Category Archives: EU

Voilà! Now the Russians use EU research projects when they spy!

When we were asked in school what we first of all wished for the future we usually answered: “a peaceful world”. When we were slightly older we added: “good health”. And I suppose that these are the priorities we stick to through life. And yet we are so naively susceptible to warmongers when they inflame our feelings against one or other “enemy”, that we suddenly forget all the horrors that lack of peace implies.

The incitement against Russia in our media these days is pathetic and utterly scary. Every possible “news” is bent to portray Russia as a dangerous enemy with evil intentions, as if to prepare us for the necessity of a coming war.

Some days ago a special Russian airplane, engaged to perform tasks in an international research program on the climate, financed by EU, was expelled from Sweden. As part of the research project it was intended to fly in areas which authorities considered “sensitive”, with the consequence that the permit was withdrawn. For disputed reasons the plane could not take off to Russia in the stipulated time and was grounded on a distant airport. This urged my sophisticated newspaper to cry out: “A Russian aircraft violated Swedish territory for several days”.

Any suspicions of the plane being used by the Russians for spying purposes was rejected by the German leader of the research team, Fred Stroh. “On arrival to the base the plane is stripped almost naked and you can look into it everywhere” says Stroh, doubting that it would be possible to sneak in any spy equipment; “the space is occupied by our instruments”. The reason for hiring this particular plane was that it is built to operate on high altitudes. In the project it was intended to measure things like water vapor and ozone.

The research team had rent a special hangar in Kiruna and transported their equipment in containers from Germany some 2,000 kilometers, everything in vain. Had an equivalent event happened in Russia our newspapers had certainly focused on the disappointment among the members of the research team and denounced Russia deeply for its ludicrous suspicions.

It’s hardly plausible that the Swedish authorities really expected any Russian spying during this environmental project. The plane could be inspected any time by any conceivable Swedish expert, and foul play by the Russians had been a dreadful blow to all possible good-will they had achieved. But the propaganda has reached such a “high” level that our media can assume the Russians to be stupid beyond all limits, and get away with it.

More probable than the spy suspicions are that the withdrawing of the permit in itself served its purpose in the propaganda war. And our prime paper – Dagens Nyheter – fulfilled its duty in serving the whole story as a hostile and insidious action by our arch enemy.

Refugees rightfully gets attention – causes though neglected

To its credit our main daily – Dagens Nyheter – has engaged in the refugee crisis on a large scale (just like many media in Europe). The now famous picture of the dead child increased the engagement manyfold for a disaster with hundreds of dead refugees going on for months. (There are other, even more horrible pictures of drowned children to be found on the Internet, but this particular one made it through the mainstream filter.)

DN focuses on the humanitarian aspect, urging their readers to be more open to immigration and to support charity organizations. They have opened a hashtag (#jagdelar) on social media and engaged celebrities for a campaign in favor of the refugees. It’s almost a total commitment on a large part of the staff.

Implicitly this campaign also points at the Sweden Democrats, a rapidly growing, semi-fascist party which recently became the largest one among Swedish men in polls. Historically the party has a Nazi background, but some smarter leaders realized the benefits of putting on a blazer and a tie and let their shaved sculls regain some hair. But they are still haunted by their history and one or other racist roughneck stepping out of line has to be excluded now and then.

The Sweden Democrats is based on the one single issue of eliminating immigration, sold to the public with untimely nationalistic rhetoric. Its success originates undoubtedly from a decade of right-wing government politics which worsened living conditions for unemployed, sick and other people in need, without reducing unemployment, especially not for the young. A wave of privatizations of schools, hospitals, pharmacies and many other institutions delivered few benefits but the more of scandals, such as mismanagement from greed, outright fraud and enormous private profits. This created the fertile soil of discontent on which the Sweden Democrats grew like mushrooms.

To the refugee disaster charity is the one thing individuals can contribute to at present, and must be endorsed. But the prospect of changing the wide-spread popular sentiments towards immigration through media propaganda is probably meager. An important newspaper, however, should also analyze the events that caused the need for people to flee their countries, to find out what should be done now to put out the fire, and what should be avoided in the future.

It’s an obvious truism that the violent turbulence in the Middle East area derives directly from brutal western activities in the region, starting (this time) with the wars of aggression on Afghanistan and Iraq, reinforced with violent interference in a number of other countries.

The first step that we in the West should take is self evident: Stop all our own military activities, use western overwhelming might to force all militant parties into peace negotiations and funnel a part of our wealth to humanitarian aid. We must simply realize that our military power no longer is a working means of dominating the world, if it ever really were. Apart from everything else, the violent counter-forces are becoming too strong.

Ruling elites are of course aware of these conditions, they are not stupid, but they simply don’t care. Destruction of the world, especially other people’s world, has no priority over short term profit or other gains. But WE, the people, must use our democratic power to MAKE THEM realize our priorities.

How? Well, that’s just the good question!

EU information war against Russia – a lying contest?

“EU readies action plan to counter Russian media ‘disinformation’” says RT.com Thursday, referring to leaked documents. My “anti-disinformation” paper Dagens Nyheter obviously intercepted the leak and started the counter-attack already on Wednesday. They didn’t assign their sharpest pen for the task so the different lines of thought in his article were not necessarily consistent with one another.

