Monday, August 31, 2009

The Christian Church and the Islamist Threat

[Note: In the following I will use the term “orthodox,” (lower case) in its dictionary definition: “following or conforming to the traditional or generally accepted rules or beliefs of a religion.” I will also mention “Orthodox” (upper case) to mean the Eastern variations of Christianity.]

Phillip Hefner (in Faith and the Vitalities of History) quotes F. C. Baur to the effect that when the early church declared Gnosticism and Montanism heresies, it was in effect countering “Christian” positions that could end the “progress of the Church.”

On page 19 Hefner writes “Gnosticism posed the danger for Christianity of dissolving its specific historical character into the thin element of a general transcendental view of the world. It played up to that aspect of catholicity which sought to rise above everything particular and merge it into the universality of the Christian principle . . .”

On the other hand “Montanism threatened the complementary danger of particularism. Millenarianism, coupled with ecstatic prophecy and rigoristic morality characterized its reactionary effort to re-implement primitive Christian views. If its emphases were carried out consistently, particularism would reach its culmination in complete withdrawal from society. Further development in Christianity would be precluded.”

Catholicism in opposition to Gnosticism emphasized “the positive historical elements of Christianity.” Against Montanism it planted “itself firmly in the world and [developed] as broadly as was necessary for its healthy survival.

I have often puzzled over the early Christian heresies, especially over why their dangers aren’t emphasized today. Some particular heresy, I read, almost destroyed the church, but few outside of seminary have heard of it today and no one considers it a modern danger. Why is that?

The Catholic Church countered Gnosticism and Montanism, with authority and dogma. No teaching could be considered authoritative, it declared, unless it descended in an unbroken line from the Apostolic father Peter, to whom Christ gave the Keys to the Kingdom. Also the “new” teachings of the Gnostics and Montanists were discredited by virtue of their non-Apostolic dogma.

Gnosticism and Montanism are still with us. The Gnostics are, perhaps, more easily marginalized in that they have embraced or at least not distanced themselves from a variety of “spiritualist” teachings.

The Montanists have resurfaced as Pentecostals and Charismatics, but they have to some extent learned the lesson of Montanus and not hinged their validity on some particular date for Christ’s return. But a typical description of Montanism would sound familiar to any modern-day Pentecostal or Charismatic: “First, a strong faith in the Holy Spirit as the promised Paraclete, present as a heavenly power in the Church of the day; secondly, specially a belief that the Holy Spirit was manifesting Himself supernaturally at that day through entranced prophets and prophetesses; and thirdly, an inculcation of a specially stern and exacting standard of Christian morality and discipline. . . To these must be added a tendency to set up prophets against bishops and an intense expectation of the imminent return or our Lord.” [from Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, 1960]


What I am interested in here is that the Church declared Montanism and Gnosticism heresies to some extent for the mundane reason that their teachings inhibited the continuation of the Christian Church. The Gnostics escaped into an esoteric exclusivism and were not interested in mundane concerns. Montansts expecting the imminent return of Christ did not believe in the long-term existence of the Church. So our Church Fathers created creeds and that spelled out what was orthodox (the Catholic Church) and what was not (Montanism and Gnosticism).

As time went on, and new heresies surfaced, new creeds were created to counter them. But perhaps the Church did not look closely enough at the “mundane” reason for their creeds, the continuation of the Church in the world. There was always the tendency to freeze a creed in time and resist the movement of the world beyond it. Do the early creeds seem strange? That is because the threats they sought to counter are no longer threats. Here the Church is continuously remiss, new threats regularly arise.

Consider the Reformation: why did it occur? It occurred because the Catholic Church had not only frozen itself in an earlier period, but had become degenerate in its confidence and practice. So we had a Reformation. The Catholic Church fixed its problems, but it was too late. Now Lutherans and Calvinists were in existence. These latter two couldn’t trace their roots back to Peter’s authority, but they no longer found that necessary (and neither did the “Orthodox” Eastern Christians). Their emphasis was upon dogma. During the Reformation the Catholic Church didn’t have dogmatists to match Luther and Calvin.

But look at what has happened in the Calvinist tradition, for example. We have several 16th century “confessions.” And in the Presbyterian line, we have “The Westminster Confession” in 1647. Since then, the various “denominations” have created their own variations of these confessions, but in all these the “mundane” has been lost sight of. To be “orthodox” one needs to adhere back to a confession or creed. “Modernism” or “new ideas” are almost by definition heretical.

And here we see this weakness in the Modern Christian Church, whether it is Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic or any of the Protestant denominations: It no longer knows how to “progress” in the modern world. I will grant that many theologians have seen the need for adjusting in some way to the modern world, but how is it to be done? Some have decided to “compromise.” But that offends those who believe the Church should be “in the world but not of it.” Those who “compromise” are too much “of it.”

But attempting to recast the Gospel message in modern terms without compromise is also a risk. It is at risk first from those “simple folk” who love the old translations, old interpretations and old creeds. Anything “new” is to them anathema. But it is also at risk from more serious “orthodox” theologians who find fault with new theology. These serious “orthodox” theologians aren’t willing to launch out into their own newness so in effect they aren’t willing to go beyond the “simple folk.”

And yet a Christian “newness” is demanded by these modern times. Where is the Christian counter to the Islamist Threat? In Europe and in the Christian East, Islamists are making inroads because what they preach is new and dynamic. The Christian message can be newer and more dynamic but it will take courage. Whoever does it will risk being denigrated by those who would rather hark back to the earlier times. They would rather live in the past than confront the present.

Perhaps the Bush initiative has set back the time-table of the Islamists, but they have not given up. They have no large armies; so they cannot confront the larger military powers directly, but there was a time during the Roman Empire that could have been said about the Christian Church as well. And there was a later time when the Christian Church could be seen as victorious. Today, harking back to an “authority” that can be traced back to Peter and a “dogma” that can be traced back to the Apostolic Fathers is not adequate. By that I mean, what do the Islamists care about such matters? Are they threatened or offended the way the Gnostics or Montanists would have been? Of course not.

So what does the Christian Church, whether Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant have to threaten Islamism? Yes, yes, the Gospel message, but how do you tell that anew so that those being tempted by Islamism can see Christianity as a viable alternative?

Caucasian draftees undermining Russian military

The above article was written by Paul Goble and posted on his web site on 8-31-09. It is entitled “North Caucasian Draftees Undermining Unit Cohesion in Russian Military, Officers Say.” I’ll quote a bit from it and comment below:

“. . . North Caucasians form an increasing fraction of the Russian military, the result of growing draft quotas, ethnic Russian demographic decline and draft resistance, and the desire of many non-Russians from that region to serve as soldiers, with some men from that region even bribing their way into uniform.”

