Archive for August, 2014

How can you tell whether Russia has invaded Ukraine?


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Last Thursday the Ukrainian government, echoed by NATO spokesmen, declared that the the Russian military is now operating within Ukraine\’s borders. Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn\’t; what do you know? They said the same thing before, most recently on August 13, and then on August 17, each time with either no evidence or fake evidence. But let\’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

You be the judge. I put together this helpful list of top ten telltale signs that will allow you to determine whether indeed Russia invaded Ukraine last Thursday, or whether Thursday\’s announcement is yet another confabulation. (Credit to Roman Kretsul).

Because if Russia invaded on Thursday morning, this is what the situation on the ground would look like by Saturday afternoon.

1. Ukrainian artillery fell silent almost immediately. They are no longer shelling residential districts of Donetsk and Lugansk. This is because their locations had been pinpointed prior to the operation, and by Thursday afternoon they were completely wiped out using air attacks, artillery and ground-based rocket fire, as the first order of business. Local residents are overjoyed that their horrible ordeal is finally at an end.

2. The look of military activity on the ground in Donetsk and Lugansk has changed dramatically. Whereas before it involved small groups of resistance fighters, the Russians operate in battalions of 400 men and dozens of armored vehicles, followed by convoys of support vehicles (tanker trucks, communications, field kitchens, field hospitals and so on). The flow of vehicles in and out is non-stop, plainly visible on air reconnaissance and satellite photos. Add to that the relentless radio chatter, all in Russian, which anyone who wants to can intercept, and the operation becomes impossible to hide.

3. The Ukrainian military has promptly vanished. Soldiers and officers alike have taken off their uniforms, abandoned their weapons, and are doing their best to blend in with the locals. Nobody thought the odds of the Ukrainian army against the Russians were any good. Ukraine\’s only military victory against Russia was at the battle of Konotop in 1659, but at the time Ukraine was allied with the mighty Khanate of Crimea, and, you may have noticed, Crimea is not on Ukraine\’s side this time around.

4. There are Russian checkpoints everywhere. Local civilians are allowed through, but anyone associated with a government, foreign or domestic, is detained for questioning. A filtration system has been set up to return demobilized Ukrainian army draftees to their native regions, while the volunteers and the officers are shunted to pretrial detention centers, to determine whether they had ordered war crimes to be committed.

5. Most of Ukraine\’s border crossings are by now under Russian control. Some have been reinforced with air defense and artillery systems and tank battalions, to dissuade NATO forces from attempting to stage an invasion. Civilians and humanitarian goods are allowed through. Businessmen are allowed through once they fill out the required forms (which are in Russian).

6. Russia has imposed a no-fly zone over all of Ukraine. All civilian flights have been cancelled. There is quite a crowd of US State Department staffers, CIA and Mossad agents, and Western NGO people stuck at Borispol airport in Kiev. Some are nervously calling everyone they know on their satellite phones. Western politicians are demanding that they be evacuated immediately, but Russian authorities want to hold onto them until their possible complicity in war crimes has been determined.

7. The usual Ukrainian talking heads, such as president Poroshenko, PM Yatsenyuk and others, are no longer available to be interviewed by Western media. Nobody quite knows where they are. There are rumors that they have already fled the country. Crowds have stormed their abandoned residences, and were amazed to discover that they were all outfitted with solid gold toilets. Nor are the Ukrainian oligarchs anywhere to be found, except for the warlord Igor Kolomoisky, who was found in his residence, abandoned by his henchmen, dead from a heart attack. (Contributed by the Saker.)

8. Some of the over 800,000 Ukrainian refugees are starting to stream back in from Russia. They were living in tent cities, many of them in the nearby Rostov region, but with the winter coming they are eager to get back home, now that the shelling is over. Along with them, construction crews, cement trucks and flatbeds stacked with pipe, cable and rebar are streaming in, to repair the damage from the shelling.

9. There is all sorts of intense diplomatic and military activity around the world, especially in Europe and the US. Military forces are on highest alert, diplomats are jetting around and holding conferences. President Obama just held a press conference to announce that “We don\’t have a strategy on Ukraine yet.” His military advisers tell him that his usual strategy of “bomb a little and see what happens” is not likely to be helpful in this instance.

10. Kiev has surrendered. There are Russian tanks on the Maidan Square. Russian infantry is mopping up the remains of Ukraine\’s National Guard. A curfew has been announced. The operation to take Kiev resembled “Shock and Awe” in Baghdad: a few loud bangs and then a whimper.

Armed with this list, you too should be able to determine whether or not Russia has invaded Ukraine last Thursday.

Propaganda and the lack thereof

With regard to the goings-on in Ukraine, I have heard quite a few European and American voices piping in, saying that, yes, Washington and Kiev are fabricating an entirely fictional version of events for propaganda purposes, but then so are the Russians. They appear to assume that if their corporate media is infested with mendacious, incompetent buffoons who are only too happy to repeat the party line, then the Russians must be same or worse.

