lunes, 11 de mayo de 2015

Festejos del 9 de Mayo: dos análisis y una anécdota


Bien, pasó el mayor desfile militar de la historia reciente: el 9 de Mayo en Moscú. Para cualquiera que tenga como referente cognitivo algo más que MTV o Cartoon Network, el acontecimiento no habrá pasado inadvertido. En efecto, se han generado algunas reflexiones. Astroboy les muestra tres; en realidad, dos reflexiones y una anécdota. Primero vayamos a la visión de un historiador occidental, especialista en la Rusia contemporánea: Gilbert Doctorow:


Título: Moscow's Victory Day Parade: A New World Order on Full Display

Epígrafe: After watching Moscow’s 70th anniversary Victory Day celebrations, it is clear that a very different new World Order is emerging from the rubble of the post-Cold War period.

Texto: One of the benefits of the live and continuous broadcasting of the 70th Anniversary Victory Day Celebrations in Moscow via Vesti 24 and Pervy Kanal/RT was that we would-be commentators seated at home in Brussels, New York or wherever could follow the events without intermediation of professional reporters advising on what we should make of it all, without cuts and selective editing from central studios. Given the wealth of material for those of us with Kremlinology backgrounds from a day that began at 10.00 am Moscow time and continued well into the night, our cup runneth over. Not only can we draw our own conclusions, but we can see with perfect clarity what was picked up by our mainstream media from a cornucopia of messages to suit their preconceived ideas. And it would be naïve to deny that the Kremlin surely intended to present a variety of images of Russia, even mutually contradictory images, to draw the greatest possible attention to itself.

The complexity also arose from the two very different audiences being addressed: Russians and the world at large. For the Russian population, this was a day of bread and circus. To put it in Vladimir Putin’s language, it was the biggest, most lavish block party since the opening day ceremony of the Sochi Olympics. For the world at large, it was a reminder of Russia’s decisive role in the defeat of Nazi Germany and also a demonstration of its growing military might now that the Bear is Back. Moreover, by the central role accorded throughout the day to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who was ever at Vladimir Putin’s side, and by the announcement of various major Russian-Chinese commercial agreements, the fruits of Russia’s pivot to the East and its new independence from the Atlantic Community were underscored for all to see.

Vladimir Putin’s short speech opening the parade was itself rich in nuances. 

Notwithstanding the celebratory mood, he saw fit to castigate US foreign policy for its pursuit of a unipolar world and military block mentality that denies equal security for all. This was the raisin taken from the cake by the Financial Times coverage: “Putin takes swipe at US in parade speech.” By contrast both the BBC and Euronews reports on the parade highlighted the Russian President’s bouquet in the speech to the wartime Allies who were not present at the parade - the U.K., France and the USA – expressing gratitude for their contribution to the common cause of defeating Nazism.

And then there was the United States print media reporting of Moscow’s celebrations. The New York Times led the way with zero coverage. As I write these lines on the day after, the NYT has not posted a single article on its online edition. Even The Washington Post saw fit to put up an article, to be sure, on how the West was absent from the Moscow events, a continuation of the black PR that we have seen for at least the last 18 months.

The parade itself was declared by the Kremlin to be the largest military show in history. That may place it in the Guinness Book of Records, but it tells only part of the story. For a layman, the parade was not just about who was present on the reviewing stand and who was not, which honor guard troops from which countries were present and which were not. Yes, the Western leaders were absent while BRICS and other nations we would previously call ‘nonaligned’ were present. But you had the pageant of Azerbaijan troops being followed directly by Armenian troops; this made Moscow the city where lions and lambs exercised mutual respect and restrain, at least for the day. The rollout of Russia’s latest military hardware was important for foreign military attaches in attendance and to prove the words of Russia’s leadership to its people about the vast improvements in national defense achieved in the past several years. Otherwise this part of the day did not break new ground.


