1

“The War Has Just Begun”

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The Winter of Yuri

 

“You should know, by and large, we haven’t even started anything yet in earnest.”


I have been attempting for several days to collect my thoughts on the Russo-Ukrainian War and condense them into another analysis piece, but my efforts were consistently frustrated by the war’s stubborn refusal to sit still. After a slow, attritional grind for much of the summer, events have begun to accelerate, calling to mind a famous quip from Vladimir Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

This has been one of those weeks. It began with the commencement of referenda in four former Ukrainian oblasts to determine whether or not to join the Russian Federation, accompanied by Putin’s announcement that reservists would be called up to augment the force deployment in Ukraine. Further excitement bubbled up from the Baltic seabed with the mysterious destruction of the Nordstream pipelines. Nuclear rumors circulate, and all the while the war on the ground continues.

In all, it is clear that we are currently in the transitional period towards a new phase of the war, with higher Russian force deployment, expanded rules of engagement, and greater intensity looming. Season 2 of the Special Military Operation looms, and with it the Winter of Yuri:

Let’s try to process all the developments of the past few weeks and get a handle on the trajectory in Ukraine.

Annexation

The keystone event at the heart of recent escalation was the announcement of referenda in four regions (Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhia, and Kherson) to determine the question of entry into the Russian Federation. The implication of course was that if the referenda succeeded (a question that was never in doubt), these regions would be annexed to Russia. While there were some rumors circulating that Russia would delay the annexation, this was never really plausible. To allow these regions to vote in favor of joining Russia only to leave them out in the cold would be monumentally unpopular and raise serious doubts about Russia’s commitment to its people in Ukraine.

Formal annexation is a certainty, if not on September 30th as rumored, then within the next week.

All of this is rather predictable, and completes the first layer of annexations which I noted in previous analysis. The reasoning is not particularly complex: clearing the Donbas and securing Crimea were the absolute minimum Russian objectives for the war, and securing Crimea requires both a land bridge with road and rail connections (Zaporizhia oblast) and controlling Crimea’s water sources (Kherson). These minimum objectives have now been formally designated, though of course Ukraine maintains some military activity on these territories and will have to be dislodged.

The Big Serge Annexation Map: Phase 1 Complete


I think, however, that people lost focus as to what the referenda and the ensuing annexation means. Western talking points focused on the illegitimacy of the votes and the illegality of any annexation, but this is really not very interesting or important. The legitimacy of annexation is derived from whether or not Russian administration can succeed in these regions. Legitimacy, as such, is merely a question of efficacy of state power. Can the state protect, extract, and adjudicate?

In any case, what is far more interesting than the technicalities of the referenda is what the decision to annex these regions says about Russian intentions. Once these regions become formally annexed, they will be viewed by the Russian state as sovereign Russian territory, subject to protection with the full range of Russian capabilities, including (in the most dire and unlikely scenario) nuclear weapons. When Medvedev pointed this out, it was bizarrely spun as a “nuclear threat”, but what he was actually trying to communicate is that these four oblasts will become part of Russia’s minimum definition of state integrity - non-negotiables, in other words.

I think the best way to formulate it is as such:

Annexation confers a formal designation that a territory has been deemed existentially important to the Russian state, and will be contested as if the integrity of the nation and state is at risk.

Those fixating on the “legality” of the referenda (as if such a thing exists) and Medvedev’s supposed nuclear blackmail are missing this point. Russia is telling us where it currently draws the line for its absolute minimum peace conditions. It’s not walking away without at least these four oblasts, and it considers the full range of state capabilities to be in play to achieve that goal.

Force Generation

 

The move to hold referenda and eventually annex the southeastern rim was accompanied with Putin’s long-awaited announcement of a “partial mobilization”. Ostensibly, the initial order calls up just 300,000 men with previous military experience, but the door is left upon for further surges at the discretion of the president’s office. Implicitly, Putin can now ramp up the mobilization as he sees fit without needing to make further announcements or sign more paperwork. This is similar to American Lend-Lease or the “Authorization for Use of Military Force” in America, where the door is opened once and the President is then free to move at will without even informing the public.

It was increasingly clear that Russia needed to raise its force deployment. Ukraine’s successful drive to the Oskil River was made possible by Russian economy of force. The Russian army had completely hollowed out Kharkiv Oblast, leaving only a thin screening force of national guardsmen and LNR militia. In places where the Russian Army has chosen to deploy sizeable regular formations, the results have been disastrous for Ukraine - the infamous Kherson Counteroffensive turned into a shooting gallery for Russian artillery, with the Ukrainian Army haplessly funneling men into a hopeless bridgehead at Andriivka.


A Shooting Gallery


So far in this war, Ukraine has achieved two big successes retaking territory: first in the spring, around Kiev, and now the late summer recapture of Kharkov Oblast. In both cases, the Russians had preemptively hollowed out the sector. We have yet to see a successful Ukrainian offensive against the Russian Army in a defensive posture. The obvious solution, therefore, is to raise the force deployment so that it is no longer necessary to hollow out sections of the front.

The initial surge of 300,000 men is being a bit muddled. Not all of the men being called up will be sent to Ukraine. Many will remain in Russia on garrison duty so that existing ready formations can be rotated to Ukraine. Therefore, it is likely that we will see more Russian units arriving in theater much sooner than expected. Additionally, many of the units originally committed to Ukraine have been off the front for refitting and resting. The scale and pace of Russia’s new force generation is likely to shock people. On the whole, the timing of Russia’s manpower surge coincides with the depletion of Ukrainian capabilities.

Ukraine spent the summer sending its 2nd tier conscripts to the front in the Donbas as it lovingly collected NATO-donated weapons and trained units in the rear. With generous NATO help, Ukraine was able to accumulate forces for two full scale offensives - one in Kherson (which failed spectacularly) and one in Kharkov (which succeeded in pushing past the Russian screening force and reaching the Oskil). Much of that carefully accumulated fighting power is now gone or degraded. Rumors circulated of a third offensive towards Melitipol, but Ukraine does not seem to have the combat power to achieve this, and strong Russian forces are in the region behind prepared defensive lines.

