The Ukranian Kerfuffle

14 September, 2022

(I wrote this a few weeks ago. Things have moved on since then.)

I told you so.

About seven years ago, August 2015.

Russia will not, will not, will not lose control of Svestapol without a fight, and they will escalate as far as it takes, whatever it takes. They are not bluffing. They still have nukes. If they have to, they will march the Red Army south right through the middle of the Ukraine, and to hell with anyone who gets in the way. If Kiev doesn’t like it, fuck them. If anyone wants to help out Kiev, fuck them too.

What I got completely wrong was how the war would proceed. The first and most important part has been running for years. But I’ll deal with that in a tick. First, let’s review what this war is about, for what prize it is being fought.

Russia fights to connect Russian road and rail to its naval port at Sevastopol. It intends and has always intended to take Dontesk, Luhansk, and the eastern side of the Dnepro river to the south. And it has substantially achieved this goal. The result means unrestricted access to the Black Sea, The Mediterranean, and via the Suez Canal to Asia. A (relatively) warm-water port. Shipping via sea is still the best way to transport bulk goods. Yes, at first Russian traffic will not be welcome in the Suez, but false flags and large amounts of money will win out.

There is also an emerging Sino-Russian alliance, whose goal is to connect Russian natural resources to Chinese industry by road and rail. But the only shared land borders are a tiny strip of border in the mountains between Khazakstan and Mongolia (there isn’t even a town there – it’s all mountains) or way, way to the east around the other side of Mongolia. One observes that good fences make good neighbours, and the Gobi Desert is a fine fence. The goal of the next war, then, will be to shave off the northeastern strip of Khazakstan – east of the \rtysh River – to get a decent land route to China. Relatively nice and flat, which is what you need for rail. The route will be Novosibirsk to Ürüqi. Russia might use “terrorism” as an excuse. After all, the USA has set the precedent there. When a population hates you – even if it is for excellent reason – and fights you the only way it can, then that makes it ok to invade them. However, possibly China may secure the route through its usual combination of trade and demographic replacement, which brings me back to the decade-long war that Russia has been engaging with against the Ukraine.

Russia’s Causus Belli has been that The Ukraine has been bombing ethnic russians in Dontesk and Luhansk. Which they almost certainly have been. Horrifying, of course, that the Ukranian government is doing this to its own citizens. But then you have to pause. We are dealing with Ukranians who are ethnically Russian, speak Russian, trade in roubles, and who – and this is of paramount importance – can reasonably expect the protection of the Russian military, reasonably expect that the fellow Russians will hazard their lives, will bomb and kill, to protect them. “Fellow Russians” is nowhere near strong enough – only the word “countrymen” will do. Nothing could be clearer than that these people are not, and never were, Ukranian. What might have been written on their passports and birth certificates is a preposterous lie. These people are simply Russians.

So why were these Russians living in Ukranian territory?

They were colonising it.

It became evident during the Capital Hill riots that the purpose of the Secret Service is not to protect the US president, but to kidnap him if it looks like he is about to do something catastrophic. The Secret Service are agents of the US Treasury Dept. Make of that what you will.

The genius of democracy is that it makes it very, very difficult to defeat a nation militarily. In particular, decapitation doesn’t work. So what if a President or Prime Minister is killed? You just replace them. They aren’t a king or a queen. Most particularly, plopping someone on the throne doesn’t work. There is no throne. It has taken civilisation some time to find democracy’s weakness, which is that power goes to groups that vote as a bloc. The weapon that destroys democracies is group identity among a substantial minority. So to make war on a democracy, you split it into factions, and you move your own people in.

(It also helps if you can ruin the sense of group identity among the majority. A democracy is only ever as strong as its majority citizens are proud and patriotic. But more of that later.)

So, yes, it was quite reasonable of The Ukraine to attempt to ethnically cleanse these woodworms. Families, mums and dads, innocent apple-cheeked children – all loyal to Mother Russia. But turns out that dropping missiles on them in hopes that they will leave across the border didn’t work. What they probably needed to do was to enclose the Russians in ghettos and then ship them by rail to the gas chambers. But, well, the optics are bad. And more likely the Ukranian government never had the organisational ability to pull off such a thing. Ukranians are, after all, wogs – even if the people right at the top are not. It’s no coincidence that Dontesk and Luhansk, populated by Russians, are the industrial and technological parts of The Ukraine, and that the rest is mostly farms.

