Russian Disinformation Campaigns: The Ancient Art Of Subversive Trolling

How much fact checking do you engage in when forming an opinion?

  • Where is the fun in checking facts? I love spreading outrageous stories based on spurious evidence.

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • I don't really have the time or the inclination to fact check. I expect journalists to be honest.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • If I read something unusual I make a point of following it up because I am curious.

    Votes: 5 38.5%
  • I am pretty skeptical of what I read. I seldom fact check beyond Snopes or similar sites though

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • I will not dismiss an odd story out of hand, but I do demand solid proof before I accept it.

    Votes: 4 30.8%
  • I am a bulldog with a bone when it comes to fact checking. I love it.

    Votes: 1 7.7%
  • My fact checking has begun to correlate all the contents and revealed troubling cosmic vistas

    Votes: 1 7.7%

  • Total voters
    13
  • Poll closed .

AlchoPwn

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#31
Here are a few articles that should shed light on the questions you asked me. The first one is all about the tactics, which I think it what Min wanted to know most.

Russian Hacker Tactics
https://www.politico.eu/article/how-russia-wins-an-election/

Old People voted to Brexit
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/u...ung-voters-remain-eu-referendum-a7103996.html

Young People didn't turn out to vote enough
https://www.ft.com/content/ef0745e0-3d2c-11e6-9f2c-36b487ebd80a

Wired on Russian Hackers
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/brexit-russia-influence-twitter-bots-internet-research-agency

Economist's take
https://www.economist.com/news/brit...-small-campaign-new-findings-are-emerging-all

Independent's article on Russian agenda
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices...ndum-politicians-right-to-worry-a7679701.html
 

Analis

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#32
7. Incompetence, arrogance, self interest in politicians. FFS, politicians are people, and having met quite a few on most sides of politics, they are generally better people than the tinfoil hat brigade. Tinfoilers love to accuse and complain but have no answers to the problems they are complaining about and reject all answers offered as unsatisfactory, while literally demonizing anyone who disagrees with them, calling them reptiles and whatnot. The truth of the matter is that most politicians are masochistic idealists. They go into politics hoping they can make a difference, firmly believing in a set of principles and with a plan.
Disinterested, sincerely idealistic ? To the point of being masochistic ? At the lowest local level, it may be true. But in my experience, as soon as the level of a town with 5 000 residents, they are already dishonnest manipulative liars. And it becomes worse at every higher level, so that at the summit and close to it we are left only with sociopaths, psychopaths, megalomaniacs, narcissistic manipulators, self-interested paranoids... It should also be taken into account that idealism is definitely not a protection against a policy of abuse of power. Torquemada, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Pol Pot and all their followers were motivated not by their personal interest, but deeply invested in their ideals, which they sincerely believed in. Many US presidents and congressmen probably really believe that they are acting for the good of their country or even of the world, but it doesn't make more reliable, on the contrary. In fact, in their case, their 'idealism' has degenerated in a defense of their way of life, enforced in very agressive ways, including by perpetuating exploitation of lower classes and other countries, lobbying for worlwide neo-liberal policies, promoting military agression (bad and evil wars, because they are bad and evil, not because they would be unwinable) and funding destabilization of whole countries.

To progress through the quagmire of politics, in any system, one needs to be an obsessive, fierce and relentless man or woman. The kind of representative and more or less liberal government of Western states does not improve things, as the electoral system selects only the worst, the most manipulative ploters. The conspiracist mindset is useful to understand how they work, because they are themselves conspiracists, thinking only in terms of perpetual plots against them by their opponents from within their own political parties and allies, seeing litterally conspiracies everywhere ; and because they are themselves full-time conspirators, plotting endlessly against the same opponents to raise their position of power and maintaining it. They are so because it is the only way to survive in this deadly environment. I remember that in a Fortean Times editorial, it was noted that a recent study had shown that in a given instance, 'conspiracists' were prone to consider that rulers had perpretated a conspiracy because if they had been in their place, they would've done the same. From which the FT editors, using the kind of pompous and self-righteous drivel favored for example with the Hierophant's Apprentice, had concluded that it suggested that conspiracists had a psychology that differed from the common layman. But FT were wide of the mark, as they didn't realize the basic truth that politicians are really the very different bunch of people from the ordinary citizen, people who would do things that the latter would never dare to think of as possible.

Some of that may be the case, but currently the FBI seems to think that about half a dozen Trump campaign bigwigs have serious charges to face. Now if you are going to tell me the FBI is pro-Democrat, I think I will have to laugh, because it just ain't so. Trump came into office with a lot more enemies in the Republican Party than in the Democrats in any case. It remains a known fact that most sitting Republicans want him out of the picture.
While it is an exageration to say that he has more ennemies among Republican than among Democrats (almost every democrat loathes him, while he has still a significant – but dwingling - number of supporters among Republicans), it is true that a majority of Republicans are defiant of him. The problem is less a matter of democrats trying to have their revenge (although the Democrat electorate are certainly very sensitive to this), than of ruling elites, agreeing on the basic principles of US neo-imperial foreign policy, trying to keep him in the right line.

The assumption here is that older people don't use the internet, and that is incorrect. Next to everyone under 75 uses the internet on a daily basis. Young people are the main consumers because they are checking their message feed every 5 min, but in many ways that is a misrepresentation of what is going on.
I know many elederly people, as relatives or friends of theirs, all middle-class and clever people. And with only one exception, they don't use internet, nor are they interested to. The one who does never goes on participative forums or social media. They are simply not of the right mindset.
In the case of Brexit, the easier explanation is that Leavers voted for reasons of their own, linked to matters of domestic politics, not because Russians had told them to do so. The same is true for Trump voters.
 
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Min Bannister

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#33
Here are a few articles that should shed light on the questions you asked me. The first one is all about the tactics, which I think it what Min wanted to know most.l
Thank you. I couldn't read the FT article which is behind a paywall but the others appear to either have evidence for the US election but not really for the EU referendum or state that most of the anti-EU Russian troll tweets actually came AFTER the EU referendum. In that case, maybe the US election was the one that was actually targeted and the EU referendum result was a sort of happy co-incidence and used as a prompt to US citizens to go against the grain and vote Trump. The final Indie article seems to come to a similar conclusion.
 

AlchoPwn

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#34
Hi Analis, sounds like you have very little regard for democracy or its outcomes. I don't see you proposing any alternatives. Do you own a lot of brown shirts?

BTW I seriously stand by what I wrote. Most politicians I have met have been anything but cynical or sociopathic. They form a normal cross-section of the community in my experience, with no abnormal rates of mental illness. The same is not true of lobbyists, in my experience, however. Now I see you touting a large number of 20th Century dictators, but that just makes me wonder all the more whether you have an extensive wardrobe full of brown shirts. Dictatorship is not democracy, and to measure a democracy against a dictatorship is a false equivalency. Please consider that you may be overstating your case?