On the whole, therefore, Ukraine’s window for offensive operations has closed, and what remains is closing quickly. The last zone of intense Ukrainian operations is around Lyman, where aggressive Ukrainian attacks have so far failed to either storm or encircle the town. It is still possible that they take Lyman and consolidate control of Kupyansk, but this would likely represent the culmination of Ukrainian offensive capability. For now, the area around Lyman is a killing zone that exposes attacking Ukrainian troops to Russian air and ground fires.

The large scale view of force ratios is as follows:

Ukraine has spent much of the combat power that they accumulated with NATO help during the summer, and will have an urgent need to reduce combat intensity for refitting and rearming at precisely the same time that Russian combat power in the theater begins to surge.

Simultaneously, NATO’s ability to arm Ukraine is on the verge of exhaustion. Let’s look at this more closely.

Depleting NATO

 

One of the more fascinating aspects of the war in Ukraine is the extent to which Russia has contrived to attrit NATO military hardware without fighting a direct war with NATO forces. In a previous analysis I referred to Ukraine as a vampiric force which has reversed the logic of the proxy war; it’s a black hole sucking in NATO gear for destruction.

There are now very limited stockpiles to draw from to continue to arm Ukraine. Military Watch Magazine noted that NATO has drained the old Warsaw Pact tank park, leaving them bereft of Soviet tanks to donate to Ukraine. Once these reservoirs are fully tapped, the only option will be giving Ukraine western tank models. This, however, is much harder than it sounds, because it would require not only extensive training of tank crews, but also an entirely different selection of ammunition, spare parts, and repair facilities.

Tanks are not the only problem, however. Ukraine is now staring down the barrel (heh heh) of a serious shortage of conventional tube artillery. Earlier in the summer, the United States donated 155mm howitzers, but with stockpiles of both guns and shells dwindling, they’ve recently been forced to turn to lower caliber towed trash. After the announcement of yet another aid tranche on September 28th, the USA has now put together five consecutive packages which do not contain any conventional 155mm shells. Shells for Ukraine’s Soviet vintage artillery were running low as early as June.

In effect, the effort to keep Ukraine’s artillery arm functioning has gone through a few phases. In the first phase, Warsaw Pact stockpiles of Soviet shells were drained to supply Ukraine’s existing guns. In the second phase, Ukraine was given mid-level western capabilities, especially the 155mm howitzer. Now that 155mm shells are running low, Ukraine has to make do with 105mm guns which are badly outranged by Russian howitzers and will be, in a word, doomed in any kind of counterbattery action.

As a substitute for adequate tube artillery, the latest aid package does include 18 more of the internet’s favorite meme weapon - the HIMARS Multiple Launch Rocket System. What is not explicitly mentioned in the press release is that the HIMARS systems don’t exist in current US inventories and will have to be built, and are thus unlikely to arrive in Ukraine for several years.

The increasing difficulties in arming Ukraine coincide with the rapid closing of Ukraine’s window of operational opportunity. The forces accumulated over the summer are degraded and fought out, and every subsequent rebuild of the Ukrainian first tier forces will become harder as manpower is destroyed and NATO arsenals are depleted. This depletion comes precisely as Russian force generation is surging, foretelling the Winter of Yuri.

The Winter War

 

Anyone who expects the war to slow down during the winter is in for a surprise. Russia is going to launch a late autumn/winter offensive and achieve significant gains. The arc of force generation (both Russia’s increasing force accumulation and Ukraine’s degradation) coincide with the approach of cold weather.

Let’s make a brief note about combat in the cold. Russia is perfectly capable of waging effective operations in the snow. Going back to World War Two, the Red Army was more than capable of offensive success during the winter, starting in 1941 with the general counteroffensive at Moscow, again in 1942 with the destruction of the German 6th Army at Stalingrad, and in 1943-44 with two successful large scale offensives beginning in the winter. Now, of course World War Two is not directly applicable in all ways, but we can establish that from a technical standpoint there is a clearly established capability to wage operations in cold weather.

We also have more recent examples. In 2015, during the first Donbas War, LNR and DNR forces launched a pincer operation which successfully encircled a Ukrainian battalion at the Battle of Debaltseve. And, of course, the Russo-Ukrainian War begin in February, when much of northern Ukraine was below freezing temperatures.


Nice Move


Winter weather actually favors a Russian offensive for multiple reasons. One of the paradoxes of military operations is that freezing weather actually enhances mobility - vehicles can get stuck in mud, but not on frozen ground. From 1941-43, German troops celebrated the arrival of spring, because the thaw promised to bog the Red Army down in mud and slow their momentum. The winter death of foliage also reduces the cover available to troops in a defensive posture. And, of course, cold weather favors the side with more reliable access to energy.

As for where Russia will choose to commit its newly generated forces, there are four realistic possibilities, which I will enumerate in no particular order:

  1. Reopening the Northern Front with an operation around Kharkov. The attractiveness of this option is clear. A Russian move in force towards Kharkov would immediately collapse all of Ukraine’s gains towards the Oskil by compromising their rear areas.
  2. An offensive on Nikolayev out of the Kherson region. This would move further towards the goal of a landlocked Ukraine, and would take advantage of the fact that Ukrainian forces in this region are badly chewed up after their own failed offensive.
  3. Massive commitment to the Donbas to finish the liberation of DNR territory by capturing Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. This is less likely, as Russia has demonstrated comfort with the slow tempo of operations on this front.
  4. A push north from the Melitopol area towards Zaparozhia. This would safeguard the nuclear powerplant and end any credible threats to the land bridge to Crimea.

Other possibilities I regard as unlikely. A second advance on Kiev would make little operational sense, as it would not support any of the existing fronts. I would expect action around Kiev only if the new force generation is significantly larger than the headline number of 300,000. Otherwise, Russia’s winter offensives are likely to be concentrated on mutually supporting fronts. I think some movement to reopen the northern is likely, as it would completely compromise Ukraine’s gains in the Izyum-Kupyansk direction. There are rumors that forces are being moved into Belarus, but I actually think the Chernigov-Sumy axis would be more likely than a new Kiev operation, as it could be supportive of an offensive on Kharkov.


