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Signs of Hope – A continuing series January 21, 2022

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.
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Gewerkschaftler suggested this recently:

I suggest this blog should have a regular (weekly) slot where people can post happenings at the personal or political level that gives them hope that we’re perhaps not going to hell in a handbasket as quickly as we thought. Or as the phlegmatic Germans put it “hope dies last”.

Any contributions this week?

Comments»

1. EWI - January 21, 2022

Fully vaxxed and booster seems to be preventing the sort of death rate from COVID from the first 18 months of the pandemic. Myself and the partner finally caught it (young children in school) before Christmas, but it was like a really bad flu, making us firmly bedbound for a few days and rough for more than a week afterwards, but thankfully no worse (so far).

Still think that restrictions need to be in place – not everyone is vaxxed here, not everyone in such good luck as to underlying conditions.

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WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2022

Glad to hear you got over it okay. You’re the third or fourth person I’ve heard who caught it that way through young children in school). Interesting stat in the Guardian that up to 25 per cent of the UK population could be vulnerable through one way or another. Perhaps it’s lower here. Wonder how that works.

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EWI - January 21, 2022

Thanks! No desire to go through it again, either.

Interesting stat in the Guardian that up to 25 per cent of the UK population could be vulnerable through one way or another.

I don’t have the stats to hand, but I was under the impression that we have a significantly younger and healthier population than the UK.

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sonofstan - January 24, 2022

Yes, you do.
Weird the combination of ‘it’s all over’ with the number of cancelled meetings/ missing students: higher than it’s being at any time through the last 2 years.

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2. WorldbyStorm - January 21, 2022
3. banjoagbeanjoe - January 24, 2022

How to make this into a sign of hope>…..

The Guardian for the last few days has led with the imminent war in Ukraine. The imminent Russian invasion.
If it happens, a lot of people will be killed and injured and displaced and it will be horrible.
The sign of hope, if there is one, is that the Irish papers don’t have this story as their lead. So the hope is that the Guardian and other media outlets are overhyping the possibility / probability of war.
Hope dies last.

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EWI - January 24, 2022

The sign of hope, if there is one, is that the Irish papers don’t have this story as their lead.

Don’t count them out just yet. The Irish Times and RTÉ, realising that their audience aren’t quite as excited by the prospect of dying for NATO, have been fluffing for all it’s worth an unremarkable Russian naval exercise 240km off the nearest Irish shoreline. Headlines today again.

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yourcousin - January 24, 2022

Pop,
I fixed this for you, “a lot of people have been killed and injured and displaced and it is horrible.”

Let’s just get this straight. Russia has already invaded Ukraine. Ukrainians have been dying since since then. True, there is the potential for it to get much worse so that an aging autocrat can shake his fist in impotence about the end of the Cold War, but let’s not lose sight of what is actually happening.

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alanmyler - January 24, 2022

YC, I think you might have to just recalibrate for European anti-imperialist norms here.

Russia might or might not already be supporting those defending the Eastern regions of Ukraine, the predominantly ethnically Russian parts, and yes it did reclaim Crimea from Ukraine some years ago, but what Joe is referring to is a step up form that and actual formally declared war. Nobody in Europe wants that, as the potential for escalation on our doorstep is quite alarming.

Thankfully Germany, as the defacto powerhouse in the EU, is not going along with the US/UK ramp up and has refused permission for the overflight of German territory for the war materiel and personnel flying in to Ukraine from the US, via Shannon it should be added, to the on-going shame of our government here.

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yourcousin - January 24, 2022

Alan,
“I think you might have to just recalibrate for European anti-imperialist norms here”

Let’s all be honest and say the quiet part out loud. What you mean by “anti-imperialism” is anti-American/British sentiment. Because that’s what it is. It’s not about peace or neutrality. It’s about giving two fingers to the west while ignoring the actual suffering Ukrainians.

“Russia might or might not already be supporting those defending the Eastern regions of Ukraine, the predominantly ethnically Russian parts, and yes it did reclaim Crimea from Ukraine some years ago”

Alan, we’re adults right? Like if I walked out of the bathroom in the pub you’d tell me if my fly was down? Right, because we can be honest with each other? So let’s be honest. You’re admitting what I corrected in Joe’s comment, with a smidge of “might” (that’s like winking as you deny something), a dash of ethnicity being a justification (it’s not), and some linguistic flexibility (reclaimed).

But what it comes down to at the end of the day for many portions of the Irish left is not so WHAT happens as WHO does it. It’s not about an invasion, the shooting down of a civilian airliner, or the assassination of political opponents in foreign countries. It’s about sticking it to the west and implying (unless you say the quiet part out loud) that the rights that the left would expect for themselves in Ireland are not universal or transferable to other people, in this instance Ukrainians.

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alanmyler - January 24, 2022

By anti-imperialist I mean anti-imperialist, which in this case is directed against the US / NATO which has been creepingly encroaching on territories surrounding Russia for decades. That meets my criteria for imperialism, and I believe should be opposed.

The nonsense being spoken in the media here (and I presume also in the US) about fears that the Kremlin is about to insert a pro-Russian government in Kiev is pretty difficult to take seriously when one remembers the shenanigans in Venezuela a couple of years ago. And the latter doesn’t share a land border with the US, or have a sizeable population of ethnically US people (we’ll overlook the native American connection as that would raise the whole issue of historical imperialist conquest and genocide on the continent(s) of America to another level altogether).

About Crimea, yes “reclaimed”, after the somewhat arbitrary granting of Crimea to Ukraine during former Soviet times.

