Gazprom/Zionist Partnership On Leviathan

[SEE:  Israel Tapping Palestinian Gas Deposits?  ]

Russians eye Israel’s natural gas

MOSCOW, Nov. 19 (UPI) — Russian gas monopoly Gazprom aims to set up a joint venture with Israel to explore the country’s continental shelf, a top executive said.

Preliminary estimates indicate the Leviathan prospect about 84 miles off the northern coast of Israel holds as much as 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The potential at Leviathan follows the 2009 discovery of the Tamar gas field off the Israeli coast, which holds around 8 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Stanislav Tsygankov, a foreign relations executive at Gazprom, was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying the gas monopoly wants a 50 percent claim in any Israeli deal.

"We are planning to establish a joint venture where Gazprom will participate in the shelf’s development," he said. "We are planning to buy a 50 percent stake."

Lebanon contends that a portion of Leviathan lies within its maritime borders. Hezbollah has told Israel not to touch its resources, spurring threats of retaliation from the Israelis.

FARC Raking-In Profits In Gold

More than $ 1,600 million a year collected by the guerrillas in gold mines under its control

Blow to the FARC mines


By: Maria del Rosario Arrazola
Police discovered how illegal group found an extremely cost-effective scenario for financing their activities.
Investigadores penetran las minas 

Photo: File

Researchers documented in the computer of Mono Jojoy that the guerrillas would have nominees in various departments of the country that manage about 50 thousand hectares.

More than a year ago a group of intelligence officers of the Police managed to penetrate the gold mines that are exploited in El Bagre, Nechí and the Serrania de San Lucas in southern Bolivar. The mission, according to his own testimony, was fraught with obstacles because the dominance of the FARC is almost absolute, “then there was to know ll Egar, prepare for a couple of months to a few agents and officers who are natives of this area of the Magdalena medium and, in fact, knew very well and mining issues was when we realized it was not so simple. ”

Thus began his story to the viewer one of the officers who stated that the FARC, no more no less, were controlling 15 gold mines in Bolivar. A profitable business that adds to the extortion continued to owners of 200 bulldozers stationed in El Bagre and Nechí. The guerrillas ‘shot’ with $ 5 million each just to start operations and another $ 3 million more during the time they stay there. The intelligence official puts round numbers: “We are saying that the FARC receives about $ 1,600 million a year for this concept.”

He adds: “Not to have what amount to exploit their own mines, where they get 24 carat gold, and every ounce on the market can cost U.S. $ 1,240.” The seasoned investigator, who spent nearly a year in the Middle Magdalena and southern Bolivar posing as mining and gold buyer, knew the minutiae of alternative finance center of the FARC, the details of the lucrative business and documents supporting the network of front men who lent their names to legalize the activity in the mines.

Police soon managed to make a radiograph of this scenario, the links of the FARC and hierarchies. Then it became clear that the ‘owner’ of this whole area is the Middle Magdalena Block, whose ultimate boss is alias Pastor Alape, newly promoted to the FARC secretariat to replace Mono Jojoy, and that was the company Gerardo Guevara, led alias El Flaco or Commander Ramiro Chili which had orders to military presence in the region and to intimidate the civilian population and the miners.

Thus, much of the economic slice of mineral production in the south of Bolivar, which was around $ 20,000 million in 2009, was filled into the hands of the guerrillas. That year was particularly good in terms of collection for the FARC, the researchers found the police. To address this phenomenon military leaders designed a pinpoint operation called ‘Hunting’: the military track personnel to enter and leave the area and police were able to infiltrate four ‘mining’ the service of the illegal group and 10 other gold buyers administrators.

One of the officers managed to become almost in the shadow of alias El Flaco Ramiro, to the point of accompanying him on long hours in bars in every town in the area. Police noticed that the guerrilla had two weaknesses, apart from women, “liked to take drink all weekend and buy gold watches. His addiction to alcohol too much and put it last November 5th Police and army units caught him in a bar in the village of La Corona, jurisdiction of El Bagre, and after a short exchange of gunfire, was shot in the right hand mining issue secretariat chief Pastor Alape.

Now, these same intelligence units of the police are after traces of the fronts for the FARC that manage nearly 48,900 hectares of productive land. The staggering figure was found in one of the emails from the computer of Mono Jojoy. In this document it is stated that these lands would be in Meta, Guaviare, Norte de Santander, Caquetá and Putumayo. Also covers several acres in Bolivar. The authorities maintain absolute secrecy about this issue because it could be considered the most important item for the support of the FARC, surpassed only by the huge amounts of drug trafficking and extortion.

In these lands, according to the first information available to investigators and the prosecution, the FARC have their own crops, livestock commercialized on a large scale and take advantage of this front to launder money in bulk. And authorities have documented the tentacles of the guerrillas in the mining market, how they managed to mimic their illegal funds and give it a blow to the economy.

  • Maria del Rosario Arrazola | THE SPECTATOR

Pentagon says intel contractors went too far

[SEE:  Head Taliban-Hunter–”I am not…a crook.” ;  AfPax Insider Part of Pakistani Taliban? ]

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "AfPax Insider: Bombs Away: Pakistani …", posted with vodpod

Pentagon says intel contractors went too far

(AP) – Oct 28, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — A military contractor says he’ll fight Pentagon accusations that his people went too far in gathering intelligence in Afghanistan that ended up being used to target militants.

A high-level Defense Department inquiry concluded that defense contractor Michael Furlong, a retired Army officer, ran what amounted to an illegal spying ring of private military contractors.

The 15-page classified report into the matter, obtained by The Associated Press, says Furlong’s human intelligence collection program, known as "Information Operations Capstone," amounted to a "violation of executive orders" and Defense Department policy.

Drafted by Michael Decker, the Pentagon’s assistant secretary for intelligence oversight, and initialed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the inquiry calls for further investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

In an interview, Furlong denied the accusations and said he never was questioned by the investigators nor has the Pentagon shared the report with him so he can answer the charges. He currently is on administrative leave, pending final review of the case.

The dispute over the Capstone operation centers on the military’s struggle over the past two years to ramp up intelligence gathering to support counterinsurgency. The strategy includes elements of nation-building, which requires more social, civil and economic data, as well as the tactical intelligence needed for targeting.

The outgoing head of military intelligence operations in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, wrote a controversial public critique of intelligence-gathering in the war zone earlier this year. Flynn criticized the military intelligence gathering structure as too focused on hunting al-Qaida, to the exclusion of building a multilayered picture of Afghan civil society.

The program criticized by the Pentagon inquiry was set up to provide just that sort of non-targeting intelligence.

Furlong says that the contractors — retired CIA officers and special operations veterans, in addition to local Afghans — were tracking social and civil society for the U.S.-led NATO war effort and that if and when they sometimes came across militant plots, they passed that information on to the relevant authorities as outlined in their contract.

Former officials who worked under the program say the contractors also refused to ask any follow-up questions of their sources when military authorities asked them to pursue leads from their initial reports, to keep their contract intelligence collection separate from military capture-and-kill activities.

The former officials who worked under the program spoke on condition of anonymity because the $22 million operation, which ended May 30, is now part of the legal dispute.

But the inquiry concluded that Furlong’s program was carrying out "unauthorized" human intelligence operations by what it termed "nongovernment personnel under the guise of gathering and reporting ‘Force Protection Atmospherics.’"

The inquiry also accuses Furlong of "deliberately misleading" the military leadership on the "legal basis" for the program.

The inquiry further recommends that the Pentagon clarify what is legal, and what’s not, when it comes to human intelligence and information operations, a recommendation initialed by Gates as "approved."

Since it was shut down in May, the Furlong program has been replaced by an enhanced structure of intelligence collection, along the lines of Flynn’s blueprint. Flynn, who has been tapped for a top job working for the director of national intelligence, added new layers of collection and analysis, including a staff with field operatives who travel and function like media reporters.

Furlong says his team operated in much the same way.

The Capstone contract was run by Lockheed Martin and staffed by subcontractors including Strategic Influence Alternatives and International Media Ventures, a communications company based in St. Petersburg, Fla., with Czech ownership.

There are two more Pentagon investigations under way into the matter, including one by the Defense Department inspector general, in addition to the Air Force investigation.

Afghanistan handover issue hangs over NATO summit

[The American psywar is the only war which matters.  This brings the realization that we don’t really need to “win” our wars to obtain our hidden objectives; we only need to redefine the concept of “war” in the minds of the international audience, so that they will accept our operations peacefully.  As the “end of combat operations in Iraq” demonstrates, we can continue our wars without committing troops in such large numbers, even when we claim to be withdrawing.  Just as we empowered the Iraqi Defense Forces, we will train the Afghan Army to carry-on our war, under our generals’s direction, long after a majority of the troops have been relocated to the next Asian war.  The really sad part of it is that the American psywar operators have perfected their art (of subduing resistance to their plans with a lethal combination of bribes, treats and promises) to such a degree that they can confidently make any outrageous move and the people of the world will let them get away with it, just as the American people always let them get away with anything they want.]

Afghanistan handover issue hangs over NATO summit

Place: Lisbon | Agency: PTI

President Barack Obama and the leaders of NATO’s 27 other member nations open a two-day summit today aimed at finding ways to keep the Cold War alliance relevant in the 21st century with revamped roles including ballistic missile defense, anti-piracy patrols and counter-terrorism.

But the meeting is being overshadowed by the escalating war in Afghanistan, where the alliance is struggling to contain Taliban militants.

NATO officials say they expect unanimous support from the allies for Obama’s plans for a new, expanded missile defense system in Europe that would be based on an existing shield meant to defend military units from attack. The US already has a missile defense system based mainly in North America, and it is planning one for its European allies.

But Obama will face tough questions from US allies on his exit strategy in Afghanistan. He will also meet with leaders of the European Union tomorrow to defend his preference for stimulus spending at a time when many European nations are enacting economic austerity measures.

Tomorrow, the leaders are expected to endorse a plan by Gen David Petraeus, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, to start handing over responsibility for security in some areas of Afghanistan to government forces in 2011. The plan is to end the alliance’s combat role by 2014 if conditions on the ground allow, but to retain significant forces in the country after that to train and advise the Afghan army and police.

“It will be a very important moment,” Adm Giampaolo di Paola, NATO’s top military official, told The AP today. “The start of transition is also testimony that the alliance is succeeding in Afghanistan.”

The alliance has 140,000 troops in Afghanistan, two-thirds of them Americans. The government’s security forces are being built up to just over 300,000 members. Their Taliban opponents are estimated to number up to 30,000 men.

NATO’s newly expanded anti-missile shield would cost euro 200 million ($273 million) over the next 10 years, said NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who also wants Russia to cooperate in the project. Despite claims by protesters that debt-plagued Europe can’t afford it amid austerity cuts, alliance officials insisted the project is worth it.

“We think it’s a good thing to have a missile defense system which is NATO-based,” Britain’s defence secretary Liam Fox told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

 

Large Central Espionage Complex Puts Washington In Mexico City

The large central espionage Washington

Jorge Carrasco A. and J. Jesus Esquivel

From the Fox administration, Mexico and the United States agreed to collaborate on strategic intelligence.After several years of negotiations today, with the permission of President Calderon and despite the reluctance of the Army and Navy, and operate openly and freely in Mexico nine institutions agents of espionage in the neighboring country. Under the cover of a misleading name (Bi-National Intelligence Office), the great center of Washington’s espionage work since last August in a building on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City, near the U.S. embassy.

MEXICO CITY, Nov. 14 (Process) .- With the government of Felipe Calderón, the United States did what they always aspired to: Set in Mexico City a center of espionage. It was the rise of drug trafficking in the country that opened the door to all U.S. intelligence agencies, predominantly military, operating from the Federal District without having to cover for his staff and diplomats.

The establishment of the Office of Binational Intelligence (OBI) was authorized by Calderon, after negotiations with Washington, who began his predecessor, Vicente Fox Quesada. In meetings attended by the director of the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN), Guillermo Valdés Castellanos, without taking into account the objections of the military.

Through the OBI, Calderón and ushered to U.S. intelligence agents to investigate without problems for organized crime syndicates and drug trafficking. They can also watch the same government agencies, including the Secretariat of National Defense and the Navy, as well as diplomatic missions in Mexico.

The facilities at the headquarters of the agents of the Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA, for its acronym in English), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Departments of Justice, Internal Security and the Treasury located in the commercial building located at number 265, Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, approximately 250 meters from the U.S. embassy.

In the OBI is the Pentagon that has the most significant presence, as from there operate the Military Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the National Security Agency (NSA).It follows the Department of Justice, also with three agencies: the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Bureau of Alcohol, Snuff, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

With two services is the Department of Homeland Security: Coast Guard Intelligence (CGI) and the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), while the Treasury Department has officers of the Bureau of Intelligence on Terrorism and Financial Affairs (TFI) .

