Putin Has Weaponized Conspiracy Theories

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/25/opinion/putin-russia-conspiracy-theories.html

The Five Conspiracy Theories That Putin Has Weaponized
April 25, 2022, 1:00 a.m. ET
By Ilya Yablokov

Mr. Yablokov is a historian of Russian media and the author of “Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World.”

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is driven by conspiracy theories.

For two decades, journalists and officials, in concert with the Kremlin, have merrily spread disinformation. However far-fetched or fantastical — that the C.I.A. was plotting to oust Mr. Putin from power, for example — these tales served an obvious purpose: to bolster the regime and guarantee public support for its actions. Whatever the personal views of members of the political establishment, it seemed clear that the theories played no role in political calculations. They were stories designed to make sense of what the regime, for its own purposes, was doing.

Not anymore. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two months ago, the gap between conspiracy theory and state policy has closed to a vanishing point. Conspiratorial thinking has taken complete hold of the country, from top to bottom, and now seems to be the motivating force behind the Kremlin’s decisions. And Mr. Putin — who previously kept his distance from conspiracy theories, leaving their circulation to state media and second-rank politicians — is their chief promoter.

It is impossible to know what is inside Mr. Putin’s head, of course. But to judge from his bellicose and impassioned speeches before the invasion and since then, he may believe the conspiracy theories he repeats. Here are five of the most prevalent theories that the president has endorsed, with increasing fervor, over the past decade. Together, they tell a story of a regime disintegrating into a morass of misinformation, paranoia and mendacity, at a terrible cost to Ukraine and the rest of the world.

The West wants to carve up Russia’s territory

In 2007, at his annual national news conference, Mr. Putin was asked a strange question. What did he think about the former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright’s comment that Russia’s natural riches should be redistributed and controlled by America? Mr. Putin replied that such ideas were shared by “certain politicians” but he didn’t know about the remark.

That’s because it was entirely made up. Journalists at Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a state-owned newspaper, had invented the quote on the grounds that Russian intelligence was able to read Ms. Albright’s mind.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/25/opinion/putin-russia-conspiracy-theories.html

“Eye In The Sky”

Don’t think sorry’s easily said
Don’t try turning tables instead
You’ve taken lots of chances before
But I ain’t gonna give anymore
Don’t ask me
That’s how it goes
‘Cause part of me knows what you’re thinking

Don’t say words you’re gonna regret
Don’t let the fire rush to your head
I’ve heard the accusation before
And I ain’t gonna take any more
Believe me
The sun in your eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

Don’t leave false illusions behind
Don’t cry cause I ain’t changing my mind
So find another fool like before
Cause I ain’t gonna live anymore believing
Some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/alanparsonsproject/eyeinthesky.html

For Valerie

War, What Is It Good For?

The title emanates from the New York Times March 1 column written by Paul Krugman.

Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

Excerpts follow:

The Ukrainian miracle may not last. Vladimir Putin’s attempt to win a quick victory on the cheap, seizing major cities with relatively light forces, has faced major resistance, but the tanks and big guns are moving up. And despite the incredible heroism of Ukraine’s people, it’s still more likely than not that the Russian flag will eventually be planted amid the rubble of Kyiv and Kharkiv.

But even if that happens, the Russian Federation will be left weaker and poorer than it was before the invasion. Conquest doesn’t pay.

An aside: Isn’t it extraordinary and horrible to find ourselves in a situation where Hitler’s economic failures tell us useful things about future prospects? But that’s where we are. Thanks, Putin.

So conquest is a losing proposition. This has been true for at least a century and a half; it has been obvious to anyone willing to look at the facts for more than a century. Unfortunately, there are still madmen and fanatics who refuse to believe this — and some of them control nations and armies. (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/01/opinion/ukraine-russia-war-economy.html?action=click&block=associated_collection_recirc&impression_id=04586eb1-9d58-11ec-ac57-69346e60c294&index=1&pgtype=Article&region=footer)

I have read many Krugman columns over the past few decades and cannot recall Paul including music with any previous column. He used the following video after writing, “I’ve seen this group live; they were awesome.”

DakhaBrakha: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

NPR Music
6.63M subscribers
People always ask me, “What’s your favorite Tiny Desk Concert?” Well, right now it’s the one recently performed by DakhaBrakha. The creative quartet from Kiev, Ukraine make music that sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard, with strands of everything I’ve ever heard. There are rhythms that sound West African and drone that feels as if it could have emanated from India or Australia. At times, DakhaBrakha is simply a rock band whose crazy homeland harmonies are filled with joy. All the while, they play tight-knit tunes featuring accordion, drums, reeds and shakers while wearing tall, Marge Simpson-looking wool hats that made me jealous.

I want the world to see this Tiny Desk Concert more than any other right now. It’s refreshing to hear the power of acoustic music and the many worlds of sound still waiting to be explored. — BOB BOILEN

Set List
“Sho Z-Pod Duba” 0:00
“Torokh” 3:43
“Divka-Marusechka” 8:07

Credits
Producers: Bob Boilen, Maggie Starbard; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Morgan McCloy, Maggie Starbard, AJ Wilhelm; Assistant Producer: Annie Bartholomew; photo by Colin Marshall/NPR

The Temptations

Trump’s foul mood leads him deeper into darkness

Trump’s foul mood leads him deeper into darkness

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN

Updated 10:04 AM ET, Thu October 3, 2019

Washington (CNN)