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EWI - January 24, 2022

The nonsense being spoken in the media here (and I presume also in the US) about fears that the Kremlin is about to insert a pro-Russian government in Kiev is pretty difficult to take seriously

Not to mention the curious Western/NATO unconcern with fascists in government (going back through Croatia in the Nineties to Chile, Spain and Portugal in earlier decades).

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yourcousin - January 24, 2022

EWI,
Not sure of the relevance of your point. I’m not looking to relitigate the West vs the USSR. I’m simply commenting that an invasion already took place and the deaths have never stopped. That’s it.

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EWI - January 24, 2022

Let’s all be honest and say the quiet part out loud. What you mean by “anti-imperialism” is anti-American/British sentiment. Because that’s what it is. It’s not about peace or neutrality.

That’s a rather broad and unwarranted brush. It’s possible to be against not just the Anglo-US efforts at a modern Great Game but the French, the Chinese, the Russians and all of them.

The only good path for a small neutral is to stay out of the way of all these players, and not to aid or abet the suffering and misery they cause with such carelessness.

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yourcousin - January 24, 2022

Except the Irish left is more than happy comment and lionize the struggles of Palestinian solidarity or the Dunnes anti Apartheid strikers. You can’t take moral stands on somethings and say, “we have to keep our heads down” at others.

That’s not neutrality, that’s isolationism. Again, if you want to argue that position then fine, but let’s be honest that there is a difference between them.

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EWI - January 24, 2022

That’s not neutrality, that’s isolationism.

That’s not isolationism, that’s non-alignment and anti-imperialism. All else is inevitably a fool’s errand (Irish troops are currently, in Mali propping up a military dictatorship on behalf of French legacy colonialism and NATO’s lingering GWOT).

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

EWI,
The Russian federation guaranteed Ukrainian sovereignty in 98. They have since gone back on that promise. They’ve poisoned Ukrainian politicians, invaded, fostered and sustained a rebellion with money, volunteers, and regular army units. They’ve assassinated opponents off the battlefield (and within the break away republics to ensure tighter control over them) and committed acts of sabotage and assassination across Europe. All to keep Ukraine within their “sphere of influence”. What about that is progressive? And is that not imperialism? Honest question, not trying to score points or justify NATO, or whatever argument you want to assign to me.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

What about that is progressive? And is that not imperialism? Honest question, not trying to score points or justify NATO, or whatever argument you want to assign to me.

It’s not ‘progressive’ to advance strategic NATO aims, whether in eastern Europe or anywhere else. I would have thought the cruise missile left would have realised that by this stage, but apparently there really are slow learners. The only moral course in these circumstances is not to give aid to either guilty party, and try to calm the situation.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

EWI,
You still didn’t answer the question, you just implied that I’m a slow learner.

And I’m not so much a cruise missile leftist as someone who supported the Bosnians, the Kosovars, Chechyans, the Tamils, The Kurds etc. basically an under dog type guy. Sometimes those teams get assistance from the west, more often they get left to hang out there. But that is besides the point which you are dodging.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

And I’m not so much a cruise missile leftist as someone who supported the Bosnians, the Kosovars, Chechyans, the Tamils, The Kurds etc. basically an under dog type guy. Sometimes those teams get assistance from the west, more often they get left to hang out there. But that is besides the point which you are dodging.

Most of the examples you give have been the victims of being pawns in others’ larger games. If you’re not capable of learning from that recent history, then there’s really nothing further to be usefully said to you.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

EWI,
Funny how you attack me and deride me instead of answering the questions I put to you. And between the two of us you’re the one who mischaracterized some historic episodes.

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banjoagbeanjoe - January 24, 2022

Pop,
I fixed this for you, “a lot of people have been killed and injured and displaced and it is horrible.”

Thanks son. That’s true. I’ve become a bit of an impotent old hippie (again) and I’m just wringing my hands and hoping that it won’t get a lot worse than it has been for the last number of years. The hope is that they (the big powers) will talk it out and work out some kind of peaceful fudge.

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yourcousin - January 24, 2022

Pop,
No worries. We’re both in agreement that “jaw, jaw” is better than “war, war” . Cliched, but true. My point is to simply highlight the reality for Ukraine, and the fact that as leftists we should be trying to move away from the “great game-esque” thing where we pick sides. Heck I think we need to move beyond saying, “a curse on all your houses” snd focus on the regular people and the simple things we expect for ourselves.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 24, 2022

Agreed. The whole escalation looks more worrying if you live in centralish Europe and have Ukrainian work-mates.

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4. Paul Culloty - January 24, 2022

Worth noting that in 1991, a majority of the total Russian-speaking population in Ukraine voted for independence, as shown by this map of the No result by oblast:

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Liberius - January 24, 2022

War is not a sign of hope for any reason no matter what the bloodthirsty might think.

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banjoagbeanjoe - January 24, 2022

War is not a sign of hope for any reason no matter what the bloodthirsty might think.

Agreed. I couldn’t find What you want to say so I stuck my comment in Signs of Hope. The Sign of Hope that I was kind of stretching for was that there might not be a war despite the Guardian and other media outlets seeming to think that there will be.

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Liberius - January 24, 2022

Ah you’re alright Joe, it’s the tone of some of the other comments in this thread that prompted me to write that.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

Liberius,
Like I used to tell my young son or even project engineers now, use your words. If you want to throw an elbow, go ahead and throw it. So far most folks are attacking what they think I’m saying versus what I’m actually saying.

My point was that an invasion already happened and Ukrainians have been dying for the last seven years. That’s not western propaganda.