“. . . that trend, “Nasha Versiya [reporter Aleksandr Stepanov] says, is leading not only to an increase in the number of ethnic clashes within the Russian military but also to a rise in the number of incidents of insubordination with some North Caucasians refusing to obey orders they feel are demeaning (”

“. . . he reports that none of the policies Moscow has adopted so far, including limiting the number of North Caucasians drafted from a particular republic or assigned to a given unit or sending them to distant garrisons where any conflicts that do occur are less likely to be noticed by the media, has worked, leaving officers [at] a loss as to what they can and should try next.”

“. . . According to military prosecutors, [Stepanov] says, more than 20 percent of all military crimes now take place in units with significant numbers of soldiers and sailors from the Caucasus. Uncertain how to respond, ‘commanders of all ranks are throwing up their hands because they don’t know how to combat manifestations of inter-ethnic hostility.’

“One place where Russian officials have reduced the draft quota is Daghestan. In the past, approximately 12,000 men from that republic were drafted each year, but Moscow cut the number to 1800 in the spring of 2008 although was forced to increase it to 3500 for this year’s spring draft. But Stepanov notes, “the number [there] wanting to serve was [much] greater.”

“As a result, North Caucasians who want to serve are adopting various strategies, bribing local officials, according to Vladimir Milovanov, a prosecutor in the North Caucasus Military District, or listing as their home addresses those of relatives elsewhere in the Russian Federation making it more likely that they will be drafted.

“Moscow has taken more draconian measures with respect to Chechens hoping to serve. From 1991 to 2005, it did not try to draft anyone from that republic, both because parents there feared their children would be mistreated by officers with experience in the fighting in that republic and because commanders feared what the Chechens might do if they were draft.

"In 2005, however, Moscow drafted 200 Chechens, something Vladimir Putin and others proclaimed an indication of Russian military success there. “But . . . from the first days of their service they undermined the authority of their commanders by seeking special privileges which were not allowed by the rules.’

“The Chechen draftees ‘refused to eat in mess halls, to wear uniforms and to remain around the clock on the territory of their units.’ As a result, ‘and without much noise,’ they were ‘immediately sent home,’ and after that, the Russian military more or less completely ‘stopped’ drafting Chechens.”

“. . . One commander told Stepanov that “the main thing is not to allow a dangerous concentration of Caucasian soldiers in any one unit.’ In that commander’s opinion, such soldiers are ‘the most problematic”’ but not because of inter-ethnic relations but because of ‘their culture and upbringing,’ which leads them to refuse to obey orders to work as cooks, for example.”

“. . . Although the share of North Caucasians in the Russian military is far higher than it was in Soviet times, Soviet officers too had to deal with some of the same challenges, and it appears that some Russian commanders are studying that experience, including Soviet-era ‘unwritten quota[s]’ on the number of Caucasians in units – ‘not more than three per company.’

“And Russian commanders are also thinking about the need for better ideological work in units with North Caucasians, with religious groups possibly playing the role the Komsomol did before 1991. But there is a catch: if Christian and Muslim soldiers have separate religious services, that could further divide the Russian army rather than unite it.

“Moreover, if the number of Muslim soldiers is kept below the 10 percent that officials say would qualify them for having their own mullah, Stepanov suggests, that almost certainly would exacerbate ethnic feelings still further, with Muslim troops in such cases undoubtedly seeing this as yet another example of Russian discrimination against them.”


I know it is foreign to Russian thinking, but one obvious solution is to declare the trouble-making ethnic nations independent. Russia is behaving alike an 18th century colonial power when it keeps these foreign ethnicities technically integral to its Federation. They haven’t truly integrated, nor do the 100% ethnic Russians want them integrated; so let them be independent nations.

If ethnicities like those described by Stepanov aren’t in the Russian army, then the problem goes away. “But wait,” I hear a Russian saying. “If we don’t have these ethnicities in our army, our army will be too small.”

Too small for what, I have asked, and asked again? Who is belligerent on Russia’s borders? Well I can answer that. Whenever we see belligerency on Russia’s borders it is Russia doing or threatening it. Russia is still very critical of Poland, even though Poland is the aggrieved party in modern times. We saw the Czech Republic recently send some Russian diplomats home for spying and Russia responded by numbering the Czech Republic’s “provocations”; which must have sounded at least somewhat threatening to the Czechs. And can Georgia do anything of a military nature within its borders without fearing a Russian invasion? Russia, it seems, needs its big army to back up its belligerence. Give that up, Russia, and you can have a smaller, all-Russian army and eliminate the sorts of problems Stepanov describes.

Stalin planned to annex parts of Iran, China & Turkey

The above article was written by Paul Goble and posted on his website, Window on Eurasia, on 8-31-09. It is entitled “Stalin Planned to Annex Parts of Iran, Turkey and China Using Molotov-Ribbentrop ‘Model,’ Azerbaijani Scholar Says.” I’ll quote several passages from this article and comment below:

“ . . . Stalin viewed the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which allowed Moscow to seize the Baltic countries, Bessarabia, and part of Poland as ‘a model’ for the subsequent annexation of portions of Iran, Turkey and China, an Azerbaijani scholar has suggested.”

“. . . the Soviet dictator did not succeed . . . largely because of Stalin’s dependence on the West after Hitler invaded his former ally in June 1941 and because of Western opposition. . . the existence of these plans demolishes the arguments of those who insist that the pact was only a defensive rather than also an offensive accord.”

“. . . Jeyhun Najafov calls attention to an aspect of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that has attracted little attention during this year’s debate on the 70th anniversary of the accord between Hitler and Stalin (”

“. . . the secret protocol attached to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact put part of Poland, Finland, Bessarabia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Moscow’s sphere of influence . . . .”

“Stalin’s supporters argue that this was a defensive maneuver, designed to protect the Soviet Union from what the Soviet dictator assumed would be an eventual German attack on the USSR, while critics of Stalin argue that the Soviet agreement with the Nazis was simply about the territorial aggrandizement of Stalin’s empire.

“Research conducted by Dzhakhangir Nadzhafov . . . show that Stalin planned to use the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact as “a model” for annexing other neighboring regions.”

“. . . Nadzhafov focused on Stalin’s plans to annex the northern regions of Iran, Xinjiang Region of China and some of the eastern districts of Turkey.

“In 1941, Nadzhafov wrote, Mirdzhafar Bagirov, the Communist Party boss of Azerbaijan, invoking Stalin, said that ‘in Iran it is necessary to undertake the tactic and strategy of the model of uniting Polish territories to Ukraine and Belorussia,’ an indication that Moscow’s plans for annexing portions of Iran were ‘practically ready.’

“Additional evidence of the way in which Stalin viewed the secret protocols as a model concerns Xinjiang and the eastern portions of Turkey . . . The Politburo planned to annex completely the Turkish districts of Kars, Ardahan and part of Avdina and divide the 26,500 square kilometers of territory between Armenia and Georgia.