In addition, the OBI opened two satellite offices: one in Ciudad Juarez and one in Tijuana, where U.S. agents commanding “task forces” against drug trafficking, supported by Mexican personnel.

Extract from the main report is published in the 1776 edition of Proceso magazine, already in circulation.

 

THE BAGHDAD CATHEDRAL MASSACRE: ZIONIST FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER

THE BAGHDAD CATHEDRAL MASSACRE: ZIONIST FINGERPRINTS ALL OVER

by Jonathan Azaziah

Prior to the fascist, destructive, genocidal US-UK-Israeli occupation of Iraq, Sunni and Shia, Muslims and Christians, Arabs and Kurds lived together in a harmonious atmosphere of brotherhood and unity that paralleled that of occupied Palestine before the Zionist occupation in 1948. It is egregious. Disgusting. Despicable. Ignorant. Absurd. And erroneous on every factual basis to assert that the aforementioned ethnic and religious groups are now massacring each other, when in reality, they are being massacred by the murderous occupation armies.

Dividing Iraq via partition and driving it into a hell of ethnic cleansing was a Zionist plot that was originally designed in 1982 by Israeli foreign policy advisor Oded Yinon (1). The policies for destabilizing Iraq were reestablished in the ‘Clean Break’ papers written for mass murderer Benjamin Netanyahu by Zionist spy Richard Perle and several Zionist war criminals including Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, Meyrav Wurmser and Robert Loewenberg (2). Agents of the international terrorist group known as Mossad have been operating in Iraq as early as the 1950s, when the Zionist entity engaged in a false flag campaign of terror against the Iraqi-Jewish community (3). It has always been the absolute goal of the illegitimate usurping entity to destroy Iraq as a nation, so it can bring its ‘Greater Israel’ dream to fruition, settling its colonial extremists on the banks of the ancient Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The bloody travesty of humanity that occurred on October 31st, 2010 which left 58 Iraqis dead in the Sayedat al-Najat Cathedral in Baghdad (4) was not the work of Al-Qaeda. The gunmen didn’t belong to Islamic State of Iraq. The homicidal shooters weren’t even Iraqi. The best way to honor the victims of senseless violence is to expose the truth of the attack. And the truth is, this massacre has Zionist fingerprints all over its blood-drenched structure.

SITE Intelligence: Mouthpiece of Mossad

As the events that led up to the massacre unfolded, the Zionist mainstream media reported that an Al-Qaeda offshoot known as Islamic State of Iraq was behind the horrors. The media obtained its reports from an organization known as SITE Intelligence Group (5). SITE is the primary source that the falsehood-spewing Zionist media, Zionist-designed Homeland Security, and even the FBI and CIA obtain their information from regarding Muslim and Arab affairs (6). When Israel is accused of a crime, SITE says otherwise and the media follows SITE’s lead. When SITE says Muslims commit a crime, the media follows SITE’s lead as well. SITE is controlled by Rita Katz, a former soldier in Israel’s Occupation Forces who has close ties to Mossad via her working relationship with Mossad agent Ben Venzke’s Intel Center (7), as well as the FBI (8). Katz, who comes from a deep-rooted Zionist family and whose father was executed in Iraq due to his spy activity for the Zionist regime, has admitted to disseminating false information to the United States government itself about ‘Jihadists,’ Al-Qaeda, and other ‘Islamic extremist’ groups (9).

Rita Katz collaborated with fellow Zionist Jane Harman, by delivering testimony on ‘Islamic terrorists’ using the internet as a weapon, before a congressional committee so the ardently pro-Israel congresswoman could pass Orwellian legislation to monitor anti-Zionist and anti-war activism online (10). Katz violated the privacy of hundreds of Muslim-Americans in their mosques, community centers and other social functions by illegally spying on them on behalf of the US government, and is currently being sued by several organizations (11). The former Israeli soldier is considered to be a protege of Zionist Steve Emerson (12), the notorious xenophobic propagator of Islamophobia, whitewasher of Zionist crimes against Palestinians and Lebanese and creator of the repulsive propaganda film, ‘Jihad In America (13).’ Rita Katz’s SITE organization has even been endorsed by the bloodthirsty killers at Blackwater, now known as XE (14), who are responsible for civilian murders across occupied Iraq, including the infamous massacre at Nisour Square (15).

Rita Katz is an ultra-Zionist who clearly works as an asset for the Israeli-invented ‘war on terror’ which has claimed millions of lives in occupied Arab and Muslim lands already. Her lies have affected Iraq directly, as she has attempted to sow division through spreading lies about the long-dead CIA asset Osama Bin Laden and the Shia population of the occupied nation (16). She is a noxious propagandist whose words, writings and actions are completely immersed in unequivocal falsity for the benefit of the usurping Tel Aviv regime, and whose SITE organization is an utter fraud and obvious front for Mossad. Only the oblivious, the deaf, dumb and blind would be unable to see through her lies.

Islamic State Of Iraq Doesn’t Exist

Al-Qaeda doesn’t exist. It should be reiterated for emphasis: Al-Qaeda. Does. Not. Exist. Even the atrociously pro-Israel apologist news agency known as BBC has admitted this undeniable fact through a documentary it released, in which CIA agents admit that the ‘terror’ organization is a sheer fabrication (17). The aforementioned Zionist propaganda outfit SITE Intelligence Group has reported Islamic State of Iraq is linked to Al-Qaeda. But if Al-Qaeda doesn’t exist, how can Islamic State of Iraq be linked to it? The answer is simple: Islamic State of Iraq doesn’t exist either. Something that exists can’t be linked to something non-existent; such notions are the peak of illogic and preposterousness. The US military itself, most saliently a Brigadier General, have already declared that the leader of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq, Omar al-Baghdadi, is an invention (18). The officials went on to declare that they needed to give an ‘Iraqi face to a foreign-run terrorist group.’ Typical.

SITE is an Israeli intelligence dummy company. Al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq are Zionist-concocted fallacies. The question remains then: Who carried out the heinous massacre that martyred 58 and injured 78 others at Sayedat al-Najat Cathedral?  (read HERE)

 

Authorities mount manhunt for escaped Fatah al-Islam prisoner

Authorities mount manhunt for escaped Fatah al-Islam prisoner

Fugitive’s companion hospitalized after fall from Roumieh prison’s 10-meter wall
By Hussein Dakroub

BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities have mounted a massive manhunt for a member of an Al-Qaeda-inspired group who escaped from Beirut’s central prison in Roumieh, security sources said Thursday. Tuesday’s incident was the latest in a series of inmate escape attempts that have rocked the prison east of Beirut.

Mounjed al-Fahham, a Syrian, and Walid Boustani, a Lebanese, who belong to the militant Fatah al-Islam group, tried to escape from the Roumieh prison Tuesday, using blankets and bed sheets tied together to scale over the prison’s wall, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Fahham was apprehended by security forces after suffering injuries due to a fall from the wall, apparently because his improvised “rope” was torn. However, Boustani managed to escape, the sources added.

Fahham and Boustani are among the 220 Fatah al-Islam members who have been arrested on charges of involvement in terror attacks in the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and killing Lebanese soldiers in the northern city of Tripoli.

The Lebanese Army crushed Fatah al-Islam militants in 2007 after three months of fighting in and around the Nahr al-Bared camp on the outskirts of Tripoli. A total of 170 Lebanese soldiers, more than 120 militants and more than 200 civilians were killed in the fighting.

Boustani managed to escape by disappearing in the forests near the prison compound. Army commandos and Internal Security Forces (ISF) personnel conducted a manhunt for Boustani, using two army helicopters and sniffer dogs to scan the area, the sources said.

A security source denied Thursday media reports that Boustani had been arrested. Authorities are looking into the possibility that Boustani might have headed north, traversing a main road, the source said.

Fahham was taken to Al-Hayat Hospital, where he underwent surgery for fractures and injuries he suffered from falling from a 10-meter wall, the sources said. They added that police investigators are waiting to question Fahham as soon as his health condition permits.

Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud followed up the incident, ordering immediate investigation into the circumstances of the escape, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) said.

He also ordered the ISF to investigate whether there was dereliction of duty among the prison’s guards.

Following Tuesday’s incident, the ISF took new measures to tighten security inside the prison, including the changing of some inmates’ cells, which prompted protests from other Fatah al-Islam inmates, a security source said. The source added that the protests were normal whenever a transfer of some inmates’ cells takes place, and said the situation was fully under the ISF’s control.

In August 2009, eight Islamists tried to escape from the Roumieh prison. Taha Ahmad Haji Suleiman, a Fatah al-Islam militant, was found in the nearby village of Bsalim a day after his escape. Seven other Fatah al-Islam prisoners also attempted to flee but their escape was thwarted by prison guards.

 

 

© Copyright The Daily Star 2010.

 

Kashin Beating Demonstrates Dangers of Russian Nationalism

The Hate Triangle

http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=Politics&articleid=a1290013674

By Graham Stack
Special to Russia Profile

The Scandal Around Khimki Could Lead to a Standoff Between the Kremlin and Russian Nationalists

With the Kremlin’s gaze apparently shifting from the city of Moscow to Moscow Region, President Dmitry Medvedev will have to publicly take sides in the escalating confrontation between nationalists and civil society. The brutal attack on journalist Oleg Kashin, the latest in a series of attacks on critics of the municipal authorities in the Moscow Region town of Khimki, has become a Russian cause célèbre: Kashin’s name was the third most often mentioned name in the Russian news last week, following Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The investigation into the attack is now being conducted by the country’s highest-ranking investigators from the newly-independent Investigation Committee. And in another sign of mounting political pressure on Khimki and Moscow, on November 13, the NTV television channel ran an investigative report into the situation surrounding Khimki, which was extremely hostile to the town’s now notorious Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko. In recent months, similar critical NTV reports have been a sign of the Kremlin’s displeasure with, firstly, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, and secondly with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, both of whom combine neo-Soviet patriotism with corruption and authoritarianism.

The NTV report on Luzhkov immediately preceded the dismissal of the long-serving Moscow mayor. NTV’s Khimki report may indicate that the Kremlin will not wait for the results of the investigation into the attack on Kashin, but draw its own “organizational conclusions” about the situation in the region – conclusions that may not be limited to Khimki but may also impact Boris Gromov, the governor of Moscow Region, directly.

While public attention has been focused on Khimki and on Strelchenko, whoever speaks of Strelchenko has also to speak of General Boris Gromov, the governor of Moscow Region – and of Boevoe Bratstvo (“brothers-in-arms”) – the country-wide organization of veterans of the Afghan and Chechen wars, which Gromov heads. Gromov himself was the last Soviet general to command the Afghanistan campaign, and the last Soviet soldier to leave Afghanistan in 1989. And like many of Gromov’s subordinates in the Moscow Region government and the administrations of the region’s towns, Strelchenko is also an Afghan veteran and an active member of Boevoe Bratstvo.

Officially Boevoe Bratstvo’s activities consist of patriotic acts, such as building war memorials across the country to servicemen who died in the Afghan and Chechen wars, and providing extensive material support to veterans. As such, the organization is an improvement on the Afghan veteran organizations of the 1990s, which were basically part of the organized crime scene thanks to their capacity for violence and group solidarity, combined with the extensive tax and customs benefits the government granted them as subsidies to charities.

Unofficially, the signs are that in the early years of holding office in Moscow Region, Gromov deployed Boevoe Bratstvo and a retinue of former army comrades to repress feuding organized crime groups and monopolize protection-racket rents, marked by a wave of violence from 2000 to 2004, which saw several heads of regional municipalities slain.

Mission accomplished and offices gained, Gromov’s people, especially in Khimki, seem to have turned from repressing crime groups to repressing criticism of the new order and its endemic corruption: Khimki, perched on the border of the city of Moscow, one of the world’s most expensive cities, has some of the most attractive real estate in Europe, with tens of millions of dollars worth of easy pickings for unscrupulous bureaucrats to privatize state-owned land plots and re-zone agricultural land.

And the list of names of Khimki-related activists and journalists who have fallen victim to violent attacks after criticizing the authorities is long: prior to the attack on Kashin – for which the Khimki link is not the only possible explanation – Khimki-based journalist Anatoly Yurov was stabled with a knife ten times in an attack in 2008; his colleague Mikhail Beketov was beaten so severely the same year that he is now severely disabled; and journalists Yury Slyusarev and Yuri Granin were also victims of beatings in 2008. Only days before the attack on Kashin, environmental activist Konstantin Fetisov had his skull broken in an attack on November 4.

Surveying this tragic list gives one the impression that the repeated ferocity of attacks has an ideological nationalist component. The only parallel for the brutal punishment meted out to journalists and activists linked with Khimki is that which has been meted out to journalists and activists by rightwing extremists: leftwing activist Alexander Rukhin was murdered in April 2007 by ultranationalists, while a rightwing extremist has been detained for the murder of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov in January of 2009. And there may have been ultranationalist involvement in the still unsolved murder of Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. Like Markelov, she had been active in exposing human rights abuses by Russian servicemen in Chechnya.