What came next in the celebrations was entirely different and marks the age of Putin. I have in mind the so-called “Regiment of Immortals,” the march of perhaps 500,000 ordinary Russians through Red Square, each carrying photographs of their “family heroes,” their parents, grandparents, great grandparents who fought in the Great Patriotic War and died in battle or who otherwise did not live to see this 70th anniversary celebration. This march was repeated all across Russia with reports that as many as 4 million people took part.


Successful politicians are by nature or training photogenic kissers of small babies. In joining this “regiment of immortals” and carrying a photo of his own father who fought in the war as a simple soldier, not a decorated general, Vladimir Putin took politics to the heights of statesmanship. He drove home the point that this is a day for every Russian family and not just a pompous show of military capability for the high and mighty to strut on the stage. He invited a sea of emotion to sweep the land. Here you had the bread.


A BBC reporter in Moscow shared with viewers some very relevant information to appreciate what Vladimir Putin was tapping into. She cited a recent poll of Russians asking them to name the most important day in the calendar to them. Twenty-six percent said it is their birthday. Forty-two percent said it is 9 May.

The impact of the ‘regiment of immortals’ procession was such that even the normally dry-eyed UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, who took part in the Moscow proceedings, commented to reporters that what he first supposed was a mass demonstration against the government was to his surprise, a vast wave of support for the Kremlin leadership. He congratulated Vladimir Putin for earning this high regard of his people. No wonder the Obama administration took such pains to keep the Allies from coming to the ceremony.

The day did not end there. In the evening, there was a gala performance staged on Red Square that combined all the talents of song, mass choreography and other entertainment forms that had first been put on display in the Sochi Olympics opening event. In Sochi, the message was that Russia has its own traditions of both popular and high culture but is open to the world and hospitable to all. Here was the circus, and as almost always in such efforts by the Russians, it was at a supremely professional level of execution, showing very great respect for the spectators, both those on the Square and the others watching it on their television as I did. And it all ended on the traditional note of a fireworks display.

During the day, press releases on the Russian-Chinese commercial deals that were being concluded ever since the arrival of President Xi Jinping in Moscow the day before gave substance to the featured position given to the Chinese leader in the constant company of Putin all day long. The most important of the announcements concerns the New Silk Road, which Beijing now will run in a Northern route passing through Russia as opposed to the expected Southern route bypassing Russia. This is a change of thinking and of politics that puts Europe on notice. Germany especially has been looking to the Silk Road as a boon to the enormous goods traffic between the world’s two largest export nations, Germany and China. Now that route, with all the opportunities for investment and participation, passes through Moscow, not Teheran.

No doubt, Richard Nixon is turning over in his grave. It took the hard work of two US administrations, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, to undo the geopolitical achievements of one of America’s greatest president-Realpolitik strategists. But now Nixon’s work is undone, and a very different new World Order is emerging from the rubble of the post-Cold War period.


***

Ahora pasemos a la anécdota y al segundo análisis, a cargo de un ruso: el bloguero conocido como “The Saker”. Primero la anécdota, yo diría sombría:


Título: Something Truly Amazing Happened at the V-Day Parade

Subtítulo: Never before has a Russian Defense Minister done anything like it  

Texto: Today will go down in Russian history, as a truly historical celebration of the victory over Nazi Germany.  The parade – by far the most beautiful I have seen (alas, only on video, not in person) – was superb and for the first time included the Chinese PLA [People’s Liberation Army].  Clearly, we see history in the making.  But something else, no less amazing, also happened today: Defense Minister Shoigu made the sign of the Cross before the beginning of the celebrations:

This is an absolutely momentous moment for Russia.  Never in the past history had any Russian Minister of Defense done anything like it.  True, the old tradition was to make the sign of the Cross when passing under the Kremlin’s Savior Tower, if only because there is an icon of the Savior right over the gate.  However, everybody in Russia immediately understood that there was much more to this gesture than an external compliance to an ancient tradition.

The Russian journalist Victor Baranets puts it very well when he wrote:”At that moment I felt that with his simple gesture Shoigu brought all of Russia to his feet.  There was so much kindness, so much hope, so much of our Russian sense of the sacred [in this gesture]“.  He is absolutely correct.  To see this Tuvan Buddhist make the sign of the Cross in the Orthodox manner sent an electric shock through the Russian blogosphere: everybody felt that something amazing had happened.


