence of the people over the authorities. We have learned very well the lesson of one-party rule – that of the Communist Party (CPSU). Therefore, we made our choice long ago and we will continue developing democratic institutions in our country. At present, 77 political parties can take part in parliamentary elections in Russia. We have come back to direct gubernatorial elections.

We are advancing the instruments of direct democracy, meaning various public organisations, and will continue to do so. There can be no identical clichés in democracy – be it American, European (German), Russian or Indian. Do you know that twice in American history the President was elected by the majority of delegates representing the minority of voters? Does it mean the absence of democracy? Of course not. But it is not the only or the most important problem. One of the European leaders once told me: “In the United States it is impossible to run for presidency without a few billion dollars in your pocket.”

Now, regarding the parliamentary system of democracy.

I am repeatedly asked: “How long have you been President?” But in a parliamentary democracy, the person number one is the Prime Minister, who can head the Government an unlimited number of times.

We have returned to direct elections of regional heads. In some countries, however, heads of regions are appointed by the central government. I am not sure, I may be wrong, it is probably better to leave it out or to double-check it, but, as far as I know, that is the case in India.

We still have a number of problems to solve before people feel confident that they have real influence over the authorities and that the authorities respond to their demands. We are going to work towards improving our instruments.

As for the attempts to use sport in political rifts and political competition, I believe that is a huge mistake. That is what stupid people do. If problems arise, particularly at the interstate level, sport, art, music, ballet and opera are the very means that should bring people closer together rather than divide them. It is vital to foster this role of art and sport rather than belittle and suppress it.

Bild: Thank you, Mr President, for a wonderful and very detailed conversation.

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