Per EWI’s point, no one in the west wants to see their son die for Ukrainian sovereignty. But the Ukrainians have on almost a daily basis. You don’t have to care, or like them. Hell you can cheer for Russia, but you can’t pretend it isn’t happening. If you think that makes me blood thirsty, please explain.

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Liberius - January 25, 2022

Per EWI’s point, no one in the west wants to see their son die for Ukrainian sovereignty. But the Ukrainians have on almost a daily basis.

Would that be Ukrainian speaking Ukrainians or Russian speaking ones? Strikes me you only care about one type, the ones fighting anyone Russian and damn anyone else including the civilians who constitute the bulk of the victims of the war.

Look you don’t have to support Russia to think that the solutions to a civil war, and it bloody well is a civil war, involve recognising that Ukraine as it currently exists on a map can’t be an entirely Ukrainian nationalist settlement, it has to take account of it’s large Russian minority, anything else is asking for the situation since 2014 where a sizeable enough number of people want to separate. It’s like here in Ireland, a UI doesn’t work if it’s a nationalist supremacy like many want it to be, it has to be an accommodation for everyone.

Seeking the violent path under the guise of defending the Ukrainians when Ukrainian nationalism has been as much the problem as Russian nationalism is what makes you look bloodthirsty, the rhetoric you’ve offered here only seeks justification for war on behalf of the Ukrainian nationalist position rather than anything else, if you offered something other than that maybe I’d think otherwise. Most of us just don’t want this to be the global war it’s starting to look like it could be, something we’re getting closer to by the day, if that makes us the bad guys then so be it, you can sit there in whatever armchair you inhabit and pretend you’ve got the fucking moral high ground.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

Liberius,
It’s not like we’re ever going to sit down to pints and be mates, but I do appreciate the thoughtful response. Obviously, I verily disagree with you but I do appreciate it.

At no point have I ever supported or advocated a Banderaesque vision for Ukraine. I don’t support Right Sector and disavow their fight in eastern Ukraine. Now I do understand that it’s not quite as simple to say, boo Ukrainian fascists and wallah I’m ok. I get that. I understand that the far right’s activities in the Euromaidan and they’re actions in the DNR/LNR can raise an eye brow (to put it mildly). But I also think that to simplify the entire movement down to those elements alone is wrong and misguided. One would would do well to look at the policies of pro Moscow forces, if folks want to act like this a red v brown conflict.

If you want to revisit the entire Euro Maidan movement or even go back to the colored revolutions, I’m open to it, but unless you want to, I’ll leave it there for now.

The problem with the idea that it’s a Civil War is that it was instigated, armed, supported, and at crucial junctures upheld through the use of regular armed forces from the Russian Federation. It’s hard to have a civil war when the only thing keeping it going is another country. It’s so much a thing that outside of Wagner company, that deaths in the Russian Federation are now secret and have been for the last six years.

I want Ukraine to be a modern European multi ethnic/linguistic state. I don’t want pro western oligarchs ruling over their fiefdoms, any more than I want Yanukovich (spelling?) types in there. Servants of the People are hardly foaming at the mouth western Ukrainian nationalists.

All I’ve been trying to point out in this entire thread is that the fighting and dying never stopped for Ukrainians. I don’t need to justify something that’s been ongoing for over seven years. That’s not blood thirsty. And my views in defense of NATO are general in nature and no one has to offer a rebuttal on those points.

I make no secret of my antagonist views on the Soviet Union and the now the actions of the Russian Federation. But I’m aware enough of my biases that I try extra hard to stick to my points and not tilt at Russian windmills/boogeymen.

Let us be very clear on this. This entire crisis has been concocted by the Russian Federation. Putin after concocting a constitutional change so he can stay in power almost indefinitely amassed troops on what is a not quite frozen conflict.

Again, if folks want rehash the end of the Cold War then fine, but that’s also a different conversation.

I’m not claiming the high ground, I am however pointing out that saying “no to war that impacts me” is not a great altruistic stance. It’s understandable, but not inherently progressive.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

Let us be very clear on this. This entire crisis has been concocted by the Russian Federation.

This is an untrue statement. This crisis was kicked off a number of years ago by an attempt to rope Ukraine into the Western power bloc (the EU and NATO have surely more than enough fascist-adjacent eastern European states as recent members already).

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

EWI,
My statement is factually accurate. This conversation is happening because in November the Russians started building up equipment on the border.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

My statement is factually accurate.

Not true. This particular game has been going on since the early 2010s at least.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

EWI,
I’m happy to be corrected, but you’ve got to be able to back up your assertions.

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Liberius - January 24, 2022

On the phone at the moment, that wasn’t meant to be a reply to PC.

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Paul Culloty - January 25, 2022

EWI,

It may be unwise for Ukraine to join the EU and/or NATO, but surely those are sovereign decisions for the people and government of that country to make, if they consider such alliances to be of defensive benefit?

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WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2022

I feel similarly. I’d advise them against doing so, I think they could possibly secure their defensive security in better ways without joining, but it is their decision to make. Imagine the UK saying to the ROI, ‘you cannot join this or that.’ We’d be in uproar and rightly so. I also think that unlike de Valera did (at one point at least) people have the right to make the ‘wrong’ decision as long as it remains within a democratic context and can be reversed.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

Membership of the EU isn’t a matter of rocking up, paying the entrance fee and going in at the door, as Turkey and others still waiting for years have found out. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it’s always in pursuit of strategic goals, which largely means those of Germany and France.