Potential Axes of Winter Advance (Base Map Credit: @War_Mapper)


On the broadest level, it is clear that Ukraine’s window to conduct offensive operations is nearing its close, and the force generation ratios on the ground are going to swing decisively in Russia’s favor through the winter.

Nordstream and Escalation

As we were pondering these developments on the ground, yet another plotline emerged underwater. The first hint that something was amiss was the news that pressure in the Nordstream 1 pipeline was dropping mysteriously. It was then revealed that the pipeline - along with the non-operational Nordstream 2 - had suffered serious damage. Swedish seismologists recorded explosions on the floor of the Baltic Sea, and it was revealed that the pipelines are heavily damaged.

Let’s be frank about this. Russia did not blow up its own pipelines, and it is ludicrous to suggest that they did. The importance of the pipeline to Russia lay in the fact that it could be switched on and off, providing a mechanism for leverage and negotiation vis a vis Germany. In the classic carrot and stick formulation, one cannot move the donkey if the carrot is blown up. The *only* feasible scenario in which Russia might be responsible for the sabotage would be if some hardliner faction within the Russian government felt that Putin was moving too slowly, and wanted to force an escalation. This would imply, however, that Putin is losing internal control, and there is no evidence whatsoever for such a theory.

And so, we return to elementary analysis, and ask: Cui bono? Who benefits? Well, considering Poland celebrated the opening of a new pipeline to Norway only a few days ago, and a certain former Polish MP cryptically thanked the United States on Twitter, it is fair to make a few guesses.


The first lesson of doing crimes is not to brag about it on twitter


Let us briefly meditate on the actual implications of Nordstream’s demise.

  1. Germany loses what little autonomy and flexibility it had, making it even more dependent on the United States.
  2. Russia loses a point of leverage over Europe, reducing the inducements to negotiation.
  3. Poland and Ukraine become even more critical transit hubs for gas.

Russia clearly perceives this as a bridge-burning move of sabotage by NATO, designed to back them into a corner. The Russian government has decried it as an act of “international terrorism” and argued that the explosions occurred in areas “controlled by NATO” - the concatenation of these statements is that they blame NATO for an act of terrorism, without explicitly saying that. This precipitated another meeting of the Russian National Security Council.

Many western nations have advised their citizens to leave Russia immediately, suggesting they are worried about escalation (this coincides with Ukraine’s unhinged claim that Russia may be about to use nuclear weapons). For the time being, I expect Russian escalation to remain confined to Ukraine itself, likely coinciding with the deployment of additional Russian ground forces. If Russia feels compelled to undertake an out of theater escalation, targeting American satellites, digital infrastructure, or forces in Syria remain the most likely option.

On the Precipice

I am fully cognizant that my views will be spun as “coping” after Ukraine’s gains in Kharkov oblast, but time will tell out. Ukraine is on its last legs - they drained everything usable out of NATO stockpiles to build up a first tier force over the summer, and that force has been mauled and degraded beyond repair just as Russia’s force generation is set to massively increase. Winter will bring not only the eclipse of the Ukrainian army, the destruction of vital infrastructure, and the loss of new territory and population centers, but also a severe economic crisis in Europe. In the end, the United States will be left to rule over a deindustrialized and degraded Europe, and a rump Ukrainian trashcanistan sequestered west of the Dnieper.

For now, though, we are in the interregnum as the last flames of Ukraine’s fighting power flickers out. Then there will be an operational pause, and then a Russian winter offensive. There will be several weeks where nothing happens, and then everything will happen.

During that operational pause, you may be tempted to ask - “is it done, Yuri?”

No, Comrade Premiere. It has only begun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR / SOURCE
Big Serge is an Eastern European geopolitical analyst who prefers to remain anonymous. .


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UKRAINE Submits NATO APPLICATION, Russia EXPANDS, Putin HISTORIC Speech

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Jackson Hinkle
THE DIVE

 

Streamed on:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR / SOURCE
Jackson Hinkle is the host of The Dive, a YouTube/ Rumble video channel, producing radical analyses of world events.


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And its multitude of minions and lackeys.


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Roundtable #25: George Galloway, Syrian Girl, Alex Thomson

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Gonzalo Lira

Roundtable #25: George Galloway, Syrian Girl, Alex Thomson



Sep 29, 2022


In case YouTube deletes Gonzalo's account, try—as he suggests—his Rumble platform. probably a lot more reliable, albeit capitalist, too.

 

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Russian allegations of rampant Nazism in Europe

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By Gilbert Doctorow (Posted Aug 26, 2022)
MONTHLY REVIEW ONLINE



At the time of the exchange of courtesies between Putin and Scholz in February, I wrote an essay in which I tried to explain the background to Russian claims of rampant Nazism in Ukraine, which sounded very odd to Westerners but found a very receptive audience among the Russian population, where evocations of Nazism arise at every annual May 9th celebration of Victory in Europe Day, marking the end of WWII. As I noted then, one source of Russian allegations was the celebration by official Kiev of the ultra-nationalist Stepan Bandera, a Nazi collaborator of the German forces in WWII who practiced vicious ethnic cleansing against Jews, Russians and Poles. Statues are erected to him; streets are named after him across Ukraine.

Of course, the numbers of actual neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine before and since 2014 have been very small as a percentage of the overall population. In the parliamentary and presidential elections that have taken place since the United States installed its preferred regime in Kiev in February 2014, the neo-Nazi candidates have not scored more than several percentage points. However, from the first days of the February coup d’etat, neo-Nazis have held the key ministerial posts in defense and the security apparatus of the Ukrainian government, effectively calling the shots in foreign policy and the confrontation with Russia.

