Archive for the ‘History’ Category

by Richard Martin

Throughout their history, there have always been enough Jews who have refused religious and the broader cultural and political assimilation to maintain their distinctiveness. This is riling to many people. They can’t understand why Jews would want to maintain their own religious beliefs, rites, and cultural traditions. When Jews did decide to join the majority, either by religious conversion, or other forms of assimilation, this was often held against them for generations.

In the 19th century, Jews were the most actively liberal (in the classical sense) of Europeans. Jews took the most advantage of liberalization and emancipation in France, the German lands, Britain, and eventually the entire Western world. There remained pockets of antisemitism in government, the military, and academia. But, by and large, Jews were able to become “regular” Germans, French, Italians, Brits, Americans, Canadians, Australians, etc.

In the 19th century, liberalisation and emancipation were supported by skepticism of religion, myth and traditional beliefs and lifestyles. This resulted in widespread secularisation. In parallel with this came the rise of nationalism and the erosion of imperialism (as actual multi-ethnic and multi-national European empires, e.g., the German Reich, Tsarist Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and of course, the Habsburg Empire of Austria-Hungary.

German historian Götz Aly has documented the rise of political and secular antisemitism in Europe in general, but especially Germany, throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. This period culminated in the Russian pogroms and, of course, the Holocaust. However, eliminationist and “expulsionist” antisemitism was part of a wider movement of ethnic homogenization in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in the Tsarist lands of Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia proper. To this we can add the various permutations of national homogenization and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, due to the progressive weakening hold of the Ottomans on southeast Europe. 

This is not to minimize the horrors of the pogroms or the Holocaust, but merely to place it in the broader and deeper context of European history and development. If there had never been pogroms and widespread hatred of Jews in Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, would there have been a Zionist movement? If there had never been such widespread and murderous nationalist-inspired homogenization and ethnic cleansing throughout the Habsburg, Romanov, and Ottoman lands (or their remnants), would there have been a Zionist movement? If nationalism had not been such a powerful force and motivation for all these acts of brutality and subsequent brutalization of peoples, would there have a Zionist movement? I don’t write this to cast blame, but rather once again to broaden and deepen the context and discussion.

Timothy Snyder’s books on the slaughter in Eastern Europe from 1930 to 1945, Bloodlands and Black Earth, provide much of the context for my observations and understanding of antisemitism. But it’s even worse than what happened during the 30s and until 1945. In his book The Vanquished described the ethnic chaos in the wake of the First World War. Keith Lowe did the same in his book on the immediate post-WW2 period, Savage Continent. Ever hear of pogroms against Jews in Poland between 1945 and 1950? Of course not. Nobody talks about that. And that’s only a small part of the hellscape that was Eastern Europe in the aftermaths of WW1 and 2!

At one time, persecution of Jews was based on religious excuses, and even animosity, as supposed “Christ killers.” It was also just because they were different and refused (or were forced) to remain apart. There were Jewish ghettos in Italy and Spain. Ethnic sequestering wasn’t unusual in pre-modern Europe and Asia, where all major cities had various ethnic quarters.

Jews were also forced to live in the Pale of Settlement of the Russian Empire which mostly bestraddle the immense Pripyat Marshes of southern Belarus and northern Ukraine. Jews were periodically expelled or fell victims to mob attacks at various points in the Middle Ages and even into early Modern Europe. The same happened in the Muslim empires and emirates, where not only Jews but also Christians were (and still are) treated as second-class subjects of the Muslim majority.

But as Snyder develops in detail, Jews weren’t the only victims of pogroms, transportations, deportations, expulsions, riots, and murders prior to the Nazi-inspired and perpetrated Holocaust. The “Bloodlands” he describes in excruciating detail saw the deaths of at least 14 million Ukrainians, Poles, Belarusians as national and ethnic groups in addition to the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Then there were the tens of thousands of deported, murdered, and incarcerated Finns, Latvians, Estonians, and Lithuanians. There were also expulsions and deportations of lesser known (to Westerners at least) Crimean Tatars and other smaller nations under Stalin. Ever hear of the Kalmyks of the Caucasus? How about the Ingush and Chechens? Why are there Koreans in Kazakhstan, and Jews in the Far East of Siberia? They were all deported there on Stalin’s orders. And I’m not even going into the various class enemies that were killed, incarcerated, or deported, especially the Kulaks, a completely fictional class of “wealthy peasants.”

That’s the past. What about the present? Why is there still so much fear, hatred, envy, and murderous intent toward Jews? There are several interrelated answers to that question. One is the general opposition of Arab states. Another is Muslim jihadism. A third is anti-Westernism. A fourth, and perhaps the most insidious, is Leftism in general, especially radical forms of socialism. Each of these four factors reinforce each other and generate a synergistic effect resulting in anti-Israeli rhetoric, support for jihadist terrorists, unconditional support for the Palestinians, and general hatred and resentment of Jews, whether they are religious or secular.

I will continue my thoughts on these matters in further articles. Stay tuned.

By Richard Martin

An acquaintance asked me how money backed by gold or any other commodity can be more stable than fiat currency. Here is part 1 my answer.

Money started as commodities that were used in exchange to resolve the coincidence of wants problem. If I have apples and you have oranges and someone else has bananas, but the quantities, qualities, and timings don’t match, we can use a neutral commodity as a medium of exchange. That commodity then becomes independently valued for its saleability and marketability and eventually is considered a monetary good.

Commodities that have served as money include seashells, quipu (Peru), wampum, beads, tools, jewelry, iron, bronze, glass, copper, silver, and of course, gold. And also livestock, which is reckoned as heads — caput in Latin — whence the words cattle, chattels and capital. In other words, commodity moneys are nothing but  liquid wealth.