“Moscow had also defined the exact dimension of the territory of Iran that would be united with the Azerbaijan SSR, so all three of the republics of the South Caucasus would have expanded significantly, Armenia by 80 percent, Georgia by eight percent, and Azerbaijan more than doubled.

“The Politburo was so committed to these territorial transfers and so certain . . . they would take place that it had the foreign ministry work up the necessary documents . . . the Iranian provinces were to be absorbed on November 7, 1941 – and the names of the Communist officials who would be assigned to these places.

“Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 put all these plans on hold. Stalin needed Western assistance, and much of it flowed through Iran. As a result, the British insisted that Moscow recognize the territorial integrity of that country, something the Soviet Union did in a trilateral agreement with the US and the United Kingdom in January 1942.”

“. . . the Western powers considered that Stalin and the Soviet leadership had received an enormous zone of influence in Europe and therefore must not be permitted in any way to expand into Central Asia. . . .”

“. . . For the USSR, Iranian Azerbaijan was about the annexation of new territories, but for the West this was the expansion of communism. . . .”

“. . . the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact not only was the product of a far more aggressive Soviet policy than its defenders want to admit but also cast a larger and more ugly shadow than even the victims and opponents of the Hitler-Stalin accord had thought.”


If what Najafov and Nadzhafov say is true, and it seems to be, this whittles away at the underpinnings of Putin’s “Sovereign Democracy.” To build the Sovereign Democratic edifice to some extent upon Stalin causes a trembling each time some new bit of Stalinistic chicanery is discovered. “No, no,” we hear. “Stalin was a great war leader. And he did everything for the good of the Soviet people.”

We have seen evidence that Stalin was not a great war leader. He didn’t prepare to fight Hitler. He misread Hitler. Hitler tricked him. He prepare properly to meet Hitler’s attack. Huge numbers of Soviet soldiers were killed in the early part of the war through Stalin’s ineptitude. Also, prior to the war, Stalin slaughtered most of the officers most capable of fighting that war. The Red Army defeated the Germans despite Stalin’s efforts, not because of them.

Now as to these new Azerbaijani revelations, I suppose a modern Stalinist, if he were cynical enough, could argue that Stalin even here had the interests of the USSR at heart because (had not Hitler double-crossed him) he would have increased the size and wealth of the Soviet Union and that would have been a good thing.

This would have been a “good thing” perhaps by Tsarist standards and I suppose the “Sovereign Democrats” do look back with longing at the Tsarist successes, but by modern standards, Stalin’s plans seem reprehensible.

I have always suspected that Stalin was sensitive in regard to Trotsky who argued that Communists should be out there spreading the Good News of Communist Salvation to the world rather than hunkering down at home and attempting to build the USSR into a great empire. Had Trotsky been able to come back from the dead (after having been assassinated by Stalin’s henchmen) and have a debate with Stalin, Stalin might well have argued that he had expanded Communism more than Trotsky would have or could have by his methods. Stalin probably thought that the Molotov-Ribbentrop expansion into new territory was not only good but justified by Communist standards.

So are the Sovereign Democrats really going to be surprised that Stalin was planning to do it again in Iran, China and Turkey? Perhaps they’ll simply take that tried and true approach of their Communist forebears and deny everything.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Liberal Democracy (its two wings) and other forms of government

The above is a review (more or less) of Sam Tanenhaus book, The Death of Conservatism. The review was written by James Piereson. [It was sent to me by a blog-reader, for which thanks.]

I have been interested in recent times in contrasting Liberal Democracy (formerly called “Capitalism”) with Russian Sovereign Democracy, British and Japanese Imperialism, Communism and Fascism. So it was a bit jarring to read Piereson’s article and be reminded that “Liberal Democracy” means the opposite of “Conservatism in American politics.

From my own point of view, and with a nod to American politics, I see two wings to Liberal Democracy (Capitalism). The (Right) Conservative Wing (where I would put myself) subscribes to small government, government that leaves American citizens as free as possible to do, say, and think whatever they like. The Conservative Wing accepts the accommodations that have been made to modern technological progress. Also, “Entitlements” aren’t bad per se, but we need to live within our means. We shouldn’t vote ourselves more entitlements than we can afford, as the French and some other European nations have done. Demonizing “Conservatives” as revanchists, as Tannenhouse has done, and Piereson rightly criticizes is silly.

I think of the other (Left) wing of Liberal Democracy as leaning toward Socialism. It would probably sign up to the label “Welfare-Statism.” It favors more centralized government controls. It doesn’t trust or want people to handle their own affairs, at least not all of them.

Interestingly, Francis Fukuyama didn’t distinguish between the Welfare-Statism of Western Europe and the more Conservative form of Liberal Democracy we have seen in the US. From a broader perspective it must be classed as Capitalism, or rather what Capitalism has become: Liberal Democracy.

Do Russians or Chinese see the Left-Wing Liberal Democracy of Barack Obama as being radically different from the Right-Wing Liberal Democracy of George W. Bush? I don’t think so. Sure they see differences in nuance, but not fundamental differences. Liberal Democracy (Capitalism) was not abandoned when Obama took office, and neither Russian nor Chinese politicians assumed that it would be.

The Left-Wing Liberal Democratic “nuance” I was most interested in had to do with Obama’s proposed “diplomatic” approach to foreign affairs. I have been watching this approach with interest and wishing him well. I wouldn’t count anything he has done on the diplomatic front a failure, at least not yet.

On the domestic front Obama’s Left-Wing Liberal Democracy seems more heavy-handed. He seems resolved to get major “entitlements” through congress without reference to whether the US can afford them or not. He seems very much in step with European thinking here.

James Piereson in his review thinks Tannenhouse was premature in declaring victory for the Left-Wing Liberal Democratic point of view. Obama’s “poll numbers have come back to earth in response to the public’s wariness about his ambitious proposals. . . The polls offer no support for the claim that conservatism is dead among American voters . . . One may confidently assume, if the past is any guide, that a conservative Republican will succeed President Obama in 2012 or 2016, and that Republicans will recapture one or both houses of Congress before Obama completes his tenure in office. . . .”

I think Piereson is correct here, but I am not completely happy with this state of affairs. I wish Obama had been more sober in his Welfare-Statist ambitions so that his “Diplomatic Approach” to foreign affairs could play out longer. I would love to see a diplomatic solution to North Korea’s belligerence and Iran’s misguided ambitions. But if Obama loses the confidence of he US public because he is spending its money like a “drunken sailor,” this may damage the credibility of his diplomatic efforts. Something along the lines of “why should we pay attention to him if his own country won’t?” But maybe some diplomatic progress can be made before Obama’s (US) credibility crumbles too much. I certainly hope so.

