Sunday, June 30, 2019

What Would... Stanislavski Do?

Remember Konstantin Sergeevich Stanislavski? You know, the father of world-renown acting school (and method). 
You know his MOST famous phrase? Here it is: Не Верю, that is Don't Believe This, or, to be prudent--Not Convinced. That was a sentence to an actor facing a master. Well, here is the news (damn, I am still under the spell of ELO):
Clutching her face in despair and weeping, photos of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seemingly show her strong reaction to a horrific scene of US migrant detention. However, new angles reveal she may have played things up a bit.While quite a few people noted that there was something a bit off about the congresswoman's photo shoot at a border detention policy protest that went viral this week, there was nothing concrete to indicate her insincerity... until one gets a look at the massive empty road and parking lot on the other side.
Ahem, AOC needs to take few acting classes using Stanislavski's method, she needs to ask her brothers and sisters in BS and Social Justice Warriorism from Hollywood, I am sure they will arrange that for her. After all, it takes a lot of skills to hide one's stupidity and shallowness. So far, I, same as Stanislavski, would be--not convinced. She should act better. I leave it here, with by far more capable political commentator giving this whole affair a much better treatment. I want to stress, though, those are Movado she wears. I know, I have one myself. But in general, you literally cannot make this shit up--of that I am fully convinced.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


We returned home yesterday after 01:00, happy and inspired. I can say now that we saw a Legend of a man and the band. If Western Civilization is ever going to come back to human normality, the recovery should start from playing Jeff Lynne and ELO's music as a mandatory subject in schools as a lesson in humanity, taste and quality. It also has to be played as mental therapy. ELO played yesterday to a packed Tacoma Dome (Dhani Harrison and his band were opening act--really good). We were sitting to the right of the stage very close to it--lights, production, playing, I have no enough superlatives to describe this. It was loud, but what a loudness it was--clear, beautifully separated by frequencies of instrument and yes, Jeff still got it. We (a huge crowd, I mean) sang like crazy together with ELO and, boy, did they rock the Tacoma Dome sold out crowd.  One knows that one is going to see a Legend and rock highest royalty when you can see three generations, ranging from ages 70 to teenagers, going in the river of humanity towards the Dome. By the time Jeff, Dhani and ELO started playing Traveling Wilburys' Handle With Care--nobody was sitting at the packed venue. Here is some taste of ELO in Tacoma Dome--a Magic! And we were really happy to see so many youngsters who knew Who they were going to see and hear. People already upload videos from the concert. Ah yes, ELO still sells out places like Wembley. 

They are the orchestra of Electric Light and nobody comes even close.

P.S. Forgot. Technically it was Friday. 

Friday, June 28, 2019

Stephen Cohen Makes Mistake(s).

I do follow Stephen Cohen's thoughts on international relations in general, and Russian-American relations in particular, but while having respect for his courageous and honest position on the subject, it doesn't mean that I agree on everything with him. His latest piece in The Nation with the title Will US Elites Give Détente With Russia a Chance? is not exactly an exercise in precision forecasting. To start with the question in the title, the answer is extremely simple: Absolutely NOT. Detente between the United States and Russia is impossible in principle at this stage for a number of an extremely important reasons ranging from the America's loss of military-technological parity and overall decline, both relative to others and in absolute terms, of the main instrument of American foreign policy, her military, to a near catastrophic economic outlook for the United States. This major, in fact, defining military-technological factor of the American thinking eludes Stephen Cohen, as it does overwhelming majority of American political scientists. And then, of course, there is a growing recognition within Russia of her own role of an emerging power pole and the center of global influence. Finally, did anyone take a stock of US "elites" recently? The decline, even compared to 1980s, of intellectual level is astonishing. Isn't rather sorry present state of the United States a good indicator of those "elites" quality, or, rather, lack thereof? Remaining American common sense realists (and even this term requires serious elaborations) and patriots are literally removed to the fringes of political power and have very little say in a disastrous US foreign policy. Did Stephen Cohen ask himself lately when was the last time the US won any war?

Now we come to this ever important economic issue. Make no mistake, Russia's economic problems are by no means something to be sneezed at, not at all. But it also has to be understood that typical Western monetarist criteria (Cohen, being namely American scholar hardly operates far beyond those criteria) give an extremely distorted picture of Russian economy. Cohen makes an assertion:
Putin’s domestic problem, on the other hand, is economic and social. Russia’s annual growth rate is barely 2 percent, real wages are declining, popular protests against officialdom’s historically endemic corruption are on the rise, and Putin’s approval rating, while still high, is declining. A public dispute between two of Putin’s advisers has broken out over what to do. On the one side is Alexei Kudrin, the leading monetarist who has long warned against using billions of dollars in Russia’s “rainy day” funds to spur investment and economic growth. On the other is Sergei Glaziev, a kind of Keynesian, FDR New Dealer who has no less persistently urged investing these funds in new domestic infrastructure that would, he argues, result in rapid economic growth.    
It is a "loaded" statement, very recognizably affected by Moscow's rumor mill, but let's start with pointing out what is going on here:

1. This "growth" thing. Here is World Bank's assessment:
Real GDP growth in Russia surpassed expectations in 2018, reaching 2.3 percent, mostly due to oneoff effects of energy construction. Forecasted growth of 1.2 percent in 2019 and 1.8 percent in 2020 and 2021 reflects a more modest outlook.Russia’s macro-fiscal buffers remain strong, with fiscal surpluses across all tiers of government and low public-debt levels. When compared to advanced economies, Russia spends less on health and education. Rebalancing in favor of these categories could improve the overall efficiency of public spending. Short-term inflationary risks have abated, with the Bank of Russia signaling a return to a neutral policy rate. Lending activity is recovering, but the banking sector remains afflicted with high concentration and state dominance. Having eased slightly, the poverty rate remains in double digits with many households close to the poverty line and lacking formal employment. Informal employment is rising in the face of close-to-zero net job creation by medium-sized and large formal enterprises.
Did you catch it? Not enough lending for GDP growth, which is, in normal economies, is a sign of, well...look at the US and her corporate debt. 
So, Judging Russia using criteria which provide, mostly virtual, "growth" of Western economies, is akin to judging Russia's military power in Power Projection Forces, which Russia not only doesn't need but will have a fairly easy time defending (that is to say sinking) against them.  

