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Posted by on Nov 22, 2015 in Europe, Featured | 31 comments

A False Theory of True Conclusions

A False Theory of True Conclusions

A Confucian adage says: “It is pointless to search for a black cat in a dark room, especially if it is not there.” The October 31st issue of The Atlantic features an article titled “Russia and the Curse of Geography,” and it faults in doing exactly that. The article is the latest in a recent string of attempts to figure out the greater motives of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Atlantic’s article lays its effort to figure out a method to what is considered Putin’s “madness.” Conjuring postulates about national security and geography, the author, Tim Marshall, believes that Putin’s objective is to secure Russia’s perpetually-lacking defenses. The argument, while true, fails to see the bigger picture of Putin’s politics. The political community does not allow for a situation in where there is no consistent rationale for Putin’s actions. Perhaps we are trying to solve a problem with no solution.

Marshall argues that all Russian rulers focused on securing Russia’s gaping flatlands to the west (now belonging to Ukraine) and gaining functional ports – a deficit in Russia – to establish global dominance. Marshall’s extends his reasoning to paint the following picture: Putin, confronted with an encroaching NATO, imminently expected to swallow Ukraine, decided to abandon efforts to secure Russia’s lands from the West. Instead, he will now focus his efforts on stabilizing strategic naval bases. This ostensibly explains why Crimea and Syria (respectively hosting Russia’s only exits to the Black and Mediterranean Seas) were conflicts that Russia could not afford to lose. This narrative is more of a compilation of facts than an explanation to Putin’s foreign policy. Marshall’s theory falls short on those very geographic grounds.

The queen on the chessboard. Marshall posits that Putin treats the Tartus Naval Base in Syria with utmost importance, being his only exit into the Mediterranean Sea. Image.

The queen on the chessboard. Marshall posits that Putin treats the Tartus Naval Base in Syria with utmost importance, being his only exit into the Mediterranean Sea. Image.

Putin presides over his own sphere of influence. Aside from the Baltics and Ukraine, most of Russia’s borders are immune from any NATO incursion. The chance of NATO reaching further into the West is currently impossible. From Belarus to Mongolia, all the countries that border Russia have been under the thumbs of pro-Putin tyrants that have withstood the test of time. Other states in that ring include petrocracies which are destined to have tyrants eternally, due to the “Oil Curse.” It is unlikely that any sort of revolution or uprising will strike these countries with permanent effects. NATO’s interest in these countries ranks very low in the agenda of NATO’s actions. Many, such as Azerbaijan and Armenia, countries in Russia’s periphery are undergoing ethnic tensions currently, making them undesirable to NATO. Others like Turkmenistan would do little help to a military force, as they are surrounded by mountainous ranges and rocky land that makes any sort of military strategy troublesome.

Another fundamental misinterpretation of Mr. Marshall’s is the historical utility of the flatlands bordering Russia. It is true that Russia has been made vulnerable by the openings of a flat region to the West, but what is often unrecognized is that these flatlands have also saved Russia multiple times. The flatlands carry a very low physiological density, which is geo-speak for having much farm land and little settlement. In the cases of both the Napoleonic Invasion and World War II, this has proven to be the panacea to Russian invasions, as it gives an easy highway for pushing back retreating forces. In that package, are also large tracts of land, which can be either overgrown to make for an unfeasible battle or lit on fire. In both World Wars, this has proven critically useful for the Russian forces and their guerrilla counterparts. Without it, Russia may have had far more trouble in keeping out retreating armies. A mountainous range would have made matters worse. The flatlands are not a problem for Russia, they are a boon.

Hair of the dog that bit them. While the welcoming flatlands proved to be Russia's greatest vulnerability in history, it was also Russia's greatest asset. No other country had such an easy time forcing enemies out through such a fortuitous avenue. Pictured here is a Soviet tank during the Nazi retreat of 1944 in present-day Belarus. Image.

Hair of the dog that bit them. While the welcoming flatlands proved to be Russia’s greatest vulnerability in history, it was also Russia’s greatest asset. No other country had such an easy time forcing enemies out through such a fortuitous avenue. Pictured here is a Soviet tank during the Nazi retreat of 1944 in present-day Belarus. Image.