Christian and Communist (Stalinist) dogma

I found Andrei Gromyko’s Memoirs depressing. He writes about various events he personally witnessed as though the Soviet Union were still a viable entity (which it obviously wasn’t when his Memoirs were published). One can imagine him thinking and saying those same things at the time they occurred – at a time when the USSR was a viable entity. Why bother writing such a memoir, I wondered to myself, and decided to look for reviews. I discovered others reacted as I did, and while Gromyko’s Memoirs would suit the current thinking in Russia, it would hardly do in the US. The American publishers insisted on something unique from him; so he added a chapter, a chapter that does not exist in the Russian edition, on Stalin. I skipped ahead to that chapter. It was a surreal experience. In the early part of his book, Gromyko praises Stalin, but in his chapter “More about Stalin” he is extremely critical of him.

Imagine Stalin as head of a state religion, which in a real sense he was. At some point he decided it wasn’t enough for Russians to have faith in the state religion, Communism. They needed to have faith in him. Gromyko lost his faith toward the end of his life, but if he had retained it, he would still believe that those seemingly innocent people Stalin had killed, the cream of the officers’ corps for example, were in their hearts apostates. Perhaps Gromyko didn’t have evidence to that effect but Stalin, the anointed one, did.

Not everyone in Russia has lost faith. We can still hear and read comments from the faithful, praying eternal fealty to their master. And if you come across these people, these “faithful” and present an argument critical of Stalin, most will probably not mount a counter argument. They will simply declare you a heretic and cast you, figuratively, into outer darkness.

In earlier years I was heavily involved in theological discussions and was cast many times into outer darkness. In theory, Christians should be kinder to each other than people interested in politics or foreign affairs, but I didn’t find that to be the case, and if one looks at the reasons, one can see why: If one whole-heartedly accepts a dogma, by faith, then it is not subject to argument. It is an “assumption” a “presupposition,” something one begins with not something one ends up with as the result of a long argument that ends in a conclusion.

If Dogma is advanced in such a way that it shuts of debate, if it doesn’t permit argument, and if it denounces deviation without examining it, then I disagree with it. And of course my view would be consistent with my politics. I am a Liberal Democrat (enjoying the freedom of my opinions) rather than a Communist whom Stalin would most surely have objected to. If I was lucky I might have ended up in a Gulag, but I probably would have been shot – unless, of course I became a conformer like Gromyko; which probably would have been a temptation for anyone – if they could pull it off -- and if Stalin couldn’t really see into their hearts.

On page 16 of Faith and the Vitalities of History, Phillip Hefner quotes Ferdinand Christian Bauer to say, “The beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount express, in an absolute manner, what constitutes the inmost self-consciousness of the Christian, as it is in itself, and apart from external relations. The original and radical element of Christianity appears further in the form of absolute moral command in the controversial part of the discourse which is directed against the Pharisees, and in other parts of it. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus insists emphatically on purity and singleness of heart, on a morality which does not consist merely in the outward act, but in the inner disposition . . . .”

So what was in your heart, Andrei Gromyko? Outwardly you conformed to Stalinism, but were you inwardly a true believer? Did you have faith? Gromyko when he wrote his chapter “More about Stalin” believed he would not have to stand before Stalin in an afterlife and account for his lack of faith. We Christians, on the other hand, worry about our “inner disposition.” Do we truly believe? Are we honest in our belief? Have we the courage to put it to the test, read challenging works of theology, risk “outer darkness.” Or do we like Gromyko probably did pray “la, la, la, la, la” so loudly that we drown out the possibility of having a deviant thought?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Not needing her leash

She was nevertheless tied

To me in her own way

Till her dying day.

She was always whichever

Way I looked or stepped

Or walked, however long

And however far

Even on days as hot

As this. We would

Run to each tiny bit of shade

Along our mountain trail,

Our eyes red with the sun

Watching the passing time

Undulating like the sea,

She in her panting reality

And I shining in mine,

Even when she couldn’t hear or see

She would still run searching,

Exhausting herself until she found me

Again and again until she was done.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

On American "monopolies" and Nazi Collaboration

On page 44 of his Memoirs, Gromyko writes, “. . . Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr, [was someone] with whom I developed excellent relations. Morgenthau was forceful on the post-war world order: Germany must not be allowed to resume an aggressive policy; she has committed enough crimes under Hitler. Neither we nor you must let it happen again.’

“He did not think that the line would meet resistance among influential politicians in America.

‘The military are quite determined,’ he said. ‘and American business even more so. After all, they don’t want to have to face a powerful competitor on world markets.’

“It is curious that Morgenthau should have made such categorical assertions. One might have thought that it was part of his job to know that, throughout the war, American monopolies used their capital to help German industry produce weapons for Hitler’s army. The evidence supporting this fact was splashed all over the US press soon after the end of the hostilities and it is hard to believe that Morgenthau knew nothing about it during the war. On the other hand, the recesses of US policy were at times so impenetrable that possibly even senior figures in the administration had no idea of the scale of American and German wartime collaboration. But it’s not surprising that the investigation into this collaboration begun by Congress at the end of the war was rapidly wound up.”


Once again, Gromyko is correct, but I squirm at the way he puts it and disagree with some of his word choices. To begin with, I would remind Gromyko of one of the clever things Lenin said, something like “Capitalism will sell us the rope we intend to hang them with.”

On the positive side of Capitalism (now “Liberal Democracy”), we point with pride to the fact that it is the most successful and dynamic economic process the world has ever experienced. But on the negative side, it is amoral. I experienced that personally during my career in three of America’s major businesses (Douglas Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas, and Boeing).

During the time when Japan seemed to be doing better economically than we were, we were all sent through schools to learn how the Japanese did things. The Japanese had more company loyalty because their businesses were not amoral. They wouldn’t have layoffs for example. If you worked for a Japanese company you were there for life. If you were absolutely worthless then you might be “promoted” to a “Window Seat” (I forget their exact term); where you could sit and stare out the window without having any work to do. I worked for McDonnell Douglas at the time and we did become more efficient practicing some of the Japanese techniques, but we never gave up layoffs and we never promoted anyone to a “Window Seat” that I can recall. And then one day the Japanese bubble burst and they had to change their ways. They gave up Window Offices and laid off their “dead wood.” Their businesses became as amoral as ours.

If one should want the details on“American Monopolies” and “German Industry” collaboration, one has only to read some of the books by Antony Sutton – Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler, for example: One can pay $24 for it or read it online::

Note especially Chapter 11 where he lists the companies that “collaborated” with the Nazis: but note also that not all American businesses collaborated with the Nazis. We shouldn’t be surprised that businesses located in Germany or Vichy France would collaborate (being amoral), and Sutton seems to concentrate on those, but it went further than that as Sutton describes.