Now, let's take a look at, indeed, the real growth which is defined by, and you have guessed it already, industrial and agricultural fields primarily--the fact denial of which is in the foundation of not only lousy, to put it mildly Western forecasts and "intelligence" on Russia, but also in the foundation of, say, American delusion about true size and capability of own economy. Here is a verified data (from Russia herself) on manufacturing following a dip in January 2019.

This is what really defines an actual state of economy and while still represented in monetary (Ruble) units one requires a serious review of overall industrial and agricultural development to have a real feel of economic trends. Yes, there are issues with stagnating wages, yes, there are also issues with poverty, but that is precisely a leftover from monetary policies which kept inflation in check while Russia remains under the unprecedented economic sanctions. And here Cohen makes a huge mistake, Russia's presidential elections were not about electing just President, they were about electing a Commander in Chief first and foremost. One has to keep in mind this crucial distinction.

2. Putin's ratings do not decline, in fact, they remain steady and high when the question of "do you approve of President's work" is asked.
Opinions of American pollsters are not welcomed--they are as fake as US main stream news organizations. In fact, as I stated not for once, most of information on Russia circulating today in the West, unless in is obtained and explained by serious intelligence-analytical organizations (and even then...), is basically a trash. Data provided by Russian media and statistical institutions, even by officially registered as "Foreign Agent" Levada Center (most of Russian "business" media should be also registered as such) proved to be much more reliable and truthful. In terms of identifying short and long trends, for sure. 

3. In this case I also don't get the significance of Cohen elaborating on supposedly "breaking out" of a TWO DECADE+ long discussion between Kurdrin and Glaziev. What's so significant about this massive public discussion in Russia, which is represented widely in media, between Western monetarists and Keynesian-leaning economists? While this discussion, which is not even a news, continues, Russian state returned under own control more than 70 percent of strategic industries and most resources. So, what's so significant about Kudrin saying something? Everybody in Russia knows what he is going to say, but instead of wasting time on his beaten to death arguments, one should really pay attention to how Russia ignored recent Davos forum and why SPIEF grows in global importance. I do understand frustration of "advanced" liberal Russian office plankton and hipster hamsters with Putin, after all they have huge opinion about their very mediocre abilities, but their "protestations" have little effect on a massive shift of Russia away form liberal policies. Russia has money today, it is just the decision on how to open this stream into economy without dis-balancing fairly well-established financial indices, is not made yet.    

So, what struggle Stephen Cohen talks about when states:
It seems unlikely that President Trump or any of the advisers currently around him understand this important struggle—and it is a struggle—unfolding in the Russian policy elite.
I don't know. This struggle, like this discussion, mentioned above, between Kudrin and Glaziev is unfolding now for what, 15 years, maybe 17? As events with Abyzov show, so called "liberal" pro-western "elite" in Russia begins to understand that the only person who separates them and the nooses on the lamp posts, or sharp pitchforks, is none other than Vladimir Putin and his team. In the end, somehow, Putin lately (few months, at least) comes across more and more as a person of a cool and even relaxed disposition who knows that what is needed to be done is being done. 

So, while Russia has some serious problems and there are some protests, I can vouch for this simple fact: MOST--I don't know, 70%, 80%--of population of Russia knows what their country faces today and what it is up against, and that is the main reason why Russia increasingly sought as an ally, no matter if her economy grows 2% (sure, Russia doesn't have Wall Street to fake economic data) or 3%, especially against the background of a tectonic change in global power balance, which Russia and China drive. And while Stephen Cohen's instincts and appeals are good and laudable, he exhibits the same trait characteristic of American Russian Studies field, he misinterprets Russia dramatically. I know, I am writing about this for years. I am almost forced to recall truism attributed to Metternich "Russia is never as strong as she seems, she is never as weak as she seems". Stephen Cohen is a wonderful man and a frequent guest of Russia--I think it is about time we all start operating with hard cold facts. As per summit--do not expect much from it, just another photo-op. United States is NOT treaty-worthy party anymore, especially her current POTUS, so let's drop any pretenses that anything will change between Russia and the United States. No Detente is in plans. Let's say thanks that they at least talk to each-other.   

Why It Matters Very Little.

I mean Putin and Trump's meeting in Osaka. Here is one such reason:
Moscow and Beijing have inked an intergovernmental agreement to switch to national currencies in bilateral trade and boost cross-currency settlements up to 50 percent as they ramp up efforts to move away from the US dollar.The document was signed by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and the head of the People’s Bank of China, Yi Gang, earlier in June, Izvestia reports.Moscow and Beijing are currently developing new mechanisms of cross-border payments between Russian and Chinese businesses, the newspaper said, citing a letter from Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak to Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the financial market committee of the State Duma (lower chamber of Russia’s parliament). The two sides may settle payment gateways between their domestic alternatives to the traditional SWIFT system, Russia’s System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS) and China’s Cross-Border Inter-Bank Payments System (CIPS).
In the same time it is a very good move to invite Trump to celebrate 75th Anniversary of Victory in Moscow, especially if Western Allied troops will take part in the Red Square Parade too. In 2010 it did happen and it was a wonderful exhibit and experience, this is not to mention that scores of Americans, British, Canadians etc.  now attend Immortal Regiment marches not only in home countries but visit Moscow, St. Pete (Leningrad at Victory Day) and other Russian cities. 
I am, however, upset with Putin (wink, wink)--how could he on the eve of my next book's release steal my thunder, LOL. This is so unfair. 
Globalization and the ‘liberal idea’ have failed Europe and the US, while post-Cold War chaos is driving crises in Venezuela and North Korea, but was stopped in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview to FT. In a lengthy interview with the UK-based Financial Times on Wednesday, Putin candidly addressed questions about the Russian intervention in Syria – and lack thereof in Venezuela – as well as nuclear proliferation, North Korea, immigration policies in the US and Europe, Russian economy, relations with the UK, and the failure of what he called the “liberal idea” to provide for the people’s well-being.While the Cold War was bad, Putin told FT’s Lionel Barber and Henry Foy, “there were at least some rules that all participants in international communication more or less adhered to or tried to follow. Now, it seems that there are no rules at all.”
Vladimir Vladimirovich, don't do this to me anymore, please;-))) On a serious note, though, what possibly was missed, is when Putin explicitly called Merkel's immigration policy "a cardinal mistake" (in Russian), in his interview to Financial Times. I wonder what is his opinion on American immigration debate? I have a very clear idea, quoting Putin himself, humanitarianism is fine, "but what about interests of own population, when refugees count is not in couple-three dozens people, but is in hundreds thousands of those who arrive to Western Europe?"(c) So, who is more European, then? Some "lefty" psychos will call this "meddling" in Europe's internal affairs. It is not, it is a sentence and diagnosis of a political crime being committed against indigenous population of Europe, and white European-root population of the United States. Again, recall Putin's monologue at Valdai in 2017. I think, in the long run, he and many people in Russia do understand that Russia may become a refuge for European keen. Today, we can only see some foggy shapes of the emerging new world order, if we all avoid a war, we may see in 10 years an unrecognizable international system. As per Putin-Trump meeting, do not take much of it too seriously. Trump decided to let go at least informed adviser on Russia, Fiona Hill. Rumors are, some close John Bolton's creature will take the post. Wonderful.  