This crisis really started in 2014 when the EU decided to initiate accessions of Ukraine and Georgia, who are right on the Russian border and were recently part of the same country. Now, people may stake the claim that the EU is perfectly entitled to do so and whatever, but the reality is that everything the EU does as regards diplomacy is entwined with whatever else is going on and has a definite purpose. Look at the continuing refusal to recognise Palestinian and Kurdish states.

Patricia McKenna and others were warning twenty years ago about the EU being deliberately evolved from a relatively harmless economic and customs union into a player on the international stage, and she wasn’t wrong.

The Irish state and its soldiers have now been involved in the post-colonial messes that were and are Iraq, Afghanistan, Chad and Mali, and various right-wing and liberal types are trying to move us further along with posturing about how we need to tie ourselves further into NATO, by posturing about the very sort of guy that NATO has proven itself entirely sanguine about in the past when it was ‘their’ guy. The question is how many times are people going to be taken for a ride by the latest carefully-manufactured crisis?

I’m old enough to recall the first and second Gulf Wars, Somalia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia (where it kicked off with countries such as Germany, Russia and Britain backing individual clients), the Kosovo business, Libya and Syria, all of which inevitably were shown to be just more grubby little imperial military adventures, ended in disaster and people apparently just didn’t learn from them.

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5. yourcousin - January 24, 2022

“By anti-imperialist I mean anti-imperialist, which in this case is directed against the US / NATO which has been creepingly encroaching on territories surrounding Russia for decades. That meets my criteria for imperialism”

So you’re saying that countries that had been invaded and occupied by Russia, who once it was gone, wanted protection against being reinvaded should not have that agency? That Russia gets a veto on their foreign policy? Again, it’s not so much that NATO went East but that many states in the former Soviet bloc ran west. And honestly, if you were a Baltic state right now, being in NATO seems like a pretty good investment.

As for Latin America. I have been consistent on this point for over a decade here. I oppose American actions and interventions in Latin America, historically and today. Full stop, no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts”. I can’t make it much clearer than that. So to me, I would file that argument as “whataboutery” and move on.

The thing that you’re failing to grasp about my argument is that it isn’t about the “evil” Russians needing to be beaten back by the shining white knight of NATO/US. That’s a nice little caricature, but it’s not realistic. My position is that any leftist worth their salt should be standing up for the rights of the peoples and countries that have for centuries been ground down between competing empires in this area. So that was my point initially and I want to keep the focus as such. The golden rule as it were. If I want those rights for myself or my family then I should want those for others. Those others right now are Ukrainians. Because they’ve been dying ever since.

You disagree since you think that Crimea was just “arbitrarily” Ukrainian even though the Russian Federation agreed that it was indeed Ukrainian in the Budapest Memorandum. And honestly that says a lot. So here’s the deal, you’re pro Russian. Nothing wrong with that. I disagree. But let’s honest here. The arguments justifying Russian actions aren’t inherently leftist/anti imperialist because couched within those very points you raise is the assumption of a sphere of influence where Russia gets to decide. That logic would would also give the US justification of its actions in Latin America. As I’m opposed to one, I’m opposed to both. I don’t want a bi/tri polared world, I want a multipolared world where the rights of the small nations are respected.

For us here on the CLR this is literally just an academic point that we’ve been over before, but people are dying and have been for close to a decade. It’s important not to lose sight of that.

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EWI - January 24, 2022

So you’re saying that countries that had been invaded and occupied by Russia, who once it was gone, wanted protection against being reinvaded should not have that agency? That Russia gets a veto on their foreign policy?

How many decades has the US been blockading Cuba, by this point? How many invasions of Central and South American countries, how many nod-and-wink military coups at their instigation?

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WorldbyStorm - January 24, 2022

Agreed EWI, but it can’t be either/or. The principle remains the same in both instances. There shoudn’t be spheres of influence for either Russia or the US or China, or Britain.

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EWI - January 24, 2022

I’m arguing for none of them, but in the absence of that to recognise (as with the anti-semitism claims with the BLP) that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be stampeded in the direction that rightwing forces want us to go, and on their terms, the supposed issues being BS.

Right now on the IT website, the only free and un-paywalled articles they have are those pushing the in-house narrative trying to make some Russian ships hundreds of miles away into a ‘thing’.

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WorldbyStorm - January 24, 2022

Entirely agree re the ships. I think the IT’s attitude is idiotic. They’re in international waters and well away from our coastline.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

EWI,
I would note that out of the trifecta of empires, you’re usually on here only raging against one. And so while I try to not confuse silence with support, the omission of critique starts (admittedly I’m biased) starts to make its own argument. I’m happy to be corrected if you’ve been on here supporting democratic rights for Hong Kong, discussed the plight of the Uighers. Commented on Nalvany’s assassination attempt and then imprisonment. Etc. Etc.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

Entirely agree re the ships. I think the IT’s attitude is idiotic. They’re in international waters and well away from our coastline.

The IT’s lead on it today is a masterclass in deliberately misleading the casual reader:

Russian military drills pose strategic and environmental risks to Ireland
Concerns that the drills off Cork coast could be cover for cutting subsea cables

This week Russia will start deploying 140 warships and about 10,000 sailors around the world to take part in naval exercises expected to last several weeks

These drills will take place in the Pacific, the Mediterranean and in a small area about 130 nautical miles (200km) off the coast of Cork, firmly within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

This ‘throw everything and see what sticks’ is a reliable sign of a concerted propaganda effort. And many people won’t read it in detail, and will come away with ‘140 warships and about 10,000 sailors […] firmly within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)’ as their impression of what’s going on (Irish territorial waters are vastly smaller).