The reality is quite different. While there is a virtual news blackout with regard to Ukraine in the West, with little being shown beyond pictures of talking heads in Washington and Kiev, the media coverage in Russia is relentless, with daily bulletins describing troop movements, up-to-date maps of the conflict zones, and lots of eye-witness testimony, commentary and analysis. There is also a lively rumor mill on Russian and international social networks, which I tend to disregard because it\’s mostly just that: rumor. In this environment, those who would attempt to fabricate a fictional narrative, as the officials in Washington and Kiev attempt to do, do not survive very long.

There is a great deal to say on the subject, but here I want to limit myself to rectifying some really, really basic misconceptions that Washington has attempted to impose on you via its various corporate media mouthpieces.

1. They would like you to think that there is a Russian invasion in the East of Ukraine. What\’s actually happening is a civil war between the government of Western Ukraine (which no longer rules the east in any definable way) and the Russian population of Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine has been falling apart for decades—ever since independence. The eventual break-up was inevitable, but the catalyst for it was the military overthrow of Ukraine\’s legitimate government and its replacement with cadres hand-picked in Washington.

2. They would like you to think that the Russian government stands behind Lugansk People\’s Republic and Donetsk People\’s Republic—the two regions which, based on referendum results, have chosen to break away from Kiev. In fact, the Russian government has refused to recognize these republics. They have received no official political support from Moscow, which asked for the referendums to be postponed, and repeatedly asked for a cease-fire and an international, negotiated settlement to the crisis. The leadership of LPR and DPR has refused, and now aims for an outright military victory.

3. They would like you to believe that the Russian government is arming the “rebels” in Eastern Ukraine. To the contrary, the Russian government has withheld all military support, limiting itself to providing humanitarian supplies to the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been destroyed by artillery and rocket fire coming from the Ukrainian forces. The weapons in the “rebels\’” arsenal are trophies, which they seized from the retreating Ukrainian forces. That said, the “rebels” are indeed being supported—but by the Russian people, not the Russian government. Remember, these are all Russians, on both sides of the border, and the Ukrainian government no longer controls any of it.

4. They want to convince you that Russia poses a threat to peace in Europe, and that the crisis in Ukraine is part of an imperialist Russian strategy to resurrect the USSR. Nothing could be further from the truth. The overarching Russian ambition is for Russia to be a normal country, subject of international law, at peace with the whole world, and integrated into the global economy. The Russian government is doing next to nothing to prevent Russians in areas that were once part of Russia from being slaughtered right in their homes using artillery and rocket fire. This makes for a distressing spectacle, but the Russian people understand that enlarging the military conflict beyond the by now purely notional borders of Ukraine is not the answer.

5. They want to assure you that Kiev will eventually prevail in the conflict. In fact, the Ukrainian military is being systematically destroyed. Shelling civilians is the only activity which they have been able to carry out successfully. The government in Kiev has instituted three mobilizations, one after the other, sending into battle boys and old men (maximum draft age is now 60). Those who refuse to be drafted were at first threatened with incarceration, but this no longer works, so they are now threatened with murder. The unofficial “fee” for getting out of being drafted is several thousand dollars. These soldiers are badly armed, badly trained, completely demoralized, and they mostly refuse to fight. Ukraine is quickly running out of tanks and APCs, which are all old Soviet-era and have been rusting for decades. It appears that Ukraine no longer has an air force at all. The casualties run into the tens of thousands. Over just one week in July, 1400 Ukrainian soldiers were killed; on the other side the figure is 10. The kill ratio is 140:1 and that one number tells almost the whole story. The war is far from over, but now, for the first time, LPR and DPR actually have something resembling an army, and that army is going on attack. Once the Ukrainian military collapses altogether, there is still the mercenary force maintained by the oligarch Kolomoisky, who runs Dnepropetrovsk Region as a personal fiefdom, and has recently decided to take charge of other neighboring regions as well. But mercenaries don\’t like getting killed and, beyond a certain point, will simply run away. In all, it seems increasingly likely that Kiev will lose and that Ukraine will cease to exist.

6. They want you to think that the government in Kiev is legitimate, popular and stable. In fact, there are huge protests going on in Kiev at this very moment. The entire country is beyond bankrupt and is falling apart in real time, not just in the east, but everywhere. The people are beyond angry. The military units retreating from the east are in a foul mood, and may soon decide to turn their weapons against those who ordered them into battle. The people are beyond angry, and it seems probable that another revolution, only half a year since the last one, is in the works.

I hope that you can absorb this basic information and use it to filter out the propaganda that you read in Western newspapers and hear on the nightly news (if they mention Ukraine at all). Don\’t automatically assume that if your side is full of it, then the other side is too. You don\’t have to settle for lies.