When the Russians finally flushed out the Azov battalion extremists from their fortified positions at the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol three months into the ‘special military operation,’ they found and presented on television proof positive of the Nazi presence at the core of the Ukrainian armed forces. Ukrainian prisoners of war were stripped and the Russian camera men video-recorded their tattooed bodies, featuring not only swastikas and other German Nazi symbols but also portraits of Hitler and other Nazi leaders from the Third Reich. Western journalists, of course, saw all of this but it hardly was reported in our media. Nor has there been any reconsideration in the West of the facile dismissal of Russian concern over neo-Nazism that Scholz demonstrated.

Events in the EU’s ‘front line’ countries of the Baltic states and Poland have given a new dimension to the Russian concerns over neo-Nazism. I have in mind the dismantling and removal of statues and other monuments to the Soviet Army liberators of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from German occupation in 1945 even as their own Nazi collaborators from the past are given new honors. This has greatly accelerated in recent weeks. Meanwhile, parades of the descendants of the collaborators have been going on in Riga and elsewhere year after year.

Still more controversial and significant has been the attempts of Lithuania to close down land transportation between the main territory of the RF and its Kaliningrad outpost in violation of all signed undertakings for free transit between different constituent parts of Russia agreed by the EU.

Add to that the latest Estonian led effort to close Europe entirely to Russians. A few weeks ago, Estonian border guards at the Narva crossing refused to admit Russians holding Schengen visas issued previously by their own authorities and now they are refusing to recognize Schengen visas issued by other EU Member States. Together with Poland, all three Baltic States have demanded that the EU no longer issue visas to Russian tourists.

To be sure, the demand that all Russians be barred from Europe as punishment for their war on Ukraine has not met with universal approval within the EU. Even Germany came out against the initiative, with Scholz saying that exceptions must be made for humanitarian reasons. Others have debated the legality under EU law of such generalized prohibitions directed at an entire population. But the debate rages on.

Finally, a statement made yesterday by Latvian President Egils Levits got the full attention of Moscow. He said that Russian-speaking residents of Latvia should be ‘isolated from society’ if they oppose his government’s policies with respect to the war in Ukraine. Just what is meant by “isolate” is not clear. Does Levits intend to intern them in concentration camps? Given the absolute failure of Latvia to respect EU human rights norms going back from the first days of the country’s independence from the USSR in 1991, such an atrocity would not be out of character.

I have dealt with precisely this issue in essays going back to 2014 which were included in my collection Does Russia Have a Future?: see chapter 22 “Latvia’s 300,000 Non-Citizens and the Ukrainian Crisis Today” and chapter 33 “Latvia’s failed U.S. inspired policies towards Russia and Russians.” I further explored these issues in my 2019 book A Belgian Perspective on International Relations, chapter 38 “Republic of Latvia, Apartheid State Within the EU.”

The point is that upon achieving independence thanks to the active support of many of its Russian-speaking citizenry, the government of Latvia turned around and stripped 400,000 of them of their citizenship, close to 40% of the total population at the time, and offered them a path to regain passports that only a tiny fraction of them could follow. When President Levits speaks today of Russian-speaking “residents” of Latvia, he has in mind those who were deprived of civil rights including passports and remain stateless up to the present time. Everything that Latvia did to its Russian-speaking population going back 30 years set the precedents for Kiev’s repressive policies towards its own 40% who are Russian speakers after the nationalists from Lvov came to power in 2014.

These various developments were the main topic for discussion in yesterday’s Evening with Vladimir Solovyov political talk show, which stood out as especially valuable. Although I have made reference to this particular talk show frequently over the years as a good source of information about what Russia’s political and social elites are thinking, I freely acknowledge that the presenter cannot and does not fill every program with material and panelists worth listening to. Indeed, there is a lot of sludge on air between the gems. By ‘sludge’ I mean the kind of ‘kitchen talk’ in which expert panelists talk the same non-facts-based drivel that ordinary Russians will engage in when they follow the principle of socializing described by Chekhov in Act Two of The Three Sisters:

They are not serving us tea, so let’s philosophize.

In any case, last night’s Solovyov was definitely worth listening to. The question of neo-Nazism in Europe was the glue binding together different elements of the discussion, ranging from Levits’ obnoxious declaration of the same day to the fate of ordinary Russians in Kazakhstan and Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and what to do about all of these challenges to the Russian World.

The overriding point was that the Russophobia and ‘cancel Russian culture’ movements that have swept Europe during 2022 mean that Russians are the Jews of today. They are what the Hitlerites called Untermenschen, against whom all manner of rights violations if not outright murder can be practiced. This arises in its worst form in Ukraine, where Russians as a people are systematically dehumanized in statements from the top leadership of the country. In Ukraine, the ultra-nationalists call Russians “Colorado,” a reference to the bugs that infest potato crops. These insects carry the red and yellow colors of the St George’s ribbons that patriotic Russians wear. This is the same logic that made possible the biological weapons attack on Russian soldiers in the Zaporozhie that was carried out last week by Ukrainian forces, sending the victims to intensive care treatment for botulism poisoning. That development probably did not get coverage in your daily newspaper.

The conversation on Solovyov was particularly interesting in the ‘what is to be done’ segment. Acknowledging that a ‘special military operation’ against Latvia is not practicable yet given Latvia’s membership in NATO, a panelist who heads the State Duma committee on relations with the Former Soviet Union states, said that those Russians who profited from the transit business between Russia and Latvia for decades should now pay up and contribute financially to relocating the Russian speakers in Riga to the Russian Federation, meaning providing good housing and jobs that till now were never on offer to incentivize immigration. A fellow panelist broadened the proposed assistance to suggest a government program of resettlement modeled on what Israel did some decades ago to facilitate the relocation of certain Black African Jews from their country of persecution to the State of Israel. And it was suggested that similar relocation offers should be extended to Russian speakers in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries where they have all been second class citizens since these countries became independent of the USSR.

This issue of the fate of ethnic Russians living outside the borders of the Russian Federation at the time of the break-up of the Soviet Union has been around for a long time.  When Vladimir Putin spoke the words that have been so often raised by Russia-haters in the West, namely that the break-up of the USSR was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, he definitely had in mind the fate of the 25 million Russian speakers who were left high and dry in the other republics, now sovereign states ruled by the non-Russian majority populations. In 1991 and later years, Russia’s own economic woes left it unable to offer decent housing to its soldiers and officers transferred back to Russia from the former Warsaw Pact countries, let alone to care for the 25 million Russian civilians outside its borders.