Thursday, June 27, 2019

ROFAR, Yet Again.

As TASS reports, RTI Group (give it a time for web-site to download--RTI may have incredible competencies in radio-electronics, their web-designers suck, however) tested the Radio-Photonics radar (Radio Optic Phased Array Radar) of new generation and it detects and tracks targets. This was confirmed by RTI's CEO Maxim Kuzyuk in his interview to TASS at Army-2019 exhibition. 
Translation: the layout sample and software are working, we have a concrete result. We tested it, and radar already builds tracks (tracking) of flying aircraft. Next task is creation of the imitation-modelling stand and improvement of radar's hardware and software, including creation of integral photon chips.

About three years ago, famous, in certain teenage and fanboys circles, American "military expert", who was injured in Afghanistan while hanging out with US military there (that surely makes him an expert), and famous... comic creator, known as David Axe, "warned" not to "sweat" Russia's radar. Yes, he said so: Don’t Sweat Russia’s Stealth-Fighter-Detecting New Radar. Sunflower can detect, but it can’t target. 

Obviously, David Axe, while being "war correspondent"  failed to learn the basics of targeting, including multi-band radar and optronic data fusion and protocols and mathematical tools used to resolve uncertainties (Kalman Filter, anyone, networking?) and provide predictions, so, naturally, he, as usual, failed miserably while exhibiting his utter incompetence. But, David Axe is just one of many manifestations of those "correspondents", political "scientists" and "analysts" who continuously fail to retain any grasp on modern warfare which, in peer-to-peer framework, requires way more than drawing false parallels and symmetries from much simpler times trying to apply them to today's mind-boggling and paradigm-shifting Real Revolution in Military Affairs. Yes, my next book is precisely about it. Radio-Photonics is one such development out of many which, pardon me for pointing this out, condemned the whole American concept of the warfare to the dust bin of history. 

As I stated earlier, the process of "revelation" of new technologies and, with them, new operational concepts and force structure will continue but in less dramatic fashion than it was on March 1, 2018 during Vladimir Putin's address to Russia's Federal Assembly. This latest news about ROFAR are just another in the series of Russia demonstrating military technologies of the future. But most importantly--look at the photo of RTI's CEO Maxim Kuzyuk--he is young, 43 years old. Degree in applied Physics and Mathematics from legendary MFTI.

Did anyone notice a year or so ago Chief Designer of T-14 Armata tank and Armata platforms? Young, early 40s at best. As Putin himself pointed out--the group which developed SU-57--all youngsters, some in their late 20s--early 30s. They, not some specific technologies, are the future and real treasure. I am almost forced to quote Uncle Joe (Stalin): cadres decide everything(c). As per this beaten to death "Stealth"--in cultured companies who have at least some ideas about modern radar and optronic technologies, forget ROFAR, using this term soon will become the sign of a bad taste. I guess that explains why Turkey and India are not going to refuse their S-400s, as Pompeo learned it the hard (and rather humiliating) way in Delhi.
Well, Duh!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Excellent Points By Arctic Fox.

A superb summary by Arctic Fox, which I gladly put upfront as a guest column. 
Every nation is hostage to its history. USA more than most... US is a continent-sized country with traditionally strong isolationist bent... Deeply against what George Washington called "foreign entanglements" right up to the morning of December 7, 1941. And despite such previous history, by September 1945 US power straddled the globe. Along the way, something had happened to the collective US brain... Part of it the idea of "We just got attacked, fought a huge war and now we don't want to do THAT again." (Similar, certainly, to the Soviet mindset.) But a darker part, too... The idea of being a powerful nation that can confront & control events far away... Shape things -- energetically -- to US national interests.
In a characteristic US way, the realities of the singular 1945 moment transformed into long-term programs... FDR's New Deal, proto-nanny state went global... A Navy/Air Force in the Pacific became a fixture; Pacific Ocean became a US "western lake." And the army in Europe became a post-war "presence," which morphed into an anti-Soviet alliance/NATO. The power of bureaucratic, well-funded programs is such that when USSR went away, NATO remained and even expanded... incl travesties like the war on Serbia & other out-of-area ops to MENA.. Why wasn't NATO disbanded in about 1993? (Some of us asked that question; were told to sit down & shut up.)
Now, 74 yrs post-war, US is still rigged for that WW2 conflict... Not exactly "fighting the last war," but the DNA is similar... Global power projection... Idea of "full spectrum dominance" (hey, how's that working out?) yet generally, Intel is not nearly as good as we think... Requirements definition is poor... R&D is iffy & very political... Procurement is just plain warped. eg... Still building glorified versions of WW2 systems... Like aircraft carriers, just bigger & better (arguable; USS Ford speaks for itself). Still building fighter planes (and Hornets beat Hellcats). Still doing amphibious warfare, just w/ helos and not Higgins Boats. And operational/doctrinal thinking is... predictable; although "unimaginative" is perhaps a good way of saying it.
Program-dominance leads to what I mentioned in another note above... That US spends so much & builds/accomplishes so little. $800 billion defense/energy dept budget? I wouldn't brag about it... (Heck, a brand new Navy LCS just rammed a berthed freighter in Montreal the other day... disgraceful.) While other nations spend relatively less and accomplish far more... And approach fighting US on asymmetric terms.
And through it all... the US has this fundamental legal precept of the military being subordinate to civilian leadership... No mad/crazy generals running off free-lancing, eh? No more Dr Strangelove scenarios... Yet who are these mysterious civilian authority wizards?? Some guy/gal who rose through politics from a local base like Director of Snowplows, to the Senate Armed Services Committee? Or some other guy/gal who was a minor professor at a B-level women's college (Albright of Wellesley), or a draft-dodger from Yale (Clinton, Cheney, Bolton, others...)? You often discuss the utter lack of qualifications for most (nearly all) US high level policymakers to hold their jobs... Someone studied "International Relations?" Oh goody... It's like you watched every episode of Star Trek, and now you want to be an astronaut.
We've had this discussion before... Much of the root of the problem is based on an "endless" supply of dollars extruding out from the US monetary system. US politics -- entire culture -- acts as though there's no need to pay for things... US writes checks that others never cash. Never a need to prioritize things; to say "No"... And we now see it going full-three-ring-circus in US 2020 presidential race... Who can promise more "free $h!t" to the voters... Although the good news is that in some ways, it all seems to be coming to an end... Weaker dollar, rising gold price, etc... But it has seemed that way for a while.
It's not as if many Americans don't understand what's happening... It's more like the media & politics (heck, the whole deformed culture) have hijacked the levers of power. If you're on the outside of the cockpit door, you can't break it down to get in.


