Wednesday 24th of April 2024

a simplified view of the bidangle....

I doubted whether or not it would be possible, but Russia has managed to trace the funding to at least one of these terrorists – back to the Ukraine.

The FSB is the world’s premiere intelligence and safety agency, which is why these attacks are not happening all the time. They didn’t even lock down Moscow after the attack. Instead, they did massive raids and deportations of Moslems, quietly, while the people remained free to go about in safety without the oppressive atmosphere of soldiers everywhere.


Russia Links Terrorists to Ukraine! US Whines and No One Cares! the Lady Protests Too Much!by 



The suspects in last week’s Moscow terrorist attack were linked to Ukrainian nationalists, the Russian Investigative Committee stated on Thursday, citing preliminary findings. The perpetrators had received “significant sums of money” from Ukraine, the law enforcement agency said.

Investigators have obtained “substantiated evidence” that the suspected assailants received funding from Ukraine in the form of cryptocurrency, which was then used to prepare the terrorist attack, the statement read.


Should have used Monero, hohols! Now you’re nailed to the wall!

Law enforcement officers have also identified and detained another suspect who was allegedly involved in financing the attack, the Investigative Committee said, without identifying the individual.

The four suspected perpetrators had previously been identified as radical Islamists, recruited through an online chat apparently operated by the Afghanistan-based offshoot of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). However, the investigators said at that time that, despite the group’s claim of responsibility for the terrorist act, another party, such as a Ukrainian intelligence agency, may have been involved in the plot.

There was already enough evidence to convict the Ukraine based on the fact that they were driving to the Ukraine and the Ukraine had prepared them an opening at the border. I really didn’t expect them to be able to trace the money to a source. But here you have it.

The Jewnited Snakes is simply whining.


Russia has hit back after a senior White House official accused it of peddling “manure” by claiming that Ukraine may be linked to last week’s terrorist attack near Moscow.

Moscow believes the attack may have been masterminded by Ukrainian special services who used a group of radical Islamists to carry it out. Washington has urged the world to accept the claim of responsibility by ISIS-K, an Afghanistan-based offshoot of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

At a press briefing on Thursday, White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby called the Russian skepticism “nonsense and propaganda.”

He added that it reminds him of his uncle, a small farm owner in Florida. “He used to say that the best manure salesmen often carried their samples in their mouths,” Kirby said. “Russian officials seem to be pretty good manure salesmen.”

“Manure salesmen” with mouths full of shit? What a total faggot. His uncle didn’t used to say that. No one has ever said that before. And it sucks.

Maybe if your jokes were funnier, people would be more apt to believe your lies?

Here’s what would have been better: “More horseshit from Ivan’s malfunctioning collectivized horseshit factory.”

The lady doth protest way too much!


The US and the EU have been obsessive in insisting on Ukraine’s innocence in the Crocus City Hall terrorist attack, to the point that such behavior is suspicious, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview published on Friday.

The Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) terrorist group has claimed responsibility for last Friday’s attack just outside Moscow, in which 143 people were killed and over 200 injured. Washington and Brussels immediately declared that ISIS-K was the sole culprit and that no evidence whatsoever pointed to Kiev.

“The West is actively trying to convince everyone that this is the work of ISIS and there is no longer any need to suspect anyone, especially Ukraine,” Lavrov told Izvestiya. “They keep insisting that Kiev is not to blame, to the point where it’s becoming obsessive.”

“Not just publicly, but they also say in contacts through our diplomatic missions: ‘There is no need to suspect Ukraine,’ but they never explain why,” he added. “From the standpoint of sound logic, answering the question ‘who benefits,’ we can’t exclude Ukraine.”


Of course, it doesn’t matter what Kirby or any of these other deranged freaks says, because Russia will act to take vengeance on the perpetrators. In fact, we may see a brutal escalation of the war. Certainly, the people of Russia are ready for it, after this most egregious event.

In other Moscow attack news, the Russian media is reporting that the assailants tested positive for “a drug that removes fear” (they’re referring to Captagon, which is basically Arabian amphetamine).


Traces of a drug that suppresses fear have reportedly been found in blood samples taken from the four suspects in last week’s terrorist attack at a Russian concert hall.