Collapse Cafe Part II

Topics include supply chain cross-contagion, population decline, near-term human extinction, and community organizing. Click here for audio.

It\'s the Saudis, Stupid!

[Just nine days after I pointed out that Obama\’s latest “humanitarian” bombing puts American lives in danger, we have the video of the journalist James Foley\’s beheading at the hands of Daash, a.k.a. Islamic Caliphate, a.k.a. ISIS/ISIL. Well, that didn\’t take long! But there is more to the story: what stands behind this event, and others, such as 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Benghazi massacre and numerous other acts of terror is none other than America\’s best friend, the House of Saud. Here is a post by my friend Idris to explain this vital connection.]

The recent rise of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, along with its bedfellow Jahbat Al-Nusra (JN) is being viewed with alarm worldwide. It is the latest in a series of problems related to Islamic extremism for which Al Qaeda is the poster child. From Somalia to Yemen to Nigeria to the Levant to Afghanistan and Pakistan, to Chechnya to Xinjiang, China and even raising its head among the populations of western countries, both Muslim and non-Muslim are facing the ravages of the Salafi/Takfiri Nexus of Jihad.

However, there has been a failure to focus on the primary cause of these problems with their various manifestations worldwide. Saudi Arabia, with able assistance from several of its Gulf neighbors (with Qatar as the most prominent) has steadfastly promoted the rise of Islamic extremism. The extreme behavior now being manifested is the result of the extremist Wahhabi ideology that Saudi Arabia promotes and the billions of dollars it has spent to influence the entire Muslim world to adopt its extremist ideology or at least to remain silent as its poison spreads, particularly among the youth.

Saudi Arabia has for decades given scholarships to universities in the kingdom devoted to indoctrinating future Muslim leaders. It has funded Masjids, schools and Islamic Centers which have promoted their vitriol and which are usually staffed by graduates of their institutions. They have thus prepared the ground for what we are seeing now, as young Muslims from around the world flock to the Levant to wage Jihad under the banner of the various groups that the Saudis have long nurtured.

The Saudis and their Gulf co-conspirators have not limited themselves to promoting their hateful ideology. They have provided billions in material support for Muslims worldwide willing to take extremist action in accordance with Salafi/Takfiri principles. Any Muslim group worldwide willing to take violent actions that accord with this extreme Salafi/Takfiri worldview finds it easy to tap into the Saudi/Arab Gulf international network to receive funding and other forms of tangible support to launch their violent campaigns.

So next time you hear that Boko Haram or the Taliban or Abu Sayyaf or ISIL or some other Al Qaeda type organization has perpetrated some atrocity in the name of Islam… be sure to thank the Saudis! Its not that there are no just causes for which Muslims may feel compelled to resort to violent resistance… rather it is that Wahhabi ideology, propelled by billions of Petrodollars, has perverted nearly every corner of the Muslim world with its fanaticism.

The US, along with some its major allies, plays along with this travesty for several reasons. Most prominently, billions of Petrodollars recycled through their economies provide them with an exorbitant economic advantage. Secondly, they enjoy the ability to use crazy Jihadis against their enemies du jour. Want to push Russia out of Afghanistan? Send in the Jihadis. Want to topple Assad? Send in the Jihadis. Need to overthrow Gaddafi? Send in the Jihadis. Need to keep Somalia from developing its 100 billion barrels of oil and bringing down the price of oil to levels that would make US fracking uneconomical? Send in the (Ash-Shabab) Jihadis. Need to prevent Russian oil reaching the Caspian via Chechnya and Daghestan? Well you get the idea.

First they spend years priming Muslim groups with the backward, nihilistic Wahhabi ideology. Then, when frustration with their inability to achieve success (as a result of their backward, nihilistic ideology) makes these groups ready to take radical action, in come the suppliers of cash, arms, training and logistic support to make their dreams of Jihad a reality. Its a tried and tested formula that will continue to work until people realize that…

Its the Saudis, stupid!

Of course there are mischievous machinations on the part of imperial and former colonial powers to subjugate the Muslim world and in particular the hydrocarbon-rich Middle East. But both Muslims and non-Muslims need to realize that none of what we are seeing today would have been possible without the corrupting influence of Saudi and Gulf Arab sponsored Wahhabism/Salafism/Takfirism. Muslims in particular need to stop ignoring the dagger aimed at the heart of their religion by these sponsors of fanaticism. They must stop accepting their money, their books and their scholarships. It\’s all a poison pill!

Nor should the disguise of modernity used by those like the Qataris, who so strongly backed Morsi in Egypt, be allowed to hide their nefarious behavior. They are simply Wahhabis in suits. Just a week before Morsi was deposed, he publicly called on Egyptian youths to join the Takfiri Jihad in Syria. Muslims need to reclaim their true heritage from these usurpers.