I seldom read Russia's so called "business" media having a very good idea who and how "reports" in them--I do have my own professional reasons to not take opinions of graduates of elite Moscow and St.Pete's humanities universities, working in those media, seriously on any geopolitical and military issue related to world at large in general and Russia in particular. The record of Kommersant, RBC, not to mention all other so called "pro-western" heavily liberal publications, of serving outright lies, recall Saponkov's affair or BS on carbon fiber by this very Kommersant, among many other, so called "cutting edge" (euphemism for Russophobia) media, is "impressive". Yet, even Kommersant couldn't stay silent on this: 
Не успевая следить за переменами в умонастроениях Дональда Трампа и силясь понять, встретится ли он в Осаке с Владимиром Путиным, все просмотрели главную сенсацию. На саммите G20 в Японии пройдет не планировавшаяся ранее встреча лидеров России, Китая и Индии. Ее инициатором стал индийский премьер Нарендра Моди, от которого такого предложения еще недавно ждали меньше всего.....   Однако перед саммитом G20 в Осаке выяснилось, что «треугольник» Евгения Примакова — не мертворожденный прожект. Просто по-настоящему востребованной эта идея становится только сегодня. Заявления о том, что взаимодействие Москвы, Дели и Пекина базируется на общности подходов к ключевым вопросам мировой политики, в современных реалиях перестают быть пустым звуком. При этом попытки президента Трампа вернуть мир в эпоху протекционизма и диктата из Вашингтона, одинаково неприемлемого для Москвы, Дели и Пекина, становятся еще одним аргументом в пользу их сближения. В итоге Россия, Индия и Китай осваивают большую Евразию на троих, и четвертый — Дональд Трамп — здесь лишний.
Translation: While failing to keep up with Donald Trump's mood changes and trying to figure out if he is going to meet Vladimir Putin in Osaka, everybody oversaw the main sensation. The summit of G-20 in Osaka will see not planned initially meeting of leaders of Russia, China and India. This meeting was initiated by India's Premier Narenda Modi, from who such an initiative was expected least of all... However, before summit of G-20 in Osaka it became clear that (late) Evgenii Primakov's "triangle" wasn't stillborn after all. It is just that this idea is becoming in demand only today. Statements about cooperation of Moscow, Delhi and Beijing being based on commonality of approaches to key issues of global politics in modern realities are stopping to be just empty declarations. In the same time, President Trump's attempts to return the world back into the era of protectionism and Washington's dictate, equally unacceptable for Moscow, Delhi and Beijing, are becoming yet another argument in favor of their rapprochement. As a result, Russia, India and China muster Eurasia for three of them, while the forth--Donald Trump--is redundant here.

Talk about "hitting reality" at a high speed by Kommersant. If they publish such materials, that certainly means that at least some soul-searching is going on. In the end, hey--they are "business" publication for people who like to make money. There is a lot (like really huge sums) of money to be made at India's and China's markets and Russia, sure as hell, has quite a few things to offer from hi-tech, to hydrocarbons and their derivatives, to agriculture. Ah, yes, forgot completely, we are talking about the market with population of more than 5.2 billion. That is around 70% of population of the planet. Well, if Kommersant begins to get it, can you imagine the scale of realignment in geopolitical, economic, cultural, in the end, philosophical, senses unfolding in a front of our eyes. It is unprecedented. It is also not accidental that "suddenly" this pathetic collection of European clowns, also known as Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe wants Russia back with full rights, she was denied after Crimea's return. My position on this issue was and remains consistent: Russia has NO business in this degenerate organization, she should abstain paying a single Ruble to it, and must demand public apology from them for lying about the tragedy of MH-17, which was shot down by Ukrainian banderistas. But, whatever. 

Europe in all that is just a business entity for Russia and European modern "culture" should be denied entrance to Russia. Europe can keep her sodomy, pederasty, gender "democracy" and green energy, among other similar perversions, to herself. If Europe, most likely country by country, ever cures herself--then there will be the subject for discussion between nominal Europe and Russia about what the real West is. As per United States, DJT continues to do a swell job in isolating the United States thus making sure that economic collapse may reach catastrophic proportions. But, hey, as long as he is winning, he will stay redundant.    

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

L.A.Times Openly And Offensively Colludes With Russia, LOL!

Now L.A. Times promotes Crimean tourism? In 2019? Who would have thought that Russian spies and trolls could be that effective. 
Mr. Jeff Opdyke, you need an urgent visit to Room 101 to face "justice" and reeducation. In the same time, come to think about it, the largest group of tourists at Russia's World Cup of 2018 was precisely from the United States. I don't think Room 101 has such capacity and productivity to "accommodate" such volume of attitude adjustments. Opdyke, however, gets it right:
I’m convinced that Yalta is the Santa Barbara (or maybe La Jolla) of Russia. From certain vantage points, it hints of the Hollywood Hills.Yalta, a compact city of almost 80,000, squeezes in between the Black Sea and a looming mountain range. Boutiques, clubs, restaurants and hotels line a wide, leafy boardwalk along the shoreline. Of course, a statue of Lenin stands sentinel, and a mural of a seafaring Vladimir Putin reminds you which country now owns the peninsula.Here, families and tourists stroll, relax, dine, shop, listen to crooning buskers and bands or pop down to the gravelly beach for a dip in Black Sea waters warmed by the summer sun.Pedestrian-only Pushkin Street presents its collection of coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants. Street artists hawk paintings that are generic at worst, good at best.
In general, ridding off debilitating Ukrainian "heritage" of corruption, decline and rot will still take some more time but it is clear that together with Black Sea coast of Caucasus (Sochi, Tuapse et al), stunning Crimea also is becoming (or rather--getting back where it was prior to 1991) Russia's wonderful tourist, resort and spa destination. I lived there, I know, not to mention the fact that the Black Sea Fleet and its ships and subs was my primary practice destination during my naval cadets 5 years. But, let's start our stop watch before complains (mostly from Ukrainian diaspora) are filed against L.A. Times and all might of American state apparatus comes down on their news paper. But speaking broadly--Crimea is an exhibit A of what happens when Russia prevents war. Looking today at a third world shithole that Ukraine is, under US and EU patronage (well, direct control, actually) one will be struck and astonished by a dramatic contrast between a dumpster which Ukraine is and an incredible revival of not just Crimea but Russian South in general, including Kuban and Don. 