Whether the motive for the particularly brutal attacks on Khimki civil society activists is linked to the Afghan veteran networks prevalent in Moscow Region and the nationalist ideology they espouse will only be proved or disproved by an investigation. But a swift Kremlin crackdown on Khimki and on Moscow Region, on Strelchenko and on Gromov, for image purposes or out of genuine concern for civil society, could well add to growing nationalist resentment of the Medvedev administration – and force the Kremlin to finally take sides in the nationalism versus civil society clash, even at the risk of becoming a target of nationalist anger.

This is not far-fetched. Nationalist political violence already seems to have targeted state officials in at least two instances. In April 2010 federal judge Eduard Chuvashov, who had given a group of Neo-nazis lengthy sentences for the murder of over 20 immigrant workers, was shot dead in his doorway. In August 2010 a jury again acquitted a gang of nationalists charged with attempting to assassinate 1990s liberal reformer Anatoly Chubais, now the head of state nanotechnology corporation Rosnano, in 2005. The apparent ringleader of the group, retired Colonel Vladimir Kvachkov of Russia’s military intelligence service, while denying the charges, has made no secret of his hatred of Chubais for “selling out the country” and his wish to see Chubais dead. Nationalist rallies led by Kvachkov and rallies such as the November 4 Russian March feature hangings of Chubais in effigy.

Underlining the threat of anti-state violence from the far right, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) declared on November 11 that it had discovered an arms and explosives cache in Pskov kept by the Slavic Union far-right group. The weapons were apparently intended for an attack on an administrative building in the city on October 31, the date that democrats rally in support of freedom of assembly.

Nationalists like Kvachkov – who openly call for violence – are hostile not just to “pro-Western democrats,” but to the current regime as a whole, especially now that former President Vladimir Putin has symbolically handed the reins of power over to the liberal Medvedev. Kvachkov’s Web site even details a legal suit against Putin on charges of national treason.

Furthermore, the ongoing root-and-branch army reform has mobilized opposition among veterans’ organizations and the nationalists, especially after a public verbal clash in October between civilian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, the mastermind behind the reform, and a decorated colonel of an airborne regiment, over perceived irregularities. The resulting furor resulted in petitions and a 1,000-strong demonstration on November 7 of paratrooper veterans calling for the minister’s dismissal. In a disturbing twist, the head of the elite airborne troops division, General Vladimir Shamanov, who publicly sided with Serdyukov and supported the reforms, was hospitalized on October 30 after a lorry mysteriously swerved directly into his car. Investigators say it was an accident.

Apart from Serdyukov and Chubais, and potentially Medvedev, another nationalist hate figure among government officials is the long-serving deputy head of the presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov. Veterans accuse him of organizing what they regard as “show trials” of a handful of Russian servicemen for crimes committed against Chechen civilians, designed, they believe, to strengthen Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

So in conjunction with these developments, if the Kremlin were to move decisively on Khimki and Moscow Region it could spark a backlash from the far right – even to the point of the Kremlin becoming the target of nationalist hate as it was in the 1990s, when nationalists lambasted Boris Yeltsin’s administration as “anti-Russian.”

Luckily, nationalists, especially those from the officer corps, lack popular credibility, not least due to their well-known extensive involvement in corruption. Journalist Mikhail Beketov himself provided a vivid illustration of their double standards in April of 2007: while Russia – and Boevoe Bratstvo – were up in arms against a decision by the Estonian government to demolish the “Bronze Soldier” war memorial to the Soviet World War II victims in Tallinn, Beketov wrote about Strelchenko’s people in Khimki simultaneously digging up a World War II memorial containing the remains of Soviet pilots, which had the bad luck of being located on a piece of prime real estate.

His article was seized on by international media and badly discredited Russia’s position in the dispute with Estonia. “Patriot” Strelchenko was exposed as a disturber of war graves and a vandal of memorials for commercial motives. In November of 2008 Beketov was beaten to a pulp, and is to this day unable to communicate. 

Western views of Russia take a turn to reality

 

The hypothesis of this essay is that the conventional Western view of post-Communist Russia has passed through two cycles and is entering a third. While the first two were grounded mostly on what observers wished to see, the third is shaping up to be based more on reality.

 

Little Brother

As Tom Graham wisely observed some years ago: while no one will take seriously a country with a declining GDP, no one can ignore one whose GDP is rising. When the USSR fell apart in 1991, its extraordinarily centralised economy, whose links were now were blocked by new national borders, choked and died. Living standards sank, inflation exploded, the tax base collapsed, state employees went months without pay, factory employees were paid in kind, the social support system failed and the demographic decline that had begun in the Khrushchev period accelerated. All indicators worsened at once. This was the time when “free fall” was a favourite descriptor. A reminder of this period was a piece that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 2001, starkly entitled: “Russia is Finished.” Still available on the Net, it makes curious reading today.

The apparently unstoppable collapse of Russia led to two prevailing views in the West. The first was that Russia was a kind of “little brother” which Western expertise could educate or lead into a future in which the world had reached “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government”. In furtherance of this teaching mission, Russia filled with Western NGOs coming to transform its institutions. The second, and related view, was that Russia was no longer a threat but had become a danger. This was the period of “red mercury”, missing “suitcase nukes” and other nuclear weapons, crazy Russian generals in the provinces – in short, Russia’s collapse was a danger to the rest of us. This first phase might be summed up by the expression that we must help little brother lest he blow up and spatter all over us.

 

But Russians have a different view of the 1990s. I can think of no better illustration than a woman I know in Moscow. At the beginning of the period, she had saved up enough money – about 5000 Rubles – to buy a car. A year later that sum of money would have bought a monthly Moscow transit pass and a year later two loaves of bread. But at least she had a job. While hundreds of thousands saw their standard of living disappear, some individuals, feasting on the decaying carcass, became fabulously wealthy; the apogee of this period was Berezovskiy’s boast in 1996 that he, and five others, owned Russia. And perhaps they did: through fixed auctions and financial prestidigitation, they certainly controlled a good deal of it. Much of the so-called free press of the time was devoted to their wars as they calumniated each other in order to steal more.

Many Russians acquired bad associations with the word “democracy”. The democracy the West advocated was experienced by them as theft, corruption, poverty, crime and personal suffering. I recommend two books to readers for this first period: Janine Wedel’s Collision and Collusion and Chrystia Freeland’s Sale of the Century. Also, I recommend a consideration of the HIID scandal. In my more cynical periods, I think that the lasting effect of all the Western aid/assistance was to teach the Russians how to steal big time. Suspicious Russians, sticking to the zero-sum game, were strengthened in their suspicion that the West really wanted a weak and divided Russia.

The Assertive Enemy

But in 2000 the decline began to slow. The 1990s had been cursed, from Moscow’s perspective, by declining energy prices. Given that the overwhelming proportion of Russia’s money-earning exports came from sales of oil and gas, declining prices were a heavy blow. But they began to increase in the late 1990s giving the state budget some openings.

Enter Putin. For reasons not entirely clear even now, Yeltsin picked Putin to be his successor. He brought him from St Petersburg where he had been Mayor Anatoliy Sobchak’s deputy, to head Russia’s internal security force in 1998. He appointed him Prime Minister next year, resigned in his favour and Putin was duly elected President in 2000. Western reporters, mostly based in Moscow and having little knowledge other than in the Rolodexes inherited from their predecessors, fixated on the fact that he had begun his career in the 1st Chief Directorate of the KGB and stuck with that as their descriptor. Had they bothered to go to St Petersburg, they would have learned that he was very well known there because one of his jobs had been the City’s contact with Western businesses. But the mould was cast and Putin was forever a Chekist; his speeches and writings – especially his Russia at the turn of the new millennium – were combed for KGB-sounding entries. When he said “Russia was and will remain a great power”, it was interpreted to mean he wanted to invade Poland.

No one noticed that he also said in the document “The current dramatic economic and social situation in the country is the price which we have to pay for the economy we inherited from the Soviet Union”; that he spoke of “the outrageous price our country and its people had to pay for that Bolshevist experiment”; that he said that it would be “a mistake not to understand its historic futility, It was a road to a blind alley, which is far away from the mainstream of civilisation”. A few did observe his blunt assessment that “It will take us approximately fifteen years and an annual growth of our Gross Domestic Product by 8 percent a year to reach the per capita GDP level of present-day Portugal or Spain, which are not among the world’s industrialised leaders.” Commentators especially missed this encomium to democracy: “History proves all dictatorships, all authoritarian forms of government, are transient. Only democratic systems are intransient”. The whole “Putin program”, which continues today, is laid out;read it for yourself.

Selective quotations set the style for most commentary for the next decade or so. Returning to Graham’s observation, as GDP began to grow under the “steely-eyed former K-G-B spy”, Russia gradually morphed from a danger into a threat. It became “resurgent” and “assertive”; that is to say it stopped declining. “Putin Wants a New Russian Empire” we were told.

As an illustrative example of this one-eyed coverage, “the steely-eyed former intelligence officer” told us in advance that Russia would no longer sell its precious gas to its immediate neighbours for a third or a quarter of what it could get on the world market. For fifteen years Russia subsidised all its neighbours for billions and billions. Putin warned us – but not loudly enough – that this would no longer go on. But, when Russia started re-negotiating contracts to move the price up, its neighbours cried wolf. Russia was not trying to sell one of its most important assets for as much as it could get, it was threatening Europe and its neighbours with its gas weapon.

We were now regularly warned about Putin’s new Russian empire: “only one agenda on Mr Putin’s mind: to increase his iron grip on his country and rebuild the once-mighty Russian empire”. The foundation stone in the edifice of this notion was the endlessly repeated assertionthat in a 2005 speech Putin had given the game away by saying that the breakup of the USSR had been “the greatest” geopolitical catastrophe of the Twentieth Century. (In that same speech he said: “I consider the development of Russia as a free and democratic state to be our main political and ideological goal”; but, even if reporters bothered to read that, they presumably decided that it was just for show). But he did not say it was “the greatest”: the Russian is very clear. What he said was this: “Прежде всего следует признать, что крушение Советского Союза было крупнейшей геополитической катастрофой века.” (“Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century.”) And he went on to say that it had been so because “Tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.” One can argue with his opinion about how “big” this “disaster” was, but his speech was not a call for empire. Western commentators continued their practice, established when the Moscow-bound Western press had not bothered to find out what people in St Petersburg thought of their Deputy Mayor, of fitting whatever Putin said into the once-and-future-KGB mould. This misquotation, and the theoretical edifice erected upon it may be found hereherehere,herehere; the reader is invited to search for more. But it’s not what he said.

In each of these two examples – which were much made of at the time – we see the continuation of the initial prejudging: Putin had started out in the KGB, “once a Chekist always a Chekist”, therefore everything he does is a threat to his neighbours. Everything he says that can be twisted into a threat is true, everything else is false. The propensity to believe that Putin means some of the things he says but not others is the apodictic indicator of partisanship.

In the 1990s the word “democracy” had acquired distasteful attributes for Russians and it acquired another in the second period. This was the period of “coloured revolutions” in which victors immediately began to talk about NATO’s interests as if they were identical with theirs. Ukrainian President Yushchenko seemed to have little else in his program and, just before he went down to defeat this year, made it clear: “if we don’t give [a positive] answer [to the question of NATO membership] as a nation, then we will not have independence. We will lose our democracy.” NATO membership had now become the new meaning of “democracy”. For many Russians in the 1990s “democracy” had meant corruption and poverty and now geopolitics was added to its meaning: a geopolitics directed against them.

And now we come to Russia’s so-called invasion of Georgia. The desire of Ossetians and Abkhazians not to be ruled from Tbilisi was clear to those who knew the background: they fought Tbilisi when the Russian Empire collapsed; when the USSR collapsed they defeated Georgian attacks and won de facto independence. On 8 August 2008, just a few hours after President Saakashvili had said “Georgia is undertaking an immediate, unilateral cease fire”, his army invaded. The Ossetians stopped them and, when Russian troops arrived, the Georgians broke and ran, abandoning their cities and their weapons. In the end, South Ossetia and Abkhazia welcomed their Russian liberators, as they call them, and declared their independence.

The Third Turn

I believe this war marked the beginnings of a reassessment of Western views of Russia. Paris took a lead in trying to settle the war. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner arrived in Tbilisi on 10 August and from thence went on to Moscow. But in transit he did something quite remarkable – he visited the Ossetian refugees in Russia and spoke to them. This was remarkable because Western coverage had never considered the Ossetians: the whole story was cast in terms of Russia, Georgia, NATO and other large issues. Kouchner learned that, for the Ossetians, Russia was the saviour and Georgia the oppressor. I believe that this experience inoculated Paris against swallowing Tbilisi’s story whole.