Last night’s panelists argued that the time has come to redress this moral failure of Russia to stand by its former citizens who are Russian-speakers, to offer to repatriate them under attractive conditions. This would respond to the country’s own economic interests by redressing the demographic challenges Russia is facing as a result of its 1990s collapse and birth rates that then declined precipitously. And it would be a direct answer to the neo-Nazi movements in Europe which would gladly exacerbate repression among Russians in their midst.


About the author
Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. He chose this third career of 'public intellectual' after finishing up a 25 year career as corporate executive and outside consultant to multinational corporations doing business in Russia and Eastern Europe which culminated in the position of Managing Director, Russia during the years 1995-2000. He is presently publishing his memoirs of his 25 years of doing business in and around the Soviet Union/Russia, 1975 - 2000. Memoirs of a Russianist, Volume I: From the Ground Up was published on 10 November 2020. Volume II: Russia in the Roaring 1990s will go to press in two months.

Originally published: Gilbert Doctorow Blog on August 25, 2022 (more by Gilbert Doctorow Blog)

The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of The Greanville Post. However, we do think they are important enough to be transmitted to a wider audience.


 

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We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.


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Mercenaries in Yemen: Nationalities, numbers & horrors

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EXPOSING CAPITALISM'S MULTITUDE OF VICES AND INCURABLE PROBLEMS—
FROM INGRAINED RACISM and TERRIBLE ECONOMIC CRISES & EXPLOITATION TO ENDLESS WARS

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It’s the twenty-first century. Corporations have armies. With as little as a few ID papers and almost no governmental regulation, you can take up state-of-the-art arms and be sent to a war that’s not your war, not your battle, and kill people whose names you can barely pronounce. The trade offer? You receive some $10,000 a week. That’s $40,000 a month. That’s more than 30x the American minimum wage for some honest work. You need not read some Veronica Roth, because we’re already living in a dystopian novel. 

Let’s address the word “mercenaries.” In the very far away bureaucratic world of secret operations where sharp terms are smoothed down (recalling comedian George Carlin’s usage of post-traumatic stress disorder as a euphemism for shell-shock!), “mercenaries” is a taboo word. Instead, they’re called special forces to drive people away from the clandestine, underground nature of foreign soldier recruitment. An ancient ‘job’ dormant since the Middle Ages, the United States revived the mercenary industry with Bush’s War on Terror, and continued the venture into the UAE and Saudi-led war on Yemen, and now in Ukraine

Putting Saudi Arabia aside for now – UAE is the perfect orbit state for Washington. With a population of only 1 million with a total of 9 million expatriates, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan does not want to risk it all for a wealthy population that can barely manage a home without housemaids – the UAE is largely operated by foreigners rather than locals. So how was the UAE going to fight this war? An army operated by foreigners – namely US lieutenants and colonels and allies.

But why mercenaries? One reason is numbers. There was no way MBZ was going to send soldiers from his local population of 1 million to war. A foreign population, however, is cost-effective, could be bought in abundance, and will guarantee to prolong the war - especially if major terrorists like ISIS are on the ground.

Another reason is accountability. Because mercenaries operate outside the scope of direct military command – or, at least that’s what we know – Abu Dhabi benefits from zero accountability. Mercenaries can kill, maim and commit other war crimes with no investigation from a legitimate governmental body. They’re bought and sold like a commodity, where corporates, on the long run, can transform into superpowers like states in the new world.

A third reason would be, as an ex-Navy SEAL – Erik Prince – once said: Muslim soldiers could not be counted on to kill fellow Muslims. Sending Muslim soldiers, Emirati or Saudi, to kill Yemenis will bear a conflict of interest. 

Read more: 7 years of aggression on Yemen, victims surpass 46,000

The Yemeni armed forces and the Popular Committees in Yemen can testify to witnessing American, Australian, Sudanese, Colombian, Eritrean, and even Yemeni mercenaries, working for Gulf and US interests in Yemen. Some were recruited out of ignorance and poverty, others were recruited out of coercion and deception, and many bear arms for major cash.

Kingfish

Erik Prince is a former US Navy SEAL who was behind the revival of the private security industry. 

He also calls himself ‘Kingfish.’ 

Notoriously known for Blackwater and his involvement in the Iraq War, he established another private military company called Reflex Responses – or R2 – after he sold Blackwater to investors as an escape from controversy. The UAE secretly hired both companies, Blackwater and R2, to go to Yemen. 

See more: Blackwater founder to charge $6,500 per seat on Afghanistan evacuation plane

Blackwater, which has massacred scores of Iraqis and is despised in Iraq more than the US soldiers themselves, has taken pride in employing Colombians and other Latin American military personnel, from soldiers to commanders. 

But, why did MBZ’s private army, a project originally launched by Blackwater, consist mostly of Colombians? 

As Professor of Strategy at the National Defense University Sean McFate put it, think of the private military industry as the t-shirt industry. In America, it costs 20$ to make, but in Bangladesh, it costs 1$ to make.

Colombian mercenaries are not only cheap, but they are also trained by Washington and are more violent and rigorous than others given they are hardened by guerrilla warfare in Latin America. 

The UAE hired 1,800 Colombians on the ground and tripled and quadrupled their salaries. 

“They’re pretty tough warriors in my experience,” McFate said. “They obey chain of command, and they have American training.

“When you take them out of Latin America and put them in the Middle East, they have no sort of political affiliation to any Middle Eastern action or country, so they’re just truly loyal to their paymaster. So they got a lot of Latin American ex-special soldiers in Abu Dhabi. Then, as the Emirates went to war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, that’s when the Emirates deployed these mercenaries into Yemen to kill Houthis. And they did. And now we have mercenary warfare in Yemen almost like it’s the Middle Ages again.”

Under the guise of construction workers, Colombian mercenaries became part of an American mercenary army, led by Erik Prince, who scored a $529 million budget from the UAE to create a monster. 

