Tag Archives: Russia

Oilers fortunes at a crossroads in Oil Change’s fifth episode

Now that the dust has settled and we know who brought gold from the Olympic Games and who will remain on the Edmonton Oilers’ roster till the end of the season (at least), it’s time to reflect.

The fifth installment of Oil Change will help us do exactly that. It will air on Sportsnet, both on the national and regional networks, Sunday, March 16.

As has become a useful tradition, re-broadcasts will follow.

The newest episode will go along several tracks.

The first one inspects a development not many outside of the team thought they could expect: the Oilers have begun heating up, and all that amidst one of the harsher winters on record. Yes, any thought of this season’s playoffs seems to be gone, but not the fighting spirit. It may be a sign of things to come next season, but, in any case, the arrival of goalie Ben Scrivens, high-energy forward Matt Hendricks and hard-nosed blueliner Mark Fraser seem to have had more impact than many would have anticipated.

These moves happened even before the Olympic break so, officially, they do not count as trade deadline acquisitions. Except, there was a roster freeze in effect during the Olympic Games, so, why not be a bit more generous, right?

Three Oilers went to Sochi, Russia: Ales Hemsky to play for the Czechs, Anton Belov for the Russians, and Martin Marincin for the Slovaks. The few games after the Olympic break would be Hemsky’s swan song as an Oiler: he would be gone on trade deadline day to the Ottawa Senators.

But the new goalie, Ben Scrivens, would endear himself to the team and its fans even before the break: an NHL-record, 59-save, 3-0 shutout victory over the San Jose Sharks would do that for you.

Oil Change used the Olympic break to send its crew down to Oklahoma City and see how some of the younsgters are doing. They weren’t the only ones to make the trip to see the Barons, the Oilers’ AHL affiliate: general manager Craig MacTavish was on hand, too.

While Oil Change was there to report on the progress of people like Martin Gernat, Oscar Klefbom and Tyler Pitlick, MacTavish’s role was a tad more involved. The idea was for him to see, first-hand, the depth of his organization so he knows what moves he can (and can’t) afford come the trade deadline day.

You can be excused if you hadn’t known, but now you will: the Oilers’ Andrew Ference and David Perron dropped in by the NHL New York office on the club’s day off during their eastern swing, and they got to chat with the commissioner, Gary Bettman, himself.

This episode of Oil Change will take us all the way through the trade deadline day. We’ve all heard the rumours, and we know now what’s actually happened. Thanks to this episode of Oil Change, we’ll know how it happened and why, too.

And while we’ll be digesting the latest documentary by the award-winning (and Edmonton-based) Aquila Productions, they will be hard at work on the next segment.

Such is the life of documentary filmmakers: it doesn’t stop. And neither do they.

The world takes Putin’s actions on the chin – and does nothing about it

Many, many years ago, in the first half of the previous century, a Dutch sea captain of Czech origin, Jan Van Toch, anchored his ship by a small island somewhere in the Pacific. His company ordered him to find areas where they could get some original pearls. These jewels were coming back into fashion, you see. And Van Toch’s Rotterdam bosses wanted to ride the wave, enhancing their own bank accounts in the process.

The good Captain found, to his genuine surprise, animals whom the natives feared and called black devils. They were intelligent newts. Captain Van Toch befriended them, gave them all kinds of equipment, including underwater guns so they could defend themselves against the local shark population, and convinced a captain of Czech economy who, accidentally, had been born in the same little town as Jan Van Toch, that this could become a business venture.

It did. Thus Czech author Karel Čapek. That, by the way, is the guy who gave the world the word “robot.” But that’s another story for another day.

Čapek wrote and published (in 1936) War with the Newts (Válka s mloky in the original Czech). It was also translated as War with the Salamanders.

This satirical science-fiction novel describes how modern industrialists first enslaved and exploited the newts, until the creatures acquired human knowledge and rebelled. They needed more shores for themselves. So, they started destroying the continents, enlarging the world’s oceans and thus creating more space in which they could live.

If it resembles Adolf Hitler’s demand for “Lebensraum” (space to live in) for the German nation by any chance, it is no accident.

The conflict between the humans and the newts led to a global war for supremacy.