On the other hand, Westerners should demand that their governments stop playing with fire by employing Islamic “beserkers” to do their dirty work. The blowback from their governments’ complicity with the Saudis has been extensive and includes highlights like 9/11, the Chechen Boston Marathon bombing, the consulate killings in Benghazi and the recent beheading of James Foley. Now with an entire well-armed and richly funded state spanning the borders of Syria and Iraq at their disposal and recruits flocking to their cause from all over the world, we can expect even more poisonous fruit from this tree planted and nourished by the Saudis and their helpers.

The first step to solving a problem is identifying its nature. Hence the importance of understanding the essential role that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies have played in creating the world’s number one security problem. Thus far the Saudis, Qataris and their other Gulf Arab allies have managed to obscure the centrality of their role in spawning Al-Qaeda, ISIS/IS and their like. This needs to end!

Some people speculate that the ISIS/IS Frankenstein that they birthed may yet consume the Saudi Kingdom itself, but that would be little comfort to a world forced to deal with the furies that they have unleashed.

Obama bows before Saudi king

Collapse Cafe Part I

Topics include the situation around Ukraine, the geopolitical blundering of the United States, and how you too can destroy your economy by imposing unilateral sanctions. Click here for audio.



The thick façade of civilization

Michael Jaecks

[This is a guest post by Capt. Ray Jason. To read more of his essays, please visit his blog. (And to read more of mine, please buy the book I just published.)]

Most of the sky was clear and starry, but ten miles out to sea there was a cluster of clouds filled with lightning. I was anchored peacefully behind a low island that afforded me a perfect view of this dramatic spectacle. Sitting on the foredeck with my back against the mast, I sipped some hot sake and marveled at this exquisite display. Each burst of sky fire was contained within an individual cloud. Some would erupt in amber-colored brightness and others would shimmer in soft silver or lavender. The almost Japanese lantern quality of the clouds sparked a memory within me that I struggled to recall. A second cup of sake unlocked the remembrance vault, and the incident drifted back. It was a good one.

About a year earlier AVENTURA was nestled in a pristine cove with a few Indio houses scattered on the shore. One afternoon I heard the nearby children chattering enthusiastically about something. I took my binoculars topside and aimed them towards the commotion. The father was draping a fresh snakeskin over the low branch of a tree. My guess was that the kids were so excited because they would have fresh snake for dinner that evening. But my guess was delightfully wrong.

When nightfall arrived, the clearing around their little house filled with lightning bugs. That was a normal occurrence, but soon the little fireflies discovered the snakeskin, and slipped inside. Their pale neon green illumination created an eerie but magnificent tubular lantern. The children laughed with almost feral joy as they danced around this strange, blinking totem.


 Watching this lightning now – and recalling those children then – was the catalyst for a slow, gentle, rice-wine contemplation of those qualities of human existence that are enduring and elemental as opposed to those that are temporary and superficial. I wondered how many generations ago that Indio family had discovered that lightning bugs were attracted to snake skins. And I pondered how many generations into the future that folk wisdom would endure. But the more profound question that I considered was whether these self-reliant indigenous people would remain long after the hyper-dependent gringos had vanished. If so, it seemed like poetic and ethical justice.


As the modern world careens from one catastrophe to another, a rarely-questioned phrase keeps appearing in print and in conversation. Here is an example of it in common usage: “If the gap between the haves and the have-nots keeps deepening, the thin veneer of civilization could easily be torn apart.” Allow me to question the foundation of this aphorism that we accept so readily. The implication is that if certain societal conditions deteriorate, then huge numbers of people will revert to their natural, uncivilized state which is immoral savagery. I don’t just beg to differ, I insist on differing.

The living arrangement that we refer to as Civilization with a capital C, only arose about 10,000 years ago with the advent of Agriculture with a capital A. The hallmark of this change was that these Neolithic people began domesticating a few crops and a few types of animals. Prior to this, everyone survived through hunting and gathering. And this mode of living did not just span 10,000 years – it lasted for about 10,000 generations. Mostly, it was small bands of about 50 people who lived a co-operative existence where everyone shared the blessings that nature provided. Obviously, if the ethical code of these Paleolithic humans had been immoral savagery, they would not have survived for 200,000 years.

For many decades white male anthropologists tried to convince the world that indigenous people were merely sub-human primitives who deserved to be subdued by the superior white race. They did so to justify the slaughter of millions of First Peoples whose lands and resources were also stolen. So who are the “immoral savages” in such a scenario?

And if such hideous genocidal conduct is not bad enough, let’s examine the way of life of those who were conquered, and compare it with the lifestyle of those who destroyed them. I’ll begin by describing some of the characteristics of tribal living:

· The First peoples understood that Life is a web and all of the interlocking strands are essential to the integrity of the whole. They realized that the geometry of Earth is not a pyramid with humanity at the apex – ordained to rule over all else Instead, they knew that the well-being of their brother and sister creatures and of the forests, rivers and jungles that cocooned them, were of vital importance to the entire planetary dance of life.