For one thing, nobody in his right mind would suspect Shoigu of ever doing anything just “for show”.  The man has an immense capital of popularity and credibility in Russia and he has no need for political hypocrisy.  Furthermore, those who saw the footage will immediately see that Shoigu was very concentrated, very solemn, when he did this.  Personally, I believe that Shoigu quite literally asked for God’s help in one of the most dangerous moment in Russian history in which he, the Russian Minister of Defense, might be called to take momentous decisions from which the future of the planet might depend.

For centuries Russian soldiers have knelt and asked for God’s blessing, before going into battle and this is, I believe, what Shoigu did today.  He knows that 2015 will be the year of the big war between Russia and the Empire (even if, due to the presence of nuclear weapons on both sides, this war will remain 80% informational, 15% economic and 5% military)

Does that mean that Shoigu converted to Orthodoxy?  Not necessarily.  Buddhism is very accepting of other religions and I don’t see much of a contradiction here.  But the fact that the first Russian government official to begin the historical Victory Day parade by making the sign of the Cross and appealing for God’s help is a Buddhist, is, in itself, quite amazing (even if it shames his nominally “Orthodox” predecessors who never did so).

I can only imagine the horror, outrage and despair Shoigu’s gesture will trigger in the pro-Western Russian “liberal intelligentsia” and in the western capitals.  In placing himself and all of Russia in God’s hands, Shoigu declared a spiritual, cultural and civilizational war on the Empire.  And just for that, he will go down in history as one of Russia’s greatest men.


***

Finalmente, el análisis del significado del día de ayer por parte del mismo autor:


Título: 2015 V-Day Day Celebrations Mark a Turning Point in Russian History

Epígrafe: The backdrop for this year’s Victory Day are informal war between west and Russia and its aligment towards the east that will determine the future of the planet

Texto: Today is truly a historical day. For the first time ever, the West has boycotted the Victory Day Parade in Moscow and, also for the first time ever, Chinese forces have marched on the Beautiful Square, (“Red” square is a mistranslation – the “Red Square” ought be called the “Beautiful Square”) with the Russians. I believe that this is a profoundly symbolic shift and one which makes perfectly good sense.


The past

For one thing, Russia and China suffered more from WWII than any other country. See for yourself: [véase el cuadro de arriba]

Now take a look at the casualties suffered by the “boycotting countries” and everything becomes clear (the only exception to this rule is Poland, which lost a huge proportion of its population). The fact is, that for all the Hollywood movies produced about WWII, the Anglo countries suffered very little, compared to the huge losses of Russia (25+ million) and China (15+ million). For details, see here and here.  As for continental Europe, its resistance to the Nazis, while very real and heroic, was a feat of the few, not a true national resistance (like in the Soviet Union, Poland or Yugoslavia). But there is much more to this than just numbers.

The real reason why the US/NATO/EU countries have boycotted the celebrations in Moscow is, of course, not their very modest contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany, but their unconditional support for Nazified Ukraine: the “country” which considers Stepan Bandera a national hero, the OUN-UPA death squads as a “heroic liberation movement” and the liberation of the Ukraine as a “Soviet occupation”. It is also a fact that the Anglos have always shared these feelings and that had developed several plans for total war against the USSR were considered right at the end of the war which  I have already mentioned them in the past:

Plan Totality (1945): earmarked 20 Soviet cities for obliteration in a first strike: Moscow, Gorki, Kuybyshev, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Saratov, Kazan, Leningrad, Baku, Tashkent, Chelyabinsk, Nizhny Tagil, Magnitogorsk, Molotov, Tbilisi, Stalinsk, Grozny, Irkutsk, and Yaroslavl.