As for exploiting the lower classes, as even Communism, whose primary avowed goal was not to exploit the lower classes found that they couldn't achieve that. Eventually someone has to do some work and the best we as a society can do is adequately remunerate the workers. The problem there is that the more skilled the job, the more people expect to be paid for it, and while people are considered to be equal before the law, what employers will pay for various skills is far from equal. Does that mean you hate Capitalism, because wage rates are far more about market forces than politics, save where a social safety net is in place.

I note also that you attack idealism in leaders, saying that it leads to aggressive policies, when it also leads to an honest agenda without the very elements of sociopathic manipulation that you initially said you detest. You do realize that people who go into office should have a plan? And that this plan is probably based on ideals, for how could it not be? So if you complain about idealism, why don't you yourself be a bit more pragmatic?

Now you say that politicians are essentially ruthless and obsessive individuals who organize themselves into conspiracies, claiming that conspiracy theorists are the only ones paranoid enough to understand what is going on.

I totally disagree. In fact I think your opinion of politicians is a form of perverse demonizing and suggests you know very little about what is, for the most part, a very boring and bureaucratic job that carries relatively few rewards when compared to corporate employment. Politicians are simply not that horrid. They are often

Next, face facts, most conspiracy theorists are utterly deranged and have less than no idea about what is really going on. They are concerned about satanism, ufos and reptilian humanoids, not about budgets, committee meetings, and policy statements. They seem to think that the political party they oppose holds weird rituals after they finish the business of the day, then cavort naked with devils and aliens, rather than having a coffee or going to a bar for a drink. If what you said about politicians was said about someone of a minority ethnic affiliation you would be called a bigot or worse.

As for unwinnable wars, I would point out that it is people like yourself undermining military efforts than makes wars unwinnable, while at the same time demanding action any time your country is attacked. Frankly, destabilizing and destroying countries that initiate hostile action against one's own people is the whole point of making war.

As to Trump, I stand by what I said. I don't think Dems think in terms of revenge. For them the mindset is more about outrage, and Trump keeps delivering. I think it will be the Republicans who eventually have enough of this outsider tarnishing their brand and find a way to give him the boot. I wonder what sort of President Pence will make?

As to elderly people not using forums, well, I agree with your assessment. I don't think the Russian hacking was a major contributor to Brexit, but the fact that Russian interference occurred at all is grounds for concern, given Putin's increasingly aggressive foreign policy.
 

Analis

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#35
Now I see you touting a large number of 20th Century dictators, but that just makes me wonder all the more whether you have an extensive wardrobe full of brown shirts. Dictatorship is not democracy, and to measure a democracy against a dictatorship is a false equivalency. Please consider that you may be overstating your case?
Not really, because I do think that the difference is not so big between dictaorships and what you call democracy, which is in fact not democracy but elected oligarchy, which in a number of Western countries (notably the USA) has evolved into an imperial national security state. All carry on an agenda of deception and marginalization of dissent in order to maintain their power. In the US oligarchy, things do not improve, on the contrary freedoms become more and more tightened up, militarianism is on the rise and distinctions they had from an authoritarian regime are progressively dwingling.

As for exploiting the lower classes, as even Communism, whose primary avowed goal was not to exploit the lower classes found that they couldn't achieve that. Eventually someone has to do some work and the best we as a society can do is adequately remunerate the workers. The problem there is that the more skilled the job, the more people expect to be paid for it, and while people are considered to be equal before the law, what employers will pay for various skills is far from equal. Does that mean you hate Capitalism, because wage rates are far more about market forces than politics, save where a social safety net is in place.
I have no quarrel with you on that, I am not a socialist. A touch of thatcherist reforms is good for some countries. Howver, in a country where unbridled capitalism reigns, it is not only useless, but socially destructive.

In fact I think your opinion of politicians is a form of perverse demonizing and suggests you know very little about what is, for the most part, a very boring and bureaucratic job that carries relatively few rewards when compared to corporate employment.
Emphasis is often put on the power held by big companies, but in fact it is overstimated. Politicians and high civil servants earn less, but hold more power than them. In my opinion, political power is not only greater, but even more addictive than corporate power.

I note also that you attack idealism in leaders, saying that it leads to aggressive policies, when it also leads to an honest agenda without the very elements of sociopathic manipulation that you initially said you detest.
Sadly, nowadays, this is something that is lacking in Western countries.

You do realize that people who go into office should have a plan? And that this plan is probably based on ideals, for how could it not be? So if you complain about idealism, why don't you yourself be a bit more pragmatic?
This is not really important, as presently, in the USA, I stand by what I said, the only 'idealism' shared by the political class is to keep their way of life by any means necessary (a way of life identified with their national identity and so incarnated in their agressive nationalism).

Now you say that politicians are essentially ruthless and obsessive individuals who organize themselves into conspiracies, claiming that conspiracy theorists are the only ones paranoid enough to understand what is going on.
It's a bit like profiling serial killers. You have to be able to think a bit like them in order to achieve this unpleasant aim. It's the same with high-level politicians. Those who are labelled 'conspiracists' are often people who are not morally as rotten as needed to become one of them, but are lucid enough to understand how they are. I am paranoid, but am I paranoid enough ?

Next, face facts, most conspiracy theorists are utterly deranged and have less than no idea about what is really going on. They are concerned about satanism, ufos and reptilian humanoids, not about budgets, committee meetings, and policy statements.
They represent only the lunatic fringe of 'conspiracism' (except that UFOs are not a great concern to them, save for ufology's own lunatic fringe). And it should not have us forget that politicians are the prime conspiracists par excellence. They are conspiracists because they are permanent conspirators, and they are conspirators because they are permanent conspiracists.

If what you said about politicians was said about someone of a minority ethnic affiliation you would be called a bigot or worse.
Aaa, the antiracist analogy. It doesn't mean much, however. Your sentence could be easily paraphrased in something as "If what you said about gangsters was said about someone of a minority ethnic affiliation you would be called a bigot or worse"...

As for unwinnable wars, I would point out that it is people like yourself undermining military efforts than makes wars unwinnable, while at the same time demanding action any time your country is attacked.
Do you have an extensive wardrobe full of military jackets ? :D

Frankly, destabilizing and destroying countries that initiate hostile action against one's own people is the whole point of making war.
No ! You don't try to destroy a country when at war with it. This is the definition of total war, and is in itself a war crime. Not that war crimes are much of a concern to the US political class nowadays...

