Monthly Archives: August 2014

The second victim of war

The second victim of war seems to be the ability to think clearly.

“Putin is waging a war in Ukraine” wrote one journalist in our most mainstream paper recently, as if it was just self-evident. The combination of deep demagogy and shallow thinking we experience in our “enlightened” countries today will stun future historians. Not even the rebels started any war. They armed themselves in self-defense, but didn’t harm anyone. The war of aggression was launched by the Ukrainian leaders when they chose to meet their Russian speaking fellow countrymen’s grievances with deadly violence.

When the People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine were proclaimed Putin was from the very beginning hesitant to engage more actively with open support. That this stance has been upheld is clearly to show that the leaders in Russia are using their brains; thus concluding that there was nothing but problems for Russia to be gained from this uproar. Meanwhile we in the west avoided thinking, maintaining that Putin was about to invade Ukraine, an incredibly cretinous fantasy considering that such a step immediately would have engaged NATO’s entire military force which is some 15 times stronger than Russia’s. For us to believe such a thing Putin not only has to be stupid, he also has to be suicidal.

It could be claimed that a state has the right to use violence against armed insurgents, even domestic ones. Yes, but that’s in the first place why the Ukrainian leaders are the ones who’s waging a war. And secondly it’s a completely senseless way of trying to solve the real problems, unless the goal is to carry out total ethnic cleansing, driving everyone in the southeastern area out of the country, which of course is impossible.

Another consequence of war is obviously a hazardous shortsightedness. Ukrainians in the western and eastern parts of the country will have to live together in the future to come. For every day that passes the violence and the dead bodies on both sides will increase the hatred and thus aggravate the obstacles for a functioning agreement. The only solutions can come from negotiations, something that Putin has been pushing for tirelessly, others not.

Media in Sweden is almost unanimously propagandistic in favor of the attacking Ukrainian forces, spearheaded by neo-Nazis. No moral judgments are expressed about this so called militia’s ruthless killing of innocent civilians. No qualms are uttered whatsoever about the violent methods the Ukrainian leaders have chosen when met by understandable grievances from people in the southeast, which saw a government in Kiev formed after a coup and under supervision by US diplomats. The fact that this government included some neo-Nazi members and started by passing a law suppressing the Russian language hardly makes it inconceivable that the pro-Russian citizens in the southeast began to fear for their security and their possibilities to form their own lives.

The way our media palliates the Nazi connection is quite remarkable. Right now I happen to read Antony Beevor’s 1000-page book on World War II, published in 2012. In his view the Ukrainians were the ones most willing to help the German Nazis to liquidate Jews. He particularly mentions a method of extermination which he attributes to the Ukrainian Nazis. They simply locked people up in a house and sat it on fire. Those who tried to escape were killed. This shows an eerie resemblance with the horrible Odessa murders recently, where the same method was used.

Antisemitism has a long tradition in Ukraine, as has Nazi influences. The Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera is still honored by large groups wearing swastika-like symbols. One obvious reason for anti-Russian sentiments may have been Stalin’s horrible atrocities against the kulaks, costing more than three million lives. Beevor also mentions propaganda spread by Kremlin blaming the Jews for Ukraine’s hardship. The roots being whatever they are, in today’s Ukraine Nazism should be harshly condemned by democratic nations. In Anglo-Saxon (and Swedish) MSM this whole embarrassment is met with almost complete silence. To get a somewhat balanced approach to the Ukrainian issue these days, one has to look for a German newspaper (or The Nation, for instance).

Brainwashed lemmings towards the cliff?

Questions! Questions!

Are we really striving with open eyes and clear minds towards a major war in Europe? In that case, for what? Don’t we see those dead children in Gaza, with their small white faces and their mutilated bodies? Don’t we see the horror beaming from the eyes of the physically and mentally maimed small ones, many still babies? And despite that let a war in Europe come closer by each day, when we so easily could stop the march towards disaster? Are we utterly crazy?

And yes we, the so called western democracies which we think of as God’s masterpiece, indeed have the tools to change this development; first of all since we are the prime instigators of the whole mess which all started 25 years ago.

When the Soviet Union lost its power, to a large extent through popular struggle, we happily seized the opportunity by helping to break away fifteen new nations from the former super power. Then we approached those nations in attempts to bring them into our power field. (Among those Ukraine was the chief prize, according to a US official.)

For more than 40 years we had been taught that Soviet Communism, with its ambition to conquer the world, was the prime rot that had to be destroyed at any price. NATO was formed for this sole purpose, it was said. Well, the dreadful Soviet Communism disappeared overnight, and thereby the Warsaw Pact, but nothing logical followed. Instead NATO grew and expanded. We had been lied to, obviously.

It turned out that no one really had imagined the Soviet Union capable of conquering anything. The actual enemy was in fact all kinds of egalitarian politics, which threatened to distribute other countries’ assets to their own populations, instead of deliver them to their rightful owners, namely us.

Now we had a crippled Russia which first of all had to be purged from any trace of egalitarian delusion. A handful of US experts in that field (and a Swedish one) helped Yeltsin and Gaidar to give the country’s valuable assets away to a bunch of oligarchs, then force a steamroller over the Russian industry, totally crushing half of it, and in the process drive ten million people into death. It all seemed to run smoothly.