Here is how Russia "destroys" "annexed" territories. All Ukrainian leading "experts" in bridge-building told that this cannot be done. Sure, in Ukraine it cannot. 

Pretty Clear And Without Double Meaning.

«В контексте прозвучавших со стороны наших партнеров оценок в отношении крупной региональной державы, которой является Иран, хотел бы отметить следующее: Иран был и остается нашим союзником и партнером, с которым мы последовательно развиваем отношения как в двустороннем плане, так и в многосторонних форматах. В этой связи любые попытки представить Тегеран в качестве главной угрозы региональной безопасности и тем более поставить его в один ряд с ИГИЛ* или другими террористическими группировками для нас неприемлемы».
Translation: In the context of assessments from our partners in relation to an important regional state, such as Iran, I would like to point out next: Iran was and remains our ally and partner, with which we steadily develop our relations in bi- and multilateral formats. In this case, any attempts to present Tehran as a main threat to regional stability and equate it with ISIS and other terrorist groups are unacceptable. 

This is Russia's Security Council Secretary (in realty, second most influential man in Russia after Putin) Nikolai Patrushev's statement today in Jerusalem at the meeting with Netanyahu and Bolton.  Recall what I wrote more than two years ago:
If to discount a highly improbable, yet still possible, version that this whole situation is a political theater to cover up something more substantial and logical happening behind the stage, a very serious military alliance between Russia and Iran may begin to emerge very soon. At this stage, it seems to be a very logical and sensible step. Russia and Iran (through Azerbaijan and Caspian Sea) are tightly connected both by geography and now by common security objectives. Russia will not allow any kind of hostilities, much less regime change in her Caspian underbelly. Iran knows it and she has to make her moves in economic field to accommodate Russia's efforts. Iran may start with buying Sukhoi Super Jets 100s and signing the contract for deliveries of MC-21 passenger jets after their trials are over by 2019. This will be a very good step, while Russia makes sure that Iran's armed forces are properly armed. 
I guess, Patrushev was more than explicit today in Israel. It is yet another "win" for Trump's Administration and those "wins" and "victories" continue to pile up. It seems that Iran's path to SCO is pretty much predetermined now. Iran already had experience of hosting Russia's VKS and it is well-known fact--where Russian "little green men" or "little green S-400s" or "little green SU-35s" appear, wars tend to wind down or not start at all. Interesting to hear what Iranians are thinking about it. I guess, Putin will have some things to tell DJT at Osaka this week, and no, I don't mean assurances that Russia did not interfere with Israe... pardon me, US elections.  Boy, these events are picking up the pace. Amazing.    

A Deafening Stupidity.

So, John Bolton concludes today that:
Alrighty then! Iran doesn't want to talk. And why should she? Make no mistake, I am no fan of Ayatollah's rule in Iran nor am I an automatic Iran's supporter merely on the merit that Iran is in direct and stiff opposition to a bunch of Israeli stooges in Trump's Administration. Iran has her own issues and, in general, there is nothing black and white about that nation. Current United States, however, can easily be defined in a very contrast black and white manner: there are people who serve Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Gulfies, and there are people who do not. The former, not the latter, are in power and because of that there is no point of talking to them. These are precisely people who helped to form a correct, I might add, global opinion that the United States is not agreement-capable side, so, why waste time? Especially negotiating anything with such lunatics as Bolton, Pompeo or, in the end, Trump himself. 

As Phil Giraldi astutely observes today:
No one in the White House has ever made the effort to explain exactly how Iran threatens the United States, apart from repeated offhand comments about having to protect Israel or “send a message.” Urged on by Israel and Saudi Arabia, the United States has been playing the unwitting fool in its willingness to take the lead in denying Iran any legitimate role in the Middle East region. After pulling out of the JCPOA, the U.S. re-instituted punitive sanctions and then punished other countries for dealing with Iran or abiding by the JCPOA agreement. The Administration, including the president, boasted how the severe sanctions would cause the Iranian economy to collapse. Trump has also several times threatened to completely destroy Iran. As the punishment being meted out has increased, the Administration has also heated up its own rhetoric, claiming that it was Iran and not the U.S. that had become more aggressive and threatening.
Indeed, who, in this current administration, can make a case for a different course with Iran? Tucker Carlson and Dunford, who allegedly were the ones who convinced Trump not to attack Iran after the drone shooting down? Possible, of course, without all this BS drama about halting strikes in the last minute--a pathetic spectacle for the consumption of unsophisticated public. But, let's face the facts. Trump admired Bolton BEFORE even running for office, he wanted to exit JCPOA because it was Obama's "deal" and because Trump cannot not despise Iran, having assembled the Administration, which has loyalties to anyone and anything but the United States and her people. In the end, I am with Larison's definition of Trump as militarist. Indeed, if getting his second term, Trump will attack Iran, not only because he is surrounded by the cabal of hand-picked war-mongers and Israeli-firsters, but because he himself wants this. I would say that he wants it badly--he needs to realize himself as a big global shot--a first trait of a pathological narcissist, which Trump, by universal consensus is. Warfare is the shortest way to get there: win the war and voila'--the laurels of Caesar are at hand. There is, of course, one teeny-weeny problem with that--Iran is ready to fight back. 