As the war progressed, the author introduced an anonymous voice, known as Mr. X, who told humankind it was perfectly insane to continue developing and delivering all kinds of weapons and sundry equipment to the newts who were, all along, continuing with their operation to destroy that same humankind. Mr. X called on people to stop this. His call was met with derision: economists, politicians, labour union leaders, they all said humankind had never had it better, employment figures were reaching 100 per cent, in fact, people would need more workers to meet all the orders coming from under-the-sea level, and who was this Mr. X anyway to try to stop progress.

If you want to know how it all ended, run to your local library or a bookstore.

Cut to the chase

We are in the twenty-first century now, and the world keeps supplying another Hitler, one who goes under the name of Vladimir Putin, and is also known as the president of Russia. Putin’s Russia is getting all kinds of sophisticated weaponry, and the European Union goes on without stopping but once to think how suicidal this is.

Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas, writing for an Estonian web publication, ICDS (the abbreviation stands for International Centre for Defence Studies), of Tallin, that country’s capital, have exposed the world’s dark secret.

Before we proceed, a tip of the hat is due to Jan Maisler for a competent translation, and to Jiří Wagner, editor of the Czech news site, Neviditelny pes, for preparing this information jewel for publication.

If you don’t speak Czech, learn to. You would be able to read the story quoted from below in its fullness. And if knowing the language of the people who gave the world such beers as Pilsner Urquell and the original Budweiser (not the weak imitations as provided by Anheuser-Busch) is not important to you, where are your values, for crying out loud?

Back to the topic

The European Union (EU, for short, and it doesn’t deserve anything more, anyhow), says it’s upset about the Russian aggression in Ukraine and it’s going to impose sanctions.

Oh yeah? That’s the question posed by Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas.

How about weapons exports to Russia? And – more importantly, perhaps – how about the close co-operation between some EU countries and Russia, developing new weapon systems and transferring military technologies and expertise to Russia?

Strangely enough, most mainstream media all over the world keep their mouths shut when it comes to this topic.

But why?

Is it because speaking out would equal washing dirty linen in public? Is it because putting a stop to this shameful behaviour would (let’s go back to Čapek) slow down or, Heaven forbid, stop the flow of income that happens to turn into profit at a later stage? Is it because mainstream media never got a press release detailing these shenanigans?

Realizing that modern-day reporters seem to have never heard that what makes a reporter is curiosity, this could be as valid a reason as any.

Or is it hypocrisy, pure and simple?

A few years ago, Russia invaded Georgia. The reason, Putin said on the occasion, was to defend the poor, defenceless Russians in Ossetia (sounds familiar, does it not?). Shortly after that, Russia signed a deal with France. It would buy from the French amphibious vehicles of the Mistral class (a.k.a. “projection and command” vehicles). The Baltic republics, all of whom had known Soviet occupation, objected. The EU called their reaction “hysterical” and worse.

That, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas write, was a clear signal: who cares about Russia’s aggressive behaviour, so long as France’s military economy prospers? It may even fill French government’s coffers with new taxes. So, what’s the big deal?

Everybody’s happy: Russia has got new killer toys to use in its future aggressions, France gets richer. What’s there to complain about?

Remember the Iraqi nuclear facility, Osirak? It used to be called by many “Ochirac,” after then-French president Jacques Chirac who allowed the transfer of his country’s sophisticated nuclear knowledge (and the training of Iraqi scientists in his country) despite clear warnings that something dirty was going on. In a daring air attack, the Israelis would obliterate the place, thus earning eternal hatred from France.

So, what’s new? Nothing much, really.

As Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas inform us, the Franco-Russian military co-operation now includes the development of a new generation of vehicles for the transport of Russia’s infantry, the development of a production line for building thermovision, equipment that would allow the Russian military to operate in the middle of the night, as well as a number of other similar projects. Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas also quote Dmitrii Rogozin, Russia’s vice-premier responsible for defence (read: military) industries, as saying that the two countries have launched a “new era of intensive Franco-Russian co-operation that includes intensive exchange of confidential information.”

God knows where all that is going to end. And if She knows, She’s not telling: it’s confidential information, after all.

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles

Since the EU includes two major weapons exporters (France and Germany), it was to be expected that the Germans would not be far behind their French brethren.

Germany’s Federal Security Council (Bundessicherheitsrat in German) is chaired by the country’s Chancellor herself (her office is equal to Canada’s Prime Minister, with the President serving as a figure-head, just as the Governor-General does in Canada). It has been issuing export licences for weapon sales like nobody’s business. Russia has been quickly making its way to the top of the list of countries that deserve getting Germany’s military technology.