Operation Unthinkable (1945) assumed a surprise attack by up to 47 British and American divisions in the area of Dresden, in the middle of Soviet lines. This represented almost half of the roughly 100 divisions (ca. 2.5 million men) available to the British, American and Canadian headquarters at that time. (…) The majority of any offensive operation would have been undertaken by American and British forces, as well as Polish forces and up to 100,000 German Wehrmacht soldiers.

Operation Dropshot (1949): included mission profiles that would have used 300 nuclear bombs and 29,000 high-explosive bombs on 200 targets in 100 cities and towns to wipe out 85% of the Soviet Union’s industrial potential at a single stroke. Between 75 and 100 of the 300 nuclear weapons, were targeted to destroy Soviet combat aircraft on the ground.

Ask yourself a simple question: why were these plans never actually implemented?  The answer is both simple and obvious: because the West feared the Red Army. And since the West was terrified of the Red Army, what do you think the western guests felt each time they watched the Victory Day parade in Moscow? Were they thinking about how the Soviet Army defeated the Nazis, or about how the Russian Army kept them in check? Again, the answer is obvious.

The reality is that while western people very much belong on the Beautiful Square for the Victory Day parade, the western leaders do not: not only did the Anglos carefully nurture and promote Hitler, they always saw him as “their SOB” whom they hoped to unleash against the Soviet Union. Their plan failed, of course, but that only increased their russophobia (“phobia” in the double sense of “fear” and “hate”). To see the western leaders “missing” today is, therefore, a very good thing and I personally hope that they never get invited again (I know, they will, but I wish they weren’t).


The present

The Empire and Russia are at war. Of course, the presence of nuclear weapons on both sides makes this a special kind of war. It is roughly 80% informational, 15% economic and 5% military. But it is a very real war nonetheless, if only because the outcome of this war will decide the future of the planet. The Donbass or the Ukraine are, of course, of exactly zero interest to the West. What is really at stake here is the survival of one of two different models:


Western Imperial Model:            /             Russian Multipolar Model:
One world Hegemon / Collaborative development
Might makes right (national and international) / Rule of law (national and international)
Single societal model / Each country has its own societal model
Ad hoc “coalitions of the willing” /  Respect for international law
Secularism and relativism / Central role for religions and traditions
Military violence as preferred solution / Military violence as option of last resort
Rule of the 1% / Rule of the 99%
Ideological monism / Ideological pluralism
White supremacism / Multi-culturalism


Both Russians and Americans are quite aware of what is at stake and neither side can back down. On one hand, if the US/NATO/EU prevail, they will have succeeded in breaking the Russian “back” and Russia will rapidly be submitted. Should that happen, all the BRICS countries will soon follow, including China. On the other hand, if Russia prevails in the Ukraine, then the US grip on the EU will soon be weakened and, possibly, lost altogether and the entire world will see that the Empire is crumbling. Should that happen, the entire international financial system will escape from western control and liquidate the petrodollar. The consequences of such a collapse will be felt worldwide.

The presence of Xi Jinpin next to Putin on this historic day, the participation of the Chinese military in the parade and the presence of PLA Navy ships alongside the Russian Black Sea Fleet, is a direct and powerful message to the world: in this titanic struggle, China is fully throwing her weight behind Russia.


[Sidebar: Notice on the photo of Xi and Putin that there is one more absolutely crucial figure sitting next to the war veteran: Nursultan Nazarbaev, the President of Kazakhstan. The crucial role this man has played to shape today’s world has not been recognized, but with time I am sure it will. Long before Putin, it was Nazarbaev who did everything in his power to prevent the breakup of the Soviet Union, the creation and strengthening of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union. I would note that Putin has, on several occasions, expressed his deep admiration for, and gratitude to, Nazarbaev whom he has explicitly described as the “father” of the new Eurasian union.]

This is the “new Russia” – one literally flanked by her two allies, China and Kazakhstan. It is hard to over-estimate the importance of this event: for the first time in 400 years Russia has finally fully turned her face to her natural ecosphere – the East.

Many languages and culture have an expression which basically says that you recognize your true friends in times of hardship. I believe that this is true.  This is even truer in international politics. And if you apply this criterion to the history of Russia, you come to a simple, but inevitable conclusion: the West has never been Russia’s friend (of course, I am talking about the ruling class, not the common people!). By turning towards Asia, Russia is finally “coming home”.