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EWI - January 25, 2022

I would note that out of the trifecta of empires, you’re usually on here only raging against one. And so while I try to not confuse silence with support, the omission of critique starts (admittedly I’m biased) starts to make its own argument. I’m happy to be corrected if you’ve been on here supporting democratic rights for Hong Kong, discussed the plight of the Uighers. Commented on Nalvany’s assassination attempt and then imprisonment. Etc. Etc.

Nice try, but no cheese. As WbS can confirm by searching the comments, unlike the ‘America’s enemies and no-one else’ demographic, I can oppose more than just one side of actors all at the same thing.

As with Israel, the reason why certain countries come in for particular criticism is because we’re constantly being subjected to a barrage of deliberately misleading propaganda on their behalf, much of it overspill from being and English-speaking country sandwiched between the UK and the US, but also because the cap-doffers and lickspittles clearly didn’t all die out with John Redmond.

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WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2022

I actually would detach neutrality from anti-imperialism. There are links, but they’re not the same thing. I’m fully in favour of neutrality, remaining outside alliances and arguing forcefully for non-alignment and broader neutrality. But I’d see anti-imperialism as being a different facet of matters. So to me it is incontrovertible that Russia, the US, the PRC and indeed other actors are imperialisms of one form or another. Responding to them though requires different approaches for a myriad of reasons. I also think, though I’m against NATO or CSTO, that individual states have the right to join those organisatios – even if I abhor them. Indeed I can understand why Poland or Slovakia or whevever would have done so, or indeed why some states are members of the CSTO. Or perhaps a better way of putting it is that no one is going to call upon me for advice in these matters so in that context these organisations are going to continue to exist. So I’m a bit leery in talk about not assisting NATO’s strategic aims. On one level neutrality suggests it’s not our business – I seek those organisations to be superceded entirely, but in placing ourselves in a form of opposition to them in that way suggests us taking a participatory role that sits badly with me in respect of neutrality. But to bring this back to the rhetoric about naval exercises, we should certainly criticise the Irish government and the media for jumping all in on this stuff. But, were NATO to be holding similar exercises I would be asking why the Irish government or media isn’t criticising that, or indeed – and it would be interesting to see what the record of such exercises in that part of the Atlantic is on the part of NATO. But as for criticising NATO for holding them, any more than the Russians/CSTO (and presumably the current round of Russian exercises are linked to CSTO) I wouldn’t do that either – except to both in the broadest terms that such exercises do little to inspire confidence building and all of these are potentially destabilising.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

But, were NATO to be holding similar exercises I would be asking why the Irish government or media isn’t criticising that, or indeed – and it would be interesting to see what the record of such exercises in that part of the Atlantic is on the part of NATO.

And the record is that we bend over to facilitate such operations and exercises for NATO, and go out of our way to pretend not to see stuff like renditions, movements of troops and arms.

Btw, Coveney was on the radio this morning yammering something about ‘thinking of the whales’, which shows just how silly this has gotten, and how stupid they think the public are.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

But as for criticising NATO for holding them, any more than the Russians/CSTO (and presumably the current round of Russian exercises are linked to CSTO) I wouldn’t do that either – except to both in the broadest terms that such exercises do little to inspire confidence building and all of these are potentially destabilising.

There’s a matching French fleet which has been conducting exercises/a show of force in the Eastern Mediterranean, but you wouldn’t know that by watching or reading the Irish news reports. The recent invented crisis around Chinese planes flying through Taiwan’s claimed air control box is a case in point. Nowhere was it noted that this is huge (also covering part of China’s landmass), nowhere mentioned that this was clearly a response to a large Western fleet (including the Brits with their toy carrier) having sailed into the area first.

Where to draw the line, except to wish a plague on all their houses and not to allow ourselves to be dragged in on one side?

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EWI - January 25, 2022

This, by the way, is Wikipedia’s likely undercount of what exercises NATO has been running in the past two years:

2020[edit]

DEFENDER-Europe 20 “Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20 is a U.S.-led multinational exercise, including NATO’s participation. It is the largest deployment of U.S.-based forces to Europe in more than 25 years with 20,000 soldiers deployed directly from the U.S. to Europe.”[6]
Dynamic Mongoose 20 is a NATO-led exercise that took place from 29 June to 10 July 2020 in the High North. Ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from six Allied nations (France, Germany, Norway, UK, Canada and USA) exercised off the coast of Iceland for Anti-Submarine warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface warfare training. According to scientists, sonar anti-submarine trainings during Dynamic Mongoose 20 resulted in disastrous consequences for the population of whales in the North Atlantic. British zoologists have recorded the death of at least 29 marine mammals over several weeks across Europe that caused irreparable damage to the fragile marine ecosystem.[7]

Six U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, had arrived Aug. 22, 2020 at RAF Fairford, England for a long planned training mission where the aircraft conducted theater and flight training across Europe and Africa.[8]

The strategic bomber missions “Bomber Task Force”, which have been occurring since 2018, provide opportunities for U.S. integration with NATO allies and put pressure on Russia.[9]

On September 4, the American B-52s entered the airspace of Ukraine for the first time in history, where they made a long flight along the borders of the Crimean peninsula.[10]

On Sep. 25, two U.S. bombers staged a mock attack run on Russia’s territory in Eastern Europe. The flight path allowed the bombers effectively to fly a circle around Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic between Poland and Lithuania. The simulated raid on the Kaliningrad region was a test case of destroying Russian air defense systems located in the region.[11]

Altogether, in August-September 2020, American nuclear weapons carriers flew at least 18 times to Russia’s northern, western and southern borders during the operation, which is an unprecedented event since the end of the Cold War.[12]

2021[edit]
Defender-Europe 21, one of the largest U.S.-Army, NATO-led military exercises in Europe in decades, began in mid-March and will last until June. It included “nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas” in Albania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Kosovo and other countries.[13][14] Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, commanding general of the United States Army Europe and Africa, said that “While we are closely monitoring the COVID situation, we’ve proven we have the capability to train safely despite the pandemic.”[13] Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that Russia has deployed troops to its western borders for “combat training exercises” in response to NATO “military activities that threaten Russia.”[15]

CAPABLE DEPLOYER 2021 – NATO Allied Force Interoperability Exercise, which is planned and coordinated by the Multinational Logistics Center. The exercises will take place in Romania from May 2 to 23.