· There was superb equality amongst the sexes with the women fully involved in the decision making.

· They understood the wisdom of limits. They did not deplete their hunting and foraging grounds, they limited their population, and they killed only when it was imperative for their survival. They embraced a life of harmony with their neighbors rather than hegemony over them.

· Indigenous tribes were not divided into rulers and ruled. And there were no rich and poor. All shared equally in the spoils of the hunt.

· These people were phenomenally fit and healthy as revealed through modern archaeology and as verified by the anthropologists living amongst the several dozen tribes that have escaped extinction. In fact, after only a few centuries of agriculture, the human skeleton had shrunken by about 6 inches because they switched to a cultivated grain diet rather than the mixed protein, fat and vegetable Paleolithic diet.

· They are blissfully happy – as the contemporary anthropologists report. Because they are in such harmony with each other and with the natural world that sustains them, they always feel like they are “home.”

Now let me contrast that hunter/gatherer culture with how daily living arrangements changed after the arrival of Agriculture – or what I more accurately call “Conquest Agriculture.” I prefer this derogatory term because the early Neanderthals used a “scorched earth” farming practice of destroying anything that was a threat to their crops or domesticated animals.

When big C Civilization arrived, it brought domestication not just to crops and farm animals, but also to the average person. Instead of being wild and feral and self-sufficient, humanity was reduced to dependency and servitude. This was instituted through “division of labor.” Instead of everyone knowing how to feed and clothe and shelter themselves, people were obligated to specialize in just one skill. The vast majority tilled the fields, while others made tools or pottery or baskets – or in the case of the military – they made dead people!

What also arrived with division of labor was hierarchy of power. Suddenly rulers appeared, and unfortunately, those at the top did not achieve that status by being the wisest and most compassionate. They gained prominence by being the most ruthless and immoral. To enforce their edicts, standing armies arrived on the scene. The elites were also served by a class of courtiers or middle managers. And finally the new phenomenon of “priests” appeared. They quickly realized that they could attach themselves to kings or pharaohs for mutual benefit. The religious potentate could demonize certain groups of people to justify their imperial conquest by the secular leader and his army.

So, the hunter/gatherer’s life of free-roaming self-sufficiency was soon displaced by mud-hut, impoverished slavery. Thus from the very outset it was a disastrous development for the vast majority of people. And now let me list some of the historical legacies of Civilization as it wreaked its havoc down the centuries. This is an utterly staggering inventory of pathologies that did not exist in the tribal societies that were exterminated, and is not found in the few dozen that have survived.

· Slavery
· Insanity
· Torture
· Human Sacrifice
· Genocide
· Plagues
· Chronic Loneliness
· Industrial War
· Laws
· Obesity
· Homicidal Dictators
· Asylums
· Heart Attacks
· Lawyers
· Crusades
· Atomic Bombs
· Cancer
· Poverty
· Inquisitions
· Diseases of Civilization
· Witch-hunts
· Drones
· Suicide Bombers
· Drug Addiction
· Taxes
· Robot Soldiers
· Bankers
· Missionaries
· Junk Food
· Overpopulation
· Sweat Shops
· Famine
· Disparity of Wealth
· Sexual Deviancy
· Child Molesters
· Serial Killers
· Compulsive Consumption
· Extinction of Species

It is hard to imagine any rational human being reading that list of atrocities and not saying to themselves, “Why have these consequences of Civilization never been brought to my attention?” That sensible question brings us back to the title of this essay: “The Thick Façade of Civilization.” Here is the standard dictionary definition for the word “façade”: “an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant reality.” Civilization is so toxic to human and animal and planetary well-being, that its true nature must be hidden from people.

And those in charge of the planet – the gatekeepers – or what I prefer to call The Malignant Overlords – do an extraordinary job of keeping that knowledge suppressed. You will never hear “the Downside of Civilization” discussed in the mainstream media or from pulpits or in the classroom. Therefore, the possibility of modern mass society reforming itself backwards towards a more holistic mode of living lightly and sustainably on the Earth is nearly impossible. Even when a major political or economic system is abandoned because of its uselessness, the underlying foundation of Civilization is not allowed to be questioned.

My belief is that only if there is a planet-wide collapse, can the prospect of smaller, tribal-based communities re-emerge. That is why I have dedicated great effort to sharing and refining my concept known as the Sea Gypsy Tribe. (Here is the direct link.) But I emphasize that I do not desire this scenario, since it would involve a massive die-off. But if the worst should occur, I feel it wise to have some concrete strategy for rebuilding a world that might possibly bequeath our descendents Mozart without the Mushroom Cloud.