In the early modern period in Europe, banks developed as money warehouses. People deposited their holdings of precious metals for safekeeping and convenience. Banks would issue certificates of deposit, letters of credit, and banknotes, all of which could be used as money substitutes or fiduciary media. Depositors could also draw funds by writing checks. 

But that was too enticing to bankers, who started issuing banknotes and various certificates on credit under the assumption that they would not all be exchanged for physical money on deposit. They were then commandeered by governments, primarily in Great Britain, or set up various private rackets and cliques to issue loans to friends and family without full backing.

Through a series of factors including influence peddling, bribery, fraud, jurisprudence, and legal chicanery, over 400 or so years we have gotten to the current monetary system where all official currencies in the world are entirely fiat and we have a full fractional-reserve banking system. This leads to credit bubbles and the cycle of boom and bust.

More to follow.

By Richard Martin

There is no need for a “special rapporteur.” Parliament has the tools to do their job through committees. There also exist provisions in the law for commissions of inquiry, public inquiries, judicial inquiries, up to and including royal commissions. They can sub poena witnesses, compel testimony under oath, conduct in camera sessions for classified evidence and testimony.

Trudeau is making it all up as he goes along. Even the idea of calling the assignment “rapporteur” reeks of maskirovka, misdirection, and disinformation. If the PM has nothing to hide, then he shouldn’t have to worry, should he?

Parliament is rubber stamping Trudeau and PMO directives without due process and public scrutiny. We need to remember that the government, meaning the PM and cabinet, are responsible to Parliament, not vice versa. That has been established in our constitution since the winning of responsible government in pre-Confederation Canada.

Unfortunately, the Liberal caucus, aided and abetted by the NDP, is full of spineless sycophants. They are only interested in maintaining the illusion of Parliamentary supremacy, not the substance.

We have only to look at the stalling and obfuscation tactics the Liberal committee members have used over recent days and weeks to prevent Trudeau’s COS Telford from testifying in committee.

That’s the real issue, not whether David Johnston is “honourable” enough to take on the assignment of Specious Raconteur!

Par Quentin Malcolm Innis, contributeur spécial au blogue

Je n’aurais pas pensé qu’un an après le début de la guerre de Poutine contre l’Ukraine, il y aurait encore des gens pour défendre la Russie.  Surtout après Bucha, après que le VDV russe ait été révélé comme une collection de meurtriers, de violeurs et de voleurs, je ne sais pas comment quelqu’un peut défendre la Russie ou plaider en sa faveur.   Cependant, certaines personnes apprennent lentement, alors voici une compilation des arguments des tankies, avec quelques réflexions en réponse.   

Pourquoi des tankies ?  Le terme « tankie » provient des malheureux gauchistes qui ont défendu les invasions russes de la Hongrie en 1956 et de la Tchécoslovaquie en 1968.  Pour défendre leur prémisse simpliste du « bien de l’URSS », ils ont été contraints par les circonstances de ces invasions d’effectuer une série de pirouettes intellectuelles, dont certaines ont été ressuscitées pour tenter de justifier l’invasion actuelle de l’Ukraine par la Russie.  Ces tentatives ont de nombreuses variantes, mais voici sept des plus populaires.  

La menace historique de l’Occident.  La Russie a été envahie par des pays occidentaux à trois reprises au cours des 210 dernières années, à commencer par l’invasion de Napoléon dans le cadre de la deuxième guerre de Pologne en 1812.  Toutefois, au cours de cette même période de 210 ans, la Russie a été impliquée dans au moins 39 autres guerres.  

1812.  Il est vrai que la Grande Armée de Napoléon a envahi la Russie en 1812.  Cependant, toutes les guerres commencent par des manœuvres diplomatiques et, avant l’invasion, Napoléon et le tsar Alexandre Ier se sont disputés au sujet du retrait d’Alexandre du blocus continental, principale arme stratégique de Napoléon contre l’Angleterre.  L’invasion française de la Russie commence lorsqu’Alexandre lance un ultimatum à Napoléon lui demandant de retirer les troupes françaises de Prusse et du Grand-Duché de Varsovie en avril 1812.  Napoléon a refusé, et la deuxième guerre de Pologne a suivi.  

1914.  Si les causes de la Première Guerre mondiale sont multiples et complexes, l’événement qui a précipité la guerre est l’assassinat de l’archiduc François-Ferdinand d’Autriche-Hongrie et de son épouse en 1914.  Le 23 juillet, les Autrichiens ont soumis à la Serbie une liste de demandes qu’ils savaient inacceptables, afin d’obtenir un prétexte pour la guerre.  Le 25 juillet, les Serbes ont accepté toutes les demandes autrichiennes sauf une, mais les Autrichiens ont affirmé que cette réserve équivalait à un rejet de leurs demandes et ont déclaré la guerre le 28 juillet.  Les Russes se mobilisèrent pour soutenir la Serbie le 30 juillet, les Allemands se mobilisèrent à leur tour, et la guerre fut lancée.  Les Russes se retirent de la guerre qu’ils ont contribué à déclencher en 1917, permettant aux Allemands de transférer leurs forces sur le front occidental pour l’offensive de mars 1918, et de presque gagner la guerre.  

1941.  L’opération Barbarossa, l’invasion allemande de la Russie, débuta le 22 juin 1941.  C’est une surprise pour les Russes, car ils supposaient que les Allemands respecteraient les termes du pacte Molotov-Ribbentrop, signé le 23 août 1939, qui permettait à l’Allemagne et à la Russie de démembrer la Pologne en attaquant simultanément.  Son flanc oriental étant sécurisé, Hitler se tourne alors vers l’ouest, envahissant la majeure partie de l’Europe occidentale et isolant l’Angleterre.  La Russie joua ainsi un rôle clé dans la réalisation des plans allemands, donnant le coup d’envoi de la guerre la plus sanglante de l’histoire.  