One of the most alarming recent German sales to Russia: modern equipment to train units up to the size of a brigade. That, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas document, happens to be first-class equipment to run an operations command post. Thus far, it has been available only to the most developed countries. Whether Russia is one of the most-developed countries remains to be seen, but it now has this equipment.

In fact, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has developed a doctrine that basically gives her country’s military industry a free hand. Thus Merkel: “I am convinced that it is in our interest to enable our partners to effectively participate in keeping or renewing security and peace in their regions.”

Which means that if Putin says that Russians in Ossetia or Ukraine (or anywhere else, for that matter) are in danger and he only wants is to ensure their safety and security, his word is gospel.

Konrad Henlein used this refrain in the Sudetenland regions of former Czechoslovakia, with Adolf Hitler’s enthusiastic support. It ended in a deal (the so-called Munich Agreement) signed by British Prime Minister Sir Neville Chamberlain, French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier, Italy’s Duce (Leader) Benito Mussolini and Germany’s Reichskanzler (Chancellor) Adolf Hitler.

Sir Neville Chamberlain returned to London, telling all and sundry he had secured “peace in our time.”

Indeed. We all know how it ended.

Lying through their teeth

The EU politicians claim that if they co-operate with Russia, they would have a say in what that country is doing.

A bald-faced lie if there ever was one, and they know it.

Vladimir Putin is much more realistic. He knows that, beside some tut-tutting that followed his incursion into Georgia, nothing happened and everything was business as usual even before the dust settled. So, he figures, and quite correctly, too, that if he annexes the entire country of Ukraine, not just Crimea, he’ll pass jail and will be free to buy, say, Pennsylvania Station, to use the language of the game of Monopoly.

Why Pennsylvania Station? Just a play on words: Putin received a phone call from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the other day. The U.S. president himself, Barack Obama was on the line. They chatted for about an hour after which Putin told Obama he had other, more pressing, commitments to attend to and bid good-bye.

Would Putin change anything, pray tell, after this conversation? Are you kidding? Why should he? What can a president whom he considers a perfect weakling do to him? And besides, all of his military’s supply needs are met, courtesy France and Germany, so, who cares about the U.S., anyway?

So, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas pose a legitimate question: who’s influencing whom, come to think of it? It’s obvious the EU (and the rest of the Western world) have practically no impact on Putin’s thinking and actions with whatever rhetoric they dare mouth. And not that the EU overextends itself in its condemnations of Russia’s aggressions, either. In fact, it seems that Canada is the only country willing to take at least some action, symbolic as it is. Expelling Russian military personnel and limiting Russian officials’ right of entry is nice, but if Putin had feathers, none of them would be ruffled.

What can be done?

Not much, really, if we decide to subscribe to what today’s Western politicians (and those of the EU in particular) call realpolitik.

Impose sanctions? To be effective, they would have to include all matters military, including an immediate stop to all military sales and knowledge transfers.

Is this going to happen? A rhetorical question.

EU politicians would tell you they haven’t got enough money to maintain their military and, besides, NATO isn’t that rich of an uncle as it used to be any longer, either. Pray tell, they would demand, where else are we going to get the finances to maintain our own defence? We’re taxing our own citizens beyond acceptable levels as it is.

Here’s a logical follow-up question: maintaining your defence means that you’re defending your sovereignty. Except, it seems everything the EU stands for is dismantling individual (and sovereign) European countries. So, how can you explain that contradiction?

Here’s the answer you’d get: silence. Overwhelmingly deafening silence.

The crux of the matter is that to maintain their military, EU countries are supporting someone who’s getting more and more aggressive. Putin relies on the shortsightedness of EU politicians because he knows he can.

To sum up: EU politicians are undermining their own security while helping a new Hitler along the way. In addition, some of the countries that have common borders with Russia (including some EU members) will lose their faith in EU’s ability to defend them against somebody who’s got that same military hardware (and software) as EU has. Where they will go to get their own weaponry is anybody’s guess. China? Korea? South Africa? Israel?

And where’s the U.S. on this list? you may ask. Nowhere is the answer. The Europeans mostly seem to share Putin’s assessment of America’s current administration. That’s one of the very few things they share with him.