But then came Vladimir Putin and destroyed most of the joy. He reclaimed some of the nation’s wealth from the thieves, restored the public finances so that doctors and teachers who had been working for months and years without salary could be paid. In the process he also put an end to the genocide of the 1990s. Since then Putin naturally has been reelected with large majorities for 14 years in a row.

This was of course too much for us to chew. In our eyes Putin became the villain of the world, and Russia took over the Soviet role as enemy no. 1. That’s when we started to strike our claws into Ukraine in a rather aggressive way, totally neglecting the old ties between that country and Russia, and disregarding the Russian wishes not to have its prime enemy close to its borders.

During this conflict western moral has deteriorated severely. We have openly cooperated with pure Nazis and spread Ukrainian demagogy, disinformation and the silliest propaganda. We have swallowed the almost Goebbels-like claims that Ukrainian authority’s murdering of their own citizens, women and children, must be blamed on Putin. Not a single moral principle we apply on others (for instance Assad) is applied on the Ukrainian government, which apparently is engaged in ethnic cleansing, as hundreds of thousands of Donbas citizens are fleeing for their lives, many of them to Russia.

This absolutely uncritical and apologetic attitude towards the Ukrainian strongmen is our contribution to enhancing the risk of a war in Europe. We put all demands for restraints on Russia; they must not just obey our orders, they must be deprived every right to national security, and their natural interests must be neglected.

There are “doves” like Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski who recommend US and EU to guarantee Russia that Ukraine never will join NATO. That should be considered a minor concession from the West, but certainly a major contribution to detente. The fact that not even these two older statesmen make any impression on the Obama administration raises doubts about US intentions. Is a dangerous war in Europe a realistic option for this administration?

Loan bubble in Sweden – promising a phenomenal burst

In July this year the Swedish National bank (Riksbanken) cut its key interest rate by two thirds, to reach the European norm 0.25 percent. The head of the bank – Stefan Ingves – had struggled to keep the rate high in his attempts to suppress the swelling bubble of private debt. He seemed to be one of the few economists in Sweden who really worried about that bubble. It’s just that he was accompanied by OECD, EU, the World Bank and other expert bodies who all have expressed serious concern and had given Sweden grave warnings. Finally Ingves had to give in to the majority of the board, who think that the debt problem should be dealt with by other means and by the government (which probably is correct since Ingves’ policy hasn’t prevented the bubble from growing pathologically).

As we have written earlier on this issue the amount of housing loans in Sweden have literally exploded during the last ten years, from 0.7 trillion SEK to 2.7 trillion, i.e. by 400 percent (1 USD = 6.8 SEK), and are still expanding. This increase is of course not even distantly founded on real economic factors. It has mostly been enabled by the banks emitting fictitious money. One important observation, never mentioned by economists, is that part of that imaginary money certainly has trickled into the economy and created a demand without much foundation in reality. We have hence lived beyond our means and the day of payment lies ahead, perhaps in the near future.

This trickle effect also puts some perspective on our Finance minister’s bragging about the Swedish economy, which apparently escaped the 2008 crisis better than many other countries’. It may have been a giant Keynesian experiment, except that the liabilities are private and has to be paid in real life by living creatures (not by state economies that can dribble with debts in different ways).

In the last statistics the debt increase had accelerated compared to the previous year. With the lowered rates now taking effect we can expect further aggressive uttering of loans by the banks. The other day I even had a letter from our large cooperative organization – Coop – trying to persuade me to accept a loan for a quarter of a million SEK, without any specific security. Everyone is eager to make some easy profits as long as it works. And when it doesn’t work anymore the banks rest assured that the taxpayers will save their stock holders from any losses. The same tax payers that will end up with a personal debt for lifetime if they aren’t among the least vulnerable.

Since politicians and economists can’t claim to be totally deaf and blind there has been some minor debate on the debt problem. But just shallow and scarce discussions, with the only exception of some miniscule measures guaranteed not to provide any real effects whatsoever. The present bourgeoisie government is expected to lose next month’s elections with a large margin, and it seems as if they willingly are handing over the problem to the Social Democrats.

In this rare debate one economist actually was admitted an op-ed in our main paper DN, one weeks ago. He dealt on some of the measures discussed, and strongly advised against one of them. We are in this country endowed with a tax reduction amounting to 30 percent of interest payments on all kinds of loans. One of the measures discussed is to repeal this right to reduction, an operation our economist strongly opposed. His argument was that such an action probably would trigger the avalanche and create the crisis it was intended to prevent.

Another aspect discussed is the norm for amortizing house loans. Those norms are extremely liberal here compared with most other countries. Since three decades house owners have de facto been relieved from paying any part of their loans whatsoever. Some demand for minor net repayments are now in place. Our economist’s argument generalizes to this measure, and to all others that has a substantive effect. A demand for repayment that really would impede increasing loans has to be of a magnitude that would tip too many house owners off the cliff and thus make the bubble burst.

It’s almost a law of nature that financial bubbles can’t be deflated in a controlled way. There is no smooth landing for a rocket. That’s probably one reason why our most distinguished economists are silent about the loan crisis. At best they are relying on the perfect market hypothesis, but probably they just prepare to keep hiding when the crash comes. Our politicians will probably put their heads in a bag and blame some previous government and the other parties.

Autumn and election years constitute a fruitful environment for financial crisis, both coming up soon in Sweden. Right now everything seems calm and under control, but that is also a precursor as good as any for dramatic events on the economic arena. I wouldn’t be surprised if the loan bubble here would burst any time soon, and if I had a house to sell I would already had done it.