A ceasefire was negotiated, the Russian forces pulled back to South Ossetia and Abkhazia and those two declared their independence. But there were lessons learned. The obvious one was that Moscow was no longer the weak and spiritless place it had been a decade ago. But also learned was that Saakashvili was simply not reliable: you could not believe anything he said. Even the long-delayed and feeble EU reporton the war did not accept his post-bellum assertion that the Russians had moved first (his story changed several times). Once one began to think along those lines one was forced to question the whole narrative that Tbilisi had given out. It was like pulling on a thread in a poorly knitted sweater: the whole narrative of Moscow wanting to conquer Georgia and telling lies about it began to unravel.

With the end of the “Orange Revolution” another yarn unravelled: Ukrainians did not want to be pawns in some grand geopolitical game and Viktor Yanukovych was not a Russian stooge who could only win elections by cheating. In the latest gas crisis with Ukraine Moscow was smarter and more transparent: it became evident that the blockage of Russian gas going west was not in Moscow but in Kiev. This was another thread in the sweater; the narrative about the “gas weapon” had studiously avoided noticing that Moscow was putting up the price for everyone, friends and enemies alike: Armenia and Belarus also had to pay more. The sweater unravelled some more.

The “coloured revolutions” ended unhappily. President Yushchenko of Ukraine was defeated: never more than a quarter of Ukrainians had expressed support for his NATO aims and only a twentieth wanted him back. The revolt and change of government in the Kyrgyz Republic finished off the “Tulip Revolution”. The declining group of defenders of the “Rose Revolution” now have to overlook Saakashvili’s machinations to remain in power and his apparent courtship of Iran.

Another important development since 2008 is that the Putin program has proved to have legs: despiteapocalyptic predictions, Russia got through the financial crisis reasonably well. Here are two small indicators: Russia’s unemployment rate is actually less than the USA’s and the IMF predicts bettergrowth for Russia over the next five years than for any other G8 country. Russia is not about to collapse into insignificance. And, internally, Russia’s leaders enjoy overwhelming majority support.

I suggest that the West is entering a new cycle in how it perceives Russia. Gone is the patronising little brother phase and going is the Russia is the eternal enemy phase. What we are entering, I believe, is a period – perhaps the first ever – in which Russia is seen as a country much like others. A country with which its neighbours must deal but deal with in a normal fashion: neither as an idiot failure nor as an implacable enemy. An important partner in security, not the cause of insecurity.

The West has not had a very good record of seeing Russia as it is; more often it has been a palimpsest on which the visitor has written his notions. I recommend Martin Malia’s Russia Under Western Eyeswhich starts with Voltaire’s imaginary ideally-governed Russia or David Foglesong’s The American Mission and the ‘Evil Empire’ which details a century of American obsessions about a Russia seen as a disappointingly stubborn and backwards twin brother.

But it is certain that change there has been since August 2008. Here are some indicators.

  • The famous “reset” of the Obama Administration. Some of the fruits, apart from a new nuclear weapons treaty have been:
    • The US State Department finally put the leader, but not the organisation itself, of the Caucasus Emirate on its terrorist list (the jihadist foundations of the second war in Chechnya has been one of the West’s persistent misunderstandings).
    • The abandonment of strategic missile defence in Poland and the Czech Republic. Although the deployment had little support in either Poland or the Czech Republic, it was strongly supported by the political classes in each country. Another example, it seems, of democracy becoming geopolitics.
  • The air crash that killed Polish President Kaczynski and the open and sympathetic reaction of Russians has opened possibilities with Poland, previously one of Russia’s most implacable opponents inside NATO.
  • The financial crisis has hit many of the former post-USSR success stories quite hard and made them re-think relations with Russia. Latvia is a pertinent example.
  • Relations with NATO are changing rapidly. NATO expansion has been dealt a blow: it’s clear that Ukraine will not join and no one wants to share a table with Saakashvili. But more to the point, NATO has, after a dozen years of treating Russia with contemptuous indifference, realised that it needs Russia in Afghanistan. While the General Secretary of NATO says different things to different audiences (for example in Tbilisi saying that Georgia will be a member of NATO one day), he has also been making overtures to Moscow, calling a few weeks ago for a “true strategic partnership.” I suspect that Paris and Berlin (and perhaps now Warsaw too) are pushing him.
  • For several years, President Medvedev has been calling for a re-think of the European security system. At first dismissed as “an attempt to split Europe” his idea is receiving better reception.
  • Crying wolf – what more ridiculous example can there be than this hyperventilation: “Putin’s shadow Falls over Finland” – is losing its effect. Russia’s neighbours have not been bludgeoned into slavery by the “gas weapon”, Russian troops did not “conquer Georgia” and annex the pipelines. After these and (many) other predictive failures, new doom-filled warnings are that much less believable.

The metaphorical sweater is unravelling rapidly. If Ossetians and Abkhazians regard Russians as their protectors, one cannot believe the story Tbilisi has been telling us for years. If Yanukovych won a fair election, perhaps it was the “Orange Revolution” that was the fraud. If Armenia has had its gas prices go up as much as Ukraine, then it can’t be a “gas weapon” to reward friends and punish enemies. What was stopping Russian troops from seizing large parts of Georgia proper? perhaps Putin neither wants the empire back nor to control the pipelines. If Russia’s principal enemy in the North Caucasus is a “terrorist”, then what’s really going on there? If China and Zimbabwe are members of the WTO, why isn’t Russia?

Paris and Berlin continue to lead: at the three-way summit in Deauville, overtures were made as was clear from the press conference. President Sarkozy said “We are certain that Russia, Germany and France share common positions in many respects” and that “we live in a new world, a world of friendship between Russia and Europe.” Chancellor Merkel said “we need to put relations between Russia and NATO on a rational track. After all, we face some of the same threats in the world today.” Medvedev, for once not the suppliant, was less forthcoming but made it clear he was listening.

These are, to be sure, straws in the wind but there are now quite a few of them and more come every day. Barring some unexpected catastrophe, I expect this development to continue. Paris and Berlin (and perhaps Warsaw) are leading developments but others will join in. The coming NATO summit will move the process a step further.

The end result, for perhaps the first time in history, will be a Western view of Russia more nearly as it actually is; no longer an imagined reflection. As an important player with its own interests Russia will have to be accommodated. Not an enemy, not an opponent, not necessarily an ally, but an important player that, in fact, marches in the same direction most of the time. And when it doesn’t, disagreements can be discussed and reasonable compromises made. In short, a Russia that is seen to be “in the box”.

This comment originally appeared on Russia Other Points of View blog site. http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/

Patrick Armstrong received a PhD from Kings College, University of London, England in 1976 and retired in 2008 after 30 years as an analyst for the Canadian government, specializing in first the USSR and then Russia. He was a Political Counselor in the Canadian Embassy in Moscow from 1993 to 1996. He has been a frequent speaker at the Wilton Park conferences in the UK.

President Medvedev and Prime Minuster Putin: consistently misinterpreted by the westPresident Medvedev and Prime Minuster Putin: consistently misinterpreted by the west

The End of History? Has Neo-Liberalism Really Triumphed?

The End of History?*


 

Francis Fukuyama**

 

IN WATCHING the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history. The past year has seen a flood of articles commemorating the end of the Cold War, and the fact that “peace” seems to be breaking out in many regions of the world. Most of these analyses lack any larger conceptual framework for distinguishing between what is essential and what is contingent or accidental in world history, and are predictably superficial. If Mr. Gorbachev were ousted from the Kremlin or a new Ayatollah proclaimed the millennium from a desolate Middle Eastern capital, these same commentators would scramble to announce the rebirth of a new era of conflict.

And yet, all of these people sense dimly that there is some larger process at work, a process that gives coherence and order to the daily headlines. The twentieth century saw the developed world descend into a paroxysm of ideological violence, as liberalism contended first with the remnants of absolutism, then bolshevism and fascism, and finally an updated Marxism that threatened to lead to the ultimate apocalypse of nuclear war. But the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: not to an “end of ideology” or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted, but to an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism.

The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism. In the past decade, there have been unmistakable changes in the intellectual climate of the world’s two largest communist countries, and the beginnings of significant reform movements in both. But this phenomenon extends beyond high politics and it can be seen also in the ineluctable spread of consumerist Western culture in such diverse contexts as the peasants’ markets and color television sets now omnipresent throughout China, the cooperative restaurants and clothing stores opened in the past year in Moscow, the Beethoven piped into Japanese department stores, and the rock music enjoyed alike in Prague, Rangoon, and Tehran.

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government. This is not to say that there will no longer be events to fill the pages of Foreign Affair’s yearly summaries of international relations, for the victory of liberalism has occurred primarily in the realm of ideas or consciousness and is as yet incomplete in. the real or material world. But there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run. To understand how this is so, we must first consider some theoretical issues concerning the nature of historical change.

I

THE NOTION of the end of history is not an original one. Its best known propagator was Karl Marx, who believed that the direction of historical development was a purposeful one determined by the interplay of material forces, and would come to an end only with the achievement of a communist utopia that would finally resolve all prior contradictions. But the concept of history as a dialectical process with a beginning, a middle, and an end was borrowed by Marx from his great German predecessor, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

For better or worse, much of Hegel’s historicism has become part of our contemporary intellectual baggage. The notion that mankind has progressed through a series of primitive stages of consciousness on his path to the present, and that these stages corresponded to concrete forms of social organization, such as tribal, slave-owning, theocratic, and finally democratic-egalitarian societies, has become inseparable from the modern understanding of man. Hegel was the first philosopher to speak the language of modern social science, insofar as man for him was the product of his concrete historical and social environment and not, as earlier natural right theorists would have it, a collection of more or less fixed “natural” attributes. The mastery and transformation of man’s natural environment through the application of science and technology was originally not a Marxist concept, but a Hegelian one. Unlike later historicists whose historical relativism degenerated into relativism tout court, however, Hegel believed that history culminated in an absolute moment – a moment in which a final, rational form of society and state became victorious.

It is Hegel’s misfortune to be known now primarily as Marx’s precursor; and it is our misfortune that few of us are familiar with Hegel’s work from direct study, but only as it has been filtered through the distorting lens of Marxism. In France, however, there has been an effort to save Hegel from his Marxist interpreters and to resurrect him as the philosopher who most correctly speaks to our time. Among those modern French interpreters of Hegel, the greatest was certainly Alexandre Koj�ve, a brilliant Russian �migr� who taught a highly influential series of seminars in Paris in the 1930s at the Ecole Practique des Hautes Etudes.[1] While largely unknown in the United States, Koj�ve had a major impact on the intellectual life of the continent. Among his students ranged such future luminaries as Jean-Paul Sartre on the Left and Raymond Aron on the Right; postwar existentialism borrowed many of its basic categories from Hegel via Koj�ve.

Koj�ve sought to resurrect the Hegel of the Phenomenology of Mind, the Hegel who proclaimed history to be at an end in 1806. For as early as this Hegel saw in Napoleon’s defeat of the Prussian monarchy at the Battle of Jena the victory of the ideals of the French Revolution, and the imminent universalization of the state incorporating the principles of liberty and equality. Koj�ve, far from rejecting Hegel in light of the turbulent events of the next century and a half, insisted that the latter had been essentially correct.[2] The Battle of Jena marked the end of history because it was at that point that the vanguard of humanity (a term quite familiar to Marxists) actualized the principles of the French Revolution. While there was considerable work to be done after 1806 – abolishing slavery and the slave trade, extending the franchise to workers, women, blacks, and other racial minorities, etc. – the basic principles of the liberal democratic state could not be improved upon. The two world wars in this century and their attendant revolutions and upheavals simply had the effect of extending those principles spatially, such that the various provinces of human civilization were brought up to the level of its most advanced outposts, and of forcing those societies in Europe and North America at the vanguard of civilization to implement their liberalism more fully.

The state that emerges at the end of history is liberal insofar as it recognizes and protects through a system of law man’s universal right to freedom, and democratic insofar as it exists only with the consent of the governed. For Koj�ve, this so-called “universal homogenous state” found real-life embodiment in the countries of postwar Western Europe – precisely those flabby, prosperous, self-satisfied, inward-looking, weak-willed states whose grandest project was nothing more heroic than the creation of the Common Market.[3] But this was only to be expected. For human history and the conflict that characterized it was based on the existence of “contradictions”: primitive man’s quest for mutual recognition, the dialectic of the master and slave, the transformation and mastery of nature, the struggle for the universal recognition of rights, and the dichotomy between proletarian and capitalist. But in the universal homogenous state, all prior contradictions are resolved and all human needs are satisfied. There is no struggle or conflict over “large” issues, and consequently no need for generals or statesmen; what remains is primarily economic activity. And indeed, Koj�ve’s life was consistent with his teaching. Believing that there was no more work for philosophers as well, since Hegel (correctly understood) had already achieved absolute knowledge, Koj�ve left teaching after the war and spent the remainder of his life working as a bureaucrat in the European Economic Community, until his death in 1968.