After a couple of hours of savoring the lightning-lush sky, the clouds dispersed and suddenly revealed a handsome, half-moon. Somehow it seemed like there was a message in its appearance. As I contentedly sipped my sake, I searched for some meaning. Then it jolted me. Perhaps the universe was reminding me of what is ephemeral and what is enduring. The magnificent lightning show represented the amazing, electro-hypnotic spell of Civilization. But it swiftly was gone. Whereas the moon rising, as it has done for millions of years, symbolizes that less transitory epoch, when humanity lived in harmony with the planet and its creatures and the inscrutable vastness beyond us.

And perhaps one day that era may return…

Permission to Steal Everything


There is a convoy of 280 gleaming white trucks moving through Russia toward Ukraine loaded with humanitarian aid for the populations of Donetsk and Lugansk. This isn\’t much, considering that well over a million people have been cut off from food, water, electricity and (soon) heat because of indiscriminate artillery bombardment by the Ukrainian military. But it\’s a start. But it seems like a rocky start; first, NATO\’s mouthpiece Rasmussen tries to characterize this humanitarian mission as a clandestine invasion. Then the Ukrainians start imposing various conditions. Let\’s consider these separately.

When was the last time Russia, or, for that matter, USSR, mount a clandestine invasion? If you said “Crimea,” then you need to understand that

1. Russian troops have been in Crimea continuously for the past 231 years;
2. they were there under an international treaty; and
3. their troop levels never exceeded the levels this treaty stipulates.

If Russia wanted to invade Ukraine, it simply would. The Ukrainian troops would surrender or run away, but then what? Nobody has an answer to that question, not even the Russians. Aid—yes, invasion—no thanks. The policy of letting Ukraine “stew in its own juices until the meat falls off the bone” (as I put it back in mid-March) is working quite well, with the added bonus that the EU and the US are now at each others\’ throats over their self-imposed sanctions. But it will take time, and this means that the population of Novorossiya, where Donetsk and Lugansk are located, and which ended up as part of Ukraine thanks to Lenin, has to be fed and heated through the next winter. Hence the humanitarian mission, which will be, if all goes well, the first of many.

The various Ukrainian conditions have to do with something quite different than countering the threat of a clandestine invasion. First they asked that the convoy pass through Kharkov instead of rolling straight toward Donetsk, making for a big detour. Then they demanded that the goods be offloaded at the border and loaded onto Ukrainian trucks, but they couldn\’t come up with enough trucks. Then they demanded that the Russian trucks cary Ukrainian license plates and that each truck carry a Ukrainian representative. Next it will be something else.

You may be confused at what might be behind all of these fairly ridiculous conditions and stalling tactics, so let me explain. The Ukrainians are doing their best to figure out how they can steal the goods from the convoy. Until they can find a way to do that, nothing will move, because nothing ever moves in Ukraine until everybody gets their piece of the action. During their two-decade-plus experiment with Western-style “freedom and democracy,” by which I mean oligarchy and prostitution, Ukraine has bred a subspecies of survivors adept at answering just one question: “Where\’s my piece of it?”

Take Arseny Yatsenyuk, the US State Department-assigned Ukrainian Prime Minister. He recently announced that Ukraine was out of money, unable even to pay its soldiers (this, by the way, is disingenuous, because Ukraine hasn\’t been paying or feeding its soldiers) and that therefore he is resigning. Ukraine got a couple billion dollars from Russia as a door prize for joining Moscow\’s Customs Union, under President Yanukovich, who was subsequently overthrown. Where\’s that money? Om-nom-nom, burp! Then, after the coup, the West gave Ukraine some loan guarantees and a few additional billions. Om-nom-nom, burp! So, with nothing left to steal, Yatsenyuk announces his resignation and heads for the airport, on his way to a warm sunny place where he can squander his ill-gotten funds on hookers and blow. His CIA minders had to retrieve him from the airport and frog-march him back to his office. He is not allowed to resign. He can\’t live the American Dream just yet—not until some brainless stooge gets to mutter the words “mission accomplished” and the CIA operatives head home, at which point the Ukrainians go back to trying to turn tricks at the Kremlin.

With regard to the convoy, getting the cargo off-loaded and put on Ukrainian trucks would have made stealing it easy, but that couldn\’t happen due to lack of trucks. (Remember, Ukrainian officials have been selling off government property and pocketing the proceeds for two decades now, so that very little is now left.) Forcing the trucks to carry Ukrainian license plates is a small concession, since these probably require a bribe (nothing happens there without a bribe) but perhaps they are looking for opportunities to waylay a few of these trucks and break them up for spare parts. Getting a Ukrainian representative on board each truck is another small concession: he will need to be fed, pacified with vodka and given walking-around money. But the main problem—how to steal a substantial portion, ideally all, of the humanitarian aid going to Novorossiya—remains unsolved, and until it is solved there will be deadlock. This makes it difficult to cooperate with Ukrainian officials, who don\’t seem to have any trace of human values left and function on a strictly biological level, but the Russians are trying.