La Russie prétend être la partie lésée dans ces guerres, alors qu’elle en a déclenché une et précipité les deux autres en lançant des ultimatums qu’elle savait inacceptables pour la puissance adverse.  À cela s’ajoute la liste des attaques russes contre leurs voisins.  

2014 : Ukraine

2008 : Ossétie et Abkhazie en Géorgie

1994 – 1996 et 1999 – 2009 : Tchétchénie

1979 – 1989 : Afghanistan

1968 : Tchécoslovaquie

1956 : Hongrie

1953 : Allemagne de l’Est

1939 : Estonie, Finlande, Lettonie, Lituanie, Pologne, Roumanie

1929 – 1930 : Afghanistan

1921 : Géorgie

1920 : Azerbaïdjan

1917 – 1921 : Estonie, Finlande, Géorgie, Kazakhstan, Lettonie, Lituanie, Pologne, Ukraine

1905 : Japon

C’est sans compter la guerre civile russe, les annexions après les Première et Seconde Guerres mondiales ainsi que l’implication dans diverses petites guerres, y compris, plus récemment, en Syrie.  Il est évident que la Russie ne peut prétendre à l’innocence, mais qu’elle a plutôt été un prédateur constant de ses voisins.

La Russie est actuellement menacée par l’expansion de l’OTAN.  L’OTAN est, par conception, une alliance défensive et n’a pas pour mandat d’envahir d’autres pays.  La Russie possède des armes nucléaires ; bien que trois membres de l’OTAN soient des puissances nucléaires, l’OTAN elle-même ne l’est pas.  L’OTAN fonctionne par consensus, ce qui signifie que tous les pays devraient accepter une invasion de la Russie.  L’OTAN aurait également besoin d’une résolution des Nations unies pour organiser une telle invasion.  La Russie fait valoir que l’adhésion de l’Ukraine à l’OTAN pourrait placer des armes nucléaires lancées depuis le sol à moins de 1 000 kilomètres de Moscou, mais la réalité est que les États-Unis peuvent déployer des bombardiers équipés de missiles de croisière à charge nucléaire, une menace bien plus grande, à moins de 1 000 kilomètres de Moscou n’importe quel jour de la semaine.  L’OTAN est une organisation volontaire qui permet aux pays de demander leur adhésion en fonction de la perception qu’ils ont de leurs besoins.  Adhérer ou non à l’OTAN est un choix que les Ukrainiens peuvent faire, comme Poutine l’a lui-même reconnu dans son essai « Sur l’unité historique des Russes et des Ukrainiens ».   Refuser ce choix aux Ukrainiens, c’est les priver de leur autonomie et interférer avec leur droit à l’autodétermination. 

La Russie a le droit d’intervenir dans les pays voisins.  Nous vivons dans un monde post-Wilsonien, où nous avons convenu que les pays possèdent un droit à l’autodétermination.  Affirmer que la Russie a le « droit » d’intervenir dans les affaires intérieures de ses voisins viole ce droit à l’autodétermination.  Essentiellement, cet argument se résume à la loi du plus fort.  L’humanité a évolué au-delà de cela ; c’est pourquoi nous avons les Nations unies et pourquoi le recours légitime à la force nécessite une résolution des Nations unies.  Argumenter que d’autres pays interviennent auprès de leurs voisins est une réponse puérile. Si les Américains ont tort d’utiliser la force sans résolution de l’ONU, alors les Russes ont également tort.  

L’Ukraine n’est pas un vrai pays.  C’est l’essentiel d’un essai que Poutine a publié en juillet 2021, intitulé « Sur l’unité historique des Russes et des Ukrainiens ».  Dans cet essai, Poutine affirme que l’Ukraine a, historiquement, fait partie de la Russie et que les Ukrainiens n’ont donc pas d’identité nationale.  Mais l’Ukraine est antérieure à la Russie : Kiev a été fondée en 482, Moscou en 1147.  Les Ukrainiens sont-ils donc russes, ou les Russes sont-ils ukrainiens ?  Poutine consacre beaucoup de temps et d’efforts à construire un récit liant l’Ukraine et la Russie, affirmant que l’Ukraine moderne est une création de l’Union soviétique et soulignant les similitudes de langue et de religion.  Mais il admet que, dans d’autres parties du monde, des personnes partageant la même langue et la même religion existent en tant que pays différents, citant les exemples de l’Allemagne et de l’Autriche, et du Canada et des États-Unis.  Malgré tous ses efforts pour construire un récit dans lequel les Ukrainiens et les Russes ne forment qu’un seul peuple, Poutine admet l’existence de l’Ukraine, affirmant le droit de l’Ukraine à l’autodétermination dans sa déclaration finale : « Et ce que sera l’Ukraine, c’est à ses citoyens d’en décider. »  Donc, si Poutine admet que l’Ukraine et la Russie sont des pays distincts, concède que des personnes partageant une religion et une langue communes peuvent vivre dans des pays distincts, et concède le droit du peuple ukrainien à l’autodétermination, pourquoi ordonner l’invasion de l’Ukraine ? 