Meanwhile, Putin will continue to test EU’s policy of appeasement and profit. It’s going to be his gain and, eventually, his trump card.

If you start digging a hole, you should stop digging once you’re inside, Tomas Jermalavicius and Kaarel Kaas say.

The question is: do the French and the Germans realize they’ve dug a hole that now has not only them, but their alleged EU allies inside, too?

Where is Karel Čapek’s Mr. X now when we need him?

And would we wake up and start listening to him?

Ukraine, Russia and the world: a powder keg

Russian president Vladimir Putin is deeply worried about what’s going on in Ukraine, and he plans to do something about it.

Like what?

Like remind humankind of Vladimir Lenin, Josif Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Nikita Khruschev and Leonid Brezhnev. All of them at once, rolled into a new guy: Vladimir Putin.

Here’s the story: Lenin created the Soviet Union, getting all kinds of independent nations sign up by hook and crook. In his cynicism he went so far as to say in the constitution that this was a voluntary union and individual republics would be free to leave whenever they felt like it.

Stalin went a few steps further. When Ukraine had the gall to merely hint it was (nationally speaking) a more or less independent part of the union, he created a famine (Holodomor in the Ukrainian language) that would teach the pesky Ukrainians a proper lesson. It did.

Stalin had a Russian poet, Sergei Mikhalkov, collaborating with an Armenian poet, Gabriel El-Registan, write words to Alexander Alexandrov’s music, to create the anthem of the Soviet Union.

The words said it all. Here they are, in verbatim translation: “The unbreakable union of free republics were united for ever by the great Russia, long live the united, mighty Soviet Union created by the will of nations.”

If anyone had any issues with that, Stalin would deal with them with his typical swiftness. Remember the Tatars whom he had accused of potentially collaborating with Nazi Germany and deported them from the regions they had been living in for centuries? Does the word Crimea ring a bell?

Then, along came Khruschev. On one beautiful day in 1954 he told his comrades he would gift Crimea, by then predominantly Russian (as opposed to previously predominantly Tatar), to Ukraine to celebrate the 300th anniversary of that country’s decision to join Russia in one state. That centuries-old decision didn’t mean that Ukraine would become part of Russia, literally, only that the two countries would present themselves to the world as one.

Did Khruschev ask anybody in Crimea for their thoughts and, heavens forbid, feelings about the plan? Are you kidding? Did he consult it with his Central Committee comrades? No. Thus spake the leader, and that was that.

Of course, Khruschev knew the Marxist definition of freedom: it is a necessity recognized by those it impacts. Tough to understand? You’re free to obey our orders, that’s what it means.

And just to show what he meant, when the Hungarians thought they’ve had enough of Soviet-imposed communism, Khruschev sent in tanks and showed them who the boss was: this is your freedom, you cheeky Hungarians.

Brezhnev followed Khruschev at the Soviet helm.

When some fools in the republic of Georgia figured the constitution allowed them to leave the union, they started meeting to debate how to go about it. The news somehow got to Moscow. Brezhnev sent a trusted KGB general, one Eduard Shevardnadze, to Georgia, to talk some sense into those heretics. Shevardnadze, yes, the allegedly progressive guy who would later become Mikhail Gorbachev’s foreign minister, became party leader in Georgia on that occasion. A few hundred (if not thousand) deaths later within a few days, there was peace in the valley (and mountains) in Georgia again.

And when the fools in Czechoslovakia came up with the brilliant idea of socialism with human face, whatever THAT was supposed to mean, Brezhnev did exactly what his predecessor had done: he sent in tanks. The idea, he said, was to normalize the situation.

Normalization: an ugly word to many

So, when Putin now speaks of normalizing the situation in Ukraine in general and Crimea in particular, it does sound quite ominously to those who remember even faintly the two decades of normalization in Czechoslovakia.

Putin speaks of making sure that Russians living in Crimea are safe from the hordes of the Ukrainian bandits. This eerily resembles Hitler’s concerns about the Germans who used to live in the Sudetenland region of former Czechoslovakia.

Of course, when Russians speak of Crimea as a traditionally Russian land, they’re lying through their teeth: the Tatars would be able to offer a bit of a dissenting opinion to that, if anybody asked them (and if they were still around).

What all this is supposed to say is relatively simple: the situation in Ukraine is not as black and white as our media (and politicians) try to portray it.