The most important part of Russia’s geography is its population density. Discussions such as Mr. Marshall’s employ the dangerous use of the idea that Russia is only Moscow. Russia is the largest country in the world spanning six time zones. The steady march of NATO has been only in the countries surrounding only half of the region in which the capital city is located. Russia’s threat stems from only that small area, a minuscule effect in comparison to Russia’s size. Mr. Marshall does not consider that it would be logistically nightmarish for one force to attempt a complete stranglehold on Russia. No force could intimidate a population so spread out and so thin with such diversity and such difference. Even in World War II, the two strongest allied forces in Eurasia, Japan and Germany, failed to even come close to encircling Russia.

Mr. Marshall’s article is a well-intentioned attempt to gain insight into Putin’s steps. It would be reassuring to the world to know that there is logic within his brain. While many facts point to a military objective, more facts point to Russia being neither conquerable, nor useful to any power in the world. We must search on in pursuit of a theory that would explain Putin’s irrationality, but until then, we must be investigative, not categorical. Creating a conclusion to fit a series of facts that worry us, however, can not only distract us from diplomatic collaboration, it can also lead us on an endless path to delusion.

31 Comments

  1. In April 2014 the CIA Director John Brennan went to Ukraine under a fake name as he was attempting to initiate the use of force against pro-federalisation protests. The fact that CIA Director visited Ukraine was confirmed by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, but only after it was reported by Russian Interfax. During Mr Brennans visit, Kiev authorities cracked down on pro-federalization protests in eastern Ukraine. Regime troops advanced toward a number of cities in eastern Ukraine to attack the protesters.

    John Brennan had been actively involved in arming insurgents in Libya, Syria and Venezuela, and has a reputation for using illegal tactics in pursuit of CIA goals. The CIA director traveled to Kiev with promises of large sums of money “to create new special units and squads that can help in crushing the people’s uprisings in eastern Ukraine.” Also at the same time there were frequent reports of the presence of Greystone mercenaries in Ukraine which is typical of the CIA using shadowy front companies with murky interconnecting relationships to carry out agency operations.

    The involvement of organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Institute should not be overlooked since John McCain, who is heavily involved with the IRI even went so far as to travel to Ukraine to express support for the neo-Nazis and fascists who were in the process of seizing power.

    • Humor me. Say those things are true. What does that show us?

      • Its no coincidence that Victoria Nuland indicated the US had invested $5 billion on a regime change in Ukraine and its no coincidence that the CIA is in Kiev to ensure that the regime change occurs. Its no coincidence that the Rand Corporation documented the necessary steps to genocide the eastern federations prior to the events and its no coincidence that fascist organisations were enlisted to action the genocide.

        Why genocide these federations….To ensure that a pro Russian government is not returned to power in Ukraine. When Kiev says they want the Donbass back, they do not mean the people, they clearly mean the land.

        Kiev’s forces in eastern Ukraine are not fighting an “invasion,” but constitute an invading force themselves, making incursions into eastern Ukraine and holding territory only through unmitigated brutality against local populations clearly collaborating with armed self-defense forces intent on resisting Kiev’s fascist authority.

        It was a violent, armed coup spearheaded by right sector militants that placed Yatsenyuk into power in the first place, along with the Neo-Nazi political front Svoboda, and paved way for fraudulent elections that predictably yielded a pro-US-EU client regime. From fabricating an “invasion,” to the claims of “threatened” lives, to the labeling of Russians as “subhuman,” Yatsenyuk has recited fully the script of Nazism used to justify its various historical crimes against humanity.

        • The Maidan demonstrations in early 2014, which led to the overthrow of the legally elected Ukrainian government, even witnessed 15,000 people marching in celebration of Bandera’s 105th birthday. The Svoboda Party, a neo-fascist party along with the Fatherland Party of Yulia Tymoshenko both supported this commemoration of the former Nazi ally and war criminal.

          In the late 1930s Stepan Bandera became the leader of the OUN. During World War II the OUN alternated between working with the German occupation and participating in the massacre of Jews, Poles, and Russians, and fighting against it, depending on its perceptions as to whether or not the Germans would go along with an independent OUN run Ukraine or not.