The claim came on Thursday from the online news outlet Baza, which cited an anonymous source who purportedly has insider information about the ongoing investigation into the Crocus City Hall massacre.

Four suspects were apprehended hours after the rampage that claimed over 140 lives. All of them had a psychotropic substance in their blood that “alters perception of reality,” Baza claimed. It is understood that they took the unnamed drug before the gun and arson attack.

Amphetamines have been used by soldiers and killers since they were invented, so it’s not necessarily big news these guys were on them, other than that because it demonstrates further the type of operation this was. Maybe it wasn’t Captagon, and was some Ukrainian variant. Or maybe the Ukrainians are using Captagon – they definitely have extensive links to ISIS and other Islamic terror groups.

Anyway, it goes to show that this was a professional operation, planned by someone who knew how to do terrorism.

Of course, we’ve already got the money link, so the investigation is about ready to come to a close, and people are about to start being severely punished for this atrocity.







By Craig Murray


The latest judgment by the High Court in the Julian Assange case achieved completely the objectives of the U.K. and U.S. states. 

Above all, Julian remains in the hell which is Belmarsh maximum security prison. He is now safely there alone and incommunicado, from the authorities’ point of view, for at least several more months. 

Importantly, the United States has managed to keep him detained without securing his actual appearance in Washington. 

It is crucial to grasp that the C.I.A., who are very much controlling the process, do not actually want him to appear there until after their attempt to secure the re-election of Genocide Joe. 

No matter what your opinion of Donald Trump, there is no doubt the C.I.A. conspired against him during his entire presidency, beginning with the fake Russiagate scandal and ending with their cover-up of the Hunter Biden laptop story. They do not want Trump back.

Biden is politically in deep trouble. Biden’s lifelong political support for Israel has been unwavering to the point of fanaticism. In the process he has collected millions of dollars from the Zionist lobby. That always seemed a source of political strength in the United States, not of weakness. 

The current genocide in Gaza has changed all those calculations. The sheer evil and viciousness of the Israeli state, the open and undisguised enthusiasm for racist massacre, has achieved the seemingly impossible task of turning much American public opinion against Israel. 

That is particularly true among key elements of the Democratic base. Young people and ethnic minorities have been shocked that the party they have supported is backing and supplying genocide. 

The mainstream media have lost control of the narrative, when the truth is so widely available on mobile phones, to the point that the MSM have actually been forced to change course and occasionally tell truths about Israel. That also was unthinkable a few months ago. 

Precisely the same groups who are outraged by Biden’s support for genocide are going to be alienated by the attack on a journalist and publisher for revealing true facts about war crimes. 

Assange is not currently a major public issue in the United States, because he is not currently in the United States. Were he to arrive there in chains, the media coverage would be massive and the issue unavoidable in the presidential election campaign. 

Locked in Living Hell

The extradition proceeding has therefore had to be managed in such a way as to keep Assange locked in a living hell the whole time, without actually achieving the extradition until after the presidential election in November. As the years of hearings have rolled by this has become increasingly difficult for the British state to finesse on behalf of their American masters. 

In this respect, and only in this respect, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Johnson have done brilliantly in their judgment. 

Senior British judges do not have to be told what to do. They are closely integrated into a small political establishment that is socially interlinked, defined by membership of institutions, and highly subject to groupthink. 

Dame Victoria Sharp’s brother Richard arranged an £800,000 personal loan for then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and subsequently became chairman of the BBC despite a complete lack of relevant experience. Lord Justice Johnson as a lawyer represented the intelligence services and the Ministry of Defence. 

“Senior British judges do not have to be told what to do. They are closely integrated into a small political establishment that is socially interlinked, defined by membership of institutions, and highly subject to groupthink.” 

They did not have to be told what to do in this case explicitly, although it was very plain that they entered the two-day hearing process knowing nothing except a briefing they had been given that the crux of the case was the revelation of names of U.S. informants in the WikiLeaks material. 

The potential danger of an appeal, the granting of which would achieve the United States’ objective of putting the actual extradition back beyond the election date, was that it would allow the airing in public of a great catalogue of war crimes and other illegal activity which had been exposed by WikiLeaks

Sharp and Johnson have obviated this danger by adjourning the decision with the possibility of granting an appeal, but only on extremely limited grounds. 