Yes, the development is perfectly undemocratic, when compared to Western-style democracies. And when has there been such democracy in Ukraine (and Russia proper), pray tell?

The entire upheaval was touched off by a sudden about-face committed by the Ukrainian government concerning the question of Ukraine’s potential participation in the European Union.

The reasons for this change of mind remain murky, suspicious, even. While it would be relatively easy to think of either the EU’s or Russia’s hidden hand, the fact remains that the pro-EU demonstrators were solidly equipped and financed. There’s no real proof whence the equipment and money have come, but this is not as important.

What is important is the stance that those who object to Russia’s military provocations say Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be maintained.

An illusion if there ever was one.

Western Ukraine became part of Ukraine proper only after the Second World War. So far as people in those parts are concerned, THEY are the only real Ukrainians. Those who’ve lived in eastern parts of the country have been so profoundly inflitrated by the Russians, one can freely speak of colonization or fifth columns, even, western Ukrainians believe.

Whether they are right or not does not matter, really. It’s the perception that counts.

Who cares about the West?

The U.S. reply to all this was as wishy-washy as to make it laughable.

Putin has been quite openly of the rather dismissive view that U.S. president Barack Obama is a perfect example of a weakling who likes going off half-cocked, without knowing anything about the real issues. Obama, thus the view from the Kremlin, is more concerned about public relations and his standings in the polls than about what’s going on. And he’s too unsophisticated to really understand, to boot. Lightweight, both mentally and emotionally.

Besides, the Kremlin has a ready answer if Obama just dares mention that armed invasions of other countries are unacceptable: look at yourself in the mirror. How many times have YOU interfered in internal matters of countries that are not part of the U.S.?

Specious argument, if there ever was one, but effective for the masses.

The Russians might also throw in the undisputable fact that Barack Obama’s government has a peculiar knack of siding with the wrong side 10 times out of 10. Care to remember the so-called Arab Spring, anyone? That was the development that strengthened the Islam fundamentalists’ hand in no small measure, with Obama’s administration egging them on all along.

Canada’s government goes about things a bit differently: while it does mention Ukraine’s territorial integrity, it’s more concerned about the lack of democracy and potential for international conflict if Putin does invade fully. Not that the presence of several thousand Russian soldiers in Crimea does not constitute full invasion, but that would be peanuts when compared to the real thing.

In any case, Putin showed the rest of the world the full meaning of the French expression: fait accompli. Here I am, and what are you going to do about it? Oh, you are upset?

One huge danger in Ukraine: this is the place that gave the world the word “pogrom.” What we’re talking about are indiscriminate attacks on anybody who ever so slightly resembles a person of Jewish origin. While it is difficult to generalize, anti-semitism happens to be an integral part of Ukraine’s history and social fabric.

Now, it’s the bloody Jews from the EU who are upsetting the applecart, so far as many Ukrainian protesters are concerned. The fact that the EU bends over backwards to keep the non-existent nation of Palestinians happy, going so far as supporting an unrealistic boycott of Israel and its products, does not interest these protesters one bit. In fact, who knows whether they are even aware of it. To them it’s the bloody “Zhidy” that should feel the wrath of the people in the first place.

What’s going to happen?

Nobody knows the answer to that. The only hope is that cooler heads will prevail. Not in Washington, D.C., or Ottawa, for that matter, or Brussels (the European Union capital), even. In Moscow and in Kyiv.

While it doesn’t seem like it from the outside looking in, the situation in Ukraine can develop into a perfectly terrible conflict, using live ammunition as a preferred and accepted method of persuasion.

It creates a precedent that territorial integrity, as recognized by international community, isn’t worth a figue. Can you imagine if others use this precedent to try to push their ancient claims, real or perceived?

One of the things Putin must have realized: the world was silent when some native tribes from the Caucasian mountains claimed the area where Putin would waste billions of dollars on Olympic Games was theirs. That silence must have been music to Putin’s ears.

Vladimir Putin seems to view the rest of the world with a smirk: ah, the dogs are baying, but the caravan keeps moving on. He’s aware that should, for example, Western European governments continue to bother him, he’s one turn of a switch on oil and natural gas pipe lines away from throwing them into darkness and letting them freeze. Used to their comforts, how long will Western Europeans let their governments pretend they stand up for principle? They may be pipped beyond belief, but what’s the price? Are they willing to pay?