But lobbing missiles at buildings with families in them is something any military can do, and something that they especially enjoy doing when they are product of a people and culture prone to holding centuries-old grudges.

What I’m saying is that everyone is a bad guy, here.

It’s a bad idea to shoot terrorists

13 November, 2018

You know, people who are afraid will do pretty much anything. Morality goes out the window. It’s kinda the nature of fear – it shuts off all those higher brain functions that make us civilised. That’s how torture works, you know. It’s not the pain: it’s the fear. That’s what causes wartime atrocities. That, and the predator/prey circuitry in the brain, which is simply the flip side of fear. Every demagogue knows it. It’s a permanent truth of human affairs. The only thing more effective is hunger. Or being smothered.

I have an insight into Islamic extremists that most Australians simply don’t have. I was once sincerely religious. I believed in a literal, actual Hell where God would send people to be burned alive forever. I truly did, I thought it was a real thing.

The fear of that place is the bedrock of religious faith. When everything else is stripped away, all the clever arguments, all the chop-logic, it’s that terrifying thought “but what if it’s all true?” that brings the believer back. When you truly, deeply believe in the reality of hell, the one thing you want more than anything else is simply to not be condemned to go there. It’s a background, an undertone to your whole life. Subliminal. It conditions all your choices. Nothing else really matters, in comparison.

Christianity is a bit different from Islam in a couple of respects. In Christianity, everyone deserves to go to hell. Everyone. Deserves. Because Adam ate the apple. Everyone should go to hell, forever. The situation is so absolute that God had to pull some legal sleight-of-hand to make it possible for people to not go there.

But in Islam, Allah works on sort of a points system. Allah is merciful, Allah is forgiving. You can skip a few prayers and make it up later, no problem. All Allah wants is that you be Islamic enough. The problem being, of course, that you can never really know, never really be sure if you have been Islamic enough for Allah.

So you have these young men, and they have lived a western life – not taking the faith all that seriously, drinking occasionally, not being careful to eat hallal, maybe having sex with western whores, it’s no problem: they’ll make it up later.

And then one day they have a crisis of conscience. Maybe they hear a sermon. Maybe they read the Koran. And it all comes crashing back. Oh shit: I’m going to go to hell.

Happily, there’s one thing that makes up for any amount of sin: being killed while committing jihad.

Those terrorists, they want to die. It’s the whole point of the exercise. They want to get shot by the cops. And they are not doing it to spread Islam, they are not really doing it for ISIS, they are not doing it because it’s right, or holy. They are doing it purely and entirely to get their personal ticket to heaven, to avoid the other place. It’s a deeply selfish act, but that’s the nature of fear. Real, bone-deep, religious fear. They don’t care about anything but avoiding the other place.

Killing them is a bad idea. Because it will not deter the next one: it will encourage them. Nonreligious, or conventionally religious people just don’t get it.

Shoot ’em in the leg. Tase ’em. Tackle ’em. Absolutely do not kill them. No matter how much they deserve it. Lock ’em up for life, and never belive a word they say about promising not to do it again. The only thing that will deter these private acts of jihad will be if jihad doesn’t work.

Some thoughts about Saudi Arabia

23 October, 2018

So, why does the USA cuddle up to Saudi Arabia, a nation whose state religion is a form of Islam that requires the death or forced conversion of everyone who isn’t a Muslim? How come eleven (?) Saudis, organised by a the son of a Saudi millionaire, fly a plane into the WTC and damn near manage to fly planes into the Pentagon and the White House, and Bush sends the army to attack – wait for it – Iraq? Why did Obama have to go to Saudi Arabia and kiss ass?

It’s about the oil, dummy. It always was. It really is that simple.