Those grounds would explicitly gag the defence from ever mentioning again in court inconvenient facts, such as United States war crimes including murder, torture and extraordinary rendition, as well as the plans by the United States to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange. 

All of those things are precluded by this judgment from ever being raised again in the extradition hearings. The politically damaging aspect of the case in terms of the Chelsea Manning revelations and C.I.A. behaviour has been cauterised in the U.K. 

The Grounds of Appeal 

There has been some confusion because the judgment stated that three grounds of possible appeal were open. But in fact this was really only two. 

The judgment states that freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Convention is adequately covered by the First Amendment protections of the U.S. Constitution. Therefore this point can only be argued by the defence against extradition if the First Amendment will not be applied in the case. 

The second ground of appeal which they stated may be allowed was discrimination by nationality, in that the prosecution has stated that as a foreign citizen who committed the alleged acts whilst outside of the United States, Julian may not have the protection of the First Amendment or indeed of any of the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. 

So the first two grounds are in fact identical. Sharp and Johnson ruled that both would fall if an assurance were received from the government of the United States that Julian would not be denied a First Amendment defence on grounds of nationality. 

The other ground on which an appeal may be allowed to go forward is the lack of an assurance from the United States that, following additional charges, Julian may not become subject to the death penalty. 

I shall go on to analyse what happens now and the chances of success on any of these allowed appeal points, but I wish first to revisit the points which have not been allowed and which are now barred from ever being raised in these proceedings again. 

US Illegal Spying on Assange

The most spectacular argument in the judgment, and one which I trust will become notorious in British legal history, refers to the application to bring in new evidence regarding the U.S. authorities’ illegal spying on Julian and plotting to kidnap or assassinate him. 

There are any number of things in this case over five years which are so perverse that they have to be witnessed to be believed, but none has risen to this height and it would be a struggle for anybody to come up with anything in British legal history more brazen than this. 

Judge Johnson and Judge Sharp accept that there is evidence to the required standard that the U.S. authorities did plot to kidnap and consider assassinating Julian Assange, but they reason at para. 210 that, as extradition is now going to be granted, there is no longer any need for the United States to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange: and therefore the argument falls.


It does not seem to occur to them that a willingness to consider extrajudicial violent action against Julian Assange amounts to a degree of persecution which obviously reflects on his chances of a fair trial and treatment in the United States. 

It is simply astonishing, but the evidence of the U.S. plot to destroy Julian Assange, including evidence from the ongoing criminal investigation in Spain into the private security company involved, will never again be allowed to be mentioned in Julian’s case against extradition. 

“It does not seem to occur to them that a willingness to consider extrajudicial violent action against Julian Assange amounts to a degree of persecution which obviously reflects on his chances of a fair trial and treatment in the United States.” 

Similarly, we are at the end of the line for arguing that the treaty under which Julian is being extradited forbids extradition for political offence. The judgment confirms boldly that treaty obligations entered into by the United Kingdom are not binding in domestic law and confer no individual rights. 

Of over 150 extradition treaties entered into by the United Kingdom, all but two ban extradition for political offences. The judgment is absolutely clear that those clauses are redundant in every single one of those treaties. 

Every dictatorship on Earth can now come after political dissidents in the U.K. and they will not have the protection of those clauses against political extradition in the treaties. That is absolutely plain on the face of this ruling. 

The judgment also specifically rejects the idea that the U.K. court has to consider rights under the European Convention of Human Rights in considering an extradition application. They state that in the United States — as in other Category 2 countries in terms of the Extradition Act 2003 — those rights can be presumed to be protected at trial by the legislation of the country seeking extradition. 

“Every dictatorship on Earth can now come after political dissidents in the U.K. and they will not have the protection of those clauses against political extradition in the treaties. That is absolutely plain on the face of this ruling.”

That argument abdicating responsibility for application of the ECHR is one that is not likely to be accepted if this case ever gets to Strasbourg (but see below on the possibility of that happening). 

By refusing to hear the freedom of expression argument, the court is ruling out listening to the war crimes exposed by the material published and hearing that the publication of state level crime is protected speech. That entire argument is now blocked off in future hearings and there will be no more mention of U.S. war crimes. 