President Donald Trump is hardly acting like a very stable genius.
Instead, his unleashed fury, fact-bending rants and persecution complex are conjuring an image of someone seeing his presidency slipping through his hands. While current political conditions seem unlikely to lead to his ouster from office, Trump appears increasingly powerless to save himself from the historical scar of impeachment.
He has crushed just about every norm since descending his golden escalator to launch his 2016 presidential campaign. Now he’s reinventing how presidents deal with an existential scandal. And it seems to be leading him deeper into the darkness.
Part of Trump’s frustration may stem from the unusual nature of his current plight. Since taking office, Trump has kept Washington hopping, with his adversaries never knowing what wild gyration will rock the capital next. But in the week since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally initiated impeachment hearings, the President has seemed out of sorts. It is the Democrats who are doing all the running, and Trump can’t catch up.
https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/03/politics/donald-trump-impeachment-inquiry/index.html

Slippin’ into Darkness

War

Produced by Chris Huston & Jerry Goldstein

Album: All Day Music

Slippin’ into Darkness

I was slippin’ into darkness
When they took my friend away
I was slippin’ into darkness
When they took, when they took my friend away

You know he loves to drink good whiskey
While Laughing at the moon

Slippin’ into darkness
Take my mind beyond the dreams
I was slippin’ into darkness
Take my mind beyond the dreams

Where I talk to my brother
Who never said their name

Slippin’ into darkness
All my trouble so I choose
I was slippin’ into darkness
All my trouble so I choose

I got a wife and a baby
Now my love hath gained its fame

Slippin’ into darkness
When I heard my mother say
I was slippin’ into darkness
When I heard my mother say
You’ve been slippin’ into darkness

Pretty soon you gonna pay

https://genius.com/War-slippin-into-darkness-lyrics

The Drumbeats of War are Growing Louder

‘The Military Has Seen the Writing on the Wall’

The United States is preparing for a war with North Korea that it hopes never to have to fight, says Senator Tammy Duckworth.

Uri Friedman Jan 28, 2018

When Senator Tammy Duckworth returned from a recent trip to South Korea and Japan, she brought back a sobering message: “Americans simply are not in touch with just how close we are to war on the Korean peninsula.” In a speech at Georgetown University, she laid out the U.S. military maneuvers over the past several months—including a nuclear-powered submarine heading to South Korea, the movement of three aircraft carriers to the Western Pacific, and the Army testing out “mobilization centers” for deploying troops and training soldiers to fight in tunnels like those beneath North Korea—that inform this worry. In an interview with me, she said the U.S. military seems to be operating with the attitude that a conflict “‘will probably happen, and we better be ready to go.’”

Duckworth, a retired lieutenant colonel who lost her legs during the Iraq War when insurgents downed her helicopter, took the trip along with Ruben Gallego, a Democratic congressman from Arizona and a fellow Iraq War veteran, earlier this month. The two met with top South Korean and Japanese diplomats and defense officials as well as commanders of U.S. forces in South Korea. Duckworth said that she found “all three of the major military actors—American, Korean, and Japanese—…more ready [for war] than they’ve ever been.”

The drums of war are not booming; there have been no major U.S. military movements or public-messaging campaigns by the Trump administration or new advisories to American civilians or companies, for instance. And Duckworth thinks there are ways the country should be more prepared—in particular that Congress should create a dedicated stream of funding for U.S. forces to rehearse and carry out evacuations of non-combatants in the event of a conflict.

But, as Duckworth sees it, the drumbeats are growing louder—even as the administration has stayed comparatively silent about what war would look like and whether the benefits would warrant the costs.

“We have some great plans should, as we say, ‘the balloon go up’ in Korea,” Gallego, a former Marine, told me. “I know what happens with plans when the first bullet goes flying. … What I fear is that someone like Donald Trump

will look at these great plans, look at our great military, which it is, look at their great capability, which we have, and not understand that these are not superhumans—that if we do something wrong, we will potentially kill hundreds of thousands of people, including some of our own troops, and potentially disrupt a good portion of the world’s economy for years to come.” And that’s considering only the early stages of battle and assuming the conflict doesn’t go nuclear.

“You’re basing policy and military action on hopes instead of on reality and sound reasoning,” Gallego said. “Does this sound familiar? For me it does, as somebody who ended up serving on the front lines of the Iraq War, where I was supposed to be greeted as a liberator. Instead I basically got shot at every day.”

Robert Neller, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, acknowledged the limitations of military plans during an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday. “If [a U.S. conflict with North Korea] were to go down, I’m not now so sure it’s going to go down the way we planned. It never does,” he said.

As the World War I historian Margaret MacMillan told me not long ago, “Once you get into a countdown situation, once people begin to think of war as likely, then it becomes that much more likely”—whether as a result of deliberate decisions, tragic miscalculation, or mere mistake.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/duckworth-trump-north-korea/551381/

Masters Of War

Written by: Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war

You that build all the guns

You that build the death planes

You that build the big bombs

You that hide behind walls

You that hide behind desks

I just want you to know

I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’

But build to destroy

You play with my world

Like it’s your little toy

You put a gun in my hand

And you hide from my eyes

And you turn and run farther

When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old

You lie and deceive

A world war can be won

You want me to believe

But I see through your eyes

And I see through your brain

Like I see through the water

That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers

For the others to fire

Then you set back and watch

When the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion

As young people’s blood

Flows out of their bodies

And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear

That can ever be hurled

Fear to bring children

Into the world

For threatening my baby

Unborn and unnamed

You ain’t worth the blood

That runs in your veins

How much do I know

To talk out of turn

You might say that I’m young

You might say I’m unlearned

But there’s one thing I know

Though I’m younger than you

Even Jesus would never

Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question

Is your money that good

Will it buy you forgiveness

Do you think that it could

I think you will find

When your death takes its toll

All the money you made

Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die

And your death’ll come soon

I will follow your casket

In the pale afternoon

And I’ll watch while you’re lowered

Down to your deathbed

And I’ll stand o’er your grave

’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

Copyright

© 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music