Putin must be aware, too, of the fact that in August 1968 Anatoli Dobrynin, then-Soviet ambassador to the U.S., went to see then-president Lyndon Baines Johnson to tell him, oh, by the way, Mr. President, we’re about to invade Czechoslovakia within the next 48 hours, but not to worry, we’re not going to cross into your (and NATO’s) sphere of influence. What did LBJ do on that momentous occasion? He thanked the Soviet envoy for the heads-up and didn’t even direct his diplomats to warn their Czechoslovak counterparts about what was cooking.

Has Putin gone too far? Will he think withdrawing from Crimea and sitting down at the negotiating table would mean a loss of face?

Would the Ukrainians be willing to negotiate?

Some, including the Canadian government, said that if Putin doesn’t back off, they might consider sanctions. Like: what sanctions? The same they imposed on selected Ukrainian leaders, telling them they wouldn’t be permitted to enter Canada? Big deal.

If there’s a vote in the United Nations Security Council, and it goes against Russia, guess which country is one of the five that have the power of veto?

This is a tragic situation. Innocent people suffer (while the former president of Ukraine proclaims to all and sundry he’s president still, but does so from the safe haven in one of Russian government’s dachas near Moscow).

Putin has done exactly what Hitler has done: you’ve got problems with what I’m doing? Congratulations, you’ve got something I haven’t got. And don’t tut-tut me, or I’ll tut-tut you back. After all, Putin has shown he’s a past master of demagoguery. He’s done so on live TV, too, in a clip that’s gone viral on YouTube shortly afterwards. In a news conference, Poland’s prime minister Donald Tusk mentioned some past points of friction between his country and the former Soviet Union, including the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. That pact, among many other things, allowed the Soviet Union to grab the eastern part of Poland, while the Germans attacked and destroyed the other part.

Putin went ballistic. He accused Poland of collaboration with Hitler and, also, of grabbing a chunk of Czechoslovakia right after the so-called Munich Agreement stripped that poor country of its frontier regions, to placate the Sudeten Germans (and, by extension, Hitler).

Some of what Putin had to say could have been true, but he neatly sidestepped the main issue: it was the Soviet Union that had actually triggered the Second World War, by attacking Finland and then by participating in the dismantling of Poland.

In any case, even Putin’s manner didn’t differ that much from that of Hitler.

We all know how it ended then. At the cost of tens of millions of human lives, too.

Have we not learned anything?

Weapon maker’s passing provokes strange memories

It took Mikhail Kalashnikov almost 60 years of his life to concede at long last that had he invented a lawnmower, his legacy would have been more acceptable.

As it is, he invented a submachine gun, named AK-47 (Avtomat Kalashnikova, and the two digits signify the year of the weapon’s creation).

Kalashnikov died recently, aged 94, and loving obituaries filled Russian media beyond comprehension. Not only that: even media in other countries, in places where they should have known better, were shedding bitter tears.

Is it Kalashnikov’s fault that his weapons became more than his country’s army’s arms of choice? Is it his fault that pictures of pre-teens holding his submachine guns have shown the world Muslim terrorism in action? Is it Kalashnikov’s fault that AK-47s have become weapons of choice for all and sundry terrorist groups all over the world? Is he guilty of the fact that Russian army is now looking for something better and has been selling these wonderful killing machines to anyone who pays cash, including firms in the U.S. that sell the AK-47 under the name of Saiga?

Is it Kalashnikov’s fault he was born in Russia and lived most of his life in the Soviet Union?

The answer to all these questions is a resolute no.

But here’s another question: is it becoming to mourn a guy who invented this kind of weapon in the first place?

The answer is not and should not be a straightforward yes, or a straightforward no. After all, how can we feel about scientists who developed the world’s first nuclear weapons? They thought they were saving humanity. Were they? Again, it’s neither yes, nor no.

But while asking these questions, one can’t help but expand them.

For example: was it becoming for the entire world to go into a frenzy of deeply-felt mourning upon the passing of Nelson Mandela?