The judges accept — hook, line and sinker — the tendentious argument that Julian is not being charged with the publication of all of the material but only with those documents within the material which reveal the name of U.S. informants and sources. As I reported at the time, this was plainly the one “fact” with which the judges had been briefed before the hearing.

That it is a legitimate exercise to remove entirely from consideration the context of the totality of what was revealed in terms of state crimes, and to cherry pick a tiny portion of the release, is by no means clear: but their approach is in any event fatally flawed by a complete non sequitur. 


At para. 45 they argue that none of the material revealing criminal behaviour by the United States is being charged, only material which reveals names. Their argument depends upon an assumption that the material revealing names of informants or sources does not also reveal any criminal behaviour by the United States. That assumption is completely and demonstrably false. 

Let us now turn to the grounds on which a right to appeal is provisionally allowed, but may be cancelled in the event of sufficient diplomatic assurances being received from the United States.  

Capital Punishment 

To start with the death penalty, which has understandably drawn the most headlines: it astonishes me, as this argument has been in play now for several months, that the United States has not provided the simple assurance against imposition of the death penalty which is absolutely bog standard in many extradition proceedings. 

There is no controversy about it, and it is really quick and easy to do. It is a template: you just fill in the details and whiz off the diplomatic note. It takes five minutes. 

I do not believe the Biden administration is failing to provide the assurance against the death penalty because they wish to execute Julian Assange. They do not need to execute him. They can entomb him in a tiny concrete cell, living a totally solitary existence in a living hell. Arguably, he is of more value alive that way as a terrible warning to other journalists, rather than an executed martyr. 

I view the failure so far to produce a guarantee against the death penalty as the clearest evidence that the Biden administration is trying simply to kick this back past the election. 

By not providing the assurance, already they have achieved a delay of another few weeks which they have been given to provide the assurance, and then further time until the hearing on May 20 to discuss whether assurances produced have been adequate. Not giving the death penalty assurance is simply a stalling tactic, and I am sure they will go right up to the deadline given by the court and then provide it. 

“Arguably, he is of more value alive that way as a terrible warning to other journalists, rather than an executed martyr.” 

The second assurance requested by the court is actually much more interesting. They have requested an assurance that Julian Assange will be able to plead a First Amendment defence on freedom of expression and will not be prevented from doing so on the grounds of his Australian nationality. 

The problem which the United States faces is that it is the federal judge who will decide whether or not Julian is entitled to plead that his freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment. Neither the Department of Justice nor the State Department can bind the judge by an assurance. 

First Amendment Defense

The problem was flagged up by the U.S. prosecutor in this case who stated that it is open to the prosecution to argue that as a foreign national, operating abroad as Julian did, does not have First Amendment rights. It is extremely important to understand why this was said. 

The prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are deemed not to have any constitutional rights, despite being under the power of the U.S. authorities, because they were non-U.S. citizens acting abroad. 

A key U.S. Supreme Court judgment in the case of USAID Versus Open Society stated unequivocally that non-U.S. citizens acting abroad do not have First Amendment protection. At first sight that decision appears to have little relevance. 

It concerns foreign charities in receipt of USAID funds which, as a condition of aid, were not allowed to say anything against sex work. They attempted to claim this was in breach of First Amendment rights but the Supreme Court ruled that, as foreigners acting abroad, they did not have any such rights. 

While that may appear of limited relevance, referring to NGOs not individuals, there is a paragraph in the Open Society judgment which states as a rationale that were First Amendment rights to be granted to those NGOS they would also have to be granted to foreigners with whom the US military and intelligence services were in contact — i.e. the Guantanamo problem. 

This paragraph of the Supreme Court ruling appears inescapable in the Assange case:

Julian was a foreign national operating abroad when the WikiLeaks material was published. So I do not see how the United States can simply give an assurance on this point, and indeed it seems to me very likely that Julian would indeed be denied First Amendment rights at trial in the United States. 

The sensible solution would of course be that as a non-U.S. citizen publishing material outside the United States, Julian should not be subject to U.S. jurisdiction at all. But that will not be adopted. 