“That is to me a pretty crazy part of the evolution of the mercenary business model that was taken from Erik Prince developing it in the US then exporting it to Abu Dhabi – then, all of the sudden, there are Colombians dying in Yemen. It’s hard to track,” said McFate. 

Spear: A Delaware-based firm with an Israeli touch

“Give me your best man and I’ll beat him. Anyone,” said Abraham Golan, the Israeli-Hungarian owner of Spear Operations Group that has also operated in Yemen to commit targeted assassinations. 

Golan was able to convince, over spaghetti and maybe some wine, the security advisor to MBZ that hiring his security company would be more effective than his own army – and, it worked. 

On December 29, 2015, a group of mercenaries from the Delaware-based military firm planted a bomb in the Islah political party headquarters in Aden, Yemen. Escorted by UAE military vehicles front and back, one of Golan’s mercenaries, Isaac Gilmore (also an ex-Navy SEAL and Delta Force veteran), jumps from the vehicle, fires bullets at civilians around the block, as his comrade rushes to plant the explosive device just under the building. With an Emirati soldier behind the wheel, the SUV zooms off as soon as the deed is done. 

Assassination targets handed out to Spears Group Operations' mercenaries who were sent to operate in Yemen. (BuzzFeed News)



The group that Golan and Gilmore pieced together was a 12-man army, mostly consisting of former French legion officers and ex-US soldiers. The French officers were paid half of what Golan intended to pay – around $10,000 a month – which was even less than half of their American counterparts, a testimony to the commodification of military personnel and ‘market’ value. 

The assassination plot to kill Anssaf Ali Mayo, a leader of the conservative Islah party in Yemen, was plotted out over spaghetti at a UAE military base with MBZ’s security advisor and ex-Fatah member, Mohammed Dahlan. 

Dahlan fell from grace when he was accused of collaborating with the CIA and “Israel” – and that’s exactly what he did as he sat with Gilmore and Golan. The MBZ security advisor has his hands in a lot of political mess.

Read more: "Israel's" piggyback on the Saudi-Emirati war on Yemen

A report by Al-Khaleej Online in 2018 exposes Dahlan’s complicity in holding secret training camps in occupied Palestine. 

The secret training camps, which held hundreds of Nepalese and Colombian mercenaries, were situated in the Naqab desert in occupied Palestine, where the geological nature of the region looks synonymous with that of Yemen.

Dahlan personally supervised the training and made regular visits and check-ups.

"Mohammed Dahlan visited these camps on more than one occasion to be informed," sources revealed to Al-Khaleej Online. Dahlan was filled in on the progress of the preparations, in addition to the mercenaries’ training.

And by the way, the Aden operation failed. 

The price of Washington lip service? The blood of young Sudanese men 

There were two ways through which young Sudanese – even minors under 18 – got recruited to Yemen. By force and deception, and by Omar Al Bashir’s thirst for power. 

Estimates and reports suggest that up to 15,000 Sudanese mercenaries were fighting in Yemen. 

By force and deception: Many Sudanese became victims of forced conscription into becoming mercenaries for a private US firm, Black Shield Security Services. 

Responding to online job posts as “security guards,” the UAE-based company would trick the job applicants into signing the contract, only to the surprise of the young men that, all of the sudden, they’re redirected to a military training camp in the UAE to be sent off to either Libya or Yemen. They were offered ‘large’ sums of money, more than they can ever get in an average job in their country which has been experiencing an ongoing political crisis. 

The contracts signed by young Sudanese men, which had an e-Visa to enter the UAE from Khartoum attached to it, had “profession: Security Guard” written on them. 

Up to 15,000 Sudanese mercenaries were reportedly deployed in Yemen, who, according to the current Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, were reduced to 5,000. Many of them were children.

Official recruitment is also the culprit. Omar Al Bashir, Sudan’s old ruler, whose throne was strangled by sanctions and international pressures, sold his pro-Iran alliance for financial help from the Gulf – which meant sending thousands of Sudanese men and children to kill in Yemen. 

To go through with the recruitment, a private company – Rapid Support Forces – or the Janjaweed, a die-hard Bashir-backing militia, scored major bags with Saudi and Emirati officials. Both groups face allegations of systematic rape, indiscriminate murder and other war crimes from the Darfur war in which 300,000 people were killed. 

Arriving by the thousands from Sudan to Saudi Arabia, the Sudanese mercenaries were handed US-made weapons and uniforms. Then, they were taken to Al-Hudaydah, Taiz and Aden. Paid in Saudi riyals, 14-year-old amateurs were paid some $480 a month, while experienced officers from the Janjaweed were paid $530 a month – both cheaper than any other mercenary, including Colombians.  

The RSF profited $350 million from its role in Yemen. 

Ahmed, who was 25-years-old at the time when he was sent to Al-Hudaydah, commented on this experience: “The Saudis would give us a phone call and then pull back.

“They treat the Sudanese like their firewood,” he told the New York Times.

Other than Sudan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have also been paying Eritrea to provide troops and assistance. In 2015, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea revealed that Riyadh and Abu Dhabi signed a deal with Eritrea which allowed the coalition to use Eritrean military bases to attack Yemen. Chad isn’t left from the equation either: RSF mercenaries include hundreds of Chadian men, whose alignment lies with Bashir, hence maintaining an interest to keep him in power. 

There are also some 1,000 Pakistani mercenaries fighting in Yemen, despite a majority no-vote in Islamabad’s parliament. 

Yemenis fighting Yemenis 

As poverty, war and uncertainty brought millions of Yemenis to prolonged angst, many contemplated turning their back on their own kind. 

For around $1,200 a month, Yemenis were compelled to join the Al-Fateh brigade, a mercenary-militia based in Najran, Saudi Arabia, which was formed in 2016. The brigade is an all-Yemeni mercenary hub.

The Saudis recruited over 1,000 mercenaries to the Saudi-Yemen border to defend it.

In a report by the Middle East Eye, one mercenary that goes by the name Anees narrates that some thousand Yemenis were forced to advance towards Jabara valley in Saada province, Yemen, knowing that the valley is under control of the Yemeni armed forces, and that they were positioned just behind them in Najran. 