As to Trump, I stand by what I said. I don't think Dems think in terms of revenge. For them the mindset is more about outrage, and Trump keeps delivering. I think it will be the Republicans who eventually have enough of this outsider tarnishing their brand and find a way to give him the boot.
If you are right to underline their feeling of outrage, I think that you underestimate the desire for mere revenge among Democrats. But I agree that Republicans may well eventually be the ones who would remove Trump. In fact, it concurs with my views : he is an outsider, whose platform is not compatible with theirs, who won the primary against their wish, and for this reason is barely tolerated.
A good reminder :
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-did-we-end-up-with-such-unpopular-candidates/
Hillary Clinton is the archetypal 21st-century candidate’s candidate, a fully formed tool of the oligarchy. Whether she wins or loses in November, she is the model for the next era of American politics.

Clinton sees the people as a mass to be pandered to and manipulated. She is simply a machine to gain power for its own sake (and money). The 1 percent tagged her early as exactly whom they wanted to see in charge, someone who could be bought off, and she was nice enough to create her own vehicle to allow them to do that conveniently: write a check to the Clinton Foundation. As a bonus, it was also tax-deductible.

If Hillary had not existed, it would have been necessary for the wealthy who control most of America to create her.
...
The Democrat machinery and the people who control it made Clinton the inevitable candidate. There was no one else who ever had a chance. America was told to suck it up and vote for her, whether they liked it or not.

Trump Stumbles Into His Role

The Republican Party fully misunderstood its constituency, thinking one of a litter of robo-candidates would be good enough to simply run as Not Obama, Not Hillary.

Each candidate on offer fell into the mold of ultra-mainstream, such as the why-am-I-here Jeb Bush, or the nut-case category, as with Ben Carson. Ted Cruz couldn’t make up his mind, and vacillated between the two options. The plan was likely to meld the two wings into a ticket and scoop up as many conservative votes as possible.
Ruling oligarchs see Trump as the man who disturbed the pre-ordained march of the last US presidential election, and this is indeed unforgivable in their eyes...
 

AlchoPwn

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#36
Not really, because I do think that the difference is not so big between dictaorships and what you call democracy, which is in fact not democracy but elected oligarchy, which in a number of Western countries (notably the USA) has evolved into an imperial national security state. All carry on an agenda of deception and marginalization of dissent in order to maintain their power. In the US oligarchy, things do not improve, on the contrary freedoms become more and more tightened up, militarianism is on the rise and distinctions they had from an authoritarian regime are progressively dwingling.
Militarianism? Do you mean millenarianism or militarism?

As to the rest of your comment, are you properly aware that most people in corporate life who are pulling in a good income consider politics to be the booby prize for people who couldn't make it in the private sphere. As to there being no democracy, well, the term is used very flexibly to describe various forms of representative government. Consider that the Democratic Republic of North Korea isn't the sort of democracy that we are used to. Britain is a constitutional monarchy, not a democracy, and the USA is a Republic, not a democracy.


Emphasis is often put on the power held by big companies, but in fact it is overstimated. Politicians and high civil servants earn less, but hold more power than them. In my opinion, political power is not only greater, but even more addictive than corporate power.
On the contrary, politicians and civil servants earn less AND have less power than corporations. This is managed through the process of political donations, lobby groups, and special committees. Ultimately those who control the money flow control the whip hand. When politicians attempt to raise corporate taxation, or increase corporate regulation all hell breaks loose, or haven't you noticed? There are loads of examples. The corporations and the politicians have an agreement to provide plenty of loopholes. But how does this benefit the nation? It doesn't. Corporate power now far exceeds that of government as it is not answerable to the public, only to its shareholders, and only barely accountable to them.


Sadly, nowadays, this is something that is lacking in Western countries.
Gramatically this comment has an indeterminate context. Are you pro-idealist or pro-sociopath now?


This is not really important, as presently, in the USA, I stand by what I said, the only 'idealism' shared by the political class is to keep their way of life by any means necessary (a way of life identified with their national identity and so incarnated in their agressive nationalism).
So you would prefer to have representatives who weren't interested in promoting and protecting their nation? Do you consider this a problem on both sides of the US political divide? The only point I will concede to you here is that I dislike the political dynasties that have been a feature of US political life. That is never a healthy sign. On the other hand, the USA recently elected Donald Trump, not a second Clinton president. As this was a terrible choice to make either way, with neither candidate being worthy of any respect, I would be inclined to say that something is badly broken in the US political system, and the entrenched interests you allude to seem to have lost their grip entirely.


It's a bit like profiling serial killers. You have to be able to think a bit like them in order to achieve this unpleasant aim. It's the same with high-level politicians. Those who are labelled 'conspiracists' are often people who are not morally as rotten as needed to become one of them, but are lucid enough to understand how they are. I am paranoid, but am I paranoid enough ?

They (the tinfoil hat brigade)represent only the lunatic fringe of 'conspiracism' (except that UFOs are not a great concern to them, save for ufology's own lunatic fringe). And it should not have us forget that politicians are the prime conspiracists par excellence. They are conspiracists because they are permanent conspirators, and they are conspirators because they are permanent conspiracists.
By this statement I consider you to number among the tinfoil hat brigade. You are making this claim based on a great paucity of tangible evidence. The fact is that every government is required to operate a security apparatus that is responsible for foreign and domestic intelligence gathering. This is not the same as operating a conspiracy, unless the conspiracy is stopping infiltration and attacks on the country, and keeping the nation prepared in case of war.

Aaa, the antiracist analogy. It doesn't mean much, however. Your sentence could be easily paraphrased in something as "If what you said about gangsters was said about someone of a minority ethnic affiliation you would be called a bigot or worse"...
History attests to the fact that some gangsters were surprisingly nice people. This was especially true during prohibition in the USA. The only gangsters I have ever met were Russian mobsters, and they tried to kill me with an overdose of alcohol. On the other hand, they themselves were also attempting suicide in a similar fashion. This obviously doesn't hold true for what is happening in Juarez atm however. Even in organized crime, people are people.


Do you have an extensive wardrobe full of military jackets ? :D
TBH I would love to have the money and the room to own and display some 19th century cavalry uniforms. Khaki just isn't as attractive.


No ! You don't try to destroy a country when at war with it. This is the definition of total war, and is in itself a war crime. Not that war crimes are much of a concern to the US political class nowadays...
I checked that and couldn't find anything to suggest that there is a clear definition of when total war is considered a war crime. The notion that civilians should be kept out of fire is generally accepted, but that doesn't mean that every part of the infrastructure of a country isn't fair game. Now some people have described Darfur and Rwanda as total war, but this is an obvious case where the term total war is being misapplied. In Rwanda for example, hastily formed civilian militias set about actively attacking their neighbours, this was effectively civilian on civilian mass violence, and not total war. Likewise in Darfur, you had effectively a bandit force actively attacking a civilian population.