The brave thinker had incidentally found one brilliant crux in the apparent success for Russian propagandists, who namely have discovered the weak spot in western societies: our inclination for the postmodern fantasy that there are no facts, just different narratives. That the absolute truth belongs with western media is obviously an axiom and was not even mentioned. Instead a number of Russian false narratives were lined up. Some examples:

It’s a lie that Russia didn’t plan the occupation of Crimea. It’s a lie that Russian regular troops haven’t been commanded to fight in Ukraine. It’s a lie that the Kiev government ordered the shoot-down of the Malaysian passenger plane. And the scribbler is apparently cocksure that he owns the truth, though he has not a shred of evidence to support it with. He doesn’t even suggest that there is any need whatsoever to supply evidence, or even reasonable arguments.

And this is the center of the real postmodern fog we move around in:

– We “are convinced at heart” that Putin has evil intentions.
– We “know” that Russia is waging a war of aggression on Ukraine.
– We “are certain” that Putin and Russian media are lying about probably all crucial events.
– It took the Swedish foreign minister two hours to definitely “establish” that MH17 was shot down by pro-Russian rebels assisted by Russians.
– Although a steadily increasing number of factors point at the Ukrainian Air Force as the perpetrator, it’s still “self evident” that the Russians are to blame.
– It’s “of course” Putin that lies behind the killings of Nemtsov and the other journalists who met the same fate.
– And if it isn’t Putin personally it’s his “spirit”, and therefor “his name will forever be tied to these murders” as another journalist in the same paper put it.

With their almost pathological capacity of self-justification our journalists cannot even dream of having to prove anything of what they claim. And conversely it’s presupposed that everything that “the enemy” says is a lie, sometimes even when proof is evident.

But the main strategy of monitoring the “truth” in western media is to avoid, repress or silence everything that speaks in favor of “the enemy”, but the more meticulously sort out and magnify every little enemy aberration to be found.

“We are the truth!” is our media credo (with divine inspiration); don’t have us provide any proof of what we claim!

The author I’ve mentioned had the guts to call on – everybody else supposedly – to “pursue the truth” as a means to counter the Russian “Information war”!!

At this point I just had to go for a walk in the sunshine.

2015 – the year of human beings, or business as usual?

Looking forward  to what this new year will bring one may wonder if there indeed will occur some unexpected changes for the better in world affairs. For five hundred years we, the Europeans and our off-shoots, have held large parts of the world in a violent grip, mainly for the purpose of enriching and empowering ourselves.

We started by continuously slaughter each other in Europe, thus making war our favorite hobby. With development of modern weapons we got an upper hand globally, and made war a science. From that point on we started to afflict the world with unspeakable horror in order to enlarge and secure our imperialistic conquests.

As late as in my first years in school, some 60 years ago, imperialism was described as a benevolent enterprise, almost a sacrifice made by the white man to help and lift the bewildered herds. The fact that we blessed the poor savages with our civilization by enslaving and slaughtering them was not really recognized. Nor did we hear that our missionary work, much lauded by our teachers, was just a matter of exchanging one superstition for another.

We have in many ways continued to use blinkers to shade off the unpleasant consequences of our efforts to dominate the world. The prime concern has always been to keep the poor majority of people down (if necessary with mass killings). We used small elites in the conquered regions to ensure that wealth and recourses from around the world ultimately landed in the hands of our rich elite.

Our rampage naturally fostered resistance and uprisings. Up came “communism”, a repressive system perfect as a pretext for continued military actions against egalitarian movements wherever they appeared. We left millions of corpses on battlefields all over the world, and hundreds of millions more as a consequence of an economic system that deprived people of elementary living conditions. And we ended up praising ourselves as some kind of saints, affording the world “freedom, democracy and human rights”.

Blatantly racist colonialism’s prime time ended in the 1960s, leaving room for more indirect, but no less effective, means of domination. In just recent years these methods too have met successful resistance here and there, perhaps most significantly in South America. With the convenient pretext “Soviet Communism” gone there were further hopes for our violent tendencies to calm down, but such niceties doesn’t fit our epigenetic habits.

“Communism” had been “the single question”, the all encompassing phenomenon we had to aim all our military capacity against. But that turned out to have been a lie for 40 years. As soon as the Berlin wall fell, we (US supported by EU) started to create capitalist Russia as the new suitable target, first by seceding large parts from the former Soviet territory, then by expanding NATO into Russia’s borders and installing offensive missile bases in Eastern Europe.

Finally we reached Ukraine, and the probably much anticipated Russian reaction took place. Our warmongers, for all their different reasons, got the fodder they had longed for.

And that’s where we are today. Let’s see if reason, sensibility and consideration can play a part this coming year 2015.

Stupid losses of invaluable lives in meaningless wars.

Who’s killing whom in Ukraine? The secessionists in the southeast obviously declared independence from a government which they considered illegal, hostile and even dangerous to them and their Russian language, culture and religion. Thus they occupied buildings, obtained arms and built barricades. But they didn’t kill anyone.