Wind Spring 21 – Maintain the operational capacity of planning and executing joint and multinational NATO military operations in Europe. 2- 27 May Romania

Ramstein Guard 3 21 – The NATO Electronic Warfare Force Integration Programme with regional elements of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System conducted through the Combined Air Operation Centre’s (CAOC). 3 – 14 May Portugal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NATO_exercises

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2022

Agreed, just would modify one line you have:

Where to draw the line, except to wish a plague on all their houses and not to allow ourselves to be dragged in on either side? Rather than ‘one’ side.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

Where to draw the line, except to wish a plague on all their houses and not to allow ourselves to be dragged in on either side? Rather than ‘one’ side.

I get your point, but as the Georgians found out a number of years ago, after having been encouraged by the US to provoke the Russians into a war (and then promptly abandoned), the would-be powers have no real friends but only interests. The Ukrainians could find that next week the strategic calculations have changed again.

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WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2022

But that’s it precisely – there little this state or any of us can do other perhaps than seek other neutrals and non aligned to work towards solidarity with states bordered by larger belligerent and often post or actual imperialist states. I’d think the ROI could usefully point to its own experience in terms of engaging with the realities of overlapping communities of national identity and dealing with a large post imperial power on its doorstep. It would be interesting to see how that sort of experience might dovetail with Ukraine.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

EWI,
I think it’s ironic that you paint the Georgians as the aggressors considering that the Georgians never attacked Russia. They responded to artillery fire from S Ossetians on Georgian villages. Now, it was a trap laid by the Russians who had planned the whole thing as a lesson to the Georgians that despite their western aspirations they were very much under Moscow’s thumb.

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EWI - January 25, 2022

I think it’s ironic that you paint the Georgians as the aggressors considering that the Georgians never attacked Russia.

I suggest you go take a good look back at how Bush W. built the Georgians up into striking a belligerent pose with a much larger neighbour, and then abandoned them when the Russians invaded. You’ve a childish idea of how international politics actually shakes out, and losing some of that innocence might do you some good.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

EWI,
I’m well aware of Saakasvili’s infatuation with the west. And as someone who followed it closely at the time I feel some jurisprudence would’ve been advisable.

But charting a course that is different from a larger neighbor is not justification for a military invasion. And this is the difference between my apparent naivety and your well versed anti imperialism. I can say with equal vigor that the Russian invasion of Georgia was wrong. And so is the US blockade on Cuba. One does not negate the other. From a left wing stand point they are both wrong. But you write off the Russian invasion of Georgia (not the other way round as you phrased it) but throw the Cuban blockade back at me, disregarding the fact that I already in this very comment section voiced my opposition to US policy in Latin America. You state how you condemn “them all” equally, but your own words in this thread show otherwise.

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Colm B - January 24, 2022
6. yourcousin - January 24, 2022

What part of the whole paragraph that I spent condemning the US in Latin America was unclear?

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7. Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 24, 2022

What god-given right does the US government and their playground bully cheerleaders in the UK have to interfere in Eurasian affairs?

The US is a dying empire that is incapable of doing anything at home and so starts new cold and (hopefully not) hot wars abroad. The UK is a cos-play ex-Empire that has massive (largely self-made) problems at home and so is rattling the rusty sabre, with the usual dodgy dossiers from it’s intelligence/propaganda services.

NATO is an institution that is in search of a reason to exist given it’s recent debacles.

Putin’s was put in power by ‘the West’ humiliating and pauperising Russia repeatedly during shock treatment and subsequently refusing every tension-reducing move proposed. He’s maintained in power by ‘the West’ continuing this stance.

There is a way to de-escalate and that is for the Minsk II agreement of 2015 to be implemented by the comedian in charge in the Ukraine and Donbas given a degree of autonomy.

But that would not serve the purposes of dying and dead Anglo empires. And meanwhile the arms manufacturers grow even richer.

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EWI - January 24, 2022

NATO is an institution that is in search of a reason to exist given it’s recent debacles.

Putin’s was put in power by ‘the West’ humiliating and pauperising Russia repeatedly during shock treatment and subsequently refusing every tension-reducing move proposed. He’s maintained in power by ‘the West’ continuing this stance.

Agreed on both.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

KT,
I would reframe the question, what right does Russia have to invade Ukraine again? NATO and the west were drug into this after Putin amassed the equipment on the border and then issued his statement.

I would welcome the implementation of Minsk II and look forward to Russia returning control of the borders to Ukraine as stipulated therein.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 25, 2022

Russia has no right to invade, anymore that NATO has the right to blight Eurasia and the surrounding seas with their military bases.

Talking to people I work with in Berlin, the feeling is with regard to Putin, NATO / US is ‘a plague on both your houses’. No one wants war apart from morally bankrupt polticos and the arms industry.