The definition of Total War is:
Total war, military conflict in which the contenders are willing to make any sacrifice in lives and other resources to obtain a complete victory, as distinguished from limited war. Throughout history, limitations on the scope of warfare have been more economic and social than political.

Thus the main crime of total war is in the abuse of a country's domestic civilian population as slave labor and cannon fodder, not the destruction of the enemy's civilian population. That is a different sort of crime.

Ruling oligarchs see Trump as the man who disturbed the pre-ordained march of the last US presidential election, and this is indeed unforgivable in their eyes...
Am I to take it then that you are supporter of Trump? He sounds like the very answer to all your prayers based on your comments above.
 

Analis

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#37
Militarianism? Do you mean millenarianism or militarism?
Militarism, my mistake.

On the contrary, politicians and civil servants earn less AND have less power than corporations. This is managed through the process of political donations, lobby groups, and special committees. Ultimately those who control the money flow control the whip hand. When politicians attempt to raise corporate taxation, or increase corporate regulation all hell breaks loose, or haven't you noticed? There are loads of examples. The corporations and the politicians have an agreement to provide plenty of loopholes. But how does this benefit the nation? It doesn't. Corporate power now far exceeds that of government as it is not answerable to the public, only to its shareholders, and only barely accountable to them.
Yes, I know that it has become cliché, but in my opinion the situation you depict is exagerated. In the US notably, and EU countries to a lesser degree, corporations have gained a much too big influence, but in the end the true prower remains in the hands of state agents. A corporate budget is minute as compared to a state budget, corporations can exert much influence by lobbying, but they have no army, can raise no taxes, and in the end, all it takes to quell them is a proceeding and a good fine (and every time it was needed, they had to suffer one).

So you would prefer to have representatives who weren't interested in promoting and protecting their nation?
No, I would prefer representatives who do not confuse the defense of their nation with agressing and destabilizing other countries.

Do you consider this a problem on both sides of the US political divide?
Yes, there is definitely not any more a great difference between both.

The only point I will concede to you here is that I dislike the political dynasties that have been a feature of US political life. That is never a healthy sign.
Indeed.

On the other hand, the USA recently elected Donald Trump, not a second Clinton president. As this was a terrible choice to make either way, with neither candidate being worthy of any respect, I would be inclined to say that something is badly broken in the US political system, and the entrenched interests you allude to seem to have lost their grip entirely.
There I agree with you.

By this statement I consider you to number among the tinfoil hat brigade. You are making this claim based on a great paucity of tangible evidence. The fact is that every government is required to operate a security apparatus that is responsible for foreign and domestic intelligence gathering. This is not the same as operating a conspiracy, unless the conspiracy is stopping infiltration and attacks on the country, and keeping the nation prepared in case of war.
I think that you misunderstood me. I was meaning that politicians are both conspirators and conspiracists, the two notions being identical in their case, because to gain their position of power and to maintain it they constantly face and have to thwart plots against them, and reciprocally they have to constantly plot against their opponents and guess at their secret intents. Which gives them a mindset 100 % wired.on deception and manipulation. Only the worst can survive this world, and those who are initially good-willed must become as unbalanced and ruthless than those who are naturally 'gifted' to overcome the obstacles.
Later, when they come close to the summit, they naturally will tend to treat the world (domestic constituency and foreign countries) in the same way they treat their opponents. Which explains how ordinary citizens may be flabbergasted that they are doing such heinous things in Iraq, Libya, Syria...

History attests to the fact that some gangsters were surprisingly nice people. This was especially true during prohibition in the USA.
This is true, but it doesn't detract from the way I see them as being at the same time dysfunctionnal people (various post-traumatic stress disorders are at play, in the same way than psychopathy and pathological narcissism). In a similar manner than high level politicians, in fact. There is much Jekyll and Hyde here.

I checked that and couldn't find anything to suggest that there is a clear definition of when total war is considered a war crime. The notion that civilians should be kept out of fire is generally accepted, but that doesn't mean that every part of the infrastructure of a country isn't fair game. Now some people have described Darfur and Rwanda as total war, but this is an obvious case where the term total war is being misapplied. In Rwanda for example, hastily formed civilian militias set about actively attacking their neighbours, this was effectively civilian on civilian mass violence, and not total war. Likewise in Darfur, you had effectively a bandit force actively attacking a civilian population.

The definition of Total War is:
Total war, military conflict in which the contenders are willing to make any sacrifice in lives and other resources to obtain a complete victory, as distinguished from limited war. Throughout history, limitations on the scope of warfare have been more economic and social than political.

Thus the main crime of total war is in the abuse of a country's domestic civilian population as slave labor and cannon fodder, not the destruction of the enemy's civilian population. That is a different sort of crime.
In fact, notably during the Second World War, total war was often used to mean both targetting civilians on a wide scale, as well as civilian infrastructure with no military significance (or only distantly indirect), and making any sacrifice in lives and ressources to gain an inconditional victory. Countries which resorted to the latter often did the former as well.
The notion, inherited from the European Wars of Religion, was ressurected by the French revolutionnaries. Before the First World War, we saw the indoctrination and brutalization of whole countries, in order to prepare the public opinion to war, leading to a mobilization of all available human and industrial ressources on an unprecedented scale. It was in the order of things that this ruthless treatment at home of a whole population, taught to consider a foreign country with utter contempt, would translate in acts of savagery against both.

Am I to take it then that you are supporter of Trump? He sounds like the very answer to all your prayers based on your comments above.
No, not at all, and I would never vote for him ! But I know that the frenzy on him has nothing to do with a dislike of his machismo or his xenophoby, or a defense of the state of law, but is another exemple of how things are so badly broken in the US political system, as you noted above.
 
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AlchoPwn

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#40
Yes, I know that it has become cliché, but in my opinion the situation you depict is exagerated. In the US notably, and EU countries to a lesser degree, corporations have gained a much too big influence, but in the end the true prower remains in the hands of state agents. A corporate budget is minute as compared to a state budget, corporations can exert much influence by lobbying, but they have no army, can raise no taxes, and in the end, all it takes to quell them is a proceeding and a good fine (and every time it was needed, they had to suffer one).
On the contrary, Corporate budgets are perhaps small compared to national budgets in the developed world, but they routinely dwarf the budgets of underdeveloped countries. You are also not taking into account the various loopholes and tax avoidance systems that routinely hide the true earnings of corporations. Now nations will normally spend their budgets on civil works projects, while Corporations reinvest their earnings in other corporations and projects that are often completely unscrutinized; not even mentioned in their annual reports.


No, I would prefer representatives who do not confuse the defense of their nation with agressing and destabilizing other countries.
I think you are putting the cart before the horse here. What do you do as a leader when an unstable and aggressive country (like Russia or Libya) attempts to destabilize your country?


Yes, there is a defintiely not any more a great difference between both.
I think on the issue of which US party is more corrupt you need to examine the evidence far more closely than you have then. There are clear differences between the parties in terms of corruption.