To his contemporaries at mid-century, Koj�ve’s proclamation of the end of history must have seemed like the typical eccentric solipsism of a French intellectual, coming as it did on the heels of World War II and at the very height of the Cold War. To comprehend how Koj�ve could have been so audacious as to assert that history has ended, we must first of all understand the meaning of Hegelian idealism.

II

FOR HEGEL, the contradictions that drive history exist first of all in the realm of human consciousness, i.e. on the level of ideas[4] – not the trivial election year proposals of American politicians, but ideas in the sense of large unifying world views that might best be understood under the rubric of ideology. Ideology in this sense is not restricted to the secular and explicit political doctrines we usually associate with the term, but can include religion, culture, and the complex of moral values underlying any society as well.

Hegel’s view of the relationship between the ideal and the real or material worlds was an extremely complicated one, beginning with the fact that for him the distinction between the two was only apparent.[5] He did not believe that the real world conformed or could be made to conform to ideological preconceptions of philosophy professors in any simpleminded way, or that the “material” world could not impinge on the ideal. Indeed, Hegel the professor was temporarily thrown out of work as a result of a very material event, the Battle of Jena. But while Hegel’s writing and thinking could be stopped by a bullet from the material world, the hand on the trigger of the gun was motivated in turn by the ideas of liberty and equality that had driven the French Revolution.

For Hegel, all human behavior in the material world, and hence all human history, is rooted in a prior state of consciousness – an idea similar to the one expressed by John Maynard Keynes when he said that the views of men of affairs were usually derived from defunct economists and academic scribblers of earlier generations. This consciousness may not be explicit and self-aware, as are modern political doctrines, but may rather take the form of religion or simple cultural or moral habits. And yet this realm of consciousness in the long run necessarily becomes manifest in the material world, indeed creates the material world in its own image. Consciousness is cause and not effect, and can develop autonomously from the material world; hence the real subtext underlying the apparent jumble of current events is the history of ideology.

Hegel’s idealism has fared poorly at the hands of later thinkers. Marx reversed the priority of the real and the ideal completely, relegating the entire realm of consciousness – religion, art, culture, philosophy itself – to a “superstructure” that was determined entirely by the prevailing material mode of production. Yet another unfortunate legacy of Marxism is our tendency to retreat into materialist or utilitarian explanations of political or historical phenomena, and our disinclination to believe in the autonomous power of ideas. A recent example of this is Paul Kennedy’s hugely successful The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, which ascribes the decline of great powers to simple economic overextension. Obviously, this is true on some level: an empire whose economy is barely above the level of subsistence cannot bankrupt its treasury indefinitely. But whether a highly productive modern industrial society chooses to spend 3 or 7 percent of its GNP on defense rather than consumption is entirely a matter of that society’s political priorities, which are in turn determined in the realm of consciousness.

The materialist bias of modern thought is characteristic not only of people on the Left who may be sympathetic to Marxism, but of many passionate anti-Marxists as well. Indeed, there is on the Right what one might label the Wall Street Journal school of deterministic materialism that discounts the importance of ideology and culture and sees man as essentially a rational, profit-maximizing individual. It is precisely this kind of individual and his pursuit of material incentives that is posited as the basis for economic life as such in economic textbooks.[6] One small example will illustrate the problematic character of such materialist views.

Max Weber begins his famous book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, by noting the different economic performance of Protestant and Catholic communities throughout Europe and America, summed up in the proverb that Protestants eat well while Catholics sleep well. Weber notes that according to any economic theory that posited man as a rational profit-maximizer, raising the piece-work rate should increase labor productivity. But in fact, in many traditional peasant communities, raising the piece-work rate actually had the opposite effect of lowering labor productivity: at the higher rate, a peasant accustomed to earning two and one-half marks per day found he could earn the same amount by working less, and did so because he valued leisure more than income. The choices of leisure over income, or of the militaristic life of the Spartan hoplite over the wealth of the Athenian trader, or even the ascetic life of the early capitalist entrepreneur over that of a traditional leisured aristocrat, cannot possibly be explained by the impersonal working of material forces, but come preeminently out of the sphere of consciousness – what we have labeled here broadly as ideology. And indeed, a central theme of Weber’s work was to prove that contrary to Marx, the material mode of production, far from being the “base,” was itself a “superstructure” with roots in religion and culture, and that to understand the emergence of modern capitalism and the profit motive one had to study their antecedents in the realm of the spirit.

As we look around the contemporary world, the poverty of materialist theories of economic development is all too apparent. The Wall Street Journal school of deterministic materialism habitually points to the stunning economic success of Asia in the past few decades as evidence of the viability of free market economics, with the implication that all societies would see similar development were they simply to allow their populations to pursue their material self-interest freely. Surely free markets and stable political systems are a necessary precondition to capitalist economic growth. But just as surely the cultural heritage of those Far Eastern societies, the ethic of work and saving and family, a religious heritage that does not, like Islam, place restrictions on certain forms of economic behavior, and other deeply ingrained moral qualities, are equally important in explaining their economic performance.[7] And yet the intellectual weight of materialism is such that not a single respectable contemporary theory of economic development addresses consciousness and culture seriously as the matrix within which economic behavior is formed.

FAILURE to understand that the roots of economic behavior lie in the realm of consciousness and culture leads to the common mistake of attributing material causes to phenomena that are essentially ideal in nature. For example, it is commonplace in the West to interpret the reform movements first in China and most recently in the Soviet Union as the victory of the material over the ideal – that is, a recognition that ideological incentives could not replace material ones in stimulating a highly productive modern economy, and that if one wanted to prosper one had to appeal to baser forms of self-interest. But the deep defects of socialist economies were evident thirty or forty years ago to anyone who chose to look. Why was it that these countries moved away from central planning only in the 1980s’ The answer must be found in the consciousness of the elites and leaders ruling them, who decided to opt for the “Protestant” life of wealth and risk over the “Catholic” path of poverty and security.[8] That change was in no way made inevitable by the material conditions in which either country found itself on the eve of the reform, but instead came about as the result of the victory of one idea over another.[9]

For Koj�ve, as for all good Hegelians, understanding the underlying processes of history requires understanding developments in the realm of consciousness or ideas, since consciousness will ultimately remake the material world in its own image. To say that history ended in 1806 meant that mankind’s ideological evolution ended in the ideals of the French or American Revolutions: while particular regimes in the real world might not implement these ideals fully, their theoretical truth is absolute and could not be improved upon. Hence it did not matter to Koj�ve that the consciousness of the postwar generation of Europeans had not been universalized throughout the world; if ideological development had in fact ended, the homogenous state would eventually become victorious throughout the material world.

I have neither the space nor, frankly, the ability to defend in depth Hegel’s radical idealist perspective. The issue is not whether Hegel’s system was right, but whether his perspective might uncover the problematic nature of many materialist explanations we often take for granted. This is not to deny the role of material factors as such. To a literal-minded idealist, human society can be built around any arbitrary set of principles regardless of their relationship to the material world. And in fact men have proven themselves able to endure the most extreme material hardships in the name of ideas that exist in the realm of the spirit alone, be it the divinity of cows or the nature of the Holy Trinity.[10]

But while man’s very perception of the material world is shaped by his historical consciousness of it, the material world can clearly affect in return the viability of a particular state of consciousness. In particular, the spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere. I want to avoid the materialist determinism that says that liberal economics inevitably produces liberal politics, because I believe that both economics and politics presuppose an autonomous prior state of consciousness that makes them possible. But that state of consciousness that permits the growth of liberalism seems to stabilize in the way one would expect at the end of history if it is underwritten by the abundance of a modern free market economy. We might summarize the content of the universal homogenous state as liberal democracy in the political sphere combined with easy access to VCRs and stereos in the economic.

III

HAVE WE in fact reached the end of history? Are there, in other words, any fundamental “contradictions” in human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure? If we accept the idealist premises laid out above, we must seek an answer to this question in the realm of ideology and consciousness. Our task is not to answer exhaustively the challenges to liberalism promoted by every crackpot messiah around the world, but only those that are embodied in important social or political forces and movements, and which are therefore part of world history. For our purposes, it matters very little what strange thoughts occur to people in Albania or Burkina Faso, for we are interested in what one could in some sense call the common ideological heritage of mankind.

In the past century, there have been two major challenges to liberalism, those of fascism and of communism. The former[11] saw the political weakness, materialism, anomie, and lack of community of the West as fundamental contradictions in liberal societies that could only be resolved by a strong state that forged a new “people” on the basis of national exclusiveness. Fascism was destroyed as a living ideology by World War II. This was a defeat, of course, on a very material level, but it amounted to a defeat of the idea as well. What destroyed fascism as an idea was not universal moral revulsion against it, since plenty of people were willing to endorse the idea as long as it seemed the wave of the future, but its lack of success. After the war, it seemed to most people that German fascism as well as its other European and Asian variants were bound to self-destruct. There was no material reason why new fascist movements could not have sprung up again after the war in other locales, but for the fact that expansionist ultranationalism, with its promise of unending conflict leading to disastrous military defeat, had completely lost its appeal. The ruins of the Reich chancellery as well as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed this ideology on the level of consciousness as well as materially, and all of the pro-fascist movements spawned by the German and Japanese examples like the Peronist movement in Argentina or Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army withered after the war.

The ideological challenge mounted by the other great alternative to liberalism, communism, was far more serious. Marx, speaking Hegel’s language, asserted that liberal society contained a fundamental contradiction that could not be resolved within its context, that between capital and labor, and this contradiction has constituted the chief accusation against liberalism ever since. But surely, the class issue has actually been successfully resolved in the West. As Koj�ve (among others) noted, the egalitarianism of modern America represents the essential achievement of the classless society envisioned by Marx. This is not to say that there are not rich people and poor people in the United States, or that the gap between them has not grown in recent years. But the root causes of economic inequality do not have to do with the underlying legal and social structure of our society, which remains fundamentally egalitarian and moderately redistributionist, so much as with the cultural and social characteristics of the groups that make it up, which are in turn the historical legacy of premodern conditions. Thus black poverty in the United States is not the inherent product of liberalism, but is rather the “legacy of slavery and racism” which persisted long after the formal abolition of slavery.

As a result of the receding of the class issue, the appeal of communism in the developed Western world, it is safe to say, is lower today than any time since the end of the First World War. This can he measured in any number of ways: in the declining membership and electoral pull of the major European communist parties, and their overtly revisionist programs; in the corresponding electoral success of conservative parties from Britain and Germany to the United States and Japan, which are unabashedly pro-market and anti-statist; and in an intellectual climate whose most “advanced” members no longer believe that bourgeois society is something that ultimately needs to be overcome. This is not to say that the opinions of progressive intellectuals in Western countries are not deeply pathological in any number of ways. But those who believe that the future must inevitably be socialist tend to be very old, or very marginal to the real political discourse of their societies.

0NE MAY argue that the socialist alternative was never terribly plausible for the North Atlantic world, and was sustained for the last several decades primarily by its success outside of this region. But it is precisely in the non-European world that one is most struck by the occurrence of major ideological transformations. Surely the most remarkable changes have occurred in Asia. Due to the strength and adaptability of the indigenous cultures there, Asia became a battleground for a variety of imported Western ideologies early in this century. Liberalism in Asia was a very weak reed in the period after World War I; it is easy today to forget how gloomy Asia’s political future looked as recently as ten or fifteen years ago. It is easy to forget as well how momentous the outcome of Asian ideological struggles seemed for world political development as a whole.

The first Asian alternative to liberalism to be decisively defeated was the fascist one represented by Imperial Japan. Japanese fascism (like its German version) was defeated by the force of American arms in the Pacific war, and liberal democracy was imposed on Japan by a victorious United States. Western capitalism and political liberalism when transplanted to Japan were adapted and transformed by the Japanese in such a way as to be scarcely recognizable.[12] Many Americans are now aware that Japanese industrial organization is very different from that prevailing in the United States or Europe, and it is questionable what relationship the factional maneuvering that takes place with the governing Liberal Democratic Party bears to democracy. Nonetheless, the very fact that the essential elements of economic and political liberalism have been so successfully grafted onto uniquely Japanese traditions and institutions guarantees their survival in the long run. More important is the contribution that Japan has made in turn to world history by following in the footsteps of the United States to create a truly universal consumer culture that has become both a symbol and an underpinning of the universal homogenous state. V.S. Naipaul traveling in Khomeini’s Iran shortly after the revolution noted the omnipresent signs advertising the products of Sony, Hitachi, and JVC, whose appeal remained virtually irresistible and gave the lie to the regime’s pretensions of restoring a state based on the rule of the Shariah. Desire for access to the consumer culture, created in large measure by Japan, has played a crucial role in fostering the spread of economic liberalism throughout Asia, and hence in promoting political liberalism as well.