The guy was a terrorist, after all. He never renounced violence against civilians. He acted upon his Marxist-Leninist beliefs with a vengeance. One of his closest associates, one Joe Slovo, had been a KGB colonel, hailing from the Baltic republics that, at the time, belonged to the Soviet Union. When apartheid in South Africa collapsed, it wasn’t due to Mandela’s efforts or, precisely, not due to his efforts only. The other guy who would get the Nobel Prize for the end of the regime, Frederik Willem de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president, seems to have become a persona non grata in the politically correct circles. One wonders if all world leaders and other members of the “lumpenintelligentsia” (see “lumpenproletariat” for explanation of the meaning of this word) will hurry to Johannesburg for HIS funeral once the inevitable happens. (He’s 77 now, after all.)

And yet, without de Klerk, who knows how it all would have ended.

Which doesn’t change the basic facts. Such as that de Klerk decided to deal with Mandela even though he was perfectly aware that the guy had been arrested and sentenced perfectly legally under every standard of the law for planning and operating actions of indiscriminate violence, including killings of innocent bystanders.

One should only speak well of the deceased?

Are you suggesting one should speak well of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the two guys who developed one of the most deadliest and dangerous ideologies under the sun?

Are you suggesting one should speak well of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin or Josef Vissarionovich Stalin, the two guys who changed the theories by Marx and Engels into living hell for hundreds of millions of people?

Are you suggesting one should speak well of Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler, the two guys who used the same basic ideology as Lenin and Stalin, only approaching it from different angles?

That Mandela changed his views and mellowed with time?

Would Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini or Hitler have changed their views and mellowed had they lived longer?

South Africa today is a much more dangerous place to live in (or, indeed, just visit) than it used to be. Criminal records say so. This just happens to be one of Nelson Mandela’s legacies.

The entire regime in that poor country is based on lies.

One wonders what’s going to happen when the inevitable happens and Desmond Tutu, another part of today’s South African regime, goes to hell at long last. He should, because he’s been lying through his teeth most of his life.

Want an example?

Here’s a personal experience from a news conference given by Tutu. Somebody asked whether he wasn’t afraid that Soviet-led troops (Cubans, with East German security advisers and Soviet commanders), currently in Angola, might make the relatively short trek to South Africa. It would have made geopolitical sense at the time because of South Africa’s geographic location.

The Archbishop didn’t hesitate to say South African people would be ecstatic to welcome Soviet-led troops and would display at least as much enthusiasm as people in Czechoslovakia displayed following the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of their country.

There were two people in the room who had experienced the exemplary lack of enthusiasm of the people of Czechoslovakia those days. So, we immediately questioned how dare a man of cloth lie like this. Whereupon Desmond Tutu stormed out of the room. His secretary would approach us as we were leaving. To apologize? Not in this world. To warn us to never try question his master again, and to tell us neither of us would be ever invited to a Desmond Tutu news conference again.

Still, one anticipates an outpouring of sympathy and whatnot once his days are numbered. Whether those sympathies would be sincere or not would be irrelevant.

What this is to say is we now live in a perfectly twisted world. Our social values have gone upside-down. Not as individuals, perhaps. But as societies we are perfectly willing to honour mass killers. As societies we frown upon all who dare question the Nobel Committee for bestowing its prizes on such murderers like Yassir Arafat or such nobodies like Al Gore or, Heavens forbid, Barack Hussein Obama.

What’s the world coming to?

Have a Merry Christmas, eh?

Prior to Sochi Olympics, Russia lashes out against terrorism

Nothing beats the principle of collective guilt.

Russian president Vladimir Putin says so, and – as a former high-ranking KGB officer – he should know whereof he speaketh, right?

Putin signed into law a bill that stipulates that whatever harm a terrorist causes, her or his family will have to pay for the damages.

Now, this is not a new legal principle, really, and many a regime uses it even today. Come to think of it, whenever an Israel-based Palestinian terrorist blows her- or himself up causing grief to others, this terrorist’s family loses their home. Of course, if they blow themselves up somewhere with no innocent victims or other people’s property around, just for the sheer fun of it, it’s their issue altogether. So long as someone cleans up the mess after them. And, of course, if the terrorist happens to have come from a territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority, her or his family receives a reward (while the terrorist enjoys the company of virgins in heaven). The reward, usually money, comes more often than not from funds provided by the European Union, but that’s another issue altogether.

In modern history, two regimes stand out as regular users of this kind of principle: communist and nazi rules thrived upon it.

Which doesn’t mean that today’s legal systems don’t use it, either. All kinds of laws all over the world punish criminals’ relations, from the closest to the extended, for the perpetrators’ deeds. The only difference between the communist and nazi principle and today’s use is simple. Then, relatives paid even if those considered guilty were still alive. Today, relatives only pay when the perpetrators have either extinguished themselves from the genetic pool of humanity, or somebody has done it for them. Simply put: when they are dead.