So I anticipate the United States will produce an assurance which tries to fudge this. They will probably give an assurance that the prosecutor will not attempt to argue that Julian has no First Amendment rights. But that cannot prevent the judge from ruling that he does not, especially as there is a Supreme Court judgement to rely on.

The May Hearing 

In May when we come to the hearing on the permitted points of appeal, it is vital to understand that there will be two parts to the argument. 

The first part will be to consider whether the assurances received by diplomatic note from the United States are sufficient for the grounds of appeal to fall completely. 

However if it is decided that the assurances from the United States are insufficient, that does not automatically mean that the appeal succeeds. It just means that the appeal is heard. The court will then decide whether the death penalty or nationality discrimination points are strong enough to stop the extradition. 

The absence of the death penalty assurance should end the extradition process. But the hearing would see the prosecution argue that it is not necessary, as there are no capital charges currently and none are likely to be added. The judges could go with this, given the undisguised bias towards the United States throughout.

The state will again kick in with its iron resolve to crush Julian. I don’t think that the United States will be able, for the reasons I have given, to provide assurances on the nationality and First Amendment rights, but I think the court will nonetheless order extradition. 

The United States will argue that it is a free country with a fair trial system and independent judges and that Julian will be allowed to make the argument in court that he should have First Amendment rights. 

The U.S. will argue that the U.K. court should accept that the U.S. judge will come to a fair decision which protects all human rights considerations. They will say that it is perfectly reasonable and normal for states to treat citizens and foreign nationals abroad in different ways in different contexts, including consular protection. 

A justice system which is capable of ruling that a person should be handed over to his attempted kidnapper, because then the kidnapper does not have to kidnap him, and ruling that the clauses of the very treaty under which somebody is being extradited do not apply, is capable of accepting that the ability to argue in court for a First Amendment defence is sufficient, even if that defence is likely to be denied.

There is, however, plenty of meat in those questions that would allow another adjourned hearing, another long delay for a judgment and plenty of leeway to get past the November election for Genocide Joe. 

The British establishment continues to move inexorably towards ordering Julian’s extradition at the time of its choosing. Once extradition is ordered, Julian in theory has an opportunity to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. 

The European Court of Human Rights can delay the extradition until it hears the case by a section 39 order. 

But there are two flaws. 

Firstly the extradition may be carried out immediately upon the court judgement before a section 39 order can be obtained, which would take at least 48 hours. 

Secondly the Rwanda Safety Act has provision, though specifically in the Rwanda context, for the government to ignore section 39 orders from the ECHR. 

It cannot be ruled out that the British government would simply extradite Julian even in the face of an ECHR hearing. That would be popular with the Conservative base and, given Labour Leader Keir Starmer’s extremely extensive and dubious role in the Assange saga while director of public prosecutions, I certainly do not put it past him either. 

[See: Records Destroyed of Starmer Trips to DC During Assange Case]

It is worth noting that there have been several occasions in recent years when the Home Office has deported people despite British court orders putting a stay on the deportation. There has never been any consequence other than a verbal rap on the knuckles for the secretary of state from the court. 

So the struggle goes on. It is a fight for freedom of speech, it is a fight for freedom of the press, and above all it is a fight for the right of you and me to know the crimes that our governments commit, in our name and with our money. 

I am ever more struck by the fact that in fighting for Julian I am fighting exactly the same power structures and adversaries who are behind the genocide in Gaza. 

I need to close with an appeal. Please do not stop reading. You will recall that I recently addressed the U.N. Human Rights Committee on Julian’s case and in doing so had the opportunity to state a few hard truths about the war crimes of the United States.

[See: Craig Murray: Assange, Truth & UN Shenanigans]







conflict forever.....

How America’s top spymaster sees the world and why that is rather disappointing
The CIA head’s vision for the future of America’s ongoing confrontation with Russia is surprisingly shortsighted


BY Tarik Cyril Amar


William J. Burns has published a long piece in Foreign Affairs under the title 'Spycraft and Statecraft. Transforming the CIA for an Age of Competition'. This is an essay likely to be read with great attention, maybe even parsed, not only by an American elite audience, but also abroad, in, say, Moscow, Beijing, and New Delhi, for several reasons. Burns is, of course, the head of the CIA as well as an acknowledged heavyweight of US geopolitics – in the state and deep-state versions.

