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Today is Bastille Day, la FĂȘte nationale, le 14 juillet and all over the world, various francophones and francophiles will be celebrating all things French, or at least all things that they think are French. As usual, in France itself there will be the traditional military parade, when the French wing of the military-industrial complex puffs up its chest in recognition of its legacy as an imperialist power, its nuclear arsenal, and its membership to the UN Security Council. There will be pomp and ceremony, with heads of state and their assorted diplomats in their fine clothes and stately buildings providing motherhood statements of the great contributions that France has made to the world and continues to make. Playing it safe, some may even mention the arts.
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When George Marshall, Truman's secretary of state and former commander in chief of the US army visited Harvard to receive his honorary title in June 1047, the decision wasn't deemed too important by the press. The historians say his hosts at the university didn't know what he would say in his speech. But that speech marked the beginning of changes of enormous scale across post-war Europe. Within a single short paragraph, Marshall described the devastation in Europe and said it was logical that America would do whatever it takes to help restore the economic health of the world, because without a stable economy there could be no peace and stability anywhere. That day is considered the birthday of the Marshall Plan.

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Very timely for the monthly topic indeed. My condolences to his family, but Zbigniew Brzezinski's death is no sad news to me.

Well, actually he became irrelevant a while ago when his grand chessboard plan for America's global dominance through suffocating her main rivals (Russia, mostly; but also China and other Eurasian continental powers) predictably turned out unattainable because of the immense cost it would entail (and the huge complexity of the geopolitical world).

So in August 2016, in his piece "The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire" it transpired that he has finally conceded that his "big idea" of American hegemony was total junk and America should figure out how to get along with the world instead. Which of course is not so easy to do now, what with all the nation-building, shit-stirring and basically acting like a big fucking bully for decades. But anyway, good luck with getting along with people you used to screw at every corner to achieve your ends.

Thing is, elite America used to heed his nonsense as if he was some magic guru. Never mind that history has shown that countries that generally prefer to do trade and seek peace somehow tend to have jobs and are economically and thus socially and politically sustainable in the long run. And the ones that take themselves way too seriously and do war as their main job, and overreach beyond their means, tend to visit the scene of history over a relatively brief period (although, granted, very flashy and flamboyant) - and then sink back into obscurity. Usually with a bang.

It may not be too late for America to figure out which of these she wants to be; although, given the old habits it has ingrained into its very fabric - not without the help of guys like this one - it won't be that easy. We'll be here, of course, watching and judging. ;-)
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Alabama recently passed a law sponsored by Senator Gerald Allen (R) making it illegal to remove controversial monuments. Allen says, Contrary to what its detractors say, the Memorial Preservation Act is intended to preserve all of Alabama’s history - the good and the bad - so our children and grandchildren can learn from the past to create a better future.”

The right thing for the wrong reasons? )

Link to the article:

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Nice speech, Donnie. I'm sure the turban-clad towel-wearing moustached folks with the long names sitting in their gold thrones driving their Rolls Royces must have nodded a few times in agreement with you, Donnie. Now trot along, and keep feeling good about yourself.

Well, the conflicts are not going to end any time soon. Especially those involving (and/or generated by) Islam.

And who are the most frequent culprits? Or at least the ones most frequently accused for inciting the conflicts? Well, let's see. America, Russia, the Sunnis and Shia, Germany's inexplicable hospitality to migrants (actually it could be explained with their fear of being accused of Nazism again), etc.

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Exactly a quarter of a century ago, in a small Dutch town called Maastricht, the European community was renamed to the European Union. The beginning of this union became a tale that everyone kept telling their kids as an example of economic and political success. But the downsides of that success that few people used to talk about until recently, which remained largely ignored for the last quarter of a century, are now threatening the future of the union more and more.

In the first years after Maastricht, these flaws might have been too difficult to spot, granted. But they remained there to linger, never to be addressed, and it took a lot of time for them to come to the surface and start threatening the unity of the union in a noticeable way. That time has come now.

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Australia Day, the commemoration of the landing of the British First Fleet in Sydney Cove is a day of division. Whilst a large majority of Australians feel positive about the day, that number falls to less than a quarter of indigenous Australians and, currently, only 15% want the day changed, following the lead of the Fremantle City Council. Barnaby Joyce, parading his typical level of knowledge and sensitivity in public affairs indicated his opposition to changing the date.