I think that you misunderstood me. I was meaning that politicians are both conspirators and conspiracists, the two notions being identical in their case, because to gain their position of power and to maintain it they constantly face and have to thwart plots against them, and reciprocally they have to constantly plot against their opponents and guess at their secret intents. Which gives them a mindset 100 % wired.on deception and manipulation. Only the worst can survive this world, and those who are initially good-willed must become as unbalanced and ruthless than those who are naturally 'gifted' to overcome the obstacles.
Later, when they come close to the summit, they naturally will tend to treat the world (domestic constituency and foreign countries) in the same way they treat their opponents. Which explains how ordinary citizens may be flabbergasted that they are doing such heinous things in Iraq, Libya, Syria...
Nonsense. Politicians of any stripe will outright ridicule the tinfoil hat brigade and would never give their retarded claims of Reptilian Royals and so forth any credibility at all. I am personally surprised that the Royal Family haven't sued David Icke for defamation, because he has literally demonized them. I am further stunned that there are such a plethora of imbeciles among the public that this sort of idiocy has gained any traction at all.
On a personal level, you seem to think that every person in politics is a sociopath. It just ain't so. Such a claim merely underlines your ignorance of how government works unfortunately. Now, IDK where you live, but if you have a problem with a social service or want support on a local issue, it is a very good idea to speak to your local representative about it. Most of the time you will receive their help, and that will expedite and solve your problem.
Drawing out your response, you seem to more correctly point out that foreign policy is a bit more cutthroat. But consider, it has always been like that and will always be that way. Every nation must keep its military potential a secret from foreign interests. It is simply a matter of national survival not to allow spies to know where your forces are so they can't surprise attack you with impunity. Similarly, espionage is dangerous by its nature, and is indeed conspiratorial, and every country engages in espionage at some level. To conflate politicians with spies is inaccurate. There will be a small committee of politicians who provide some oversight to espionage activities, and in terms of stopping espionage in one's own territory, that normally falls to the office of the Attorney General or similar office.


This is true, but it doesn't detract from the way I see them as being at the same time dysfunctionnal people (various post-traumatic stress disorders are at play, in the same way than psychopathy and pathological narcissism). In a similar manner than high level politicians, in fact. There is much Jekyll and Hyde here.
I find it is unwise to generalize, even about gangsters. Now as an interesting side note, gangsters are by their nature very conspiratorial. They have to be, because their business is illegal and they stand to lose a lot if caught. On the other hand, you will find that gangsters are, for the most part, pretty gregarious. While the use of fear is important, fear alone will not gain much loyalty. The key to survival as a gangster is to make yourself too useful to be disposed of within the organization, and well liked. As business models go, the organized crime syndicate is one of the most successful ever developed. That should terrify everyone. Note well that it is the organized crime model that the Russians have developed as they set up their oligarchies back in the Yeltzin and early Putin era. This is because the USSR propaganda portrayed Capitalism as being a series of criminal syndicates and so the transition to Capitalism became a transition to organized crime in Russia. Having no alternative model for how to do business, this is historically how things went down, and it is very unfortunate. The USSR had a very thuggish worldview, and Putin is the ideological successor to that system.

In fact, notably during the Second World War, total war was often used to mean both targetting civilians on a wide scale, as well as civilian infrastructure with no military significance (or only distantly indirect), and making any sacrifice in lives and ressources to gain an inconditional victory. Countries which resorted to the latter often did the former as well.
The notion, inherited from the European Wars of Religion, was ressurected by the French revolutionnaries. Before the Forst World War, we saw the indoctrination and brutalization of wjhole countries, in order to prepare the public opinion to war, leading to an mobilization of all available human and industrial ressources on an unprecedented scale. It was in the order of things that this ruthless treatment at home of a whole population, taught to consider a foreign country with utter contempt, would translate in acts of savagery against both.
You haven't done your research. Your definition is based on a common misunderstanding of the term that has been bandied about by ignoramuses in the UN recently. Total war is about the exploitation and abuse of domestic resources. Targeting civilians in hostile countries is a different crime entirely and is generally classed as terrorism or genocide, or use of weapons of mass destruction. Note that an indirect attack on civilians, such as using a bomb to blow up a military installation in a civilian area is not a war crime, and the responsibility for that falls on the nation that placed its military in a civilian area. Using civilians as a human shield, even your own civilians, is a war crime.

As to the notion of the wars of religion as a total war, I must disagree. The fact is that a total war must, by definition, include an embargo on all goods coming to and from hostile nations. The simple fact is that this was never the case during the wars of religion. European merchants continued to ply their trade across hostile borders, facing only an increased trade duty. The same held true during the French Revolution. It is not until Napoleon that we find a systematic embargo imposed on Britain. In short, there is no total war if a nation is still trading with the state they purport to be at war with, and this notion was largely unknown to Europe before the 19th Century. You correctly identify WW1 as being a total war, but technically the Napoleonic Wars would have been the first total wars, and Napoleon represents the end of the French Revolutionary period, being its autocratic successor.

No, not at all, and I would never vote for him ! But I know that the frenzy on him has nothing to do with a dislike of his machismo or his xenophoby, or a defense of the state of law, but is another exemple of how things are so badly broken in the US political system, as you noted above.
On the other hand, according to yourself, Trump is largely viewed as a non-dynastic political outsider who attacks the values and aspirations of the entrenched political interests, while being too rich to effectively bribe. While he is narcissistic, he isn't a sociopath, and hates political correctness. As for a bit of Trump xenophobia, it would be hard to suggest that if the USA got rid of all Muslims that Muslim terror attacks wouldn't end. Similarly, it seems a bit unfair that US citizens have to pay for healthcare that illegal migrants get for free. So with the Trump admin being set on destroying Obamacare, it seems only fair that illegal migrants should go, no? Hardly xenophobia, if a bit simplistic. Now, you downplay the importance of Corporate power, so the fact that Trump has given corporate USA a trillion dollar tax break can only be viewed as valuable economic stimulus, not a crippling policy disaster. He is anti-globalism, and wants to reduce the USA's economic reliance on other nations, and to be fair, he hasn't actually started a war since his time in office. You also discredit the accusation that he is involved with Russia (you could hardly call that xenophobia). Surely this is your ideal candidate? I mean, you never get exactly what you ask for in any elected official, but Trump ticks most of your boxes based on your earlier comments.
 
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Cochise

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#41
I did not answer the questionnaire as it makes unreasonable assumptions. 'Facts' when discussing politics (and wars are politics) are in general a matter of stance and interpretation. You cannot verify most of them 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.

Even the consequences of war - number of dead etc. - are difficult to establish accurately, as wars involve chaos and deception as an inevitable consequence. The victors have to justify their position, the losers have a larger variety of motives from avoiding blame to storing up hatred for another go in the future.