Few publications rival Foreign Affairs’ cachet as a US establishment forum and mouthpiece. While Burns’ peg is a plea to appreciate the importance of human intelligence agents, his agenda is much broader: In effect, what he has released is a set of strategic policy recommendations, embedded in a global tour d’horizon. And, last but not least, Burns is, of course, not the sole author. Even if he should have penned every line himself, this is a programmatic declaration from a powerful faction of the American “siloviki,” the men (and women) wielding the still gargantuan hard power of the US empire.

By the way, whether he has noticed or not, Burns’ intervention cannot but bring to mind another intelligent spy chief loyally serving a declining empire. Yury Andropov, former head of the KGB (and then, for a brief period, the whole Soviet Union) would have agreed with his CIA counterpart on the importance of “human assets,” especially in an age of technological progress, and he would also have appreciated the expansive sweep of Burns’ vision. Indeed, with Burns putting himself so front-and-center, one cannot help but wonder if he is not also, tentatively, preparing the ground for reaching for the presidency one day. After all, in the US, George Bush senior famously went from head of the CIA to head of it all, too.

There is no doubt that this CIA director is a smart and experienced man principally capable of realism, unlike all too many others in the current American elite. Famously, he warned in 2008, when serving as ambassador to Moscow, that “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin).” That makes the glaring flaws in this big-picture survey all the more remarkable.

Burns is, obviously, correct when he observes that the US – and the world as a whole – is facing a historically rare moment of “profound” change in the global order. And – with one exception which we will return to – it would be unproductive, perhaps even a little churlish, to quibble over his ideologically biased terminology. His mislabeling of Russia as “revanchist,” for instance, has a petty ring to it. “Resurgent” would be a more civil as well as more truthful term, capturing the fact that the country is simply returning to its normal international minimum status (for at least the last three hundred years), namely that of a second-to-none great power.

Yet Burns’ agenda is more important than his terminology. While it may be complex, parts of it are as clear as can be: He is eager (perhaps desperate) to prevent Washington from ending its massive aid for Ukraine – a battle he is likely to lose. In the Middle East, he wants to focus Western aggression on Iran. He may get his will there, but that won’t be a winning strategy because, in part thanks to multipolar trend setters, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and BRICS, Iran’s escape from the isolation that the US has long imposed on it is already inevitable.

Regarding China, Burns’ real target is a competing faction of American hawks, namely those who argue that, bluntly put, Washington should write off its losses in Ukraine and concentrate all its firepower on China. Burns wants to persuade his readers that the US can have both its big fight against China and its proxy war against Russia.

He is also engaged in a massive act of CIA boosterism, clearly aiming to increase the clout of the already inordinately powerful state-within-a-state he happens to run himself. And last but not least, the spy-in-chief has unearthed one of the oldest tricks in the subversion and destabilization playbook: Announcing loudly that his CIA is on a recruiting spree in Russia, he seeks to promote a little paranoia in Moscow. Good luck attempting to pull that one on the country that gave us the term “agentura.” Moreover, after the horrific terror attack on Crocus City Hall in Moscow, it is fair to assume that Burns regrets having boasted about the CIA expanding its “work” in Russia. Not a good look, not at all.

What matters more, though, than his verbal sallies and his intriguingly straightforward, even blunt aims, are three astonishingly crude errors: First, Burns insists on reading the emerging outcome of the war in Ukraine as a “failure on many levels,” for Russia, revealing its, as he believes, economic, political, and military weakness. Yet, as the acknowledged American economist James K. Galbraith has recently reiterated, the West’s economic war on Russia has backfired. The Russian economy is now stronger, more resilient, and independent of the West than never before.

As to the military, Burns for instance, gleefully counts the tanks that Russia has lost and fails to note the ones it is building at a rapid rate not matched anywhere inside NATO. In general, he fails to mention just how worried scores of Western experts have come to be, realizing that Moscow is overseeing a massive and effective expansion of military production. A curious oversight for an intelligence professional. He also seems to miss just how desperate Ukraine’s situation has become on the ground.