So, what’s so special about the new Russian law?

Everything.

Mother Russia has been fighting insurgents in the Northern Caucasus mountains for quite some time. All told, it’s been going on for centuries. The insurgents are mostly of Islamic persuasion, and they have had the gall to strike even within Russia proper from time to time. Several years ago, we witnessed a suicide attack at the Domodedovo airport near Moscow. A few weeks ago, a suicide attack in a bus in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad, originally Tsaritsyn) killed at least seven innocent passengers who had nothing to do with the terrorists’ claims that the Crimea had belonged to them first and the Russians forced them out.

There’s something to think about. History books tell us the battles for the area around Sochi have been the neuralgic point in the wars between Russia and the insurgents in Northern Caucasus at least since the 19th century. At least eight million original (Muslim) inhabitants of the region died during those wars, along with several hundred thousands of Tsarist Russia’s soldiers.

One name should have attracted your attention: Sochi. Yes, the site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. The area that leaders of the insurgents have announced in advance they planned to turn into living hell for everybody who dares be there during those couple of weeks this forthcoming February.

According to sources in Russia (and elsewhere), Putin’s government is sending crack units of the so-called Spetznaz forces into the region. These Russian army’s units seem to resemble American Navy Seals and Green Berets, the British SAS, and many other such outstanding groups, with one minor difference of major proportions. The Russians are much more ruthless than any of their counterparts. Their ruthlessness begins where the others’ ruthlessness culminated and stepped back in horror.

That would promise an all-out war. There goes the so-called Olympic Peace, so promoted by all kinds of Olympians.

The new law seems to have come to accompany the Spetznaz’s brute (and brutal) force.

The psychology is simple: most of the fighters have got used to the idea they might end up dying sooner rather than later. The suicide bombers’ psychology is based on this realization, after all.

But it’s the threat of the attack on terrorists’ relations that, Russian lawmakers seem to hope, will give the perpetrators serious pause.

Whether it will is another question.

Of course, the Russians (Soviets, at the time) know what they are doing.

Years ago, one of the then-warring militias in Lebanon abducted a Soviet engineer. Whether the guy was a real engineer or somebody else, under cover, doesn’t matter. The militia guys took him hostage.

At about that same time, a well-meaning, but otherwise perfectly stupid British priest, Jimmy Waite, came to Lebanon. He would bring peace to the war-torn country, he said. He was kidnapped shortly upon his arrival. The British tried to negotiate his release, having first to find out whom to talk to. The whole affair took years to get settled.

Not so in the case of the Soviet engineer. Within hours of his abduction, several heavily armed gentlemen called on the leader of the group that abducted the Soviet guy. Without preliminaries, they went to business: you shall release our guy within minutes, unharmed and clean. In return, we shall not destroy your family. To prove we mean business, here’s your mother’s ear. Whereupon they presented the militia leader with his mother’s ear, carefully cut off and wrapped in gift paper.

They took their engineer to safety with them right away.

There’s no reason to think the Russians have changed their ways.

The new law, as published on www.newsru.com, goes straight to the point: if authorities can’t lay their hands on the perpetrator, the family will pay. Besides, if the families aren’t able to prove (beyond any doubt, and who cares about reasonableness) that whatever they own comes from legitimate sources, it’s going to be confiscated forthwith, lock, stock, and barrel.

Whoever gets involved in any shape or form in terrorist training or helping terrorist groups or, Heavens forbid, being their member, will suffer, too. Whoever calls for extremist actions or joins armed groups, and that includes anywhere in the world, so long as Russia feels her interests are threatened, will face the wrath of the country’s new law.

Why that last threat? Russian secret services have admitted quite openly that there are about 300 to 400 Russian citizens actively involved in the civil war in Syria. Perfectly trained, they would pose a serious danger if they came back to Russia in time to show what they learned during the Olympics in Sochi.

Years ago, when Western governments recoiled in horror over atrocities committed by the Russians in Chechnya, Putin himself told them two things: first, the other side does exactly the same things. And secondly, and more importantly, we’re defending everybody, including you, from the “green-coloured danger of Islam.”

What do you think his excuse will be now?