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yourcousin - January 25, 2022

KT,
Right, no ordinary person wants war. Agreed, but one has been going for seven years. Without NATO being involved or even on the table Putin was killing Ukrainians. So now to pretend that it’s all a NATO/Putin thing is ridiculous. NATO was drug in to an already existing conflict to give Putin’s bullying a “great gamesque” fig leaf.

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Francis Donohoe - January 26, 2022

Why are you pushing the ‘Putin’ stuff? Was it Bush killing Iraqis? Blair chopping up Afghans? Why push the run of the mill propaganda line on this that seeks to place what are state and national forces acting, in whether you agree with them or not, as the actions of one person?

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8. Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 24, 2022

I don’t know if you read of the head of the German navy – which thankfully these days isn’t up to much – who made the mistake of saying that Putin was a product of “the West’s” foreign policy choices.

So far so good. But then he went on to say that ‘we’ should be allying with Russia because it is fundamentally a Christian nation that should join ‘us’ in the fight against the godless Chinese.

The Vice-Admiral was promptly sacked.

Where do they find them? And how to the climb so high in the military?

Liked by 1 person

9. roddy - January 24, 2022

A sign of hope up here tonight. That count Doug Beattie has been caught out big time with a series of historic sexist and racist tweets coming to light.He had recently invented himself as “liberal” and”progressive” ably assisted by a sycophantic media always eager to find that oxymoron “the liberal Unionist” He had previously spoken of “serving my country” by bayoneting Johnny Foreigner but the same media found nothing wrong with that.

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10. yourcousin - January 25, 2022
11. alanmyler - January 25, 2022

Anyone know if SF or PBP have made any statements about the Ukraine situation? Or Clare Daly?

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Colm B - January 25, 2022
alanmyler - January 25, 2022

Thanks Colm but I’m specifically interested in SF and the rest of the parliamentary Left (Dail & European parliament) and how they’re reacting to this, if at all.

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Colm B - January 25, 2022

Can’t see anything on SF or PBP websites.

In different contexts, I’ve had this debate before re Russian, Chinese, US imperialism and the need to oppose all and support the struggle against all, so don’t see much point in debating it further. Most people here, including me, have fairly fixed opinions on it and that translates into fairly predictable reactions to any conflict that involves any of the imperialist powers.

So Im sticking to the old slogan said “Neither Moscow nor Washington but revolutionary socialism”, only need to add Beijing and ignore London, which is sort of irrelevant now😁

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2022

+1

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alanmyler - January 25, 2022
Colm B - January 25, 2022

It’s a despicable statement that utters not a word of condemnation of the right wing, mysogynistic, racist, imperialist kelpto-capitalist Putin regime and that urges support for genocidal family clique that runs Syria etc etc.
But at least it’s clear – it makes no bones of its “anyone who opposes west good” politics and its support for those anti-worker regimes.

And yes, I can pat my head and rub my belly at the same time : I oppose the US imperialism blockade of Cuba, the rotten western+ backed Saudi regime etc. at the same time as opposing Russian imperialist threats and attacks on neighbours.

Liked by 4 people

12. Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 25, 2022

All the information we have on the Russian build-up supposedly on the border of Ukraine comes through US and UK intelligence surveillance, compilitation and interpretation.

Remember the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? The Afghani army that could hold out against the Taliban for six months? etc. etc.

I’ll never believe a word these self-interested and self-promoting organisations feed to their tame journalists, without independent corroboration.

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WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2022

Just on that some fairly sober commentators were, at least until recently, must check in on them, saying they thought the chances of invasion were minimal. Not sure if that’s changed and if others have good sources that’d be useful.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 25, 2022

That’s my sense also. The question is how de-escalation occurs, and who gains politically from it. Ideally both sides can gain without more blood flowing.

In the end, to misquote Clausewitz: “Die vermeintliche Kriegsbedrohung ist auch eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln.” (The percieved threat of war is also merely a form of politics by other means).

I’ve heard it suggested that the US wanted to freeze the NATO/Russia standoff, so that they could concentrate on a luke-warm war with China. Perhaps they will regard it as a win if they can get some kind of (implicit) agreement over Ukraine, over and above the non-implemented Minsk II.

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Klassenkampf Treehugger - January 25, 2022

That’s to say, if not minimal, invasion is less likely than the journos and their ‘sources’ have been claiming.

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WorldbyStorm - January 25, 2022

Mark Galeotti’s podcast which is from an interesting angle certainly doesn’t buy into the idea that Russia is preparing for invasion and he’s certainly not sympathetic to the Russian government, or perhaps more accurately has a very nuanced view of it.

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Colm B - January 25, 2022

It’s very hard to tell but my hunch, for what it’s worth, is that Putin can’t pull back now without looking really weak internally but knows that a full scale invasion might be too costly in terms of economic and military losses. So that leaves us with a limited invasion, maybe to link up Crimea with the areas already occupied in the east or to expand the eastern occupation. Might try something round Odessa using troops from Transnystria. Enough to further weaken Ukraine economically and politically but not enough to risk a major confrontation with the US.
If I’m wrong I get demoted in the CLR diplomatic service – ambassador to the UK maybe?

Liked by 1 person

13. alanmyler - January 26, 2022

I came across this in an article from the IMT in relation to Ukraine (http://www.marxist.com/will-russia-invade-ukraine.htm). It’s worth a read to get the Kremlin perspective on Ukraine.

http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/66181

Straight from the horses mouth (Putin). Make of it what you will.

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14. banjoagbeanjoe - January 26, 2022

I brought up this topic – potential invasion of Ukraine – a few days ago cos I was a bit perplexed by some of the media on it. To read the Guardian last week you’d think the world was on the very brink of a very serious war in Europe. But to read the Irish papers those same days, you wouldn’t think so.
Part of that might be ‘neutral’ parochialism on the Irish side and maybe a bit of ‘still a great power’ delusion on the British side.