While I would quibble about Gromyko’s use of the term “Monopoly,” I would disagree more strenuously with his reference to “recesses of US policy.” It was a common Soviet error to imagine that American Presidential administrations had detailed knowledge about the workings of all the businesses in the nation. We don’t elect presidents to meddle in our businesses or personal lives. The present uproar over Obama’s Healthcare program touches on this issue. We want good healthcare but we don’t want government telling us which doctors to go to and we especially don’t want government to tell our doctors whether or not to treat us. American government began with the assumption that the people were paramount and the government was to avoid interfering with what the people wanted to do – as much as possible. That situation has degraded over time, but we haven’t forgotten it. we don’t want government spying on us, reading our emails, checking which books we buy or check out at the library, etc. One of our “Rights” prevents the government from engaging in illegal search and seizure. We don’t want to give that right up.

When these “rights” are applied to businesses, we see that business use them along with any other advantage to maximize profits – because that is their prime concern, not morals.

Getting back to the collaboration with the Nazis, we find that Sutton didn’t restrict his interest to them. He also wrote a book about collaboration with the Communists: Wall Street & the Bolshevik Revolution. The most successful businesses are not moral and we have no way to make them so.

However, it should be noted that if we do away with the “enemy status” then collaboration will no longer be an issue. By that I mean that if we are all trading partners, then the Gromyko-Sutton concern becomes moot. I recall when I was working for McDonnell Douglas that we were bidding on a program for setting up a manufacturing plant in China. I knew someone working on the proposal, but he couldn’t give me any details. Such proposals had to be treated as Company secrets (secret from our competitors) until the contract was awarded. I can’t recall the details, but the government became involved in regard to our transferring vital technology. As we know, the government backed off. Technology was transferred. As far as I know China was given all the technology any of our business had on any product. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one.

Now look at what has happened: At one time China was considered our enemy. But are there any politicians left who still think so? Probably not many. If China were to attack us, we could freeze their assets and they would go broke. If we were to attack China, they would quit loaning us money and we would go broke.

There could be a worst-case scenario in which Taiwan stirred something up and Mainland China attacked them. That ought to cause the US to declare war on China because of our commitment to Taiwan, but I wonder if we feel that commitment the way we once did. If China invaded Taiwan tomorrow, would Obama declare war on China the day after? I doubt it. We are no longer enemies.

If we were still enemies with China then what McDonnell Douglas and some other companies did would meet Gromyko’s definition of “Collaboration.” But since we are not enemies with China, this “collaboration” is just good business.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gromyko denies secret protocol of Molotov-Ribbentrop pact

On page 38 of his Memoirs, Gromyko writes, “Usually, when Western sources discuss the non-aggression pact they raise the question of an alleged secret protocol, supposedly signed by Molotov and Ribbentrop. This protocol is said to have registered an understanding between the two sides on the need for certain territorial changes to be made in the countries lying between Germany and the USSR.

“This story is not new. It was being peddled before the Nazi war criminals were brought to book. The Soviet chief prosecutor at Nuremberg labeled it a forgery, and correctly so, since no such ‘protocol’ has ever been found, either in the USSR or in any other country – nor could it be. The Soviet prosecutor’s declaration was a challenge to all those who wished to believe the forgery. After all, he made his statement right in front of Hitler’s foreign Minister, Ribbentrop himself, sitting there in the dock.”

The secret protocol was not accepted as genuine by Russian officials until 1992, after Gromyko died, but now there seems to be no challenge to its genuineness. Someone who wrote now as Gromyko did back prior to 1989 would be classed as a “denier.”

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the Secret Protocol:

“. . . there was also a secret protocol to the pact, revealed only after Germany's defeat in 1945, according to which the states of Northern and Eastern Europe were divided into German and Soviet "spheres of influence".[74] In the North, Finland, Estonia and Latvia were assigned to the Soviet sphere.[74] Poland was to be partitioned in the event of its "political rearrangement"—the areas east of the Narev, Vistula and San Rivers going to the Soviet Union while Germany would occupy the west.[74] Lithuania, adjacent to East Prussia, would be in the German sphere of influence, although a second secret protocol agreed to in September 1939 reassigned the majority of Lithuania to the USSR.[75] According to the secret protocol, Lithuania would retrieve its historical capital Vilnius, occupied during the inter-war period by Poland. Another clause of the treaty was that Bessarabia, then part of Romania, was to be joined to the Moldovan ASSR, and become the Moldovan SSR under control of Moscow.[74]

The German original of the secret protocols was presumably destroyed in the bombing of Germany,[187] but a microfilmed copy was kept[188] in the documents archive of the German Foreign Office. In May 1945, Karl von Loesch, a civil servant in Foreign Office, gave this copy to British Lt. Col. R.C. Thomson.

“Despite publication of the recovered copy in western media, for decades, it was the official policy of the Soviet Union to deny the existence of the secret protocol.[188] On August 23, 1986, tens of thousands of demonstrators in 21 western cities including New York, London, Stockholm, Toronto, Seattle, and Perth participated in Black Ribbon Day Rallies to draw attention to the secret protocols.

“It was only after the Baltic Way demonstrations of August 23, 1989, where two million people created a human chain set on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Pact, that a special Soviet commission under Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev examining the Pact admitted its existence.[187] In December 1989, the commission concluded that the protocol had existed and revealed its findings to the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies.[187] As a result, the first democratically elected Congress passed a declaration in December 1989 admitting the existence of the secret protocols, condemning and denouncing them.[189]

“In 1992, the document itself was declassified only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.”


So we ask now, did Gromyko know the secret protocols were valid, and was he therefore lying when he called their existence a lie? Or was he kept in the dark about their existence. I am willing to believe the latter, that he was kept in the dark. Surely Stalin would want as few people as possible to know about them.

Gromyko critical of the USA prior to WWII

I’ve been reading Andrei Gromyko’s Memoirs, 1990. In 1939 he was appointed second in command to the Soviet Ambassador in the US. He was just 30, very intelligent and rising rapidly in the Russian diplomatic corps, but I don’t think he quite grasped the American situation prior to World War II. On page 36 he writes,

“Among those responsible for US foreign policy before, during and since the Second World War, nobody has ever tried to give a precise answer to the question: what measures did the USA take to prevent the outbreak of war?

“Historians and politicians who have analysed the events of those years have given various replies. They have claimed that the USA did its duty before the war by condemning the expansionist aims of Hitler and his allies. But none of them has asked what would have happened if the USA had come out on the side of the countries calling for peace, above all the USSR, and declared its determination to create a mighty, united force to oppose aggression. They do not ask this because the USA in fact had no plans and undertook no steps to deter the aggressors. Mere condemnation, at best erratic and consisting of a few tired speeches by administration officials, was hardly a sign of any very firm intent to take a stand against Hitler.

“Washington’s attitude only changed when the USA felt the heat of war itself. And, hard though it may be to believe, even the treacherous attack by Germany’s ally, Japan, on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor in 1941 still did not open the eyes of all Americans to the danger to peace and freedom posed by Germany and her eastern ally. There were still American politicians who wanted the Soviet Union and Germany to bleed each other white, clearly hoping that the USA would be able to have the last word in settling the terms of the eventual peace.