The choice of date in itself is a rather strange beast. It does not, of course, represent first European contact with Australia. That was when the Dutchman navigator and colonialist Willem Jansz landed on the western coast of Cape York Peninsula in 1606 which resulted in violent conflicts. It certainly doesn't represent the founding of Australia as a country, that was, of course, Federation, on January 1st, 1901. It doesn't even represent the establishment of the colony of New South Wales - that occurred on February 7, 1776 with a formal proclamation, although that had already been down as a claim (rather than a reality) by James Cook on August 22, 1770 at Possession Island in Torres Strait.

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The reality is that protests around Invasion Day are not going to cease whilst indigenous people in this country are denied as Treaty. The impoverishment and dispossession of indigenous Australians from their natural sources of livelihood and common wealth are likewise best initiated and implemented through a Treaty. The indigenous peoples of Australia never gave up their sovereignty and as a result there is a firm legal foundation and arguably even a requirement for a Treaty to be established. Indeed, as part of the political maturity of the nation such a development could be combined with a national discussion about combining a Treaty with a Republic. Until then, Australia will continue to engage in an vile injustice, and justice by definition, involves making recompense and reconciliation to past and current wrongs.
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As of today, America is trembling with suspense (HA!) about who the next president is going to be. Let's hope they won't be nearly as crazy as any of the below list...

Top 7 on my list )
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You see, Iceland abolished slavery as early as the 12th century. Ironically, thousands of Icelanders became part of the huge wave of Europeans who were enslaved by Muslim pirates in the centuries that followed.

The Arabs of the Middle Ages were a main force in the early use of slaves from Africa, long before the European imperialists ever thought of doing it. However, little has been written and said about white slavery, whether it was a result of the slave trade by the Golden Horde in the lands that later became Russia, or the hundreds of thousands of Europeans who were kidnapped from their homes by Arab pirates (the Maghreb used to be called the Barbary Coast back then). Only in recent times have some historians started to bring this issue into the light.

We need the full context of slavery )
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Here's a slight off-topic fun survey to distract us for a bit from the gloom and bile surrounding this election. Now that we've established both presidential candidates are the most unpopular possible presidents in recent US history (at least since such rankings have been in place), I'd like to know your opinion on the opposite: who in your mind were the most beloved rulers throughout history? And not just US history, but of the whole world. I mean, enlightened, pragmatic, wise philosopher-kings and emperors, erudite and thoughtful prime ministers, presidents, efficient chairpeople or any such other famous leaders who've actually made good on their promise and led their country and people to a better future, as opposed to bringing it to ruin and strife, and were extremely popular at their time because of it?

The list could be really long. And I'm sure each of us has their own perspective, stemming from the culture and history of the place they live in. So let's stick to 4-5 suggestions per person. I'm all ears!

My nominations:

1. Trajan of Rome, for bringing the Roman Empire to its apex, turning it into a paragon of culture and civilization that shaped the world for millennia, and developing an extensive and efficient welfare system for his people
2. Frederick II of Prussia, for vastly increasing Prussia's wealth and influence, and turning it into a hub of culture and learning, and a great military power
3. Catherine II of Russia, for transforming her country from a backward Asian giant on clay feet into a full-fledged modern European multinational empire and a world power
4. Abdullah II of Jordan, for using the tools of absolute monarchy to do profound reform, and turn his country into a reliable pillar of stability and a cornerstone for the peace effort in a region otherwise torn by eternal conflict
5. Abraham Lincoln, for leading his young nation through times of great peril in a way that paved the road to a truly modern global power
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Recently relevant case in point: Laos. Obama did try to heal old wounds while visiting the South-East Asian country. He was actually the first US president to visit Laos - ever. Still, the country has half a century old grudge with the US. The American invasion in Laos had all the features of a horror thriller movie from the Vietnam War times. One only with losing sides in it. And the biggest loser of them all was of course the people of Laos.

They were relentlessly bombed by the US between 1964 and 1973. The first 5 years were actually secret war - even the US Congress was kept in the dark about it. The US unloaded over 2 million tons of bombs over Laos, many of them never exploding. 1/3 of the country is still covered with cluster bombs today, many are still taking lives. Some regions will probably never be fully cleaned.

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It's worth bringing up a dirty little politically incorrect secret here.

Where and when it all began )

What happened after )

And now in the 2010s )

I actually expect Europeans to behave better than the boorish and ignorant people on this side of the Atlantic. When they prove to be human just like we are, it's disappointing as all Hell. It's bad enough to see ignorance and idiocy and self-inflicted wounds recurring again and again and again and again here. I just hope that France, unlike us, remembers better the better angels of its nature and rises above the easy temptations of hatred and contempt. And if it did, it would be a wonderful instance both for France for all humanity.