If human beings were rational, they would realise that most wars are caused by both sides failing to understand and accommodate the other sides interests. Both the League of nations and the UN were set up with this laudable idea, but both of course were utterly unable to deal with member nations who simply did not deal in good faith and who formed cabals to make sure their point of view prevailed without compromise.

Religious and ideological wars are of course the most extreme examples of failing to understand and accommodate the other view, and almost impossible to resolve by compromise as at least one side is not rational enough to even understand the problem.
 
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AlchoPwn

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#42
I hate it when people call Donald Trump a xenophobe. How can he be a xenophobe when he has forsaken his own country to work for a foreign power?:cool2:
 

AlchoPwn

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#43
I did not answer the questionnaire as it makes unreasonable assumptions. 'Facts' when discussing politics (and wars are politics) are in general a matter of stance and interpretation. You cannot verify most of them 'beyond a reasonable doubt'.
So you can't accommodate the notion of fact as being what can be independently verified? What about the information that none of the vested interests contests? There is a point at which skepticism becomes an excuse for laziness because you are just giving up.

QUOTE="Cochise, post: 1722717, member: 43671"]Even the consequences of war - number of dead etc. - are difficult to establish accurately, as wars involve chaos and deception as an inevitable consequence. The victors have to justify their position, the losers have a larger variety of motives from avoiding blame to storing up hatred for another go in the future.[/QUOTE]

As for the rest of your points, as a student of history I can sympathise with them, but you are suggesting that if there is no such thing as a verifiable fact in politics, then there is no such thing as a verifiable fact in history, as politics exists within an historical context, and if there is no such thing as a verifiable fact in history, and science is part of history, then there is ipso facto no such thing as a scientific fact either, as all science falls within an historical context. As a consequence of this, no knowledge is ever possible... Yet clearly knowledge exists, for the computer you are using is the product of science and the substrate of factual information to produce such technologies, ergo facts exist, and it is the role of investigators to develop the skills to discover them and separate them from disinformation. Thus your argument is an admission of the fact that you feel underequipped to answer the questionnaire due to your ignorance of how to separate fact from fiction. Pardon me, but I am a positivist i.e. I think knowledge is possible.

If human beings were rational, they would realise that most wars are caused by both sides failing to understand and accommodate the other sides interests. Both the League of nations and the UN were set up with this laudable idea, but both of course were utterly unable to deal with member nations who simply did not deal in good faith and who formed cabals to make sure their point of view prevailed without compromise.
As to the notion that human beings and their decision to go to war is based not on reason but an unwillingness to accommodate the interest of other people... Tell me, when faced with an utterly implacable enemy, in what way should you accommodate them? Let them shoot your family without retaliating? Surrender your country to totalitarianism without resistance? Vote 1 ISIS?
I would suggest that wars are not about two or more sides of a conflict being unwilling to understand or accommodate the interests of another power, but the fact that at a certain point the sides of a conflict realize that further diplomacy is impossible and the differences are in fact irreconcilable, or that all trust has broken down between the negotiating parties. To say that most wars could be avoided through negotiation is naive at one level (it presupposes that every point of conflict can be resolved), and cynical (it suggests that people fight wars because they are too stupid to see a diplomatic solution, when in fact there may not be one).
The notion of the League of Nations and the United Nations being set up as a permanent diplomatic structure to forestall conflicts and facilitate peace is indeed laudable in its intent, but the execution left so much to be desired. The fact is that a body of this sort, if it lacks any enforcement powers, is almost completely irrelevant, much like a court without a supporting enforcement body like a police force and correctional force. Thus the anarchy of nations continues, much like Hobbes' war of every man against every man in his supposed state of nature. Thankfully there has been a terrible and bloodcurdling outbreak of peace recently, with fewer and less bloody wars being fought around the world than ever before in human history.

Religious and ideological wars are of course the most extreme examples of failing to understand and accommodate the other view, and almost impossible to resolve by compromise as at least one side is not rational enough to even understand the problem.
I find it interesting that you group wars of religion with ideological wars. They are two very different animals.

To say that wars of religion are not rational would be incorrect, they merely use theological positions rather than more familiar political arguments as their primary motivators. The classic example is the European Wars of Religion, where the Catholics believed that their church was the only path to salvation and all dissenters needed to be silenced so they wouldn't drag the ignorant and innocent to eternal damnation, while the Protestants believed that Catholicism had become irrevocably corrupted and defiled the true doctrine to the point where it was damning everyone who followed it and it had to be stopped. These arguments were supported by loads of theological reasoning and examples and the prize was control of the Cosmic Narrative of Christianity. There was plenty of fine reasoning, but there was simply no factual foundation supporting that reasoning (beyond scripture). Ultimately the forces of secularism prevailed thanks to the Enlightenment (Scientific, not Buddhist).

As far as ideological wars go, to say these were unreasoned or impossible to resolve by compromise isn't quite true, now is it. While the proxy wars of the Cold war were some of the bloodiest in human history, ultimately the Cold War (one of only 2 ideological wars, the other being WW2) ended thanks to compromise and rationality.
 

Cochise

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#44
Scientific facts are verifiable by repeatable experiment. That is not possible with political 'facts'.

The cold war was ended by economic annihilation of the Communists, not by compromise - the compromise happened after they were defeated.

Explain the difference between ideology and religion. I don't see any. Religions are ideology, except said ideology is allegedly given the authority of a powerful invisible being or beings to discourage dissent. Both are earthly belief systems enforced by a hierarchy and depending, ultimately, on fear. And both derive from the human lust to have power over others.

Whether or not there actually is a God or gods is an entirely different question.
 

AlchoPwn

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#45
Scientific facts are verifiable by repeatable experiment. That is not possible with political 'facts'.
And history never repeats itself? There was a time when people were wise enough to recognize the recurrent patterns in history. A good politician looks to history as their policy laboratory. Some policies work and some do not, and those are often based on solid factual underpinnings repeated throughout history.

The cold war was ended by economic annihilation of the Communists, not by compromise - the compromise happened after they were defeated.
That is a gross oversimplification of the failure of the Soviet Union. It doesn't account for the role of the Afghan War, or the Solidarity movement, or the forces behind the liberalizing movements in the Soviet Union. The fact is that the USSR had been economically annihilated since the fall of the Tsar, and yet they still destroyed the Nazis while the rest of the allies were barely contributed to the war effort by comparison. German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt jokingly described the USSR as "Upper Volta with Nukes.", and while it was more than a little true, that didn't stop them being a superpower. I think you need to review your position on this issue.