The economic success of the other newly industrializing countries (NICs) in Asia following on the example of Japan is by now a familiar story. What is important from a Hegelian standpoint is that political liberalism has been following economic liberalism, more slowly than many had hoped but with seeming inevitability. Here again we see the victory of the idea of the universal homogenous state. South Korea had developed into a modern, urbanized society with an increasingly large and well-educated middle class that could not possibly be isolated from the larger democratic trends around them. Under these circumstances it seemed intolerable to a large part of this population that it should be ruled by an anachronistic military regime while Japan, only a decade or so ahead in economic terms, had parliamentary institutions for over forty years. Even the former socialist regime in Burma, which for so many decades existed in dismal isolation from the larger trends dominating Asia, was buffeted in the past year by pressures to liberalize both its economy and political system. It is said that unhappiness with strongman Ne Win began when a senior Burmese officer went to Singapore for medical treatment and broke down crying when he saw how far socialist Burma had been left behind by its ASEAN neighbors.

BUT THE power of the liberal idea would seem much less impressive if it had not infected the largest and oldest culture in Asia, China. The simple existence of communist China created an alternative pole of ideological attraction, and as such constituted a threat to liberalism. But the past fifteen years have seen an almost total discrediting of Marxism-Leninism as an economic system. Beginning with the famous third plenum of the Tenth Central Committee in 1978, the Chinese Communist party set about decollectivizing agriculture for the 800 million Chinese who still lived in the countryside. The role of the state in agriculture was reduced to that of a tax collector, while production of consumer goods was sharply increased in order to give peasants a taste of the universal homogenous state and thereby an incentive to work. The reform doubled Chinese grain output in only five years, and in the process created for Deng Xiaoping a solid political base from which he was able to extend the reform to other parts of the economy. Economic Statistics do not begin to describe the dynamism, initiative, and openness evident in China since the reform began.

China could not now be described in any way as a liberal democracy. At present, no more than 20 percent of its economy has been marketized, and most importantly it continues to be ruled by a self-appointed Communist party which has given no hint of wanting to devolve power. Deng has made none of Gorbachev’s promises regarding democratization of the political system and there is no Chinese equivalent of ghost. The Chinese leadership has in fact been much more circumspect in criticizing Mao and Maoism than Gorbachev with respect to Brezhnev and Stalin, and the regime continues to pay lip service to Marxism-Leninism as its ideological underpinning. But anyone familiar with the outlook and behavior of the new technocratic elite now governing China knows that Marxism and ideological principle have become virtually irrelevant as guides to policy, and that bourgeois consumerism has a real meaning in that country for the first time since the revolution. The various slowdowns in the pace of reform, the campaigns against “spiritual pollution” and crackdowns on political dissent are more properly seen as tactical adjustments made in the process of managing what is an extraordinarily difficult political transition. By ducking the question of political reform while putting the economy on a new footing, Deng has managed to avoid the breakdown of authority that has accompanied Gorbachev’s perestroika. Yet the pull of the liberal idea continues to be very strong as economic power devolves and the economy becomes more open to the outside world. There are currently over 20,000 Chinese students studying in the U.S. and other Western countries, almost all of them the children of the Chinese elite. It is hard to believe that when they return home to run the country they will be content for China to be the only country in Asia unaffected by the larger democratizing trend. The student demonstrations in Beijing that broke out first in December 1986 and recurred recently on the occasion of Hu Yao-bang’s death were only the beginning of what will inevitably be mounting pressure for change in the political system as well.

What is important about China from the standpoint of world history is not the present state of the reform or even its future prospects. The central issue is the fact that the People’s Republic of China can no longer act as a beacon for illiberal forces around the world, whether they be guerrillas in some Asian jungle or middle class students in Paris. Maoism, rather than being the pattern for Asia’s future, became an anachronism, and it was the mainland Chinese who in fact were decisively influenced by the prosperity and dynamism of their overseas co-ethnics – the ironic ultimate victory of Taiwan.

Important as these changes in China have been, however, it is developments in the Soviet Union – the original “homeland of the world proletariat” – that have put the final nail in the coffin of the Marxist-Leninist alternative to liberal democracy. It should be clear that in terms of formal institutions, not much has changed in the four years since Gorbachev has come to power: free markets and the cooperative movement represent only a small part of the Soviet economy, which remains centrally planned; the political system is still dominated by the Communist party, which has only begun to democratize internally and to share power with other groups; the regime continues to assert that it is seeking only to modernize socialism and that its ideological basis remains Marxism-Leninism; and, finally, Gorbachev faces a potentially powerful conservative opposition that could undo many of the changes that have taken place to date. Moreover, it is hard to be too sanguine about the chances for success of Gorbachev’s proposed reforms, either in the sphere of economics or politics. But my purpose here is not to analyze events in the short-term, or to make predictions for policy purposes, but to look at underlying trends in the sphere of ideology and consciousness. And in that respect, it is clear that an astounding transformation has occurred.

�migr�s from the Soviet Union have been reporting for at least the last generation now that virtually nobody in that country truly believed in Marxism-Leninism any longer, and that this was nowhere more true than in the Soviet elite, which continued to mouth Marxist slogans out of sheer cynicism. The corruption and decadence of the late Brezhnev-era Soviet state seemed to matter little, however, for as long as the state itself refused to throw into question any of the fundamental principles underlying Soviet society, the system was capable of functioning adequately out of sheer inertia and could even muster some dynamism in the realm of foreign and defense policy. Marxism-Leninism was like a magical incantation which, however absurd and devoid of meaning, was the only common basis on which the elite could agree to rule Soviet society.

WHAT HAS happened in the four years since Gorbachev’s coming to power is a revolutionary assault on the most fundamental institutions and principles of Stalinism, and their replacement by other principles which do not amount to liberalism per se but whose only connecting thread is liberalism. This is most evident in the economic sphere, where the reform economists around Gorbachev have become steadily more radical in their support for free markets, to the point where some like Nikolai Shmelev do not mind being compared in public to Milton Friedman. There is a virtual consensus among the currently dominant school of Soviet economists now that central planning and the command system of allocation are the root cause of economic inefficiency, and that if the Soviet system is ever to heal itself, it must permit free and decentralized decision-making with respect to investment, labor, and prices. After a couple of initial years of ideological confusion, these principles have finally been incorporated into policy with the promulgation of new laws on enterprise autonomy, cooperatives, and finally in 1988 on lease arrangements and family farming. There are, of course, a number of fatal flaws in the current implementation of the reform, most notably the absence of a thoroughgoing price reform. But the problem is no longer a conceptual one: Gorbachev and his lieutenants seem to understand the economic logic of marketization well enough, but like the leaders of a Third World country facing the IMF, are afraid of the social consequences of ending consumer subsidies and other forms of dependence on the state sector.

In the political sphere, the proposed changes to the Soviet constitution, legal system, and party rules amount to much less than the establishment of a liberal state. Gorbachev has spoken of democratization primarily in the sphere of internal party affairs, and has shown little intention of ending the Communist party’s monopoly of power; indeed, the political reform seeks to legitimize and therefore strengthen the CPSU’S rule.[13] Nonetheless, the general principles underlying many of the reforms – that the “people” should be truly responsible for their own affairs, that higher political bodies should be answerable to lower ones, and not vice versa, that the rule of law should prevail over arbitrary police actions, with separation of powers and an independent judiciary, that there should be legal protection for property rights, the need for open discussion of public issues and the right of public dissent, the empowering of the Soviets as a forum in which the whole Soviet people can participate, and of a political culture that is more tolerant and pluralistic – come from a source fundamentally alien to the USSR’s Marxist-Leninist tradition, even if they are incompletely articulated and poorly implemented in practice.

Gorbachev’s repeated assertions that he is doing no more than trying to restore the original meaning of Leninism are themselves a kind of Orwellian doublespeak. Gorbachev and his allies have consistently maintained that intraparty democracy was somehow the essence of Leninism, and that the various lib era1 practices of open debate, secret ballot elections, and rule of law were all part of the Leninist heritage, corrupted only later by Stalin. While almost anyone would look good compared to Stalin, drawing so sharp a line between Lenin and his successor is questionable. The essence of Lenin’s democratic centralism was centralism, not democracy; that is, the absolutely rigid, monolithic, and disciplined dictatorship of a hierarchically organized vanguard Communist party, speaking in the name of the demos. All of Lenin’s vicious polemics against Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg, and various other Menshevik and Social Democratic rivals, not to mention his contempt for “bourgeois legality” and freedoms, centered around his profound conviction that a revolution could not be successfully made by a democratically run organization.

Gorbachev’s claim that he is seeking to return to the true Lenin is perfectly easy to understand: having fostered a thorough denunciation of Stalinism and Brezhnevism as the root of the USSR’s present predicament, he needs some point in Soviet history on which to anchor the legitimacy of the CPSU’S continued rule. But Gorbachev’s tactical requirements should not blind us to the fact that the democratizing and decentralizing principles which he has enunciated in both the economic and political spheres are highly subversive of some of the most fundamental precepts of both Marxism and Leninism. Indeed, if the bulk of the present economic reform proposals were put into effect, it is hard to know how the Soviet economy would be more socialist than those of other Western countries with large public sectors.

The Soviet Union could in no way be described as a liberal or democratic country now, nor do I think that it is terribly likely that perestroika will succeed such that the label will be thinkable any time in the near future. But at the end of history it is not necessary that all societies become successful liberal societies, merely that they end their ideological pretensions of representing different and higher forms of human society. And in this respect I believe that something very important has happened in the Soviet Union in the past few years: the criticisms of the Soviet system sanctioned by Gorbachev have been so thorough and devastating that there is very little chance of going back to either Stalinism or Brezhnevism in any simple way. Gorbachev has finally permitted people to say what they had privately understood for many years, namely, that the magical incantations of Marxism-Leninism were nonsense, that Soviet socialism was not superior to the West in any respect but was in fact a monumental failure. The conservative opposition in the USSR, consisting both of simple workers afraid of unemployment and inflation and of party officials fearful of losing their jobs and privileges, is outspoken and may be strong enough to force Gorbachev’s ouster in the next few years. But what both groups desire is tradition, order, and authority; they manifest no deep commitment to Marxism-Leninism, except insofar as they have invested much of their own lives in it.[14] For authority to be restored in the Soviet Union after Gorbachev’s demolition work, it must be on the basis of some new and vigorous ideology which has not yet appeared on the horizon.

IF WE ADMIT for the moment that the fascist and communist challenges to liberalism are dead, are there any other ideological competitors left? Or put another way, are there contradictions in liberal society beyond that of class that are not resolvable? Two possibilities suggest themselves, those of religion and nationalism.

The rise of religious fundamentalism in recent years within the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions has been widely noted. One is inclined to say that the revival of religion in some way attests to a broad unhappiness with the impersonality and spiritual vacuity of liberal consumerist societies. Yet while the emptiness at the core of liberalism is most certainly a defect in the ideology – indeed, a flaw that one does not need the perspective of religion to recognize[15] – it is not at all clear that it is remediable through politics. Modern liberalism itself was historically a consequence of the weakness of religiously-based societies which, failing to agree on the nature of the good life, could not provide even the minimal preconditions of peace and stability. In the contemporary world only Islam has offered a theocratic state as a political alternative to both liberalism and communism. But the doctrine has little appeal for non-Muslims, and it is hard to believe that the movement will take on any universal significance. Other less organized religious impulses have been successfully satisfied within the sphere of personal life that is permitted in liberal societies.

The other major “contradiction” potentially unresolvable by liberalism is the one posed by nationalism and other forms of racial and ethnic consciousness. It is certainly true that a very large degree of conflict since the Battle of Jena has had its roots in nationalism. Two cataclysmic world wars in this century have been spawned by the nationalism of the developed world in various guises, and if those passions have been muted to a certain extent in postwar Europe, they are still extremely powerful in the Third World. Nationalism has been a threat to liberalism historically in Germany, and continues to be one in isolated parts of “post-historical” Europe like Northern Ireland.

But it is not clear that nationalism rep resents an irreconcilable contradiction in the heart of liberalism. In the first place, nationalism is not one single phenomenon but several, ranging from mild cultural nostalgia to the highly organized and elaborately articulated doctrine of National Socialism. Only systematic nationalisms of the latter sort can qualify as a formal ideology on the level of liberalism or communism. The vast majority of the world’s nationalist movements do not have a political program beyond the negative desire of independence from some other group or people, and do not offer anything like a comprehensive agenda for socio-economic organization. As such, they are compatible with doctrines and ideologies that do offer such agendas. While they may constitute a source of conflict for liberal societies, this conflict does not arise from liberalism itself so much as from the fact that the liberalism in question is incomplete. Certainly a great deal of the world’s ethnic and nationalist tension can be explained in terms of peoples who are forced to live in unrepresentative political systems that they have not chosen.