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Four or so years ago, Assad started shelling Turkish villages and Ankara wanted a major NATO intervention in the Syrian Civil War.

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Does Turkey's intervention amount to anything more than oppressing a long-oppressed group denied its rights still further? Yes. At the end of the day, the USA and the EU must decide if they intend NATO and anti-terrorist rhetoric to mean anything, or if Turkey, which is clearly degenerating into the worst excesses of the region it's in, should have a free hand to engage in wholesale imperialism using anti-terrorism as a cover.

Then again too it's a bit late to decide that particular barn door should be locked after 2003 blew it wide open and carried off the whole farm with it. The real victims here will remain the long-suffering people of Syria who've seen their country halved and turned into a latter-day variant of 1930s Spain with Great Powers fighting over the twitching corpse purely to prove a point.

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Hello, my fellow indifferent procrastinators! It's May 24 again, and of course it's time for me to congratulate all Slavic folks, especially those using the Cyrillic alphabet. We've talked about this a while ago. But now I'm not going to occupy your attention with Medieval history. Rather, I'm going to ramble about the way history itself can be treated, and twisted, and perverted, for political purposes. Do bear with me. For the target of my contention is your fave boxing bag too: Russia. And for a good reason.

I'm not gonna bring you too far back. Just to December 5, 1931 (heh). That was a dark day in history. One of many at the time. It was the day that Stalin ordered the demolition of the Christ the Savior cathedral in downtown Moscow. That same day, the magnificent Memorial of the Bulgars was also blown up in Kazan, in Tatarstan, to the east of Moscow. In the meantime, along with this destruction of massive cultural treasures, a hectic effort in rewriting the history of the Russian Empire was going on. Because it was supposed to be substituted with the glorious history of the emergent Soviet Union. The drive of the Bolshevik propaganda to redraw not just Russian history but the history of all the parts of the world it could put its paws upon, was meant to prove to the peoples of the new empire that the spiritual and historic legacy of imperial Russia was supposed to be perceived as solely the achievement of the Russian people and no one else - and not just any Russian people, but the "right" social groups. Everything that dared to contradict this fantasy, was doomed to oblivion. As collateral, the Bulgar(ian) role in Russian history became a victim as well.

You know... Petty East European stuff... )
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Hi, all you nuclear mutants environmentally aware fellows! Awesome lettuce salads for Easter, May 1 parades under the open sky and all that, while in blissful ignorance about what had just happened not more than a thousand km away from our homes - that's what I could say about this time of the year back in 1986...

On this day, exactly thirty years ago, the biggest and most dangerous incident happened in the nuclear plant in Northern Ukraine. The consequences were devastating and the effects are being felt even today. And for those who'd like to make parallels with Fukushima - I'll just say this. Believe me, these two incidents are very different. If anything, that one was marked by the complete silence of the communist elites who kept the people totally in the dark, letting them sunbathe outdoors, eat fresh lettuces and queue under the radioactive rain, only to learn about the horrible incident many days and weeks later.

Lest we forget... )
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So let's face facts. The United States, whether or not it wishes to use the term is an Empire. To refresh on what an Empire actually is and is not, an Empire is a core area extending tentacles of deadly force with intent to loot, maim, pillage, rape, and burn for profit. T

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Yes, US influence in the world iis an evil thing, ensuring that the best lack all conviction while the worst burn in fires of passionate intensity, that a blood-dimmed tide of barbarism should consume the world in pursuit of greed and avarice. Such is the nature of Empires. But how, short of reverting to the none too stable definition of multi-polar worlds, a process already much in the way of progress, is there to be a change?

A multi-polar system need not be more stable. 100 years ago was a gruesome proof of that. But is it really that worse to have multiple independent power centers acting according to brute Machiavellian self-interest to a bloated tick reliant on its nuclear arsenal, decaying from laziness in assumptions unexamined that something 'gained' by mere existence was really desired to be exported in the first place? I do not think so. The US Empire is in relative decline, and I for one welcome a world where as it declines, other imperial power centers will begin to act independently in full once more, and then things will really get interesting. My only fear is that as Rome did 2,000 years ago, the decline of an empire won by overmighty soldiers in a republic will lead to a new kind of Emperor that as with the old masqueraded within adhering to republican form but long since dead in practice.

After all, as the Clintons and Bushes and Roosevelts and Kennedys and Tafts show, dynasty is already here. And an American Empire with American Emperors would do no one any good, least of all the United States.

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Does seem to be hitting a bit of a rough patch.