L’Ukraine est dirigée par des nazis.  C’est évidemment faux ; l’actuel président ukrainien est juif.  Le président Zelenskyy est de langue maternelle russe et est diplômé en droit de l’Université économique nationale de Kiev.  Il a remporté les dernières élections avec 73,23 % des voix, battant le candidat soutenu par le Kremlin, Petro Porochenko, qui avait été poussé par les médias russes et approuvé par Poutine.  Le président Zelenskyy a engagé des négociations avec la Russie pour mettre fin à la guerre en cours, sur la base de la mise en œuvre des accords de Minsk 1 et 2, mais, comme nous le savons maintenant, les Russes n’ont pas négocié de bonne foi pendant cette période.  Zelenskyy semble avoir été surpris par l’escalade russe de la guerre le 24 février de l’année dernière, mais il s’est adapté rapidement et a organisé une réponse ukrainienne extrêmement efficace.  Il a fait campagne sur un programme de lutte contre la corruption et a poursuivi le nettoyage du gouvernement ukrainien en écartant plusieurs politiciens et bureaucrates de haut rang.  Le grand-père du président Zelenskyy, Semyon Ivanovych Zelenskyy, a servi dans l’Armée rouge, atteignant le grade de colonel dans la 57e division de fusiliers motorisés des Gardes.  Le père et les trois frères du colonel Zelenskyy sont morts pendant l’Holocauste, après que les troupes allemandes ont réduit leur maison en cendres.  Selon Statista, en novembre 2022, la cote de popularité du président Zelenskyy était de 91 % chez les 15-34 ans, de 85 % chez les 35-54 ans et de 79 % chez les plus de 55 ans.  Dans l’ensemble, ce n’est pas l’image d’un nazi, d’un fauteur de guerre ou d’un dirigeant inepte.

Les accusations de néonazisme se fondent sur le parti Svoboda, qui a remporté 2 % des voix lors des dernières élections nationales et détient un siège au sein de la Verkhovna Rada, le Parlement ukrainien, qui compte 450 membres.  Il n’y a pas de chambre haute dans le système ukrainien, et les membres sont élus selon un système combinant représentation proportionnelle et de scrutin majoritaire à un tour, avec 50 % des membres provenant de listes de partis et 50 % élus dans des circonscriptions.  Le soutien électoral de Svoboda a connu une tendance à la baisse depuis le pic atteint en 2012 alors qu’il avait obtenu 10,45 % des voix.  

L’Ukraine est le “pays le plus corrompu d’Europe”.  Ce n’est pas le cas.  Selon le classement de Transparency International, le pays le plus corrompu d’Europe est la Russie, qui se classe au 137e rang avec un score de 28.   L’Ukraine quant à elle est classée 116e, avec un score de 33.

C’est une guerre par procuration entre la Russie et les États-Unis.  Comme je l’ai noté ailleurs, c’est une guerre de la Russie contre l’Europe.  Poutine est motivé par le pouvoir et est terrifié à l’idée de le perdre.  Les États-Unis soutiennent-ils l’Ukraine ? Oui, bien sûr.  L’OTAN soutient-elle l’Ukraine ?  Encore une fois, oui.  Mais il ne s’agit en aucun cas d’une guerre par procuration.  Cette guerre a commencé avec l’invasion de l’Ukraine par la Russie en 2014, en violation du Mémorandum de Budapest de 1994, dans lequel la Russie, ainsi que le Royaume-Uni et les États-Unis, ont accepté de garantir la souveraineté de la Biélorussie, de l’Ukraine et du Kazakhstan en échange de l’abandon des armes nucléaires par ces trois pays.  La Russie a violé cet accord à plusieurs reprises ; le Royaume-Uni et les États-Unis le font respecter.  L’Ukraine n’est pas un pantin de l’Occident ; c’est un pays qui se défend contre une attaque, comme le permet l’article 51 de la Charte des Nations unies.  Prétendre que l’Ukraine est un pantin la prive de sa faculté d’agir et constitue une tentative de créer une fausse équivalence morale.  

N’oubliez pas qui vous soutenez.  Si ce qui précède ne vous convainc pas, rappelez-vous que la conduite indique la moralité ; les Russes se sont conduits de manière barbare et atroce.  Si vous voulez toujours soutenir les Russes, c’est très bien ; mais comprenez qui et ce que vous soutenez.  

Dès le 25 février 2022, Amnesty International a estimé que les attaques contre Vuhledar, Kharkiv et Ouman étaient susceptibles de constituer des crimes de guerre.  Alors que les forces ukrainiennes ont repris des villes et des villages, des preuves de viols et de tortures ont été mises au jour.  Les forces russes enlèvent des enfants et les renvoient en Russie, où ils sont adoptés par des familles russes.  Les forces russes ont enrôlé des civils dans les territoires occupés et les ont utilisés comme chair à canon, les envoyant au combat avec un minimum d’équipement, de formation ou d’encadrement.  

Le bureau du procureur ukrainien a recensé 39 347 crimes de guerre présumés commis par les forces russes.  Plus de 600 suspects ont été identifiés, et des procédures judiciaires ont été engagées contre 80 d’entre eux.  Les autorités ukrainiennes ont jusqu’à présent jugé 3 membres des services russes, qui ont tous plaidé coupable.  

Les forces russes ont délibérément pris pour cible des civils, des biens culturels (protégés par le droit international humanitaire) et des infrastructures essentielles, notamment des hôpitaux, des écoles et des abris.  

Il y a eu trois allégations de crimes de guerre commis par les troupes ukrainiennes ; ces allégations font l’objet d’une enquête de la part des autorités ukrainiennes, en vue d’engager des poursuites si cela se justifie.   Jusqu’à présent, les autorités russes ont refusé d’enquêter sur les allégations de crimes de guerre commis par les troupes russes.  

Pendant ce temps, l’effet sur la société russe s’accroît.  Depuis 1992, 58 journalistes russes sont morts, dont 38 en conséquence directe de leurs activités professionnelles.  Les Russes sont désormais passibles d’emprisonnement pour avoir ne serait-ce que qualifier l’invasion de l’Ukraine par la Russie de guerre, et des milliers de familles russes ont perdu des fils et des maris pour une cause défaillante. 

La Russie est engagée dans une guerre illégale, non provoquée et injustifiable en Ukraine.  Ses soldats se sont comportés comme des criminels.  Rien ne justifie les actions de la Russie, et si vous êtes encore un apologiste de la Russie, vous êtes du mauvais côté de l’histoire. 