“This must not be forgotten. While the Soviet people pay full tribute – voiced many times by our leaders – to the American contribution to the victory over Germany and Japan, the fact is that the USA did not do what it could and should have done to avert the war itself.”


Everything Gromyko writes is true, but I squirm quite a bit at his tone and also at what is left out. It is true that the US did nothing to “prevent the outbreak of war,” but at the same time there were very few in the US at the time that thought we ought to. Americans viewed Europe as being very warlike and engaging in wars that meant nothing to the US. Americans thought it wise to keep out of such matters. Our first President warned against our getting involved in foreign wars and ever since then we have had politicians who argued that should still be our policy. So while what Gromyko says is true, what he leaves out is that the US held this position by design. There were some who thought we should take steps to stop Hitler, but they were neither numerous nor influential.

And I could say the same thing about those Gromyko apparently encountered who “wanted the Soviet Union and Germany to bleed each other white, clearly hoping that the USA would be able to have the last word in settling the terms of the eventual peace.” I suspect there were fewer politicians who held this view than those who thought we should be opposing Hitler sooner than we did. The predominant American foreign-policy position at the time was Isolationism: ‘Let those warlike Europeans fight their own wars. We in the meantime will stay here, behind our oceans, and mind our own business.”

One of the popular adds in those days was of Charles Atlas. If you read the add, which I did as a boy, then you saw a young skinny man described as a “97-pound weakling.” He was on the beach with his girlfriend when a large bully, insults the weakling’s girlfriend and then shoves the “bag of bones” out of the way. So the young man engages in Charles Atlas’ exercise program, called “dynamic tension,” and soon becomes strong and powerful. He again encounters the bully on the beach but this time knocks him down, much to everyone’s pleasure.

What Gromyko is proposing is that the 97-pound-weakling (the US) stand up to the bully (Germany). But it was not our nature back then to practice “dynamic tension.” We were content to weigh 97 pounds and be weak. It took Germany and Japan to kick sand in our face before we decided to grow strong.

It is true that we should have had a different view of things, should have had a strong military presence in the world and should have opposed Hitler early on. I quoted from Bevin Alexander’s The Future of Warfare some time ago. He faults the US in these regards. He doesn’t dwell upon the reasons we made bad decisions about our military and the war. He simply states that we did. Gromyko is critical of those responsible for America’s posture prior to the war, and well he should be. But now, after the fact, the historians I’ve read do put these matters in proper perspective. Yes, we were wrong back then, but now we have learned our lesson. We have abandoned our isolationism, for the most part (although we like our wars to be impossibly short).

When Gromyko in his Memoirs gets to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, he is much less critical. He doesn’t use the term “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.” He does not mention that by agreeing to this pact, Stalin hoped that the West and Germany would “bleed each other white” so that the USSR “would be able to have the last word in settling the terms of the eventual peace.” Neither does he describe the partition of Poland.

Come now Gromyko. I’ll admit the US was wrong; although I would like to set the stage for that error. But why is it you won’t admit it when the USSR is wrong? You didn’t sign the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact just because the USA didn’t join you in opposing Hitler. You hoped (1) that by signing this pact Hitler would leave the USSR alone, (2) Hitler and the West would bleed themselves white, and (3) you could gain half of Poland.

Then too there is the huge error called Communism. Gromyko died in 1989, apparently just after his memoirs went to press, but that was enough time to realize what a colossal mistake Soviet Communism was. But when Gromyko describes what was happening in Russia before the war he very sympathetically refers to it as a very positive thing. Russia was building its Socialistic state.

No, no, Mr. Gromyko. Soviet Communism was a far more serious error than American isolationism. . . but perhaps I am jumping to the wrong conclusion. Perhaps you will be properly critical of it later in your Memoirs.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Was Stalin Paranoid?

Michael Kuznetsov posted the following comment in response to "RE: Russian indifference to 1991 Putsch.": Perhaps the most interesting issue in Michael's note is in regard to whether Stalin was Paranoid. After Michael's comments I'll take that up.


Thank you very much for your prompt response. You offer an interesting explanation, and I must admit that I did not expect a version like yours.

It shows how differently we (the Russians and the Westerners) would frequently regard one and the same fact.

I have long noticed that the words "paranoia" and "paranoid" are two favorable labels used by the Western mass media.
We Russians don't use these terms even toward our mortal enemies.

Of course, neither Stalin nor Hitler were paranoids. The both leaders possessed personal courage of the highest degree. Neither one was a miserable coward or a poltroon.
Not in the least.

Suffice it to say that in the louring morning of 7th November 1941, with the mortal enemy having already approached Moscow at a distance of only 15 miles, nevertheless, Stalin did intrepidly take a military parade in the Red Square to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Great Revolution as usual.
It was a feat of personal fortitude and most encouraging example for the troops.
Stalin had never left Moscow despite a real threat that the city might be captured by the Germans.

In reality, his concern about Hitler's life (after mid-1943) was that with the Fuhrer killed the German military circles might have concluded a separate peace with the United States and Great Britain.

As we can see, Marshal Stalin was a wise statesman.


What does the term Paranoid mean? The Oxford Dictionary of English defines it as follows: "unreasonably or obsessively anxious, suspicious, or mistrustful: you think I'm paranoid but I tell you there is something going on." And that is the sense in which I have used the term.

In my previous note, a note by the way that I wrote before reading the above note by you Michael, I referred to Polish and Czech fears of Russian attack as "paranoid." You will probably say that Russia has no intention of attacking Poland or Czechoslovakia but their paranoia is at least understandable because Russia has invaded them in the past. Their fears are not based upon real Russian intentions but upon how Russia treated them in the past. They are like the battered wife who buys a gun. The husband may protest that he is a changed man. He no longer drinks vodka and he brings his check home every week. But the wife remembers the last beating and is obsessively anxious, suspicious and mistrustful. She is paranoid on the subject of her husband. In my previous note I gave the drunken husband the benefit of doubt but she is probably not willing to do that.

Now as to Stalin, I accused him of being paranoid because of his obsessively anxious, suspicious and mistrustful fear of being assassinated.

Both Stalin and Hitler feared death, but not in the sense of being cowards. Here is Richard Overy on the subject (from The Dictators, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, page 22 "Hitler and Stalin were neither of them normal. They were not, as far as can be judged, mentally unbalanced in any clinical sense . . . They were men with exceptional personalities and an extraordinary political energy. They were driven in each case by a profound commitment to a single cause, for which, and for differing reasons, they saw themselves as the historical executor. In the face of such destiny, both men developed an exaggerated morbidity. Stalin had a profound fear of death, and as he got older feared what his loss might mean for the revolution he thought to protect. Hitler, too, became consumed by a fear that he would not live long enough."