“We” (US and EU) had no objections to the violent street coup in Kiev spearheaded by neo-Nazis, who then got important seats in the resulting new government (with a Prime Minister picked by US diplomats). Nor did we react towards blatant anti-Russian statements and decisions made by that government and directed towards their own citizens living in the southeastern part of the country.

During this phase we could easily have calmed down the situation, since the Ukrainian leaders were completely in our hands. We did the opposite. After each visit by characters like the US Vice President, the head of CIA, the notorious John McCain and others, the Ukrainian military made new attacks, though in the beginning rather futile. But we helped instigate the atrocities to come.

The regular Ukrainian army had qualms against killing their own fellow countrymen. It was not until the ruthless neo-Nazi elements in the so called militia were engaged that the indiscriminate murdering of civilians took off. Shelling and bombing hit the population (a war crime, by the way) leading to what must be called ethnic cleansing, forcing by now probably one million Ukrainians to leave their homes; many of them their country. Still we had no objections to this tragic part of the conflict and its perpetrators.

We see only one villain, whom we harass with defamation and sanctions: Vladimir Putin. His administration had from the beginning a reluctant attitude towards the rebels, making them disappointed by denying them open support. In our Goebbels-like propaganda, though, it’s Russia and Putin who are waging the war in Ukraine. Russian hawks naturally prevent Putin from denying the rebels at least some real help, but still probably no decisive backup that could be pictured as waging a war.

To evaluate the moral content of the Russian behavior we have to compare with our own actions in similar situations. There happens to be a case as close to equivalent as history can provide, namely Kosovo, where an Albanian minority wanted the enclave seceded from Serbia. They got western support for this action and to implement the secession US bombed Belgrade and other parts of the country for 78 days, without UN authorization, killing an estimated 3,000 people. One pretext for the bombing was Serbia’s ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanians, although these really started as a response to the US attacks.

Not only are we morally prevented from criticizing Russia for the secession of Crimea, since we have done exactly the same thing (at that expecting praise for it), we would neither possibly be in a position to morally condemn Putin if he got the bizarre idea to order bombing of Kiev for 78 days, as punishment for the obvious and lethal atrocities against civilians performed by Ukraine. But moral has no place in power games performed by militarily superior states. Putin cannot do the same things we have done; he has to do what we tell him.

This lack of moral principles is something that makes normal people sick, and we really don’t have to endure it. We just have to organize and overrule our governments. The problem is that power not only has the means of violence, but also has the propaganda tools that create our world view, unless we enlighten ourselves – together with others.

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.

Terribly stupid Cold War propaganda could end with terribly horrendous risks

Our public service television exerts in the same insidious propaganda on the Ukraine issue as the rest of MSM here. It works in fine-tuned details, in the careful choice of word, in subtle use of certain perspectives (though it still ends up in stupidities). Just to pick one example from yesterday: in the text-TV list of head-lines one could read: “Russia admits involvement.” Aha! Finally they confess to their responsibility for the unrest in eastern Ukraine! One looks up the article with certain anticipations – and finds something rather opposite.

The article was about the OSCE and Ukrainian hostages whom the pro-Russian activists had let free. Russia’s “involvement” had to do with the fact that a human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, had negotiated the release, together with a high western official (whose name I can’t find with a quick search now, tellingly enough). So, by performing a humane act, which no one in the west obviously had even tried, Russia admits its influence over the rebels! That’s the high level of intellect engaged in our propaganda model! Even Carl Bildt drew the same “brilliant” conclusion.

A simpler mind would have suggested that a Russian, or anybody else, just had to inform the activists that the hostage thing was very damaging to themselves and could contribute to nothing except bad PR. (So the release could possibly be viewed as a severe disappointment for warmongers of all kinds.)

To experience today’s naïve propaganda is wearying. It’s not just naïve but mostly outright silly, and epidemic at that. It’s taken as an axiom that Russia is bad and Putin a crook and hence that there is no reason to consider real facts or make any analysis. Journalists just have to construct stereotype sentences using templates from the former Cold War. And it becomes so terribly brainless.

In contrast to the original Cold War we can today enjoy reader’s comments in the newspapers web editions. Both in New York Times and in Dagens Nyheter (the Swedish NYT) those commentaries are highly informative in more than one way. Surprisingly large shares of the readers are nuanced, informed and analytic, thus critical towards the mostly propagandistic approach practiced by the journalists. These comments shed a promising light over the official propaganda machine, just as it gives hope for a more enlightened future.

This very day, May 5th, Ukraine is involving its military against its own population on a large scale. Thus the reporting here becomes more restrained (and the headline falls down in the text-TV list).  A civilized country using its military to fire live ammunition against its own population! And it seems not to be the most important issue. The focus is still on Russia, now with the question: when will they invade with troops?

What we experience is the logical outcome of a process that started with EU giving Ukraine an ultimatum to choose between Russia and itself as its future economic partner, thus more or less forcing Yanukovych to chose Russia (Putin had suggested a trilateral agreement which EU vetoed). To solely demonize Russia for this development is not just factually wrong, but worse still: leading nowhere but to horrible risks.

One horrible risk is that the point of no return is close…