Obviously purely military (technological, tactical and operational) realities of this possible war are beyond the grasp of Trump, Bolton, Pompeo or any other war-monger in D.C. But, if to follow a chilling revelation from Larry Wilkerson that Bolton and Pompeo, two utterly unqualified people, view and DO treat Pentagon as their own fiefdom, there is very little doubt that eventually any voice of reason, professionalism and caution will be suppressed there. The preparation for the war with Iran will continue. Iran knows this, hence the "deafening silence". Plus, people tend to not talk to cads and louts such as Bolton or Pompeo (or Trump) out of respect for themselves. Iran respects herself and, as Wilkerson correctly points out, it is normal for civilization with millennia long history and glorious antiquity such as Persia. A bit of respect would have gone a long way but this is a trait completely absent from current US policy and decision makers. A thin veneer of "culture" of these people is no thicker than the papers which their degrees in useless subjects are printed on.

So, neither Trump nor Bolton, nor anyone else in D.C., should expect anything but deafening silence in response. Meanwhile, NATO (ahem, puppets) produces this:
Apart from obvious and traditional lies of placing responsibility for the death of INF treaty on Russia--it was United States which unilaterally quit this, and other, treaties--Russian Foreign Ministry yesterday warned that if NATO wants another Caribbean Crisis it will get it. Russians are also aware of US inevitably abrogating START, because nuclear weapons are the only weapons the United States has at her disposal to remain relevant. Meanwhile, Russia simply doesn't look back and news on S-500 going into IOC and serial production should give some food for thought to those who still believe that they can fight Russia and survive. There are very few known facts about S-500 apart from well-publicized events such as S-500 hitting aerodynamic targets at unprecedented ranges of 300 miles and the ability to intercept hypersonic targets. RT, though, makes mistake when writes this:
The system is expected to engage intermediate-range cruise and ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles with speeds of up to Mach 5 and intercontinental ballistic missiles during terminal phase. With new interceptors reportedly capable of reaching low earth orbit, the system may double as an anti-satellite weapon and could intercept ICBMs mid-course, according to some reports.
S-500 can not intercept " hypersonic missiles with speeds of up to Mach 5" for a simple reason that anything "up to Mach 5" is NOT hypersonic by definition. Any targets with up to Mach 5 are standard and not hardest targets for S-300PMU2 or S-400. S-500 from the onset was developed as anti-hypersonic complex and that means that it can intercept hypersonic maneuvering targets (not to me mistaken with ballistics which are "hypersonic" by definition), that is greater than Mach 5 velocity, within atmosphere and from the inception was designed as the response to the American efforts within the framework of Prompt Global Strike (PGS) program. I do not want to speculate what is the upper velocity limit for S-500, but judging by the envelope PGS vehicles were trying to push it was around Mach 8-10, if one considers failed and abandoned Mach 20 tests for HTV vehicles. So, make your own conclusion what targets will S-500 intercept. One thing is certain--S-500 is a new word in air-space defense and that changes even further a balance of power globally, not to mention at Russia's borders with NATO, which, somehow, despite "I cross my heart and hope to die" promises to Russia not to expand to Russia's borders did exactly that. Nobody speaks seriously to people who have no honor. Especially when their backs are against the wall and they know they are losing big, if not already. 

UPDATE: Ohh, goody. 
President Donald Trump threatened Tuesday to use "overwhelming force" against Iran if it attacks U.S. assets or personnel. "Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration," Trump wrote on Twitter.
Will somebody explain to DJT that between bellicose proclamations and actually following through with them there is an abyss. Of course, there are also serious groups of behavioral psychologists who consult serious governments, evidently not US government, and who can easily lay it out that all this hot air Trump produces is a direct, unequivocal proof of a weakness. Unless, of course, DJT wants to use nuclear weapons on Iran, as his Israeli handler Sheldon Adelson suggested before. Yes, nuking Iran is the use of "great and overwhelming force", it will be the same force which will turn US into a rogue state sponsor of nuclear terrorism and will ensure that Israel will face an existential crisis. Other than that, I think militarily Iran is ready to face anything US is going to throw at her.  

Monday, June 24, 2019

That Was Your Choice, Donald.

Nobody twisted your hands trying to impose such a loser as Bolton on you. You did it yourself, so live with the consequences. 
Donald Trump has confirmed that his top foreign policy adviser wants to embroil the US in multiple international conflicts. But the US president insists he retains final say on whether American missiles are to fly into Iran.In a sit-down Meet the Press interview broadcast Sunday, host Chuck Todd asked Trump if he was “being pushed into military action against Iran” by his advisers – presumably pointing to the aggressive pronouncements from National Security Advisor John Bolton.“I have two groups of people. I have doves and I have hawks,” replied Trump. “John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he'd take on the whole world at one time, okay?”
One little detail: Bolton is not a hawk, he is a chicken hawk, or, to be even more accurate--a chicken whose only skill is to manipulate not very bright people (ahem) at the behest of Israel, he lacks in everything else. Evidently, these "qualities", or, rather, lack thereof, are precisely what is valued in Trump's administration. But then again--to get Trump's logic, or, yet again, rather lack thereof, is an undertaking for not fainthearted. How this makes any sense, judge for yourself:
Trump went on to defend his record of preserving peace – including speaking out against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the decision to call off a strike against Iran in response to a drone downing this week, because it would not have been “proportionate” and would have resulted in “150 dead people.” This was the second time in 24 hours that Trump was forced to back Bolton, after saying on Saturday that the official is “doing a very good job” but adding that he “disagrees very much” with him on the Middle East.
I would be really pissed off if my gastroenterologist, while performing endoscopy on me, cut my balls off. I sure as hell wouldn't call this "doing a very good job". But this is what Trump, in effect, is saying. I, of course, have news for Don--Bolton cannot do "a very good job" in the field of national security since he is utterly corrupt and unqualified for this position. Here is Colonel Douglas Macgregor being pretty blunt about this whole snafu. 

Everyone, but Trump, understand that he surrounded himself with a cabal of chicken-hawks and military nobodies and he takes advice from them. Boy, try finding a better definition of shooting oneself in the foot. So, in the end, no amount of rationalization will help--Trump did it to himself and now he looks like a hot air balloon, who does the bidding of people who are radically against America's REAL national interests and work for different governments. Good job, Donny! Wonder why no one who matters takes you seriously? As Vladimir Putin, yet, again stressed--US has "to ripen for dialogue with Russia" (in Russia). Translating into normal human language from diplomatic one: there is nobody to talk to in the US. 

UPDATE: Col. Wilkerson adds to the argument I advance here. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

It Is Not Friday, But Still...