Explain the difference between ideology and religion. I don't see any. Religions are ideology, except said ideology is allegedly given the authority of a powerful invisible being or beings to discourage dissent. Both are earthly belief systems enforced by a hierarchy and depending, ultimately, on fear. And both derive from the human lust to have power over others.
Ideology is intrinsically founded in political and economic discourse. That has nothing to do with religion. Religion is a system of devotional worship of a purported supernatural authority. A=/=B.

Whether or not there actually is a God or gods is an entirely different question.
I never addressed this issue. My point was to illustrate the fact that religion uses (or misuses) rationality, which you suggested it did not. Just because a system of thought has bad factual foundations doesn't mean they don't employ rationality. Of course that doesn't mean that the old computing problem of "bullshit in=bullshit out" does not apply.
 

Cochise

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#46
History does repeat itself to some degree. But it is not inevitable in the way of a scientific experiment.

Religions (not faiths) are ideolgical systems, whether you like it or not. All religions that I am aware of have extensive lists of behavioural rules for the followers. There is no more logic to systems supposedly derived from political and economic discourse (matters of opinion) than religious beliefs (matters of opinion).

Communism , for example, sees religion as an enemy precisely because it is a rival ideological system.

I don't need to revise my opinion on Russia because your points actually reinforce it. The cost of the Afghan war, for example, was severe. The eventual unrest arose primarily because of the economic conditions.

I'm well aware that Russia played a huge role in defeating the Nazis, and indeed I've pointed it out on here and elsewhere, particularly to US folk who think they did it. As far as I recall, in 1944 on the dawn of D-Day Germany had 4 army groups in the west and 24 on the Eastern Front.

Of course you didn't address the God issue - I was just pointing out it is entirely separate from religions, which are political system designed, in many cases, by the founder or propagator to consolidate their power or position. The spread of Christianity has more to do with Roman power politics than faith. An entirely rational and successful move, as I recall.
 
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AlchoPwn

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#48
History does repeat itself to some degree. But it is not inevitable in the way of a scientific experiment.
This comment is fair. But to say there is no such thing as an historical fact is unfair. There are definitely provable historical facts, and that means there are provable political facts, which is the point I was making.

Religions (not faiths) are ideolgical systems, whether you like it or not. All religions that I am aware of have extensive lists of behavioural rules for the followers. There is no more logic to systems supposedly derived from political and economic discourse (matters of opinion) than religious beliefs (matters of opinion) Communism , for example, sees religion as an enemy precisely because it is a rival ideological system.
I think I will take this argument up with the people who put together the dictionaries. Ideologies are about tangible material issues, not supernatural irrelevances. When A.L.C. Destut de Tracy coined the word ideology in 1796 and in his subsequent work Éléments d’idéologie, he was not referring to religion in any way. I have also never heard a Communist or a Jesuit refer to religion as an ideology. While religion is an intellectual framework, the projects of ideology and religion are entirely different. Apparently, subsequent use of the word has slipped the original technical definition pretty badly.

I don't need to revise my opinion on Russia because your points actually reinforce it. The cost of the Afghan war, for example, was severe. The eventual unrest arose primarily because of the economic conditions.
The issue with the Afghan war was not its cost in terms of materiel but in the cost in human lives in Russia. As Kim Philby warned, going into Afghanistan's broken terrain proved fatal to the USSR as the fact that the underdeveloped Afghans could defeat the USSR made the many satellite states of the USSR consider why they couldn't throw off the yoke. The Solidarity movement in Poland proved that this was indeed possible. Were there economic concerns? Yes, but they were not responsible for the public morale failure that toppled the USSR.

I'm well aware that Russia played a huge role in defeating the Nazis, and indeed I've pointed it out on here and elsewhere, particularly to US folk who think they did it. As far as I recall, in 1944 on the dawn of D-Day Germany had 4 army groups in the west and 24 on the Eastern Front.
I am pleased you are well informed on this issue as many people are not. My point here is that the USSR was pitifully poor going into WW2 and was pitifully poor during and after WW2. For all this continuous poverty however the USSR were able to defeat the undeniably wealthy Nazi regime and its many Eastern European Fascist ally states. To suggest therefore that it was economic failure that brought down the USSR seems highly unlikely. The fact is that by any useful metric the USSR had been economically failing since 1925, so why did it take 64 years to fail? Clearly economics is not the metric by which the survival of the Communist system in the USSR and its conquered states should be measured.

Of course you didn't address the God issue - I was just pointing out it is entirely separate from religions, which are political system designed, in many cases, by the founder or propagator to consolidate their power or position. The spread of Christianity has more to do with Roman power politics than faith. An entirely rational and successful move, as I recall.
So you are suggesting then that religion becomes a useful tool of propaganda for promoting social unity within an imperial system?

I would argue that after the better part of 400 years of unsuccessfully attempting to stamp out Christianity, eventually the Romans were politically defeated by Christianity. Christianity survived the subsequent collapse of the Empire, East and West. To suggest the adoption of Christianity was a Roman power play, is a bit like saying that losing a war is a power play. I would love to discuss this with you further, as this is a period of particular historical interest to me.
 

Cochise

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#49
It'd be a great discussion in a kitchen at a party, wouldn't it?

I'm thinking of the Emperor - Constantine, was it? who converted to Christianity after claiming God had helped him win a battle.

My argument re religion is that actually religious systems are about earthly power, at least after the initial fervour wears off. Belief is just a tool to back up the authority of the regime where the USSR used the secret police and the like.

I follow your point about the defeat in Afghanistan loosening Russia's hold on its empire - something similar could be said of the loss of Singapore and the British Empire. But the cost of the cold War had a lot to do with it as well - agreed the USSR was never economically strong, but it was damaged repeatedly by its own policies (Stalin's various pogroms) WW2 - the Great Patriotic War in Russia - then the Cold War, and Afghanistan could be seen as the final economic straw as well.

No-one has ever successfully conquered Afghanistan as far as I can recall.
 

AlchoPwn

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#50
It'd be a great discussion in a kitchen at a party, wouldn't it?
Totally. Whether over a beer or a coffee, I would enjoy that.:boozing:

I'm thinking of the Emperor - Constantine, was it? who converted to Christianity after claiming God had helped him win a battle.
I can confirm that Constantine decriminalized Christianity, but that is not the same as making it the state religion. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Constantine remained a devotee of Sol Invictus however. The Emperor who made the Roman Empire convert to Nicene Christianity was Theodosius I. The battle in question was the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.

My argument re religion is that actually religious systems are about earthly power, at least after the initial fervour wears off. Belief is just a tool to back up the authority of the regime where the USSR used the secret police and the like.
LOL, I think the historical evidence for this could fill an encyclopedia, covering all religions.