On page 327, Overy writes, "Stalin was well aware of the possibility of murder. . . The arrangements for his personal security became . . . elaborate. Curtains had to be cropped to prevent anyone standing behind them unobserved. His official cars were heavily armoured and stripped of running boards to prevent assassins from jumping onto the side of the vehicle. It was said that Stalin never announced in advance in which bedroom he would sleep; rumours persisted that his food and drink was sampled before he touched it. He was heavily guarded by militia and security men and exposed himself seldom to direct contact with the public."

Anne Applebaum in her book Gulag, A History, on pages 474-5 writes, "Although sick and dying, Stalin was not mellowing with age. On the contrary, he was growing ever more paranoid, and was now inclined to see conspirators and plotters all around him. In June 1951, he unexpectedly ordered the arrest of Abakumov, the head of Soviet counter-intelligence. In the autumn of that year, without prior consultation, he personally dictated a Central Committee resolution describing a 'Mingrelian nationalist conspiracy.' The Mingrelians were an ethnic group in Georgia, whose most prominent member was none other than Beria himself. All through 1952, a wave of arrests, firings, and executions rolled through the Georgian communist elite, touching many of Beria's close associates and protégés. Stalin almost certainly intended Beria himself to be the purge's ultimate target."

"Stalin told a party meeting that 'every Jew is a nationalist and an agent of American intelligence.' Then, on January 13, 1953, Pravda . . . revealed the existence of the Doctors' Plot: 'terrorist groups of doctors,' it was claimed, had 'made it their aim to cut short the lives of active public figures in the Soviet Union by means of sabotaged medical treatment.' . . ."

In Political Paranoia: the Psychopolitics of Hatred, Robins and Post, on page 25 write, "To be sure, to convey a paranoid message effectively is facilitated by a paranoid disposition, a capacity for conspiratorial thinking, but extremely paranoid messages can be conveyed by individuals who are not gravely paranoid but reap political rewards that a paranoid appeal can bring. If their behavior does reflect a paranoid illness, it will eventually reveal itself when the leader pursues a policy that is irrelevant or contradictory to his political interests but consistent with his fantasies. Stalin, for example, revealed the paranoid dimension of his personality when he created the Great Purge (or Great Terror) of 1934-1939, a purge that was instituted after he had consolidated his rule and was no longer politically vulnerable. It was Stalin's desire to purge his own psychological demons that was being expressed."


There is a saying in America: "Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't trying to kill you." That is, while paranoia is usually thought to imply unreasonable fears, the full definition of the term doesn't preclude a sound basis for the paranoid fears. Hitler was paranoid in this sense. Overy states that there were 42 attempts on his life. His paranoia had a sound basis in reality. There really were people trying to kill him. And that was probably true of Stalin as well.

Mobile Missile Intercptors for Europe

The above article was posted on the Global Security Newswire on 9-20-09. It is entitled, “Boeing Proposes Deploying Mobile Missile Interceptor in Europe.” I’ll comment below.

“. . . Russia has long opposed a Bush administration proposal to permanently field 10 ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic due to fears that the system could counter Moscow's strategic missile deterrent.

“The Obama administration is currently reviewing the plan, which U.S. officials say is intended to overcome Iran's developing long-range missile capabilities.

"If a fixed site is going to be just too hard to get implemented politically or otherwise, we didn't want people to think that the only way you needed to use a [ground-based interceptor] was in a fixed silo," Greg Hyslop, Boeing vice president and general manager for missile defense, told Reuters at a missile defense conference sponsored in Huntsville, Ala.

“By 2015, Boeing could prepare a two-stage, 47,500-pound interceptor that could be transported by C-17 cargo aircraft and deployed at a NATO site on a trailer-based launch platform, Hyslop said. The interceptor could be fielded within 24 hours and then removed when the missile threat abates, he said.

"’That would be a significant undertaking,’ Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, said of the Boeing proposal.

"’But we are looking for opportunities,’ he added, indicating support for the plan by defense contractor Raytheon Co. to produce a land-based version of the sea-launched Standard Missile 3.

“The mobile interceptor could be ready by 2015 and is likely to cost less than the existing plan, Hyslop said. The U.S. Defense Department is expected to need at least $1 billion to build the missile shield installations in Europe, according to the Government Accountability Office. The Pentagon says it could establish the two sites before Iran establishes a long-range missile capability in 2015.”

“. . .The United States pursued the rapid deployment of missile defenses based on an assumption that ‘the emergence of the intercontinental ballistic missile threat would come much faster than it did’ from nations including Iran and North Korea, Cartwright said. ‘The reality is that it has not come as fast as we thought . . .”

The 30 ground-based interceptors to be deployed in Alaska and California could be used to destroy 15 incoming ICBMs at one time. . .’That's a heck of a lot more than a rogue" state could launch . . .”


Good stuff. Sounds like an “unsolicited proposal.” I worked on a number of them in the past – for McDonnell Douglas before it became part of Boeing. We had a Research and Development department. It wouldn’t create proposals out of thin air but would get feelers or hints from form such places as conversations in restaurants with Air Force personnel at Dayton. There is nothing wrong with that. Many of us had Air Force “counterparts” which we were very friendly with. We knew well that even if our counterpart or his boss liked our proposal, it would still have a tough battle to make it into the congressional budget. Most of our proposals never made it, but sometimes, a proposal like this Mobile Missile Interceptor did.

Iran has been stonewalling everyone in regard to its nuclear development. I foresaw a time when as a result of their misguided view of the world, the Iranian’s nuclear facilities would be bombed by Israel. But now the MMI may provide an alternative. The article mentions Europe, but perhaps Israel could be satisfied with the MMI sort of protection. If the MMI really works, and Israel would need to have that proved to them, perhaps they wouldn’t need to bomb Iran.

As to Russia’s being testy over the possible loss of some of its “deterrence.” Good grief. What we have here are nations that the USSR abused for decades, Czechoslovakia and Poland are now paranoid about the Russian Federation following in Stalin’s footsteps. Who can blame them? Russians have been treating Eastern Europe as their own private playground. Who can blame Poland and Czechoslovakia, not to mention a host of other nations from being fearful of Russia’s intentions?

Has Russia demonstrated a peaceful desire to join the globalized market? Has Russia been striving to convert itself into a Market Economy? Well, sort of – maybe in a tiny little way. But what we are most aware of is Putin thumping his chest and threatening Georgia, Chechnya, and Ukraine. Poland and Czechoslovakia can look at Germany and not feel threatened. But they don’t seem to be able to look at Russia and have that same feeling.

Don’t forget, we are talking about defensive interceptors and not offensive weapons. In order for Russia to come athwart a Polish MMI for example, Russia would have to launch a missile at Poland. We can understand why Poland is afraid of Russia, but why is Russia afraid of Poland having defensive interceptors.