Waiting to meet music legends. My daughter, who is involved big time in the rock music business (her fiance is a life long tour-manager of one of the four big metal giants, care to guess, who? Wink-wink), including being PR honcho for Shania Twain's last world tour. She got us (well, privileged, let's put it this way) tickets to see Jeff Lynne's ELO next Friday. I cannot wait to get to this magic. Yet, she can get us to Queen's concert but I don't want to--no, make no mistake, I love Brian and Roger, I miss John badly and Adam Lambert, who has an amazing voice, can still do the JOB. But there is no real replacement for Freddy, until, until...and that is what I cannot accept. We had all a chance to take a drug and relieve the pain and experience a reincarnation but....denied, because this guy is not, let's put it this way, flamboyant enough? Why, this didn't happen when it mast have? I know John Deacon wanted him, Roger Taylor plays with him on tours, and yet--he had doors to Queen closed for him?!!! Enter Mark Martel, 8 years ago when he stunned the world:

Did Freddy have a fling in Canada (yes, he was actually Bisexual) and had a son? Celine breaks down when she understands what she witnesses, we all got it. Yes, I also got very emotional.

We were given a truly a second chance--to experience a miracle and we are still denied this:

So, why should we go to see Queen without Marc through who Freddy sings today...........

Friday, June 21, 2019

What I Really Wanted To Talk About Today...

Until I understood that I have to provide my blurb on this whole Drone shooting affair, even though I am in the same position as most of readers of this blog--I read news. I also prefer the situation to play out because I am not in the business of predictions of events, I forecast frameworks. That is different than trying to score some points while getting lucky in predicting next market crush or nominations for Oscars. Speaking of which, a notable piece from prominent Indian diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar, whose thoughts are always interesting and incisive and not on India's affairs only. In his one of the latest he writes about US-India discord and notes:
Major historical shifts are taking place in the global power balance and the Western domination of the international system is drawing to a close. Countries such as China and India are steadily reviving, shaking off the stagnation of the colonial era. This is prompting an overall rethink in the US’ attitudes. What is unfolding has parallels in modern history. (See the essay titled A Manufacturing War Between the UK and Germany in the 19th Century Set the Stage For Today’s Trade Crisis.) Thus, in the case of China, more hardline approaches are already quite visible. We should note carefully the controversial remark made recently by Kiron Skinner, the director of policy planning at the US State Department (and a Harvard-educated foreign affairs specialist), that Pompeo’s team is developing a strategy for China based on the idea of “a fight with a really different civilisation” for the first time in American history. “This is a fight with a really different civilisation and a different ideology and the United States hasn’t had that before. The Soviet Union and that competition, in a way it was a fight within the Western family,” Skinner said, noting Karl Marx’s indebtedness to Western political ideas. “It’s the first time that we will have a great power competitor that is not Caucasian,” he said.
I wrote on this not for once. There is an anecdotal evidence of at least part of American elite  exercising views such as highlighted in yellow during Cold War 1.0. At one of the diplomatic receptions during Detente of 1970s one of the American generals, after having few bourbons with cigar was overheard stating that Russians, of course, are sons of bitches, but they are our sons bitches--like us, they like good suits and good whiskey. Chinese, in general's opinion, were different--that is "not our" SOBs. I am in no position to vow for the veracity of this event BUT such point of view definitely existed in the West. In the end, late Oriana Fallaci, in the wake of 9/11 wrote about both WWI and WWII being European Civil Wars. She had a point. But today things are different. 

There is no ambivalence or ambiguity when I state (as did, btw, Edik Limonov) that Russia is a Western country, despite being a Eurasian Empire, Russia IS, it is the combined West which stopped being West. Russia today, despite all her by far not simple problems, as was culturally evident in Soviet times, has more classic Western traits from rationality of thought, to, education, to pardon me, class, than most allegedly Western countries, especially in Western Europe have today. So, in this sense Russia is a Western culture, with a twist, of course. Well, in the end, Russian achievements from science, art, culture to industry are always counted for Western Civilization. But what's left of that Western Civilization today? But even larger question arises: if Mr. Skinner of State Department thinks that US State Department got the Soviet Union right in the first run--I don't think he and his policy "planning" will do much better in case with China. Considering WHO and WHAT was used as the foundation of the anti-Soviet policies on US side during Cold War 1.0 one has to be really clear that what killed the USSR had very little to do with US "policies" but primarily with internal dynamics of the Russia/Soviet Empire whose development and national policies bore the seeds of its own destruction. After all, Esteemed Ambassador Jack Matlock, late George F Kennan and even David Glantz and Jonathan House would agree with me. Especially, as Glantz and House correctly stated that USSR "became the hostage of its own success" after WW II. 

US got lucky first time around and that luck, as I also write in my book, was largely rooted in Soviets own misconceptions about the United States and its intentions. In general, declaring the "victory" in the Cold War was akin to attributing the death of the opponent to getting him a cold while he was dying from the self-inflicted wound of the stomach from a 12-gauge Mossberg. Now, we all know today all those "sources" and tools used by the West during the Cold War--from dissidents such as Solzhenitsyn who, literally, solzhenitsified Russia's history to a class of Soviet Zapadniki who developed a naive and cooperative idea about the West. In other words, even in highly restricted for information exchange days of the Soviet Union, the West had a rather caricature impression about USSR--a fact perfectly illustrated with West's inability to see things right when Russia today has more freedoms than most of the nations in Western Europe and political discussion in Russia makes Western "democracies" look like an Orwell's vision come alive. Now, one wants to convince me that US State Department which became a euphemism for incompetence is capable to develop anything sensible about such massive, ancient and complex culture as China? Really? Do they even have cadres for that? 

No doubt, there are many Chinese who are as pro-Western as are marginal narrow strata of Russia's so called liberal fanatics, but the problem today for the United States is in the fact that it can not sustain anymore the image of shining first world democratic paradise--US is long ago not that, thus it lost greatly in attractiveness. Good ol' material symbols of the West--skyscrapers, highways, shopping malls and fast food, among few others, are widely available in China, and in Russia. Moscow with her skyline can give a run for their money to any American, let alone European city, while having cultural treasures no US city simply has. Same goes for Shanghai which looks 22nd Century. China's economy is simply larger (most likely much larger) than American one. So, will US promote "democracy" among Chinese? Good luck doing that, plus, Russians will share their knowledge of Western-style "democracy" whose modern values today are revolving primarily around sexual perversion, political correctness and economic model which is unsustainable. Oh boy, so much to strive for those Chinese. But let's put it in a plain simple language--it is much harder to BS today than it was in the times of Cold War 1.0.  Behold, both Chinese and Russians today have the ability to see in person or on Youtube what Skid Row is, or what a joy it is to live in the hood while attending Pride Parades. I am sure policies based on that (and that is what, in the end, it all comes down to) will win the day. I kid, I kid. Considering last 25+ years of catastrophic triumphs of American geopolitical thought and diplomatic activity around the globe, I would say that Chinese should concentrate on what they do, while observing how, yet another, shallow and useless "policy" will come out of the deep recesses of the American doctrine and policy-mongering machine. Russians can tell a lot about effectiveness of those.   