© 2023 Quentin Malcolm Innis

A guest article by Quentin Malcolm Innis, CD

I would not have thought that, one year into Putin’s war on Ukraine, there would still be people defending Russia.  Particularly post-Bucha, after the Russian VDV has been revealed as a collection of murderers, rapists, and thieves, I’m unsure how anyone can defend Russia or advocate on Russia’s behalf.   However, some people are slow learners, so here’s a compilation of tankie arguments, with some thoughts in response.   

Why tankies?  The term “tankie” derives from the hapless left-wingers who defended the Russian invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.  To defend their simplistic premise of “USSR good” they were forced by the circumstances of these invasions to perform a series of intellectual backflips, some of which have been resurrected as attempts to justify the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.  These attempts have many variations, but following are seven of the most popular. 

The Historical Threat from the West.  Russia has been invaded by the West three times over the past 210 years, starting with Napoleon’s invasion as part of the Second Polish War in 1812.  However, in that same 210-year period, Russia has been involved in at least 39 other wars.  

1812.  It is true that Napoleon’s Grand Army invaded Russia in 1812.  However, all wars start with diplomatic manoeuvring, and in the lead-up to the invasion, Napoleon and Czar Alexander the First had been bickering over Alexander’s withdrawal from the Continental Blockade, Napoleon’s primary strategic weapon against England.  The French invasion of Russia began when Alexander issued an ultimatum to Napoleon demanding that he remove French troops from Prussia and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in April 1812.  Napoleon refused, and the Second Polish War was declared.  

1914.  While WW1 had multiple and intersecting causes, the event that precipitated the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in 1914.  On 23 July, the Austrians submitted a list of demands to Serbia that they knew would be unacceptable, to secure a pretext for war.  On 25 July, the Serbians accepted all but one of the Austrian demands, but the Austrians claimed that the caveat amounted to a rejection of their demands and declared war on 28 July.  The Russians mobilized to support Serbia on 30 July, the Germans in turn mobilized, and the war kicked off.  The Russians then tapped out of the war they had a hand in starting, allowing the Germans to switch forces to the Western Front for the March offensive of 1918, nearly winning the war.  

1941.  Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia, began on 22 June 1941.  This came as a surprise to the Russians, as they assumed that the Germans would abide by the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which had been signed 23 August 1939 and allowed Germany and Russia to dismember Poland by attacking simultaneously.  With his Eastern flank secured, Hitler then turned to the west, over-running most of Western Europe and isolating England.  Russia thus played a key part in enabling German plans, kicking off the bloodiest war in human history.  

Russia claims to be the aggrieved party in these wars, even though they enabled one and precipitated the other two through issuing ultimations that they knew would be unacceptable to the opposing power.  Set against this the list of Russian attacks on their neighbours.  

2014: Ukraine

2008: Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia

1994 – 1996 and 1999 – 2009: Chechnya

1979 – 1989: Afghanistan

1968: Czechoslovakia

1956: Hungary

1953: East Germany

1939: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania

1929 – 1930: Afghanistan

1921: Georgia

1920: Azerbaijan

1917 – 1921: Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine

1905: Japan

This does not count the Russian Civil War, annexations after the First and Second World Wars as well as involvement in various smaller wars, including, most recently, Syria.  It’s obvious that Russia has no claim to innocence but has instead been a consistent predator on her neighbours.

Russia is currently threated by NATO expansion.  NATO is, by design, a defensive alliance, and has no mandate to invade other countries.  Russia has nuclear weapons; although three NATO members are nuclear powers, NATO itself is not.  NATO operates by consensus, which means that every country would need to agree to an invasion of Russia.  NATO would also require a UN resolution to mount such an invasion.  Russia argues that Ukraine joining NATO could place ground-launched nuclear weapons within 1000 kilometers of Moscow, but the reality is that the US can deploy bombers with nuclear-armed cruise missiles, a much greater threat, within 1000 kilometers of Moscow any day of the week.  NATO is a voluntary organization which allows countries to apply for membership based on that country’s perception of need.  Joining or not joining NATO is a choice that Ukrainians can make, as Putting himself acknowledged in his essay “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”.   Denying Ukrainians this choice denies them agency and interferes with their right to self-determination. 

Russia has a right to intervene in neighbouring countries.  We live in a post-Wilsonian world, where we have agreed that countries possess a right to self-determination.  Arguing that Russia has a “right” to interfere with the internal affairs of its neighbours violates that right to self-determination.  Essentially, this argument boils down to “might makes right.”  We have evolved beyond that; this is why we have the UN and why the legitimate use of force requires a UN resolution.  Arguing that other countries intervene with their neighbours is a childish response. If it’s wrong for the Americans use force without a UN resolution, then it’s also wrong for the Russians.  

Ukraine is not a real country.  This is the gist of an essay that Putin published in July of 2021, titled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians.”  In this essay, Putin argues that Ukraine has, historically, been a part of Russia, and that Ukrainians therefore have no national identity.  But Ukraine pre-dates Russia: Kyiv was founded in 482; Moscow in 1147.  So are Ukrainians Russian, or are Russians Ukrainian?  Putin spends a considerable amount of time and effort constructing a narrative linking Ukraine and Russia, making the claim that modern Ukraine is a creation of the Soviet Union, and pointing to the similarities of language and religion.  But he concedes that, in other parts of the world, people sharing language and religion exist as different countries, citing the examples of Germany and Austria, and Canada and the United States.  Despite his best efforts to construct a narrative in which Ukrainians and Russians are one people, Putin admits to the existence of Ukraine, averring Ukraine’s right to self-determination with his closing statement: “And what Ukraine will be – it is up to its citizens to decide.”  So, if Putin admits that Ukraine and Russia are separate countries, concedes that people sharing common religions and language can live in separate countries, and concedes the Ukrainian people’s right to self-determination, why did he invade? 