How does a country sink to this level of degeneracy in just a couple of decades? Recently, Prof. Savelyev, who is an expert on, among other things, human evolution, ventured to explain. Human evolution, he said in an interview, has been primarily the evolution of the brain. In the short time that Homo Sapiens Sapiens has been in existence, its brain size increased dramatically. Although it is possible to declare that intelligence is of direct survival value, there is a more reasoned explanation for the pressure to increase brain size.

Most of the size gains have been in the prefrontal cortex—a part of the brain that does not have a strictly defined function but is implicated in modulating social behavior. Indeed, people with a lobotomized prefrontal cortex go on to function more or less normally (but do sometimes exhibit a startling lack of ethical or moral sense). But a lobotomy is by no means necessary to produce individuals with stunted morals and ethics: there is a critical learning period for developing a conception of the common good, the ability to cooperate with others in absence of selfish motivations, and a morality not directly grounded in biological self-interest. A social environment such as that which has prevailed in Ukraine during its period of “independence,” during which theft and prostitution were prized above all, is not conducive to developing any of these. A case can be made that such an environment exerts the opposite evolutionary pressure: if all desirable women are prostitutes and the only economic opportunities involve theft, then biological survival requires theft. This makes a large prefrontal cortex redundant, and those who have a smaller one perhaps make more efficient criminals. The result is a population dominated by people free of any human values, who pursue strictly biological goals of resource accumulation and reproduction.

My book The Five Stages of Collapse includes an extensive case study devoted to the Ik, a small tribe of hunter-gatherers in northern Uganda, which, when they were observed by the anthropologist Colin Turnbull in the 1970s, exhibited just such a level of cultural degeneracy. They had reached the fifth stage of collapse: cultural collapse. Turnbull\’s prescription was to destroy them as a people by breaking up their society and resettling them. Prof. Savelyev has something eerily similar to say: human evolution advances through appalling acts of violence in which the males of culturally degenerate populations, which have lost their human values and conceptions of the common good, are destroyed outright. History is replete with examples of such exterminations (among numerous other ones), and although we may regard them with horror, others may regard them with pride. For instance, Prof. Savelyev points out, the French are still quite proud of their revolutionary invention, the guilliotine. To them it was a civilized, efficient way to neatly solve the problem—by neatly slicing off the heads that contained the faulty circuitry.

According to Savelyev, the Ukrainian flag shouldn\’t be a field of sunflowers under a blue sky. A sausage impaled on a fork would be much more appropriate. After all, that is what they are fighting for. There is no point in shaming them, for stealing or for lying, for shame requires one of those prefrontal cortex functions: a conscience. To them, telling the truth is a surprising new requirement, they didn\’t sign up for it, and they don\’t understand why it\’s necessary. All they have to do is lie well: “Donetsk is surrounded! We are about to prevail!” they tell you. Sure they are. Ask the rebels where they are going, and they will tell you matter-of-factly: “We are going all the way to Kiev.” Perhaps the French can send an aid convoy of their own, to Kiev, to coincide with the rebels\’ arrival. It could include a few guilliotines. In the meantime, I hope that Uncle Sam is having lots of fun playing with his Ukrainian mail order bride; after all, they have plenty in common.

Just Published: Societies that Collapse


Dear Readers,

I am happy to announce that the essays I have written over the past three years are now available for purchase worldwide in book form. Of course, you can read these essays right on this blog, but I hope that having them all together in a single plump little book will make the experience more enjoyable. Presenting these essays as a single collection and juxtaposing the deadly serious with the downright whimsical makes difficult subjects a little bit lighter.

At the risk of overstating the obvious, I\’d like to point out that it is your purchases of my books—nothing else—that make it economically possible for me to continue writing and for you to continue reading what I write.
I expect that I will have fewer opportunities to write in the coming months. I am going out into the ocean, you see, and although there will be periodic landfalls, I don\’t know how many anchorages will come equipped with open wifi or a 4G signal to allow me to blog from them. And so this retrospective offers you a way to continue reading my writings in the meantime should you wish to do so. Looking back, the topics that I wrote on have only become more relevant over time. I stand by everything I wrote, and hope that my work will continue to be worth revisiting as events unfold.

Many thanks to Matt Harter for doing the rendering of the planet\’s surface covered with highway interchanges and parking lots, to Will Kilburn for editing and proofreading the text, and to the developers at CreateSpace (part of Amazon) for streamlining the publishing process. I would also like to thank those of my readers, who never hesitate to point out whenever I goofed, allowing me to make corrections.