          In 1943 Bandera’s followers massacred 70,000 Poles the majority of whom were unarmed men, women, and children. This mass killing took place in Volyn, Western Ukraine. Also by 1945 the OUN had, in Eastern Galicia, killed 130,000. Many people had their eyes gouged out and were then hacked to death. After WWII the OUN kept fighting against the forces of the USSR and People’s Poland until 1949.

          The OUN represents massive ethnic cleansing. Russians, Poles and Jews were targeted. One can perhaps understand why many Russian speakers in the eastern Ukraine took up arms in 2014 when they saw the flags of the OUN proudly displayed in Kiev after the violent overthrow of the elected government.

          • Oleg Tsarev, the man who warned parliament one day prior to the start of the Euromaidan demonstrations in November 2013, who subsequently alleged that in mid-May of 2014, was phoned by the oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, a friend of the Obama White House, he was told to leave Ukraine or else he would be killed because some unnamed individuals had placed a million dollar price on his head.

            Tsarev didn’t comply. (His courage was remarkable: he had already survived a beating by a Nazi crowd on 15 April 2014. Instead, Tsarev became elected to the parliament in one of the two breakaway new republics constituting Donbass.

          • In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Barack Obama acknowledged that the United States had “brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine,” thus admitting to the coup in Kiev.

            The Ukrainian Government’s problem in implementing Obama’s planned genocide of the Donbass, is that there just aren’t enough Nazis, and there’s also not enough money, to do the amount of killing that needs to be done in order to enable Obama’s Ukrainian regime to retain the land in Donbass while eliminating the people there.

            Washington and Kiev partner in each other’s crimes against humanity. One fascist regime supports another. And the real reason why Obama’s war in Ukraine is failing is that there just is not enough blood-lust for the task, either in Ukraine, or in “the West.”. Obama has over-reached, when he overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected President.

          • Obama is using ethnic cleansing as a means of controlling the ballot box. Its not that Obama wants to kill them all, if they flee to Russia it achieves the same goal. Poroshenko as one of his missives gives a speech where for the first time in history a Western leader boasts about targeting woman and children.

            Poroshenko stated….“We (Ukraine, the fascist West) will have our jobs, they (Donbas, ethnic Russian East) will not. We will have our pensions, they will not. We will have care for children, for people and retirees, they will not. Our children will go to schools and kindergartens… theirs will hole up in the basements. Because they are not able to do a thing. This is exactly how we will win this war!”

            Keep in mind he is talking about Ukrainians, his fellow countrymen. He openly flouts international law, his militia’s use cluster and phospherous munitions against all conventions. He terrorises civilian populations. This is Poroshenko’s strategy to win this civil war, he is a war criminal, these are crimes against humanity.

          • International law actually allows for the people of Crimea to be protected from mass murder. In the Donbass we see the proof that Russia operated well within international law to annex Crimea. The Donbass of course will never be part of Ukraine again unless US/Kiev genocide every last living being there, which of course they are attempting to do.

            The Kiev fascist militia’s have been committing gross human rights violations on a daily basis against civilians in violation of the Geneva Convention. Specifically violations of Articles 3, 4, 5, 7 and 11 of the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of Article 3 of the Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 9, 1948.

            USA-NATO are Complicit in the Crimes Against Humanity committed by Kiev’s Special Forces Attacking South-East Insurgent Population. The inconvenient truth of what happened in Ukraine is that neo-Nazis were at the forefront of the Kiev coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych. , a reality that the U.S. government and news media have been relentlessly trying to cover up.

          • Tapped phone communication among Berkut officers during the Maidan shootouts made available to Monitor by a Ukrainian amateur radio expert, show that the Berkut were taken entirely by surprise by the snipers’ action. One Berkut officer is heard asking his colleagues “Who fired there? Our people do not fire on unarmed people. “Another says a bit later:” He was shot by someone, but not by us… are there more snipers? And who are they?”

            Video recordings show that the shots were fired also from the Ukraina Hotel—as Monitor was told by an eyewitness of the events, the shots were fired from the eighth or ninth floor of the hotel, and that the snipers must have been professionals. But the hotel was firmly in the hands of the Maidan movement that day, which just in the morning of Feb. 20 had introduced ID card controls and only let in people who had a key to one of the hotel rooms.

            The right sector, who were trained in Poland (NATO) shot and murdered civilians and police in the Maidan. The same false flag operation the US undertook in Venezuela.