Ukraine is run by Nazis.  Obviously untrue; the current Ukrainian president is Jewish.  President Zelenskyy is a native Russian speaker and graduated from the Kyiv National Economic University with a degree in law.  He won the last election with 73.23% of the vote, defeating the Kremlin-backed candidate, Petro Poroshenko, who had been pushed by Russian media and endorsed by Putin.  President Zelenskyy engaged negotiations with Russia to end the ongoing war, based on implementing the Minsk 1 and 2 agreements, but, as we now know, the Russians were not negotiating in good faith during this period.  Zelenskyy appears to have been caught by surprise by the Russian escalation of the war on 24 February of last year, but adapted quickly and has organized an extremely effective Ukrainian response.  He campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and has pushed ahead with cleaning up the Ukrainian government, removing several high-ranking politicians and bureaucrats.  President Zelenskyy’s grandfather, Semyon Ivanovych Zelenskyy, served in the Red Army, reaching the rank of colonel in the 57th Guards Motor Rifle Division.  Colonel Zelenskyy’s father and three brothers died in the Holocaust after German troops burned their home to the ground.  According to Statista, as of November 2022, President Zelenskyy’s approval rating was 91% for those 15 to 34, 85% for those 35 to 54 age, and 79% amongst those over 55.  All in all, hardly the picture of a Nazi, a war-monger, or an inept leader.

The charges of neo-Nazism are based around the Svoboda party, which won 2% of the vote in the last national election and holds one seat in the 450-member Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament.  There is no upper house in the Ukrainian system, and members are elected using a system which is a mix of proportional representation and first-past-the-post, with 50% of the members coming from party lists and 50% elected from constituencies.  Voting support for Svoboda has been trending downwards since peaking in 2012 at 10.45% of the vote.  

Ukraine is the “most corrupt country in Europe”.  It is not.  According to Transparency International’s ratings, the most corrupt country in Europe is Russia, ranking 137th in the world with a score of 28.   Ukraine ranks a 116th, with a score of 33.

This is a proxy war between Russia and the US.  As I’ve noted elsewhere, this is a war by Russia against Europe.  Putin is motivated by power and is terrified of losing it.  Is the United States supporting Ukraine? Yes, of course.  Is NATO supporting Ukraine?  Again, yes.  But this is by no means a proxy war.  This war started with Russia invading Ukraine in 2014, in violation of the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, in which Russia, along with the UK and the US, agreed to guarantee sovereignty for Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan in exchange for those three countries giving up nuclear weapons.  Russia has repeatedly violated that agreement; the UK and the US are upholding it.  Ukraine is not a proxy for the West; it is a country defending itself from attack, as permitted by Article 51 of the UN Charter.  Claiming that Ukraine is a proxy denies Ukraine agency and is an attempt to create a false moral equivalency.  

Remember who you are supporting.  If the foregoing does not convince you, then remember that conduct indicates morality, and the Russians have conducted themselves in a barbaric and atrocious manner.  If you still want to support the Russians, that’s fine; but understand who and what you are supporting.  

As early as 25 February 2022 Amnesty International identified attacks on Vuhledar, Kharkiv, and Uman as likely to constitute war crimes.  As Ukrainian forces have recaptured towns and villages, evidence of rape and torture has been uncovered.  Russian forces are kidnapping children and sending them to back to Russia, where they are adopted by Russian families.  Russian forces have conscripted civilians in the occupied territories and used them as cannon fodder, sending them into battle with minimal equipment, training, or leadership.  

The Ukrainian Prosecutor’s office has documented 39,347 alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces.  More than 600 suspects have been identified, and proceedings have been initiated against 80 of these suspects.  The Ukrainian authorities have so far tried 3 Russian service members, all of whom pled guilty.  

Russian forces have deliberately targeted civilians, cultural property (protected under international humanitarian law) and critical infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and shelters.  

There have been 3 allegations of war crimes committed by Ukrainian troops; these are being investigated by the Ukrainian authorities, with a view to conducting prosecutions if warranted.   So far, Russian authorities have declined to investigate allegations of war crimes committed by Russian troops.  

Meanwhile, the effect on Russian society increases.  Since 1992, 58 Russian journalists have died, 38 of them killed as a direct result of their professional activities.  Russians are now subject to imprisonment for even calling the war a war, and thousands of Russian families have lost sons and husbands to a failing cause.  

Russia is engaged in an illegal, unprovoked, and unjustifiable war in Ukraine.  Their soldiers have conducted themselves as criminals.  There is no justification for Russian actions, and if you are still a Russian apologist, you are on the wrong side of history.  

© 2023 Quentin Malcolm Innis

By Richard Martin

There is a widespread belief that Russia’s war of aggression and conquest in Ukraine was somehow caused by the US and, especially, NATO enlargement. This is false. Russia’s aggressive and provocative stance has been consistently driven by its leadership’s drive to reestablish its suzerainty over its former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact countries.

Russia justifies its hegemonic and imperialist aims and actions by claiming that NATO threatens it. This is a complete lie, one that, moreover, is reinforced by ethically-challenged so-called “realist” historians and theorists, including Henry Kissinger and, especially, John Mearsheimer.

The basis of Russia’s claims and actions and that of the “realist” geopolitical hacks is that nations and people within Russia’s “sphere of influence” must respect Russia’s right to dominate them and exploit them as its leaders and people see fit. If there is a more anti-liberal and anti-democratic stance in the world today, I don’t know of it. Russian imperialists are one thing, but the fact that supposedly well-informed Western intellectuals like Kissinger and Mearsheimer still uphold these values is beyond the pale.