In the Baltic States, the concept of Double Genocide is leading to the idea that Jews are the misfortune of the region and brought the massacres in the 1941-5 period on themselves by supporting the Soviet Union.cut for length )

These trends deeply worry me and I'm afraid that the era I'm living in is one where the democracy that was at one point while nowhere near what it could have been at least seen as the ideal to strive toward, is now falling apart at the seams. The idea that the sum total of all the changes for the better in the last century equals a return to the worst elements of the past in this one is, to put it crudely, terrifying. But it also looks like an international trend. So what, if anything, can be done to resolve it? I put no faith in the US Democrats as opposing this, especially when one factors in that Sanders and Clinton both loved hardline policies before it became convenient to oppose them.

Why did things start to go so spectacularly wrong so fast? 
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is most prevalent in terms of some of the hypocrisy of the antiwar movement. Especially in terms of beauties like this:

"Every global conflict from the small, like Haiti, to the largest, like Iraq and Syria, is the result of American interventions. But presidential candidates and major newspapers won’t acknowledge American responsibility for the suffering of millions of people. It is yet another reason to reject the Democrats and Republicans and their tag team politics of pretense. No one can say for certain who will be president of the United States one year from now. We do know that he or she will continue to bring disaster all over the world."'s_endless_wars

Yes, everywhere else in the world is made up of mindless thralls of American mind control powers and incapable of making decisions on their own. There are no ancient animosities the USA steps into in delusions that it can have a "five week or five month but decidedly not five year" war. The United States is the only country indulging in Imperialism. European countries never go to war in their former colonies to prop up their own interests:

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I get it, I really do. It's easier to say that nobody outside the USA has any intellectual or moral culpability whatsoever for actions that they do. It's easier to note the degree to which Americans really are backwards superstitious inbred pedophile-enablers who love to bomb shit dead and then bomb the corpses just to make sure and see in this the root of all evil that ever was or will ever be since 1945 or 1919 or what have you. But all it is at the end of the day is a means to pretend that nobody else is culpable either.

Daesh wouldn't have happened if the USA hadn't disbanded the Iraqi Army and given the Ba'ath an excuse to go from this:

cut for graphic content )

to burning people alive in cages. I get that, I really do. Americans aren't using mind control rays to make Daesh light people on fire in cages. Europeans carved up the region and maintained an empire the USA took over controlling for its own interests. The recent Paris attack was as much the bastard offspring of France's genocidal conquests in Algeria as it was anything with the USA, not to mention France's genocidal colonial rule in Syria itself. But this context is never allowed to be spoken. The degree to which these countries have been given the iron fist from Western powers in general, the USA just the latest and most recent of the breed, is not allowed to exist.

That the same people who mention Richard the Lion-Heart and the Horns of Hattin in morale boosting videos might just resent the everloving fuck out of the UK and France for gassing them and machine-gunning them for having the audacity to rule themselves is silliness. Evil only began in 2002, after all.

Americans frankly neither know nor care about this. We're so busy caught up in delusions of mastering the world that we forget that as powerful as the United States is, as evil as its government can be, sometimes all the USA does is step into existing nightmares and make them worse. The USA is so caught up in bawling and squawling years after the fact about the supposedly unspeakable evil of 9/11 that a single massacre only 1,000 short of that in Nigeria happens without anyone realizing that this 1940s-style mass execution is why Boko Haram is the most dangerous terrorist organization out there.

Is the United States an Empire? Absolutely. Are the actions of empires evil? They most assuredly are. But is the critique of the empire about the evils of the system or still being butthurt that the old empires fell and now the USA and Russia and China are picking at the bones of those empires and trying to squelch the former colonies? 
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When in the early morning of March 9, 1230, the Tzar of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Ivan Asen II decided to declare war on the short-lived Despotate of Epirus, he did that in an almost ritualistic way. He ordered the parchment of the peace treaty that had been violated by the Byzantines to be impaled on a spear. In the ensuing Battle of Klokotnitsa, the Bulgarian ruler turned the enemy into retreat and routed the Byzantine army, he captured their emperor Theodore Komnenos, and restored previous territories to the 2nd Bulgarian Empire.

That's the picture that comes to mind to any pupil as they read the history studybooks, and all the novels and movies. It's a conventional notion of war where one state directly attacks another, two armies meet at the battlefield, and the winner of this clash subdues their rival, either conquering their entire territory or parts of it. History abounds of such examples. But a fact that is little discussed is, such a development is more like an exception than the norm.

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Talk Politics.
A place to discuss politics without egomaniacal mods


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It's said that "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." Sadly most people think being outraged is the point, and the paying attention part is optional.

July 2017

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