          • Brian Boyenger is a US sniper in Mariupol, Ukraine is spearheading neo-Nazi’s with the ethnic cleansing of Donbass. He is currently located on the frontline in Mariupol where the Nazi battalion “Azov” and right sector fascists are continuing the genocide. He must be arrested and tried for murder. I would like to know his history of trips to Ukraine, was he there in February 2014, and did he shoot police and civilians in the Maidan?

            At “Azov” battalions base city of Mariupol just during the month of October 2014 the police department had to report over 200 rapes committed by Azov and the Ukrainian National Guard in a public meeting held at the city police department. According to local residents in Mariupol which is a city of over 500,000; people are constantly going missing.

            The black Hitler installed this rabidly anti Russian fascist regime in the first place. It is time to start war crimes tribunals. If you knowingly contribute to genocide anywhere in the world and are an American, you are in violation of Federal Law.

          • “Ten days before the Odesa tragedy a secret meeting was held in Kiev, chaired by the incumbent president Olexander Turchinov, to prepare a special operation in Odessa. Present were minister of internal affairs Arsen Avakov, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service Valentin Nalivaychenko, and the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Andriy Parubiy. Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy, the Kiev-appointed head of regional administration of the Dnepropetrovsk region, was consulted in regard to the operation.

            During that meeting Arsen Avakov has reportedly came up with the idea of using football hooligans, known as “ultras,” in the operation. Ever since his time as the head of the Kharkov regional administration he has worked closely with the fans leaders, whom he continued to sponsor even from his new home in Italy. Kolomoisky temporarily delivered his private “Dnieper-1” Battalion under the command of law-enforcement officials in Odessa and also authorized a cash payment of $5,000 for “each pro-Russian separatist” killed during the special operation.

            A couple of days before the operation in Odessa Andriy Parubiy brought dozens of bullet-proof vests to local ultra-nationalists. Ultranationalist militants from the extremist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA-UNSO), who could be recognized by their red armbands, were also used during the operation. They were assigned a key role in the staging of the provocations: they masqueraded as the defenders of the tent city on Kulikovo Field, and then lured its occupants into the House of Trade Unions to be slaughtered.

            Fifteen roadblocks were set up outside of Odessa, secured by militants under the personal command of Kolomoisky’s “Dnieper-1” Battalion, as well as Right Sector’s thugs from Dnepropetrovsk and the western regions of Ukraine. In addition, two military units from the Self-Defense of Maidan arrived in Odessa, under the command of the acting head of the administration of the president, Sergey Pashinsky – the same man who was caught with a sniper rifle in the trunk of his car on Feb. 18 on Independence Square (Maidan) in Kiev.

            The role of the Odessa police forces in the operation was personally directed by the head of the regional police, Petr Lutsyuk, and his deputy Dmitry Fucheji.

          • You want me to go? I have a hard drive full of this stuff.

          • Your shitposting is inspiring and humbling. None of these arguments relate to mine. You can go on, but I’d rather have a discussion about arguments I made.

          • Shitposting, are you trolling me?

          • I much more prefer to see discussions of this sort. Substantiated and on topic. Thank you for redirecting your discourse. You seem to be heavily influenced by the Alexander Dugin, if I may wager a guess. The ethno-religious argument is moot. Crimea has had worse times, under Yuschenko and Timoshenko, when it was objectively oppressed. So have other minorities of Russian descent in Latvia and Estonia (my own family, even). Why hadn’t Putin, the saviour of Russians, delivered them of their pain? No. Putin needs support at home. That is the only possible explanation, if any. This was a juggernaut for his popularity which came perfectly timed as his ratings waned.

          • The Nazi’s are back in Europe and World War 3 is just around the corner.

          • Might I ask if English is your native language?

          • Yes i am a New Zealander.

          • You have quite the command of the topic at hand! You even use the Russian spellings transcribed to English, instead of the conventional English ones. Remarkable!

          • Maybe the book i am about to publish explains this, i rely heavily on information from Eastern European reports.

          • After the Maidan the leaders of two right wing fascist organisation were rewarded with control of four ministries.