The leaders of Al-Fateh forced the mercenaries to move forward, assuring that Salafi fighters would follow and protect them.

He narrates, “Suddenly, the Houthis started to attack us from the mountains. We tried to withdraw but there were no Salafi fighters backing us up and only the Houthis besieging us from all directions."

The Yemenis were besieged for four days, abandoned by both the Saudis and the Salafis. 

“We were about to die from hunger. We had run out of food. The Saudis and the Salafis did not break the siege on us, so we fought and pushed towards Najran and only few were escaped including me,” Anees said.

Bundeswehr

Last year, former German soldiers and police officers lodged in an offering to Saudi Arabia to form a group of mercenaries - or, according to German prosecutors, a terrorist organisation - to be sent to Yemen.

Two Bundeswehr soldiers were charged with terrorism by state prosecutors for conspiring to recruit 150 men and former soldiers from the Bundeswehr armed forces. The mercenaries were to be paid $46,400 a month to conduct operations in the Arabian peninsula.

The goal of the mercenary force to be formed was to capture land held by the Yemeni Armed Forces - however, it does not stop there. The mercenary force was also to be sent to other protracted conflicts around the world, with the two convicted terrorists in full conscious awareness that the fighters will have to commit murder and kill civilians to achieve strategic goals. 

The future

If the Saudi and Emirati armies were to fight and bleed, the war would not have lasted long with a population of 30 million willing to resist barefoot. Mercenaries played a significant role in the war on Yemen by sustaining the violence on the ground, continuously causing grief. 

Many experts would say that the future of warfare is private. The effectiveness of state armies is diminishing, while private firms have proven to get more tasks done - however bloody and sinister. 

As corporations overshadow governmental authority, warlords and investors will be more keen on keeping 'security firms' going in so-called "conflict zones in the Middle East," where the flow of weapons and the funding for violence come from Western neoliberal democracies. 

While the use of mercenaries was dishonorable in recent times, the West has been promoting its use. As the foreign fighters are used to carry out targeted assassinations and other forms of murder, states and governmental bodies take in less and less responsibility and accountability for the humanitarian disaster that comes with the recruitment. 

A UN Mercenary Convention in 2001 forbids the recruitment of mercenaries in conflict: Only 36 countries supported the convention. Some of the countries that did not ratify it are the United States, the United Kingdom, China, France, India, Japan and Russia.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR/ SOURCE
Al Mayadeen is a pan-Arabist satellite television news channel launched on 11 June 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon. Its programming is predominantly news. It has news reporters in most Arab countries.


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Dirty money: Meet the US agent driving the CIA-led riots in Iran

Please share this article as widely as you can.


the establishment media is an enabler of endless wars and illegitimate oligarchic power


By Al Mayadeen English


 

There are Iranian women, though a minority, who are not in favor of the mandatory veil – a legitimate grievance, an opinionated dissatisfaction to which humankind is entitled. And then there are people leading a fraudulent anti-hijab movement with a barrel aimed at Tehran. 

Masoumeh "Masih" Alinejad-Ghomi

Meet Masih Alinejad, Washington’s weapon of choice for flaring up the largest color revolution attempt in Iran today.

“I’m leading this movement,” Alinejad, 46, told The New Yorker on Saturday. “The Iranian regime will be brought down by women. I believe this.”

Operating from an FBI safehouse, Alinejad has been living in the US for the past decade working as a full-timer for VOA Persia – or, Voice of America, Persia – Washington's propaganda mouthpiece funded directly by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a soft power arm of the empire fully funded by the US Congress, made to capitalize on harmful narratives in favor of Washington’s corporatocracy.

Alinejad’s tasks are quite a few: To take cozy photographs with the world’s most effective pro-war politicians who’ve only done everything to wipe out West Asia, such as Mike “We lied, we cheated, we stole” Pompeo, and Madeleine “The price is worth it [to kill Iraqi children]” Albright.


Iranian agent Masih Alinejad in a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on February 4, 2019, in Washington DC. (US Virtual Embassy of Iran). Confident that the massive ignorance of the US public and the complicity of the media will afford them plenty of cover, individuals like these cheerfully pose in the open for posterity.



But, that’s not all. Between 2015 and 2022, the US Agency for Global Media paid Alinejad over $628,000 to harass veiled women, spew propaganda, and demand more sanctions against her country (not a very patriotic thing to do). Alinejad has been doing everything in her media power to isolate her country, attempting to render it a pariah state banned from all diplomatic, economic and political privileges in the global arena. Indeed, a champion for imperialism, Alinejad is on a fat CIA payroll to incite violence and lies.


Masih Alinejad's US government payroll is visible on a number of websites, such as govtribe.com and USASpending.gov, just by punching in her UEI in the search bar: H2JFTHB14639.



The latest narrative exploited by Alinejad is as such: 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, in a CCTV footage, gets in a verbal dispute with a female police officer over the way she had her hijab wrapped around her head. There is no escalation for the dispute; the woman leaves the girl alone and walks away. In a matter of seconds, the young woman freezes, bends, and falls over a chair to which bystanders ran to attend. The girl, who had underwent an open brain surgery in 2006, sustained a heart attack which put her in a coma. Two days later, she was announced dead, after which Western tabloids accused Iranian police of beating Amini to death, leading to the riots. 

Admitting to lead the riots against the government is only a statement. Her tweets further expose her agenda - the transfer in narrative from one tweet to the next is baffling.

On September 14, the day Amini suffered a heart attack, Alinejad made no mention of beating or violence. She wrote on Twitter: “Amini suffers heart attack after being arrested by morality police.”

On September 15, the CIA asset ramps up the rhetoric a notch: “This woman is in a coma because morality police savagely arrest her.” Still, no mention of abuse, beatings or physical violence.


Between that tweet and a comment, Alinejad caters to her bosses: “Amini is in a coma after being beaten by morality police.”