While it is impossible to rule out the sudden appearance of new ideologies or previously unrecognized contradictions in liberal societies, then, the present world seems to confirm that the fundamental principles of sociopolitical organization have not advanced terribly far since 1806. Many of the wars and revolutions fought since that time have been undertaken in the name of ideologies which claimed to be more advanced than liberalism, but whose pretensions were ultimately unmasked by history. In the meantime, they have helped to spread the universal homogenous state to the point where it could have a significant effect on the overall character of international relations.

IV

WHAT ARE the implications of the end of history for international relations? Clearly, the vast bulk of the Third World remains very much mired in history, and will be a terrain of conflict for many years to come. But let us focus for the time being on the larger and more developed states of the world who after all account for the greater part of world politics. Russia and China are not likely to join the developed nations of the West as liberal societies any time in the foreseeable future, but suppose for a moment that Marxism-Leninism ceases to be a factor driving the foreign policies of these states – a prospect which, if not yet here, the last few years have made a real possibility. How will the overall characteristics of a de-ideologized world differ from those of the one with which we are familiar at such a hypothetical juncture?

The most common answer is – not very much. For there is a very widespread belief among many observers of international relations that underneath the skin of ideology is a hard core of great power national interest that guarantees a fairly high level of competition and conflict between nations. Indeed, according to one academically popular school of international relations theory, conflict inheres in the international system as such, and to understand the prospects for conflict one must look at the shape of the system – for example, whether it is bipolar or multipolar – rather than at the specific character of the nations and regimes that constitute it. This school in effect applies a Hobbesian view of politics to international relations, and assumes that aggression and insecurity are universal characteristics of human societies rather than the product of specific historical circumstances.

Believers in this line of thought take the relations that existed between the participants in the classical nineteenth century European balance of power as a model for what a de-ideologized contemporary world would look like. Charles Krauthammer, for example, recently explained that if as a result of Gorbachev’s reforms the USSR is shorn of Marxist-Leninist ideology, its behavior will revert to that of nineteenth century imperial Russia.[16] While he finds this more reassuring than the threat posed by a communist Russia, he implies that there will still be a substantial degree of competition and conflict in the international system, just as there was say between Russia and Britain or Wilhelmine Germany in the last century. This is, of course, a convenient point of view for people who want to admit that something major is changing in the Soviet Union, but do not want to accept responsibility for recommending the radical policy redirection implicit in such a view. But is it true?

In fact, the notion that ideology is a superstructure imposed on a substratum of permanent great power interest is a highly questionable proposition. For the way in which any state defines its national interest is not universal but rests on some kind of prior ideological basis, just as we saw that economic behavior is determined by a prior state of consciousness. In this century, states have adopted highly articulated doctrines with explicit foreign policy agendas legitimizing expansionism, like Marxism-Leninism or National Socialism.

THE EXPANSIONIST and competitive behavior of nineteenth-century European states rested on no less ideal a basis; it just so happened that the ideology driving it was less explicit than the doctrines of the twentieth century. For one thing, most “liberal” European societies were illiberal insofar as they believed in the legitimacy of imperialism, that is, the right of one nation to rule over other nations without regard for the wishes of the ruled. The justifications for imperialism varied from nation to nation, from a crude belief in the legitimacy of force, particularly when applied to non-Europeans, to the White Man’s Burden and Europe’s Christianizing mission, to the desire to give people of color access to the culture of Rabelais and Moliere. But whatever the particular ideological basis, every “developed” country believed in the acceptability of higher civilizations ruling lower ones – including, incidentally, the United States with regard to the Philippines. This led to a drive for pure territorial aggrandizement in the latter half of the century and played no small role in causing the Great War.

The radical and deformed outgrowth of nineteenth-century imperialism was German fascism, an ideology which justified Germany’s right not only to rule over non-European peoples, but over all non-German ones. But in retrospect it seems that Hitler represented a diseased bypath in the general course of European development, and since his fiery defeat, the legitimacy of any kind of territorial aggrandizement has been thoroughly discredited.[17] Since the Second World War, European nationalism has been defanged and shorn of any real relevance to foreign policy, with the consequence that the nineteenth-century model of great power behavior has become a serious anachronism. The most extreme form of nationalism that any Western European state has mustered since 1945 has been Gaullism, whose self-assertion has been confined largely to the realm of nuisance politics and culture. International life for the part of the world that has reached the end of history is far more preoccupied with economics than with politics or strategy.

The developed states of the West do maintain defense establishments and in the postwar period have competed vigorously for influence to meet a worldwide communist threat. This behavior has been driven, however, by an external threat from states that possess overtly expansionist ideologies, and would not exist in their absence. To take the “neo-realist” theory seriously, one would have to believe that “natural” competitive behavior would reassert itself among the OECD states were Russia and China to disappear from the face of the earth. That is, West Germany and France would arm themselves against each other as they did in the 193Os, Australia and New Zealand would send military advisers to block each others’ advances in Africa, and the U.S.-Canadian border would become fortified. Such a prospect is, of course, ludicrous: minus Marxist-Leninist ideology, we are far more likely to see the “Common Marketization” of world politics than the disintegration of the EEC into nineteenth-century competitiveness. Indeed, as our experiences in dealing with Europe on matters such as terrorism or Libya prove, they are much further gone than we down the road that denies the legitimacy of the use of force in international politics, even in self-defense.

The automatic assumption that Russia shorn of its expansionist communist ideology should pick up where the czars left off just prior to the Bolshevik Revolution is therefore a curious one. It assumes that the evolution of human consciousness has stood still in the meantime, and that the Soviets, while picking up currently fashionable ideas in the realm of economics, will return to foreign policy views a century out of date in the rest of Europe. This is certainly not what happened to China after it began its reform process. Chinese competitiveness and expansionism on the world scene have virtually disappeared: Beijing no longer sponsors Maoist insurgencies or tries to cultivate influence in distant African countries as it did in the 1960s. This is not to say that there are not troublesome aspects to contemporary Chinese foreign policy, such as the reckless sale of ballistic missile technology in the Middle East; and the PRC continues to manifest traditional great power behavior in its sponsorship of the Khmer Rouge against Vietnam. But the former is explained by commercial motives and the latter is a vestige of earlier ideologically-based rivalries. The new China far more resembles Gaullist France than pre-World War I Germany.

The real question for the future, however, is the degree to which Soviet elites have assimilated the consciousness of the universal homogenous state that is post-Hitler Europe. From their writings and from my own personal contacts with them, there is no question in my mind that the liberal Soviet intelligentsia rallying around Gorbachev have arrived at the end-of-history view in a remarkably short time, due in no small measure to the contacts they have had since the Brezhnev era with the larger European civilization around them. “New political thinking,” the general rubric for their views, describes a world dominated by economic concerns, in which there are no ideological grounds for major conflict between nations, and in which, consequently, the use of military force becomes less legitimate. As Foreign Minister Shevardnadze put it in mid-1988:

The struggle between two opposing systems is no longer a determining tendency of the present-day era. At the modern stage, the ability to build up material wealth at an accelerated rate on the basis of front-ranking science and high-level techniques and technology, and to distribute it fairly, and through joint efforts to restore and protect the resources necessary for mankind’s survival acquires decisive importance.[18]

The post-historical consciousness represented by “new thinking” is only one possible future for the Soviet Union, however. There has always been a very strong current of great Russian chauvinism in the Soviet Union, which has found freer expression since the advent of glasnost. It may be possible to return to traditional Marxism-Leninism for a while as a simple rallying point for those who want to restore the authority that Gorbachev has dissipated. But as in Poland, Marxism-Leninism is dead as a mobilizing ideology: under its banner people cannot be made to work harder, and its adherents have lost confidence in themselves. Unlike the propagators of traditional Marxism-Leninism, however, ultranationalists in the USSR believe in their Slavophile cause passionately, and one gets the sense that the fascist alternative is not one that has played itself out entirely there.

The Soviet Union, then, is at a fork in the road: it can start down the path that was staked out by Western Europe forty-five years ago, a path that most of Asia has followed, or it can realize its own uniqueness and remain stuck in history. The choice it makes will be highly important for us, given the Soviet Union’s size and military strength, for that power will continue to preoccupy us and slow our realization that we have already emerged on the other side of history.

V

THE PASSING of Marxism-Leninism first from China and then from the Soviet Union will mean its death as a living ideology of world historical significance. For while there may be some isolated true believers left in places like Managua, Pyongyang, or Cambridge, Massachusetts, the fact that there is not a single large state in which it is a going concern undermines completely its pretensions to being in the vanguard of human history. And the death of this ideology means the growing “Common Marketization” of international relations, and the diminution of the likelihood of large-scale conflict between states.

This does not by any means imply the end of international conflict per se. For the world at that point would be divided between a part that was historical and a part that was post-historical. Conflict between states still in history, and between those states and those at the end of history, would still be possible. There would still be a high and perhaps rising level of ethnic and nationalist violence, since those are impulses incompletely played out, even in parts of the post-historical world. Palestinians and Kurds, Sikhs and Tamils, Irish Catholics and Walloons, Armenians and Azeris, will continue to have their unresolved grievances. This implies that terrorism and wars of national liberation will continue to be an important item on the international agenda. But large-scale conflict must involve large states still caught in the grip of history, and they are what appear to be passing from the scene.

The end of history will be a very sad time. The struggle for recognition, the willingness to risk one’s life for a purely abstract goal, the worldwide ideological struggle that called forth daring, courage, imagination, and idealism, will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands. In the post-historical period there will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history. I can feel in myself, and see in others around me, a powerful nostalgia for the time when history existed. Such nostalgia, in fact, will continue to fuel competition and conflict even in the post-historical world for some time to come. Even though I recognize its inevitability, I have the most ambivalent feelings for the civilization that has been created in Europe since 1945, with its north Atlantic and Asian offshoots. Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.

 

 

Notes:

 

1. Koj�ve’s best known work is his Introduction � la lecture de Hegel (Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1947), which is a transcript of the Ecole Practique lectures from the 1930’s. This book is available in English entitled Introduction to the Reading of Hegel arranged by Raymond Queneau, edited by Allan Bloom, and translated by James Nichols (New York: Basic Books, 1969). (back to text)

2. In this respect Koj�ve stands in sharp contrast to contemporary German interpreters of Hegel like Herbert Marcuse who, being more sympathetic to Marx, regarded Hegel ultimately as an historically bound and incomplete philosopher. (back to text)

3. Koj�ve alternatively identified the end of history with the postwar “American way of life,” toward which he thought the Soviet Union was moving as well. (back to text)

4. This notion was expressed in the famous aphorism from the preface to the Philosophy of History to the effect that “everything that is rational is real, and everything that is real is rational.” (back to text)

5. Indeed, for Hegel the very dichotomy between the ideal and material worlds was itself only an apparent one that was ultimately overcome by the self-conscious subject; in his system, the material world is itself only an aspect of mind. (back to text)

6. In fact, modern economists, recognizing that man does not always behave as a profit-maximizer, posit a “utility” function, utility being either income or some other good that can be maximized: leisure, sexual satisfaction, or the pleasure of philosophizing. That profit must be replaced with a value like utility indicates the cogency of the idealist perspective. (back to text)

7. One need look no further than the recent performance of Vietnamese immigrants in the U.S. school system when compared to their black of Hispanic classmates to realize that culture and consciousness are absolutely crucial to explain not only economic behavior but virtually every other important aspect of life as well. (back to text)

8. I understand that a full explanation of the origins of the reform movements in China and Russia is a good deal more complicated than this simple formula would suggest. The Soviet reform, for example, was motivated in good measure by Moscow’s sense of insecurity in the technological-military realm. Nonetheless, neither country ion the eve of its reforms was in such a state of material crisis that one could have predicted the surprising reform paths ultimately taken. (back to text)

9. It is still not clear whether the Soviet people are as “Protestant” as Gorbachev and will follow him down that path. (back to text)

10. The internal politics of the Byzantine Empire at the time of Justinian revolved around a conflict between the so-called monophysites and monothelites, who believed that the unity of the Holy Trinity was alternatively one of nature or of will. This conflict corresponded to some extent to one between proponents of different racing teams in the Hippodrome in Byzantium and led to a not insignificant level of political violence. Modern historians would tend to seek the roots of such conflicts in antagonisms between social classes or some other modern economic category, being unwilling to believe that men would kill each other over the nature of the Trinity. (back to text)

11. I am not using the term “fascism” here in its most precise sense, fully aware of the frequent misuse of this term to denounce anyone to the right of the user. “Fascism” here denotes nay organized ultra nationalist movement with universalistic pretensions – not universalistic with regard to its nationalism, of course, since the latter is exclusive by definition, but with regard to the movement’s belief in its right to rule other people. Hence Imperial Japan would qualify as fascist while former strongman Stoessner’s Paraguay or Pinochet’s Chile would not. Obviously fascist ideologies cannot be universalistic in the sense of Marxism or liberalism, but the structure of the doctrine can be transferred from country to country. (back to text)