Chinese units have never marched on the Beautiful Square before, and to see them there today also sends a clear message to the West: we are standing with Russia!



The future

Today’s Victory Day parade in Moscow marks a turning point in Russian history: now, for the first time ever, there is a consensus in Russia that instead of looking West, Russia must look North (Siberia, the Arctic), East (Asia) and South (Latin America, Africa). There will be no “big break” with the West, however, as Russia will continue to hope for the decolonization of Europe. In part, this process has already begun in Greece and Hungary, and it is simmering in Serbia, France, Italy and even Germany. The potential for a European decolonization is definitely there and Russia should not, and will not, give up on Europe.

Another major priority of Russia will be to try to facilitate a rapprochement between the two other BRICS “heavyweights”: China and India. Tensions between these two giants are an inherent risk for all the BRICS members and cannot be allowed to remain.

Russia will also try to strengthen her informal but still very real alliance with Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. These three are natural allies for Russia and while it is too early to include Iran or Syria in the BRICS or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, where Iran already has an observer status, eventually this should happen.  Iran could also become the first non-ex-Soviet country to join theCollective Security Treaty Organization.

Still, the single most important development in the future will be the deepening of the symbiotic relationship between China and Russia, the one I call the “China-Russia Strategic Alliance” which Larchmonter445 has so brilliantly analyzed in his “Vineyard of the Saker White Paper: the China-Russia Double Helix“: while remaining externally two separate countries, Russia and China will form a single economic, political and military entity, fully integrated and fully dependent on each other (Xi and Putin have again signed a list of mega-contracts between the two countries).

Unless of course, a full-scale war breaks out between the Empire and Russia.

I personally have no hope for a peaceful solution for the Ukrainian civil war. There is nothing which could be meaningfully negotiated between Russia and the Nazi regime in Kiev. Besides, all the indicators and warnings seem to agree on the fact that Ukraine government attack on Novorussia is all but inevitable. At that point, there are only two possible outcomes: either the Novorussians are defeated and Russia has to openly intervene, or the Kiev pro-Nazis are defeated and the Novorussians go on the offensive and liberate most, or even all, of Novorussia and the Donetsk region. I am cautiously optimistic and my sense is that regime forces will be defeated for a third time. When that happens, the government in Kiev will most likely rapidly collapse.


Conclusion

I am under no illusion that the end of World War II brought happiness and freedom to all of mankind, even less so in Eastern Europe. In reality, it brought an untold number of horrors and suffering to many nations, especially Germany. I don’t see Victory Day as a celebration of Communism or of the Soviet regime, but as a victory over one of the most abhorrent regimes in history. It was the victory of all the people who fought against the Nazis and not of one specific political ideology or order  But, by the same token, I don’t think that it makes sense to deny that Stalin and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union played a key role in this victory. The notion that the Russian people prevailed “in spite of Stalin” really makes no sense as he, and his commanders, played a key role in every single major battle of this war, just as Hitler and his commanders did on the other side. As I said before, this victory belongs to all those who helped defeating the Nazis and that very much includes Stalin, his commanders and the CPSU. Hence the Red banners do belong to this parade.

Finally, this day is also a day of celebration for all those who, today, are still resisting the true “heir” of the Nazi regime – the American Empire, with its global hegemonic ambitions and never ending colonial wars. Thus today is a day of celebration for all of us in the Saker community, our brothers (and sisters!) in arms and all our friends and allies in this global resistance to global Empire.

I congratulate you and wish you a joy-filled and peaceful Victory Day!

PS. We all probably have our own favorite iconic photo for World War 2.  Mine is this one:


It shows a Russian solider, Sergei Makarovich Korolkov, who has just been captured by a German unit and is about to be executed. I love his look of self-confident defiance, which, to me, symbolizes the real “ultimate weapon” of the Russian people: an unbreakable willpower, even in the face of defeat or death.


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