On September 16, the day the young woman was announced dead, Alinejad launched a hashtag which she had been paving fertile grounds for: “#MahsaWasMurdered by the Islamic Republic’s hijab police in Iran.”


Washington's lackeys were at work too: One of the first to accuse the police of beating Amini was Maziar Bahari-founded IranWire. Bahari is an anti-Tehran Iranian exile who has admitted to “covering illegal demonstrations” and “helped promote color revolutions” in Iran. An empire asset.

The second Twitter post which propagated the false narrative was from Babak Taghvaee, a double-agent exile accused of disseminating sensitive information to the CIA and Mossad; a military contributor to Israel Hayom, Pentagon research reports, and US State Department-funded Radio Free Asia/Radio Liberty, which is also on a BBG payroll. 

With the hundreds of fake accounts which trended the matter on social media, the tweets gained massive momentum, and riots were immediately stirred up. Terrorist groups among the crowds were detected and arrested carrying sharp weapons and explosives, killings were carried out with the aim to blame on the government, and rioters burned banks and other irrelevant state institutions, creating chaos. The MEK, mind you, has been a terrorist organization in the US until being delisted in 2014 – the year Alinejad made her way to the US. Now, tabloids pair “freedom-loving Iranians” with MEK supporters and organizers.

Read next: Rallies condemning violent riots roam Sanandaj streets, western Iran

Washington for long has tried to mobilize Iranians against their government, either through media propaganda, or through sanctions. The chaos brewing is a dream come true for Alinejad, a byproduct of over decades of work. A Wikileaks cable from 2009 sent to the US State Department wrote about a dissatisfied Alinejad complaining of a “lack of cohesion among reformists” which was impeding Washington’s plans and interests.

Global media, Hillary Clinton, Regime-change Soros’ Open Society Foundation, and the NED have all simultaneously bandwagoned on the campaign, shedding crocodile tears on Iranian women. Mind you, these entities have projected, enabled and funded the most brutal, patriarchal policies against women around the world, including in the United States. There was no regard for Palestinian, Yemeni, Iraqi, Libyan or Syrian women when the US either bombed or funded weaponry to bomb societies back into the Stone Age. Washington funds the most repressive entity in West Asia today, “Israel,” whose system bases itself on racism, rape and uprooting.

Not to mention the sanctions which Alinejad has repeatedly called for to be implemented against Iran, as she “believes” they work. Sanctions have affected the lifestyles of many Iranian women, impeding them from their right to sanitation, securing quality nutrition and health for their children, and utilizing resources for healthy living. Not so feminist, is it?


The hijab is a democratically voted and a legitimatized law 

Perhaps Big Media’s abuse of freedom is not leaving any space for us to investigate. Facts, when conveyed effectively, are an angry mass’ greatest sedative: After Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s government was toppled in 1979, revolution leader Imam Khomeini held a nationwide referendum on which people voted whether or not they advocated for Iran to be ruled by an Islamic constitution. Within this context, Iranian women integrated the hijab into the constitution, and Iranian women have the right to revoke it if they wanted to. The law is a democratic decision made by the people and the women of Iran. Hence, the legitimacy of the law is still intact.

The popular support for the law was reiterated in a 2014 national poll which collected data from all provinces across the country, holding the question of whether they agree that the mandatory hijab should be implemented on Iranian women even if they do not agree with it. Around 19% of the population completely agreed, 35% simply agreed, and 25% were neutral.

In 2021, Iranian deputy speaker of the parliament Ali Motahhari suggested another referendum on the veil be conducted when protests again were on the rise, exhibiting the democratic values which the state holds, as opposed to what the West paints the country to be – a clerical wasteland dictatorship.

So the question here is: What is there to fight for when Iranian women themselves are in favor of the hijab by popular referendum and demonstration? Do the West and its blinded followers want to save Iranian women from themselves?

For a population widely familiar with Edward Said’s Orientalism, this projection could be quite embarrassing.

The infiltration and disruption of a society 

In 2002, former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu held a two-hour-and-a-half-hour conference just before George Bush announced his invasion of Iraq, in which he called on the United States to foment regime change in Iran (and Iraq, obviously), offering an explanation on how to dismantle the anti-imperialist social fabric in the country. In his vision, Fox Broadcasting would air “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Melrose Place” to Iranians through their televisions. “This is pretty subversive stuff,” he remarked. “The kids of Iran would want the nice clothes they see on those shows. They would want the swimming pools and fancy lifestyles.”

The current riots in Iran are not an event suspended in time, but rather a continuation of years of disruption attempts by people like Alinejad and Netanyahu. The very social fabric of the country is what kicked out Western greed in 1979; a fabric largely built on cultural affluence and appreciation for tradition brewed over the course of centuries. To shift that fabric would entail transforming the material conditions. Hedonism, pleasure and materialism are weapons in a toolbox used to dumb down communities into virtual enslavement.

Hollywood has proved itself as one of the best tools to redefine the values of freedom, so effective that even Arab media have been throwing Western cultural projections onto Iranian women, who are largely supportive of the mandatory veil.

Hearts may be in the right direction, but not in the right place. Activists on social media have taken to advocate for the "autonomy" of Iranian women (according to their standards and terms), regardless that it may not be consistent with the nature of their state or society.

If we truly want to help and support Iranian women, we must first bring our cultural projections to consciousness – Are we truly supporting their struggle, or are we telling them how they should live their lives? For a society which is proud and emotionally attached to its culture, are we doing justice by following governmental-funded tabloids attempting to dismantle the very fabric of an anti-imperialist society which has evolved so progressively?

There isn’t much predictability about when the fog of propaganda would clear up so we could perceive matters free of the manufactured anger that the media has managed to muster from millions.


BELOW: More examples of Western propaganda, including possible cases of people innocently repeating the lies created and first disseminated by the Deep State. 


ANYBODY CAN BE FOOLED BY WESTERN PROPAGANDA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Al Mayadeen is a pan-Arabist satellite television news channel launched on 11 June 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon. Its programming is predominantly news. It has news reporters in most Arab countries. Mona Issa is an international correspondent with Arabic roots.


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Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.




The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of The Greanville Post


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