And politics – really? The man who serves Joe Biden, most likely soon to be replaced by Donald Trump, is spotting lack of popularity and fragility in Moscow, and his key piece of evidence is Prigozhin and his doomed mutiny? This part of Burns’ article is so detached from reality that one wonders if this is still the same person reporting on Russian red lines in 2008. The larger point he cannot grasp is that, historically, Russia has a pattern of starting wars on the wrong foot – to then learn, mobilize, focus, and win.

Burns’ second severe mistake is his argument that, ultimately, only China can pose a serious challenge to the US. This is staggeringly shortsighted for two reasons: First, Russia has just shown that it can defeat the West in a proxy war. Once that victory will be complete, a declining but still important part of the American empire, NATO/EU-Europe will have to deal with the after-effects (no, not Russian invasion, but political backlash, fracturing, and instability). If Burns thinks that blowback in Europe is no serious threat to US interests, one can only envy his nonchalance.

Secondly, his entire premise is perfectly misguided: It makes no sense to divide the Russian and the Chinese potentials analytically because the are now closely linked in reality. It is, among other things, exactly a US attempt to knock out Russia first to then deal with China that has just failed. Instead, their partnership has become more solid.

And error number three is, perhaps, even odder: As mentioned above, Burns’ language is a curious hybrid between an analytical and an intemperate idiom. A sophisticated reader can only wince in vicarious embarrassment at hearing a CIA director complain of others’ “brutish” behavior. What’s worse: the tub-thumping or the stones-and-glasshouse cringe? Mostly, though, this does not matter.

Yet there is one case where these fits of verbal coarseness betray something even worse than rhetorical bravado: Describing Hamas’ 7 October assault as “butchery,” Burns finds nothing but an “intense ground campaign” on Israel’s side. Let’s set aside that this expression is a despicable euphemism, when much of the world rightly sees a genocide taking place in Gaza, with US support. It also bespeaks an astounding failure of the strategic imagination: In the same essay, Burns notes correctly that the weight of the Global South is increasing, and that, in essence, the great powers will have to compete for allegiances that are no longer, as he puts is, “monogamous.” Good luck then putting America’s bizarre come-what-may loyalty to Israel first. A CIA director at least should still be able to distinguish between the national interests of his own country and the demands of Tel Aviv.

Burns’ multipronged strike in the realm of elite public debate leaves an unpleasant aftertaste. It is genuinely disappointing to see so much heavy-handed rhetoric and such basic errors of analysis from one of the less deluded members of the American establishment. It is also puzzling. Burns is not amateurish like Antony Blinken or a fanatic without self-possession, such as Victoria Nuland. Yet here he is, putting his name to a text that often seems sloppy and transparent in its simple and short-sighted motivations. Has the US establishment decayed so badly that even its best and brightest now come across as sadly unimpressive?







of the rusky mafia....

BY Pino Arlacchi

Putin has won the election again, and his success seems to be an enigma to many commentators. I have known and visited post-communist Russia several times, that of the 1990s. Yeltsin's Russia: a state in agony whose greatest architects and beneficiaries were the Western governments associated with oligarchs of the Khodorkovsky and Berezovsky style. A state in euthanasia, lovingly assisted by Western finance, which had seized the opportunity of the fall of communism to build a mountain of money on itself. It was European and American banks that captured the money of the oligarchs and helped bring a large country to the brink of bankruptcy.

The criminal elite closest to Yeltsin's friendly oligarchs were the bosses of Cosa Nostra. Same ferocity, same political proterity masked, among Russians, by a much higher level of wealth, education and social status. The Corleone's former goatherds never dreamed of the levels of opulence and sophistication of Russian crime moguls.

The head of the Russian mafia was Boris Berezovsky, the one interviewed as a political refugee in England. A man capable of ordering an assassination in the morning, then going to dinner with a George Soros determined to redeem him. Berezovsky was a mathematician, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Khodorkovsky himself was an important party leader.

The other bosses were all known to the general public as parliamentarians, businessmen, mayors, newspaper and television owners. Without this intellectual and political level, the Russian criminal oligarchy would not have been able to conceive what is to this day the greatest fraud in history. Born from an alliance between the “7 beautiful» concluded in Davos during the World Forum to support Yeltsin in the elections, this scam allowed nearly half of Russia's wealth to be placed in their hands.