I’m reminded of a hike Susan and I were on years ago. We were in a very remote wilderness area and hadn’t seen anyone all day. Then we encountered two men coming toward us. They noticed I was wearing a .357 Colt Trooper and began questioning me about it. Why did I have it? What was I going to do with it? I went on maximum Marine-Corps-alert and was ill-humored toward them. I moved Susan on up the trail ahead of me, checking over my shoulder to make sure these guys were going the other way. Susan was upset with me for being rude to them. Oh well.

RE: Ukraine studies Russian, but not the reverse.

Michael Kuznetsov posted a response , "Ukraine studies Russian, but not the reverse"


I would like to emphasize one simple fact that the recently emerged separate country in question – the Ukraine – has had no historical proper name of its own.
The matter is that in all of the Slavic languages the word "ukraine" means one and the same thing – "a borderland" or "a rimland".

This meaning is absolutely obvious and pellucid for all of the Slavic peoples in Eastern, Western and Southern Europe indiscriminately, all of them having had the same common ancient word-stem "krai" in their vocabularies with the following meaning: "border", "rim", "part", "a part of the land", etc.
Since the prefix "u" means "at" (like the French preposition "chez"), so the world "ukraine" means nothing else but "a part of the land at the border," or in short: "a borderland."

Which is why the correct English form of the country's name must be THE Ukraine, with the definite article, because there exist a great many of various "ukraines" or "borderlands" in the world, yet it is only one of them that has become a separate state, and which has assumed the name Borderland or the Ukraine as its official name.

At the present time, the Ukraine is being a mini-empire, consisting of seven parts: 1. Malorossia (Little Russia), 2. Novorossia (New Russia), 3. the Crimea, 4. Slobozhanshchina (Sloboda), 5. Volhynia-Podolia, 6. Galicia, and 7. Ruthenia (Red Russia). Of which only numbers 5 and 6 are inhabited by the native speakers of the so-called Ukrainian language, the latter being a cross between Polish and Russian.

I have lived for 25 years -- a significant part of my lifetime -- in what is now a separate state called the Ukraine. Not only have I lived there, but also I did extensively travel across the Ukraine. I have been to the following cities and towns there in the Ukraine: Odessa, Ilyichevsk, Nikolayev, Kherson, Ochakov, Zaporozhye, Dniepropetrovsk, Simferopol, Sevastopol, Yalta, Kerch, Donetsk, Makeyevka, Mariupol, and many other smaller places.
Everywhere only the Russian language is being spoken, both in the street, or at home, or at any public or governmental office. For all of the 25 years I have heard the so-called Ukrainian dialect spoken in the street only once – it occurred when I visited Lvov.

This GALLOP website will show you that about 83 percent of the Ukrainian citizens regard the Russian language as their true Mother Tongue:

Except for the rabid russophobic Galicians from Lvov, we are one nation, temporarily devided.

That is that, whether you like it or not.


The study of "names" and "labels" is interesting. We saw that recently here in the U.S. in regard to the "Neoconservatives." This term was not created by the Neoconservatives themselves but by their critics.

Also, The American Indian was so named as a result of an error made by early explorers, imagined that they had sailed to India and not to a hitherto unexplored (by Europeans) continent. And yet today, American Indians refer to themselves as "Indian."

Also, the use of a common language doesn't necessarily imply oneness. We in the US share a common language with Britain and yet were anxious to obtain our own independence in the 18th century.

As to reasons The Ukraine might think of itself as an independent "nation" consider the following from Wikipedia:

Ukraine's modern history began with the East Slavs. From at least the 9th century, Ukraine was a center of the medieval living area of the East Slavs. This state, known as Kievan Rus' became the largest and most powerful nation in Europe, but disintegrated in the 12th century. Ukraine was the home of the first modern democracy, which exhibited republican form, during the Khmelnytsky uprising in the 17th century.[5] After the Great Northern War, Ukraine was divided among a number of regional powers, and by the 19th century, the largest part of Ukraine was integrated into the Russian Empire, with the rest under Austro-Hungarian control. After a chaotic period of incessant warfare and several attempts at independence (1917–21) following World War I and the Russian Civil War, Ukraine emerged in 1922 as one of the founding republics of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic's territory was enlarged westward shortly before and after World War II, and again in 1954 with the Crimea transfer. In 1945, the Ukrainian SSR became one of the co-founding members of the United Nations.[6] Ukraine became independent again after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. This began a period of transition to a market economy, in which Ukraine was stricken with an eight year recession.[7] But since then, the economy has been experiencing a stable increase with GDP growth averaging 24 percent annually.

Ukraine is a unitary state composed of 24 oblasts (provinces), one autonomous republic (Crimea), and two cities with special status: Kiev, its capital, and Sevastopol, which houses the Russian Black Sea Fleet under a leasing agreement. Ukraine is a republic under a semi-presidential system with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches. Since the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine continues to maintain the second largest military in Europe, after that of Russia. The country is home to 46.2 million people, 77.8 percent of whom are ethnic Ukrainians, with sizable minorities of Russians, Belarusians and Romanians. The Ukrainian language is the only official language in Ukraine, while Russian is also widely spoken. The dominant religion in the country is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which has heavily influenced Ukrainian architecture, literature and music.

RE: Russian indifference to 1991 Putsch.

Michael Kuznetsov posted the following comment in regard to, "Russian indifference to 1991 Putsch":


I suppose you might be rather surprised to learn that I personally was a "fan" of Sen. John McCain, as well as many of those Russians whom I have known, and who paid attention to the last US presidential elections, a great many of them were "fans" of McCain, too.

As to the events of 19th - 24th August 1991, not only happened I to be in Moscow at the time, but I was right into the thick of things.

I do vividly recall the effervescent events that occured then in the center of Moscow, as well as those thousands of people who participated therein, and I am convinced that to call them "indifferent" would be quite strange at least.

Meanwhile, I have a little question.
I remember reading somewhere that Marshal Stalin seemed to be somewhat concerned with the news of the attempt upon Hitler's life on the 20th of July 1944. And that Stalin became relaxed only after the word had come that the German leader remained alive and active.

What do you think about this story?




In regard to our last election, I thought that even though we are a nation devoted to "rock stars," good sense would win out and the voters would choose the older and wiser John McCain. But the voters, more consistently, elected the "Rock Star," Barack Obama – part of the reason I have a low opinion of the intelligence of the "man in the street," whether American or Russian.

As to Shelin's comments, I don't think he was saying that the people involved in the events of 1991 were indifferent but that the Russians today (in the percentages he quotes) are indifferent to the events of 1991.

As to your question about Stalin, I vaguely recall reading of that in the past, but I can't recall where. That Stalin would be alarmed upon hearing of an attempt upon Hitler's life is plausible. Stalin was paranoid about being assassinated. He might very well have thought that if Hitler were successfully assassinated, that might inspire someone in Russia to assassinate him.

But that's all I can say, that it is plausible – not that I know it to be true.