12. I use the example of Japan with some caution, since Koj�ve late in his life came to conclude that Japan, with its culture based on purely formal arts, proved that the universal homogenous state was not victorious and that history had perhaps not ended. See the long note at the end of the second edition ofIntroduction � la Lecture de Hegel, 462-3. (back to text)

13. This is not true in Poland and Hungary, however, whose Communist parties have taken moves toward true power sharing and pluralism. (back to text)

14. This is particularly true of the leading Soviet conservative, former Second Secretary Yegor Ligachev, who has publicly recognized many of the deep defects of the Brezhnev period. (back to text)

15. I am thinking particularly of Rousseau and the Western philosophical tradition that flows from him that was highly critical of Lockean or Hobbesian liberalism, though one could criticize liberalism from the standpoint of classical political philosophy as well. (back to text)

16. See his article, “Beyond the Cold War,” New Republic, December 19, 1988. (back to text)

17. It took European colonial powers like France several years after the war to admit the illegitimacy of their empires, but decolonialization was an inevitable consequence of the Allied victory which had been based on the promise of a restoration of democratic freedoms. (back to text)

18. Vestnik Ministerstva Inostrannikh Del SSSR no. 15 (August 1988), 27-46. “New thinking” does of course serve a propagandistic purpose in persuading Western audiences of Soviet good intentions. But the fact that it is good propaganda does not mean that is formulators do not take many of its ideas seriously. (back to text)

 

** Summer 1989, The National Interest.

* Francis Fukuyama is deputy director of the State Department’s policy planning staff and former analyst at the RAND Corporation. This article is based on a lecture presented at the University of Chicago’s John M. Olin Center and to Nathan Tarcov and Allan Bloom for their support in this and many earlier endeavors. The opinions expresses in this article do not reflect those of the RAND Corporation or of any agency of the U.S. government.

Welcome to NATOstan

Welcome to NATOstan
By Pepe Escobar

Be afraid. Be very afraid. At the Lisbon summit this Friday and Saturday, a gargantuan, innocuously sounding, self-described “military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America” that happens to be a Cold War relic sits in its own nuclear-adorned couch to speculate what it is actually all about.

In this otherwise Freudian scenario, the guest of honor is United States President Barack Obama, who imperially presides over the other 27 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, all duly acknowledging their tributary vows and commitments on everything from European-wide missile defense (subjected to the US global missile shield) and permanent stationing of hundreds of US nuclear bombs in Europe to the turbo-charging of cyber warfare (subjected to the Pentagon’s new Cyber Command), a blitzkrieg of navy patrol stunts on the globe’s strategic sea lanes, and the spread of military bases guarding strategic nodes of Pipelineistan.

In short: the menu in Lisbon is a Pentagon steak with bearnaise sauce. Indigestion guaranteed – and no money (as in overvalued euros) back.

Less is more is not our thing
In Lisbon, NATO is endorsing a new “Strategic Concept” – a sort of letter of intentions reviewed every decade. This is the first one since 1999 – and consequently the blueprint for the early 21st century. NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been spinning it as “more effective” (as in improved missile defense and cyber defense); “more engaged” (as in swarming with global “partners’); and “more efficient (as in firing 4,000 people from their command structure).

Here – complete with made in China piped bird singing – [1] one may see how NATO loves to bathe itself in a “hills are alive with the sound of music” atmosphere. And here, one sees what “Strategic Concept” seems to be about. [2]

Add the Rasmussen rant, and one finally finds what’s been lost in translation: NATO is now effectively being christened as the ultimate Transformer global Robocop, consigning the helpless UN to a New York sand box.

NATO has left Western Europe a long time ago; too small, too provincial. It’s already in Central and South Asia as well as Northeast Africa, interlinked with the Pentagon’s AFRICOM (only five countries – Eritrea, Libya, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sudan and Zimbabwe – are not Pentagon-related). Way beyond the Afghan killing fields, NATO is fast becoming a huge “forward operating base” for policing the Middle East, Africa, Asia and even the South Atlantic, where the Pentagon reactivated the Fourth Fleet; as much as the 2009 military coup in Honduras worked and the 2010 in Ecuador didn’t, Brazilians are very much aware of the Pentagon and NATO’s designs in Central and South America, and will definitely put up a fight.

Spoiler alert: Americans not anesthetized enough by the current porno-scanner/federal pat-down theater of the absurd taking place at their airports, and impoverished, crisis-hit Europeans won’t fail to notice that “more effective, more engaged and more efficient” NATO is spectacularly losing a war in Central Asia as we speak.

Gucci in da house
Anyway, soon Europe may be wildly celebrating a continent-wide missile dome able to protect everyone from Ibiza to Innsbruck and Munich to Monte Carlo from those evil (non-existent) Iranian missiles, as well as from those existent, zany but effective Taepodong-2 from Pyongyang. Call it the Gucci Star Wars.

The Gucci shield will be duly joined by the Dior bombshells – as in the US-owned 200 to 350 nuclear weapons sleeping in NATO bases in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy and Turkey (plus the 300 nuclear bombs owned by France and the 225 by Britain). Crucially it is these five “bomb resident” countries that would launch the US babies in any eventuality, something that makes a mockery of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which, by the way, Iran has subscribed. The bottom line: NATO may hold a portfolio of as many as 900 nuclear weapons in Europe. It’s like comparing Real Madrid or Bayern Munich with a North Korea third division team.

Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not allow any ruffles in her Hermes scarf, forcefully stating, “NATO must remain a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist.” And Rasmussen hit the home run, adding, “the anti-missile defense system is a complement to nuclear deterrence, and not a substitute.”

Is anybody complaining about all this nuclear paranoia? Not really. Rasmussen is right when he spins about NATO’s “partners”; it’s virtually everyone and his neighbor (75 nations, almost 40% of the UN), from the Central Asian “stans” in the Partnership for Peace to the Middle Easterners in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative; from the “contact countries” in East Asia/South Pacific to the Troop Contributing Nations for International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (that includes Mongolia and Tonga). Not to mention the all-important NATO-Russia Council (Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is the first Russian leader to actually go to a NATO summit). Needless to say, all these “partners” have also gone to Lisbon.

Turkey shoot, anyone?
Even though its raison d’etre was to defend Western Europe from the Soviet Union, it’s useless to expect NATO at the Lisbon summit to clarify what the hell it is actually accomplishing in Central Asia/ Afghanistan (see Have (infinite) war, will travel, Asia Times Online, November 18, 2010). It’s safer to attribute to the realm of a Tom & Jerry cartoon the fact that NATO is more terrified of some ragtag Taliban than it was of the Red Army.

Anyway, what matters is the infinity of it all. Not only US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General David Petraeus, the coalition military commander in Afghanistan, are lobbying for Infinite War. British Defense Chief General Sir David Richards has just told the Daily Mail, “NATO now needs to plan for a 30- or 40-year role to help the Afghan armed forces hold their country against the militants.” Talk about Enduring Freedom.

Yet Afghanistan, that infinite quagmire, is just an appetizer. NATO is being cannily sold to world public opinion as being entitled to raise hell anywhere it pleases – leaving the UN Security Council, expanded or not, in the dust. Precedents exist – as in the illegal, failed narco-mafia state Kosovo, not by accident extensively dubbed NATOstan.

A convincing argument can be made that everywhere the Pentagon/NATO “intervened” – from the Balkans to Afghanistan to Iraq – the mess has reached Gotterdammerung proportions. Who cares? The Pentagon has planted Camp Bondsteel – its largest base in Europe – in Kosovo; and it has also planted precious mega-nuggets in the Empire of Bases in both Afghanistan andIraq.

The “spoilers” in the Pentagon/NATO’s Brave New World blockbuster are undoubtedly Russia, China, Iran, North Korea andMyanmar. None of them will be easily intimidated. Russian leadership is too wily to be easily co-opted – although Pentagon/NATO encroachment in the form of missile defense bases along the entire length of Russia’s borders is relentless.

NATO claims that it welcomes its “partnership” with Russia. But now there’s a new element in the game to force – or not – Russia to play the missile defense ball (after all the decision to go all out has already been made.) Let’s call it the Turkey shoot.

The Pentagon/NATO ploy of building a multi-layered missile defense system to “protect Europe” from those non-existent Iranian nuclear-armed missiles would be a dim-witted prank if it had not already attracted the attention of the usual Eastern Europe suspects – Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria andRomania. Turkey is a much more complicated case.

According to Turkish press reports, Ankara will only accept a missile defense system if the system is NATO’s, not American; if the system is deployed in all 27 NATO countries; and if NATO does not place Turkey in the unenviable position of frontline state just as it was during the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

But part three of this equation is exactly what the Pentagon has in mind – especially now that the axis Ankara-Tehran-Damascus is a reality, not to mention the developing entente cordiale between Ankara and Moscow. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu anyway has made it clear, “We do not want a Cold War zone or psychology around us.”

But Cold War remix it is, and Turkey runs the risk of being just a paw in their game. Profiting from NATO’s new Strategic Concept, the ultimate goal of the US global missile dome – complete with cyber warfare and Prompt Global Strike – is to encircle the heart of Eurasia and isolate, who else, Russia, Iran and China. War is peace. Welcome to the pleasure dome. Welcome to NATOstan.

Notes
1. Click here.
2. Click here.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) andRedZone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obamadoes Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

Thailand PM cancels Russia trip, Bout link denied

Thailand PM cancels Russia trip, Bout link denied

Thailand’s prime minister abruptly cancelled an imminent visit to Russia on Thursday, a government spokesman said, just days after the kingdom outraged Moscow by extraditing an alleged arms dealer.

Thailand’s Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, abruptly cancelled an imminent visit to Russia on Thursday, a government spokesman said, just days after the kingdom outraged Moscow by extraditing an alleged arms dealer. 

Thailand expelled Viktor Bout, who is suspected of being one of the world’s biggest arms traffickers, on Tuesday to face trial in the United States after a prolonged legal battle and fierce opposition from his home country Russia.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has since cancelled a trip to Saint Petersburg to attend a summit on tigers, but spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said this was to discuss constitutional amendments and denied any link to the extradition.

“The prime minister has assigned Suwit Khunkitti, the environmental minister, to attend the summit because next week parliament will debate charter amendments,” Panitan told reporters.

“It has nothing to do with the Bout case.”

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to host the four-day summit, which begins on Sunday and aims to halt the decline of the big cats.

Bout’s sudden extradition came shortly after the Thai cabinet approved his handover in a move that prompted fresh fury from Moscow, which had vowed to do all it could to bring him home.

The Russian foreign ministry said his extradition was “illegal” and prompted by US pressure.

A top Russian diplomat in New York, where the suspect pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges on Wednesday, has also accused Thai authorities of taking away all of Bout’s personal possessions.

The 43-year-old former Soviet air force pilot had been fighting extradition on terrorism charges since his March 2008 arrest after a sting operation in Bangkok involving undercover US agents posing as Colombian FARC rebels.

Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya denied the extradition would hurt ties with Russia, despite Moscow’s dissatisfaction.

“We still enjoy a cordial relationship with Russia. We should not let this single issue affect it,” he told reporters.

Russians claim Thai law was violated

Russians claim Thai law was violated

Bangkok Post

The extradition of alleged arms smuggler Viktor Bout was carried out secretly and violated both international obligations and Thai law, the Russian embassy in Bangkok says.

In a statement sent to media outlets yesterday, the Russian embassy said it was “surprised” by the statement by the Foreign Ministry’s acting spokesman Thani Thongphakdi on Wednesday that Thailand had kept both Russia and the US closely informed of the Thai legal process developments.

“The Russian side, including the embassy, was not informed that the Thai government has taken the decision to extradite the Russian citizen to the US and that the extradition has actually taken place,” the embassy said.

“We have learned about it solely from the media, while the official notification … was received by the embassy only on Nov 18 [yesterday].”

The embassy also claimed the extradition was in breach of Thailand’s extradition law because the Appeal Court had accepted Mr Bout’s appeal concerning the violation of legal procedures during the consideration of the second US extradition request by the court.

“According to Section 19 of the Law on Extradition of Thailand, the Russian citizen was not to be extradited before the court has taken a decision on the said appeal,” the embassy said.

A Russian diplomat said yesterday US authorities pressured Mr Bout to admit his guilt on the way to the US, offering him unspecified benefits in return.

“Some pressure was applied in transit. In Viktor Bout’s words, they tried to ‘persuade me to admit to things I did not do’, promising certain advantages in return,” consul Andrei Yushmanov told Russian reporters in New York. “Viktor Anatolyevich rejected these efforts.”