The oil under the sands of the Arabian Peninsula is the greatest material prize in human history. If we discover Lasseter’s Reef, all that will happen is that the price of gold will nosedive. Gold isn’t all that useful. But oil – oil is another story. Never mind the energy – where do you think plastics come from? Fertilizer? You think we want to go back to making things out of wood and sheetmetal? You think we want to return to an age when almost everyone was engaged in simply growing the food?

Back in the 1950’s, the USA purchased it. Made a trade for it. The oil. All the oil. Oh sure, they didn’t take delivery right away, but what they bought was a right to unlimited amounts of the stuff. The deal was: the Sauds would sell their oil only in US dollars (which the reserve bank of the USA prints out of thin air for nothing), and would invest their profits only in US treasuries (a debt that you never have to make good is no debt at all, and in any case US treasuries have been paying 0% for over a decade).

In return, the USA would provide the House of Saud with “security”. That’s the USA’s main export, you know. “Security”. The wars are trade shows. The military bases are shop-fronts. All selling “security”. And what might “security” be? It’s when someone agrees to kill your enemies for you. Oh, and also to not kill you. Call it “protection”, if you like.

That’s why “gas” in the USA is so cheap – they are always shocked at the price of petrol when they come overseas.

This isn’t some conspiracy theory, by the way. It’s well-established history. The US/Saudi agreement established the “petrodollar”, on which the whole economy of the late 20th century was based. You have heard the term, right? It is totally a thing.

But, there’s a couple of things going down at present. First, Saudi Arabia will run out of the stuff – God isn’t making any more at present. Oh, there’s still plenty left, but we can see the horizon. The day will come – maybe in our lifetimes – when SA can no longer uphold its end of the deal.

Second, the USA has been busy losing wars for several decades, now. Turns out that you can’t actually defeat a modern nation by anything short of genocide. The days are long gone when defeating a nation was a matter of forcing its king to bend the knee and job done. Genocide, you know, is an expensive affair when the people you are trying to genocide shoot back and plant IEDs (unlike German Jews, or Tasmanian Aboriginies). That is: it’s starting to look like the USA can’t hold up its end of the deal either. Gays and women in the military (something abhorrent to Islam), and Central Americans streaming over the undefended US border. It’s not a good look, you know?

Machiavelli said that the primary concern of the Prince is war. If you can’t warfight (as they put it these days), then you don’t have a principate. Or an empire, as the case may be.

The USA has unrivalled control of airspace. How much gas, do you think, does a fighter jet or a bomber consume? How much diesel does an aircraft carrier – let alone a carrier group – chew through every minute? How much does a tank, an APC, a chopper need? And how much do you need to run the generators that power the electronic frippery that no modern infantryman can fight without?

Oh sure, if the price of oil rose dramatically, the USA and the west could still afford to field an army and blow the shit out of places that choose to diss us. Or can we? Can we really? Money, money, money – it’s seriously a thing. “Gold is the sinews of war”. Machiavelli disagreed, but he may have been wrong about that one.

So Trump can pound the table about whathisface the journalist, but the USA cannot break its symbiosis with Saudi Arabia. Not without doing it the hard way (or inventing Mr Fusion – the power source of the future).

But neither can King Whatshisname turn off the spigot, or raise the price to $400 a barrel (same thing, really) as he has threatened to do. Because the West must have its oil, the military must have its oil, and if the Saudis attempt to withhold it in any serious way, we will just fucking come and take it. If the deal is off, then that means the deal is off, doesn’t it? Kinda important, when one of the terms of the deal is “protection” and you yourself are a family man.

Oh sure, these days it wouldn’t be as overt as that. There’ll be a “Color Revolution” or some shit. But that’s how it is, and everyone who pays attention knows it. Remember Saddam Hussein, who decided to try to sell his oil to the Europeans in Euros? Yeah. That.

This will all simmer down and be forgotten. So what if the Saudis decided to off some dissident, and a whole bunch of people are upset about it? Neither side can actually do anything about it, public outrage notwithstanding. Happily, people are fickle, stupid, and have short memories. It will go the way of all the other crises.

The world will just keep rolling on exactly like it is until the oil runs out, or the USA cannot field an effective fighting force, or someone actually does invent Mr Fusion.

Everyone who pays attention knows it.