People, many of whom should know better, need to reacquaint themselves with the founding principals of Western, liberal, democratic values and ethics, and the political, economic and social consequences derived therefrom. It is also crucial to be aware of the FACTS about Russian claims, instead of sound bites, disinformation, and propaganda injects into Western media, corporate and social. To this end, I’m including a list of useful links to factual information and reports concerning NATO, Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia.

If you want to share your views, go right ahead, as I believe in free speech and open debate and dialogue. With that said, it should be done from a position of knowledge and understanding of actual facts and events, not uninformed commentary on the basis of fears, uncertainty, and doubt.

https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_50090.htm

https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_111767.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO%E2%80%93Russia_relations

https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/115204.htm

https://www.nato.int/…/20120705_0919-12-Fiche-Info-NATO…

par Richard Martin

Il existe une croyance répandue selon laquelle la guerre d’agression et de conquête de la Russie en Ukraine a été en quelque sorte causée par les États-Unis et, surtout, par l’élargissement de l’OTAN. C’est faux. L’attitude agressive et provocatrice de la Russie a toujours été motivée par la volonté de ses dirigeants de rétablir sa suzeraineté sur les anciennes républiques soviétiques et les pays du Pacte de Varsovie.

La Russie justifie ses objectifs et ses actions hégémoniques et impérialistes en affirmant que l’OTAN la menace. Il s’agit d’un mensonge total, qui est d’ailleurs renforcé par des historiens et théoriciens dits “réalistes”, contestés sur le plan éthique, dont Henry Kissinger et, surtout, John Mearsheimer.

La base des revendications et des actions de la Russie et des apologistes géopolitiques “réalistes” est que les nations et les peuples de la “sphère d’influence” de la Russie doivent respecter le droit de la Russie à les dominer et à les exploiter comme ses dirigeants et son peuple l’entendent. S’il existe une position plus anti-libérale et anti-démocratique dans le monde d’aujourd’hui, je ne la connais pas. Les impérialistes russes sont une chose, mais le fait que des intellectuels occidentaux soi-disant bien informés comme Kissinger et Mearsheimer défendent encore ces valeurs est inacceptable.

Les gens, dont beaucoup devraient être mieux informés, doivent se réapproprier les principes fondateurs des valeurs et de l’éthique occidentales, libérales et démocratiques, ainsi que les conséquences politiques, économiques et sociales qui en découlent. Il est également crucial de connaître les FAITS concernant les revendications russes, au lieu des extraits sonores, de la désinformation et de la propagande injectés dans les médias occidentaux, commerciaux et sociaux. À cette fin, j’ai inclus une liste de liens utiles vers des informations et des rapports factuels concernant l’OTAN, la Russie, l’Ukraine et la Géorgie.

Si vous voulez partager vos opinions, allez-y, car je crois en la liberté d’expression, au débat ouvert et au dialogue. Cela dit, il faut le faire à partir d’une position de connaissance et de compréhension des faits et des événements réels, et non pas à partir de commentaires non informés fondés sur des craintes, des incertitudes et des doutes.

https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/115204.htm…

https://www.nato.int/cps/fr/natolive/topics_50090.htm

https://fr.wikipedia.org/…/Relations_entre_la_Russie_et…

By Richard Martin

Many people seem to assume that democratization of Russia will solve the main problem, which is Russian imperialism and expansionism. The immediate aim is to support Ukraine in its struggle to free itself from Russian occupation and agression through military action by supplying the physical means and resources to do so. Whether Russia becomes democratic as an outcome or through the workings of these actions is irrelevant from the standpoint of the grand strategic aim of winning the war.

I don’t think there is necessarily a need for an “internal drive” toward democracy. The current mindset of the majority of Ukrainians proves the point. Ukrainians have pretty consistently sought national self-determination throughout their history, regardless of the form of government or constitution. They were resigned to live under Russian hegemony since at least the early 19th century. The turnabout started in 1991, before which there was no more a history or tradition of Ukrainian democracy than in Russia or any of the other Soviet satrapies.

If the Ukrainian people can change their mindset in the space of 30 years then, so can the Russians. But that should give us an idea of the time that is needed to effect the transition.

The Japanese, Germans and Italians adopted democracy after WWII as a result of total defeat and humiliation. The likelihood that Russia will be in such abject straights at the end of the current war is, for all intents and purposes, nil.

Russia is currently deterred from further escalation by NATO and, especially, the US nuclear umbrella and material support to Ukraine. The Ukrainians are training and preparing for a long-term struggle and, even more significant, the need to continue deterring Russia post-liberation of their country.

We in the West and NATO must accept that whatever the immediate outcome in Ukraine, Russia (and its dubious allies) will have to be contained and deterred for the foreseeable future. And that’s regardless of what happens to Putin and his henchmen.

© Richard Martin

By Richard Martin

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resistance of the Ukrainian people, government and armed forces have provided the world and especially NATO countries with the focus and resolve to assist Ukraine in defending its independence and security in alignment with the fundamental NATO values of freedom, democracy, law, and rights. 

Russia is seeking to undermine these values by dominating Ukraine and its people while attacking the same values in other countries, and specifically within NATO and the EU. Russia has been consistently employing “hybrid” warfare techniques to undermine the resolve and morale of the peoples and nations that oppose Russian ways and means of achieving its aggressive ends. The attack on gas pipeline infrastructure in the Baltic is just one example of this.

Beyond this, Russia has been conducting information warfare and psychological operations against NATO, the EU, and the West in general. The main approach involves using disinformation and other hostile information activities. There are two main goals. The first is to present the Russian point of view, to convince citizens, decision-makers, and influencers in NATO and EU countries to either support Russia’s war aims in Ukraine, or to undermine their support for their own nations’ commitment to supporting Ukraine and countering Russia. The second goal is to sow chaos, confusion, discord, and conflict within and between NATO/EU countries.