            For example, Andriy Parubiy, co-founder of the fascist Social National Party, which later changed its name to Svoboda, became the new top commander of the National Defense and Security Council. (covering the military, police, courts and intelligence apparatus). The CIA renamed the organisation to “Svoboda,” meaning “Freedom,” to make it more acceptable to Americans.

            Dmytro Yarosh, co founder of the fascist Social National Party and Right Sector commander, is now second-in-command of the National Defense and Security Council. This is the man who organized and ran Ukraine’s February 22nd Coup in Kiev, and the May 2nd Massacre of Its Opponents in Odessa, for Barack Obama.

            Yarosh’s teams carry out the most violent operations for the CIA in Ukraine. They are responsible for the atrocities committed in the Donbass, for the crimes against humanity.

          • Canada’s embassy in Kyiv was used as a haven for several days by anti-government protesters during the uprising that toppled the regime of former president Viktor Yanukovych. The Harper government never fully acknowledged, during the upheaval or since, the depth and extent of the security breach, which has had far-reaching implications on how Canadians are perceived in the region.

            It began, according to multiple sources in Kyiv and Ottawa, when one of the protesters being chased by riot police waved a Canadian passport at embassy security. Once the door was open, the individual was quickly followed by other demonstrators armed with sticks and paving stones.

            We now know that not only Americans but Canadians to were active participants in illegal protests in what is obviously a co-ordinated continental American coup in Europe.

          • This is the last comment I will reply to, but I will only say that you seem keen on playing the “America made the revolution” card. I am not arguing this – I don’t even have a solid opinion on this. It could be on either side of the argument. YET – the problem is that NATO, if it so decides to expand, will encounter very many challenges. Putin and NATO both know this. Thus, there is no doubt in both minds that there will be no further expansion.

          • Again, what you argue refers back to my point.

        • I fail to see the relevance of this point. A rhetoric class will do you well.

          • Hromadske is funded by Brussels and the US. The fact that they can openly talk of ethnic cleansing and genocide is a disgrace. It is just more proof of the agenda of the US state department.

      • It shows us an orchestrated campaign by the US/EU to ethnically cleanse the eastern federation of Ukrainian ethnic Russians as they controlled the balance of power in Ukraine. The Orange Revolution failed because the majority ethnic Russians voted out the US/EU stooges.

        This is why Moscow will not annex the Donbass, they need those voters to remain in Ukraine to ensure Ukraine does not join NATO. This is a strategic red line for Moscow, in the same way that seizing the port at Sevastopol was a strategic red line for Moscow.

        If Obama/EU crosses the red line in Ukraine, we will have WW3 on our hands and a war that we in the West may loose. Think about that……a war we may loose.

        • You are arguing a point in FAVOR of my argument. Putin has no geopolitical intent. Neither NATO nor anyone else truly want to or can encapsulate Russia. Thus, Moscow perhaps NEED NOT be scared of NATO. Perhaps I should’ve made this clearer.

          • Russia in truth is and should be scared of NATO, can you not see this? US/EU/NATO has declared war on Russia. Russia does not want a war in Europe, but is preparing for war none the less.

  2. Perhaps Max Segal should focus on why America always needs an enemy?

    Why is it that a country with a failing infrastructure and a worm eaten social security net feels the need to saddle its citizens with personal debt (college loans and medical bills) and yet prefers to spend its money on $2 billion stealth planes ?

    Also Max Segal fails to see the bigger picture.

    America is not the World’s policeman and its attempt to act as such only leads it to worse and worse defeats. By simultaneously acting against both Russia and China, America is pushing both countries together and ensuring that they’ll be in alliance against it.

    Russia could have the most liberal, most democratic, most capitalist man or woman as its president and it would still have intervened in the Ukraine, simply because it can never allow its most important port, Sevastopol, to be threatened.

    America must stop acting without thinking. What is the end game in Crimea? Suppose Russia did pull out, so what? That would leave 2 million Russians in Crimea resentful of Ukrainian rule, don’t they have democratic rights? Aren’t they free to choose their own form of government? And most importantly, is America prepared to pour in the billions of dollars that would be needed to make Ukrainian rule palatable to Crimea’s Russian citizens?

    Let’s see how long it’ll take for America’s CIA paid trolls to turn up here.

    • I commend you on your comments. How do any of these relate to the brunt of my piece?

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