Table of Contents

Dance of the Marionettes • Perfectly Comfortable • The Wheel of Misfortune • Trained for Success, Bred to be Eaten • A Modest Health Care Proposal • Shale Gas: The View from Russia • Down the Skyscraper • Sustainable Living as Religious Observance • Fragility and Collapse: Slowly at first, then all at once • Our Brave Experiment • Peak Oil Oppositional Disorder:  Neurosis or Psychosis? • Politics of the Unconscious • The Most Interesting Driver in the World • Suicidal Services • Le Vieillard Gros • In Praise of Anarchy, Part I • In Praise of Anarchy, Part II • In Praise of Anarchy, Part III • The Limits of Language • Due to circumstances under control • Meanwhie in Ireland • The Practice of Anarchy • A Royal Pain in the Ass • Meanwhile in Russia • Escape from the Merry Christmas Zone • The Image of the Enemy • The Ecology of Hell • Pray for an Asteroid • Monkey Trap Nation • Understanding Organizational Stupidity • The Rationale behind the Boston Psy-ops • Meet the Chechens • Look for loopholes to avoid extinction • The Sixth Stage of Collapse • The Story of “Er” • Blessed are the Idiots • In Praise of Nomads • How To Time Collapses • “American” exceptionalism • The Good Life: Mobility, Anonymity, Freedom • Reichstag Fire in Kiev • The Madness of President Putin • Moneybag Logic

Obama risks American lives to save the devil worshipers

If you\’ve been paying attention to the news, the US is bombing Iraq again, this time to avert a humanitarian crisis: a group of Yezedis is stranded on top of a mountain, driven there by those Daashing lads from the Islamic State (the Arabic name for them is “Daash”).

Now, if your reaction on hearing these news was “Who the heck are the Yezedis?” then you are in good company. This is a very obscure, fairly small, incredibly ancient cult, and few people have heard of them. I have, and so my reaction was “Oh no, they are killing the devil worshipers!”

Now, I am not especially sympathetic to devil-worship, but I happen to be a connoisseur of tiny separatist communities that abide for thousands of years, and the Yezedis are just the sort of group I generalized about in the book Communities that Abide. I will be very sad if they are exterminated in their homeland (there are a few diaspora groups, so, chances are, they will abide regardless).

The Yezedis are separatist and endogamous (only marry their own kind), plus they have a strict caste system that restricts who can marry whom, and so they have been in-breeding for a few thousand years now. As a result, they have become quite peculiar. For instance, it has been reported (I haven\’t tried it myself) that if you seat a Yezidi on the ground and draw a circle around him, he will be unable to get out of the circle and just sit there and starve. Furthermore, he will suffer severe physiological damage if you try to drag him out of it.

The Yezidis are quite secretive about their very complicated religion and its myriad compulsive rituals and superstitions, but it is known that they worship a deity known as the Peacock Angel, which, correctly or incorrectly, has been interpreted to be Satan. Consequently, the Yezidis have been persecuted as devil worshipers with gruesome consistency. There is no doubt that the boys from the Islamic State consider them to be the worst kind of heathen, and, since their policy is to behead first and ask questions later, there is little chance that they can be shifted from this position. Spin it any way you like, but everyone in the region knows this group as “the Yezedi devil-worshipers.”

As soon as they started getting bombed by American F16s, representatives of the Islamic State announced that they will be targeting Americans in general, and American embassies (like the gigantic one in Baghdad) in particular. This by no means a positive development; nobody in their right mind would want to pick a fight with the berserkers of the Islamic State without a really good reason.

Preventing genocide and ethnic cleansing is generally considered a pretty good reason to start a fight. But the Obama administration seems quite selective in this regard.

For example, the Ukrainian military has been creating a humanitarian disaster of vast scope for weeks now, shelling residential districts with artillery, rockets and the forbidden white phosphorus, causing a refugee crisis that has grown to over half a million people, sending their soldiers into battle without proper equipment, food or water with the result that they are getting killed by the thousand and stacked like firewood. Obama\’s response is to provide the Ukrainian government with over a million dollars of military aid and all sorts of political support while denying that there is a humanitarian crisis.

Another example: the Israelis have been shelling UN schools and hospitals in Gaza, killing lots of women and children, using live ammunition against protesters and shooting them to kill or maim. Obama\’s response is to send John Kerry over to embarrass everyone with his brainless prattling. US military and political support for Israel is never called into question.

Note that in the above two cases it would be possible to discourage genocide and ethnic cleansing without putting American lives at risk, while bombing the Islamic State to protect the lives of a group of devil worshipers carries huge risks. And yet that is what Obama decides to do. You can\’t make this stuff up!

I propose three alternative explanations for this truly bizarre behavior.

1. Obama is secretly a devil-worshiper (makes total sense, right?)
2. Obama is trying to cause as many international crises as he can to generate lots of excuses for the entire financial house of cards collapsing under its own weight and the US economy shutting down
3. Obama is an idiot

Please take your pick.