The first of these goals is familiar and is traditionally called propaganda. Although it is not pleasant, it is relatively easy to counter with facts and rational argument. The second goal is less familiar and resembles in many ways classic disinformation, misdirection, and active measures adopted by the Soviet Union and other Communist powers during the Cold War. It is much more insidious, as it aims at nothing less than eroding the ability of free-thinking individuals and groups to act effectively and efficiently in the face of threats to peace, security, and prosperity. In a nutshell, disinformation and active measures are forms of epistemological warfare.

Young people are probably the most vulnerable to epistemological warfare, as their ideas and habits of mind are still in development. They are highly vulnerable to disinformation, ideologies, and nihilistic questioning of the values and structures that uphold the values of freedom, democracy, rule of law, and human rights. Young people are idealistic, with many hopes and dreams about the future, both collective and personal, but these ideals are not tempered by the experience of living and the knowledge of history, values, and goals of our societies.

Epistemological warfare throws contradictory and inflammatory statements, observations, and opinions into the infosphere, especially social media, and sees what will stick. There is not necessarily an ideological standpoint that is upheld. The aim is not to say one side or opinion is better than another, but instead to sow doubt about what is real, and whether anyone in authority or with expertise is to be trusted. Disinformation about COVID-19, the actions of powerful and/or wealthy people, conspiracy theories, etc., are all grist for the mill.

The threat goes well beyond cyberattacks, disinformation, and misdirection. In fact, I believe we have entered a new phase of information warfare which I call “epistemological warfare.” The aim of epistemological warfare isn’t just to attack nations and their populations with false, misleading, obfuscating, or confusing information and propaganda. It goes much further by launching a full-scale assault on the critical faculties and judgment of friendly nations, populations, and leaders.

The techniques are many but focus mainly on eroding critical thinking by overwhelming the public sphere, especially through social media channels and platforms, with false, doubtful, or contradictory information presented in sound bites, images, video clips, and Internet “memes” that exploit and reinforce well-known cognitive biases and fallacies. These include everything from non sequitur and tu quoque fallacies, to psychological heuristics such as the primacy effect, the bandwagon effect, and others too numerous to list.

The goal is to erode the ability of individuals to judge what is true and false, who and what to believe, and who to support. This results in a cynical and nihilistic attitude toward the facts, intentions, and objectives presented by and for contending powers and forces and undermines support for a strong defence against hostile intent and activities.

© Richard Martin

by Richard Martin

This question was asked by an acquaintance of mine this morning. This is my answer.

Not in the least. For the following reasons.

1. The West as a whole, and particularly the EU, NATO, and the US, invited post-Soviet Russia with open arms into the international community of nations after the end of the Cold War. There was a Russia-NATO joint commission. Russia was first invited and accepted into the G7 — becoming the G8 — and G20 groups as well as the WTO. Western companies poured hundreds of billions into Russia in investment, only to see their operations hijacked and expropriated to the benefit of Moscow’s minions.

2. NATO countries made great efforts to secure and destroy Soviet nuclear weapons and materials, all at the cost of the countries doing the hard work of conversion and transformation. There were disarmament treaties and attempts at military cooperation and confidence building measures. NATO and other Western nations actively engaged with former Soviet republics to increase military professionalism and assist in converting their armed forces to a more defensive posture under civilian control.

NATO Exercise in West Germany in the 1970s

3. At the end of the 80s, just before the end of the Cold War, NATO forces in Europe were well-armed, integrated, and operationally exercised and trained to a very high standard of readiness and capability. I know, I served as an infantry platoon commander in Germany and then brigade and division staff officer from 1988-91. I participated in the largest peacetime deployment of troops as part of the REFORGER exercises in Germany in September 1988, with the US V and VII Corps and the entire German army, plus all the other countries in the Central Region of NATO. Before that, I was a platoon commander in the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. We deployed on exercise by sea and air to northern Norway in August-October 1986 for the largest peacetime deployment on Exercise Brave Lion, to train with the Norwegian Armed Forces as well as the Royal, Dutch, and US Marines. This was to demonstrate and test the capabilities of the Canadian Air-Sea Transportable Brigade to NATO’s northern flank. The US protected Western Europe with its nuclear arsenal, especially at the level of theatre nuclear forces (Pershing II, Lance, and cruise missiles). Meanwhile, the US was developing and deploying the initial elements of the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars).

4. NATO countries, mostly in Europe and Canada, paid out the “peace dividend” and proceeded to slowly disarm and degrade their military capabilities. Eventually, the Baltic republics, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Albania, Slovenia, and Croatia formally asked to join NATO and were accepted into the collective security organization. These countries had to meet stringent requirements in terms of military professionalism, civilian control of the armed forces, respect for the rule of law, and the explicit renunciation of expansionism and irredentism.

5. Western nations only started to change their tack with Russia after it became clear that the Kremlin had no intention of honouring its commitments to respect the borders of the former Soviet republics, recognized by the international community of nations and integrated into the UN. The Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 was only the first move by Russia, followed by the annexation of Crimea and the Donbass separatist “people’s republics” in 2014. That’s when the West finally woke up to the Russian threat and imposed economic and political sanctions. But nowhere near to the same level as what is being imposed since 24 February 2022.

6. Russia NEEDS to be cancelled. The West must isolate the Russian economy, punish those who are responsible for this war of aggression, support Ukraine with as much military, technical, economic, financial, diplomatic, and political means as needed to defeat and reverse the invasion and to restore the borders of Ukraine to the internationally recognized — including by Russia in 1994 — borders of post-Soviet breakup. That means that the so-called “peoples’ republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk and the Crimean peninsula must be reconquered by Ukraine.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was an infantry officer for over 20 years in the Canadian Army. He is currently an entrepreneur, strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable information and signals from chaos and noise.