I Didn't Want To, But I Might As Well.

Yes (sigh), Iran shooting US drone. I hate commenting on these things. Pure and simple: US wanted the response to her probing "action". Iran delivered the response. US has nothing to follow on with, honestly. What are the US options here? To launch a volley of Tomahawks and JASSMs at Iran, specifically at Bushehr, Tehran, what have you? So, some JASSMs will leak through, blow some buildings, damage some military installations, kill some Iranian military, possibly civilians? Then WHAT? I heard (do not even want to browse internet for that) the figure of 2000 sorties a day floating around supposedly required for "punishing" Iran, that is allegedly bombing her into the stone age. Good luck with that, considering the fact that Iranian Air Defense is not third-rate, at least. And then, of course, the air war against Iran will fast move into the territory the United States doesn't want it to go--attacks on US, Saudi and Israeli targets in the Middle East. Iran, unlike Iraq, has means to respond. 

Now, Pompeo's recent visit to CENTCOM in Florida was primarily to twist hands of US military which is very reluctant to get into the actual shooting war with Iran--after all, they are military professionals and they know how to calculate and what to expect. Trump doesn't want that war? Probably he doesn't, but being an utter amateur in military-political field he cornered himself by:

1. Assembling his so called national (in)security team consisting mostly of ignorant chicken-hawks and Israeli-firsters;
2. By constantly bloviating about how great personally he, Trump, and America are, capable of...exactly what?  

So, now media report that Trump pulled away from the precipice of the war on Iran in the last minute. Sure, in Trump's world it stands for statecraft. In the rest of the world it means an empty threat-mongering and chest-thumping ending, now predictably, with a whimper. Truth is, the United States doesn't have resources to attain any sensible political objective with Iran. US military knows it, again--they, unlike it is the case with Trump, Bolton or Haspel, were taught operational planning of scale. As with Venezuela, it all fast degenerated into the media circus yet again, while in the process making Trump and his Admin look like a bunch of amateurs. Oh, wait...

In the good news, if to believe "lefty" media sewer such as Daily Beast, it is now Tucker Carlson who advises Trump and Carlson's position is clear--he is in open opposition to Bolton-Pompeo gang and is decidedly anti-war figure. If true--good! I think Tucker is on several orders of magnitude more qualified to be National Security Adviser than this dangerous loser Bolton. Hey, Donald, do you hear me? Remove Bolton and offer his job to Tucker. In fact, I am sure Tucker will be good as the Secretary of the State too--way better than the grey mass of the so called American "diplomats", who are primarily Hillary's leftover bureaucrats who are incompetent. So, here it is. I hate, no really, I hate commenting on some launch sequence and firing solution in whatever Iran used (locally updated ancient Hawk missile complex?) to shoot down slow and radio-contrast target. The game is much larger than that and if Trump really wants to get his second term--he better learn how to govern really, not for the consumption of the mass media. And he better stay away from ANY military provocation against anyone. OK, done, over, let's move on.    

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Dramatic And, Sadly, Expected Data.

Here are the news which we all may have done without. 
U.S. suicide rates are at their highest since World War II, according to federal data—and the opioid crisis, widespread social media use and high rates of stress may be among the myriad contributing factors. In 2017, 14 out of every 100,000 Americans died by suicide, according to a new analysis released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. That’s a 33% increase since 1999, and the highest age-adjusted suicide rate recorded in the U.S. since 1942. (Rates were even higher during the Great Depression, hitting a century peak of 21.9 in 1932.) “I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits all reason” since there’s almost never a single cause of suicide, says Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit that supports suicide prevention research, education and policy. “I don’t think there’s something you can pinpoint, but I do think a period of increased stress and a lack of a sense of security may be contributing.” It’s even more difficult to assign causes to the uptick, Harkavy-Friedman says, because it’s happening across diverse demographic groups. Men have historically died by suicide more frequently than women, and that’s still true: As of 2017, the male suicide rate was more than three times higher than the female rate. But female suicide rates are rising more quickly—by 53% since 1999, compared to 26% for men—and the gap is narrowing. For both genders, suicide rates are highest among American Indians and Alaska natives, compared to other ethnicities, and when the data are broken down by age group, the most suicide deaths are reported among people ages 45 to 64—but nearly every ethnic and age group saw an increase of some size from 1999 to 2017.
The secret? How about I go out on a limb here and name three main causes:

1. Alienation due to lack of meaningful future, hence drugs, among other things;
2. Radical atomization;
3. Mental decline due to social media and degenerate art and culture. 

Here is interesting fact: in Russian, mentally unstable people (and suicide often, not always, is a result of such instability) are still called, even in medical practice as Душевнобольной (Ill with soul, or sick soul), which, I think, is a good description. No amount of material possessions can make one happy unless one's life is filled with purpose and love. Some, revert to religion--this seldom helps, others--they do develop deep faith (I hope you understand why I separate these two: religion and faith). Some have faith in God, whatever God is for them, others have faith in inherent good, beauty and order which must prevail universally, others have faith in dream--but it is always a faith. Even militant atheists have faith, however misguided it is sometimes. Life has to be filled with meaning, without it--no amount of material valuables will suffice. 

Looking at the modern West in general and US in particular  today, one cannot fail to notice this increasing stench of nihilism and depravity which permeates the atmosphere--from mass media to human relations. Moreover, the future for many (in their view) doesn't look bright at all--it is one of signs of a serious crisis in the society. People lose desire to live, they don't see the value in living--their souls die before physical death occurs. How to deal with that? Well, a very serious question. I'll give you a hint, for the sake of discussion--there is a reason that American 1950s seem so appealing today for many youth. It is not just escapism. Idealization, same as it is with Soviet 1960s and 1970s in Russia, has a deep meaning--there still was a great deal of civility then and that mattered a great deal. As Meatloaf sang prophetically: Future Ain't What It Used To Be. One MUST have future to look for in life, otherwise it becomes life not worth living. Your opinions?