But, having tried as best I could to follow the story in the last few days, it seems that the Western powers (US, UK, most of NATO) may be overegging the possibility of war. The Ukrainian government is telling everyone – their own people and the Western powers – not to panic. The Ukrainian government is saying that it doesn’t expect a full-scale invasion or anything like it. It’s saying that there isn’t enough of a Russian force mustered on its borders to justify panic or expectation that there’ll be a big invasion. And you’d think the Ukrainian government would be well-placed to make these judgements.

So what’s going on – war, diplomacy, chess moves, blah blah.

I’m currently on the side of the socialist angels – no to war, yes to socialist revolution. Simples.

Diplom

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sonofstan - January 26, 2022

” To read the Guardian last week you’d think the world was on the very brink of a very serious war in Europe”

Lotsa Tory ‘look! over there!’ hand waving going on.

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EWI - January 26, 2022

To read the Irish Time this week and last, you’d think that there was an imminent Russian invasion (just don’t look at the USAF overflights and the thousands of US soldiers going through).

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WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2022

Good piece in Slate today from the usually reliable Fred Kaplan saying that it was the Ukrainians who spent weeks bigging up the idea of invasion only to suddenly call for calm.

“The statement is both confusing and annoying. It’s confusing because, since November, it has been top Ukrainian officials who have sounded the alarms about an imminent Russian invasion. ”

One key thing he points to is that there’s no American boots on Ukrainian soil and nor will there be.

Again Mark Galeotti was noting as far back as December and as recently as this weekend that the number of Russian troops are not as high as being bigged up in the media. Doesn’t mean something won’t kick off, but…

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Francis Donohoe - January 26, 2022

What is going on in Ukraine is complicated. However, there is one political position which is empowered by the scaremongering going on, that is the far right, who are both deeply embedded within the Ukrainian government and armed forces, whose campaign against Russian speakers, the left, minority communities etc gathers further strength. As for Western media reporting of it, well when various publications and channels bigging up ‘English volunteers’ with the Ukrainian army, who are in reality well known national socialist activists, without mentioning the, well questionable, politics which brought them to Ukraine in the first place, should a concern to all.

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2022

There’s also far right groups and individuals on the Russian side. Hardly suprising that extreme nationalists of either stripe would be attracted to this.

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WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2022

And just by the by, Russia – or rather the government, is not a left wing state in any meaningful sense. United Russia, the party linked to Putin, is a conservative formation by any reasonable yardstick – it even announced Russian conservatism as its guiding ideology. But also it has signed agreements with the Austrian Freedom Party (without question a far-right party), the Lega Nord, the youth wing of the far-right AfD, amongst others (including a few CPs). I tend to think a political formation that would do this or see this as appropriate – ie agreements with far-right parties of that ilk, is about as far from left wing as can be.

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Colm B - January 26, 2022

As WBS shows, the kleptocratic regime that runs Russia is itself far right by any definition. It is racist, mysogynistic, homophobic and most of all anti-working class. It persecutes socialists, trade unionists and feminists. It’s ruling clique has not problem in siphoning of billions into London banks and property. It finances and encourages far right parties throughout Europe.
Yes there is far right influence on politics in the Ukraine but Russia is an imperialist power ruled by an authoritarian right wing klepto-capitalist regime.

As always, I reiterate the point, WBS has made repeatedly – we should oppose all imperialism: I don’t support the Cuban gov, but I reject US interefence in Cuba whether it’s the blockade or funding dissident groups. Equally I’m not a fan of the Ukrainian gov but I oppose the interference of Russian imperialism.

Liked by 2 people

15. EWI - January 26, 2022

Irish Times at it again:

Russian warship flotilla spotted off Norway ‘probably’ bound for Irish coast
Group of ships, including a large missile cruiser, were photographed by Norwegian Airforce

A number of large Russian warships have been spotted sailing towards Ireland ahead of a planned naval exercise off the coast of Cork next month.

Exactly how many ships in this alarming-sounding naval force, then?

Military experts believe the flotilla, which includes five ships

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/russian-warship-flotilla-spotted-off-norway-probably-bound-for-irish-coast-1.4786382

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16. WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2022

Yeah, it’s silly this stuff.

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WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2022

I also think it’s counterproductive too – from the point of view of those indulging in it. It takes no time at all for the reality to be pointed out about what is going on in relation to the ‘flotilla’.

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EWI - January 26, 2022

It’s not aimed at people who pay close attention to politics, however. Most people are picking this nonsense up off the news headlines, and don’t ever look or inquire further.

Which is why they’re doing it.

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WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2022

I don’t think people are entirely credulous though either. If they were previous assaults on our neutrality would have worked, and this is clearly an effort to shift public opinion on that issue.

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EWI - January 26, 2022

They’ve an uphill struggle with the general Irish public in efforts to Other the various non-Anglophone villains which we rotate through, and for obvious reasons to do with our own history. The younger generation are however sadly more amenable to this nonsense, having grown up on a steady diet of jingoistic Anglo-American media and video games.

But, say, my own parents’ impression of this (after a week of the RTÉ news) was that there was about to be a large and threatening Russian fleet deliberately violating ‘our’ own waters. And that’s no accident, with no dissenting voices allowed on the airwaves to point out how silly it is. The effort to greenwash this nonsense, with Coveney claiming to be concerned about sonar, will also undoubtedly resonate with people left unaware by our media heroes of the large NATO exercises which go on every year.

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