The maxi scam was called “loans against shares» and worked as follows. At the end of 1995, the Russian government, instead of borrowing from the Central Bank, turned to the banks of the oligarchs. As a guarantee for the credits granted, these banks received temporary custody of the majority shares of the largest companies in the country. A year later, to allow the oligarchs to keep the shares, the government decided not to repay the loans. This is how Berezovsky and his men, after lending $110 million, found themselves owning 51% of a company, Sibneft, worth $5 billion. The Menatep group, led by Khodorkovsky, paid 160 million to take control of Lukoil, an oil company worth more than $6 billion. The bank of another friend of friends, Potanin, spent $250 million to snap up Norilsk Nickel, a world leader in metals production, worth about $2 billion.

The fraud of “loans against shares» is the founding vice of the new Russian capitalism. It consolidated the power of a political-mafia oligarchy which caused the greatest disaster suffered by Russia since the Nazi invasion of 1941. The country's GDP was halved in a few years. The savings of the entire population have evaporated due to the wild devaluation of the ruble. In the 1990s, poverty increased from 2 to 40% of the population. The average age has fallen by five years due to the return of diseases that had disappeared. For long periods, the state was unable to pay pensions and salaries, while gangs of criminals of all kinds roamed the country.

The plutocracy that flourished under Yeltsin, however, is not the primitive capitalism that preceded clean capitalism. It was a system of power with no future, which had to continue to steal and corrupt in order to survive. Its Achilles heel was the absence of strong legal protection.

The fear of being expropriated by a hostile government, which could declare privatizations and fictitious appropriations illegitimate, and the fear of the oligarchs of being in turn stolen by other thieves, had two consequences. First, they pushed the loot out of Russia. So far, so good, because across the border the great jaws of Swiss, British and American banks were wide open and happy to launder their assets.

But problems arose when Russian mafiosi, to ensure impunity, were forced to perpetuate their nefarious pact with politics. In 1999, a man from the secret services had come to power, appreciated by Yeltsin and the oligarchs themselves, and considered by them as a prime minister among others, replaceable, if necessary, after a few months. I remember very well my first meeting, as a UN official, with a newly appointed Putin who was worried about being perceived as a shooting star.

But Vladimir Putin had a particularity. Behind his back, there were also the pieces of the KGB that had not poured into the criminal cauldron of the disintegrating Russian state: pieces of a state in disarray that had become marginal, but were still alive, and in any case custodians of a feeling of belonging to the nation deeply felt by Russian citizens.

Taking advantage of these drifting rafts and the immense collective resentment toward Yeltsin and the mafia bosses, Putin quickly distanced himself from his supporters. After only a few months in power, he was able to place the oligarchs before an alternative: return to the ranks of financial power, without pretension to political control, in exchange for the government's renunciation of recovering ill-gotten gains from privatizations and fraud. , or total war, with renationalization of looted public property and an end to impunity for the crimes committed by the leaders (massacres, theft, fraud, extortion, tax evasion in abundance).

Appropriate contacts were also made with the Program that I headed at the United Nations and which had just launched an initiative for the confiscation, on behalf of injured governments, of assets illicitly laundered in the financial centers of the planet.

Faced with Putin's proposal, the mafia front split. Some oligarchs accepted it. Others don't care, thus making the fatal mistake of underestimating the strength of the former KGB colonel, who has since become President of the Russian Federation. In order to avoid various arrest warrants, Berezovsky took refuge in the United Kingdom, from where he began financing anti-Russian activities with the approval of Her Majesty's security services. Khodorkovsky, meanwhile, considered challenging Putin politically, funding parties hostile to the latter in the hope of overthrowing him. It turned out badly for both of them. Berezovsky ended up committing suicide. Khodorkovsky ended up in prison for the murder of a mayor who dared to force his company to pay taxes, and got out ten years later.

In the decades since, Putin has rebuilt the state and is winning a war against the West, further increasing his popularity. Today's Russia is still full of problems, but it no longer has to fear for its survival as a state and as a nation. Of course, Putin also has major flaws and problems. But this was about revealing the (open) secret of Vladimir Putin's popularity rating.