I follow your point about the defeat in Afghanistan loosening Russia's hold on its empire - something similar could be said of the loss of Singapore and the British Empire. But the cost of the cold War had a lot to do with it as well - agreed the USSR was never economically strong, but it was damaged repeatedly by its own policies (Stalin's various pogroms) WW2 - the Great Patriotic War in Russia - then the Cold War, and Afghanistan could be seen as the final economic straw as well.
I would not pretend that economic failure was not a factor in the collapse of the USSR. Russia's appetite and tolerance for frequent internal politically motivated mass murder was not restricted to the Communist period, and seems to be a cultural trait introduced during the period that Russia became a client state of the Mongols under the rule of Alexander Nevsky.

No-one has ever successfully conquered Afghanistan as far as I can recall.
In historical order: Alexander the Great. The Ummayad Caliphate. Genghis Khan. Timur I. All conquered what we call Afghanistan.

The trick is to murder absolutely anyone you can catch and leave huge pillars and pyramids of skulls, based on historical evidence.:reap:

Arguably the USA's occupation has been pretty successful without resorting to such tactics however.
 

Analis

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#51
On the contrary, Corporate budgets are perhaps small compared to national budgets in the developed world, but they routinely dwarf the budgets of underdeveloped countries.
Be careful, this has become a cliché, but in fact, only some of the smallest and underdevelopped countries in Africa can sometimes have their budget dwarfed by big corporations.

On a personal level, you seem to think that every person in politics is a sociopath.
More exactely, that many politicians are unbalanced or have issues, especially at the higher level (where virtually none are exempt). Which may come in various conditions, sociopath, psychopath, psychotic, neurotic, PTSD sufferer, pathological narcissistic, paranoid, megalomaniac, etc..., some of them sometimes overlapping

I think you are putting the cart before the horse here. What do you do as a leader when an unstable and aggressive country (like Russia or Libya) attempts to destabilize your country?
A purely fictional thought, as this situation has never been met recently ; Libya was nor unstable, nor agressive, not event at the time that some propaganda was trying to support he concept of international terrorism (a concept as bogus as the war on terror in G. W. Bush's era) ; but now, thanks to US and European intervention, it has become both unstable and a potential source of destabilization, although still not a military danger. Russia under Putin was nor unstable, nor agressive. It had become relatively unstable under Yelsin, thanks to Western, notably US, interference. Putin put an end to it, and on the foreign relations front, his policy was of appeasement and collaboration with the West. To bad the latter didn't accept anything but complete Russian submission.
In fact, accusations against Russia and Libya (you could also tick off : Syria, Iran, Yemen etc...) of being aggressive and to attempt to destabilize the USA are a clear example of the strategy of inversion.

I think on the issue of which US party is more corrupt you need to examine the evidence far more closely than you have then. There are clear differences between the parties in terms of corruption.
Do you mean that Republicans remain more corrupt ? I agree that it is probably true, but Democrats also have their share of moral decay and depravity, and financial turmoil. In their foreign policy, they are now dominated by murderous neo-imperialists hawks.

Nonsense. Politicians of any stripe will outright ridicule the tinfoil hat brigade and would never give their retarded claims of Reptilian Royals and so forth any credibility at all. I am personally surprised that the Royal Family haven't sued David Icke for defamation, because he has literally demonized them. I am further stunned that there are such a plethora of imbeciles among the public that this sort of idiocy has gained any traction at all.
I don't understand where you mean the nonsense is, but politicians can be quite adept at the tinfoil hat game, for example with their collective anti-Russian interference hysteria. But the fact that the Royal Family or other rulers did not sue Icke and his kin is easy to understand : they are the perfect useful idiots, the ideal tool to discredite anybody who attacks frontally the system. You couldn't make up something like them (although, well, maybe they did make them...).
There are all kinds of imbeciles among the public, sharing all matters of astounding beliefs : two of the most excessive being 1) that political rulers are shape-shifting Reptilians sucking the blood out of the populace, and 2) that they are instead benevolent altruists intent to do the good of the people.

Drawing out your response, you seem to more correctly point out that foreign policy is a bit more cutthroat. But consider, it has always been like that and will always be that way. Every nation must keep its military potential a secret from foreign interests. It is simply a matter of national survival not to allow spies to know where your forces are so they can't surprise attack you with impunity. Similarly, espionage is dangerous by its nature, and is indeed conspiratorial, and every country engages in espionage at some level. To conflate politicians with spies is inaccurate. There will be a small committee of politicians who provide some oversight to espionage activities, and in terms of stopping espionage in one's own territory, that normally falls to the office of the Attorney General or similar office.
Well, secrecy is at the core of the national security system, and it is by its very nature conspiratorial. It may be necessary to ensure that it works, but secrecy will help to turn the military-industrial apparatus into a national security state, and from then into an agressive expansionist system, accountable to no elected authority, and subverting the few representatives appointed to check them.

I find it is unwise to generalize, even about gangsters. Now as an interesting side note, gangsters are by their nature very conspiratorial. They have to be, because their business is illegal and they stand to lose a lot if caught. On the other hand, you will find that gangsters are, for the most part, pretty gregarious. While the use of fear is important, fear alone will not gain much loyalty. The key to survival as a gangster is to make yourself too useful to be disposed of within the organization, and well liked. As business models go, the organized crime syndicate is one of the most successful ever developed. That should terrify everyone.
In fact, what you say of gangsters applies perfectly to the politicians you mentioned above : they govern by following the same precepts.
The organized crime syndicate is very efficient, but its main teaching is more that it is the archetypal model for unbridled primitive capitalistic firms, secret services, deep state : secretive, dedicated to increase their own power to the expense of the others.

Note well that it is the organized crime model that the Russians have developed as they set up their oligarchies back in the Yeltzin and early Putin era. This is because the USSR propaganda portrayed Capitalism as being a series of criminal syndicates and so the transition to Capitalism became a transition to organized crime in Russia. Having no alternative model for how to do business, this is historically how things went down, and it is very unfortunate. The USSR had a very thuggish worldview, and Putin is the ideological successor to that system.
You are inverting the responsabilities here (is it still the commonly held view in the US ?). The USSR had a very thuggish view of the world, but not more than the USA. And it is the latter's fault if Russian economy was turned into a mafiose state. They asked a weak Russian government who understood very litte to economics, to conduct a ruthless policy of privatizations and unbridled capitalism. So, if we had criminal oligarchies emerging, it was not because the USSR had portrayed Capitalism as a series of criminal syndicates (not without reason), but because it is the natural state of capitalism, and because such a policy results invariably in capitalism in its purest natural form. Yelsin was an incompetent leader, easily influenced, who was strung along by his US counsellors, not realizing what was happening. His reforms left a weakened Russia, which had been the aim of his US sponsors (by the way, no, the USSR was definitely not a third world country ; it was a great industrial and scientific power). Something he understood only in his last two years in office, but by then it was already too late.

You haven't done your research. Your definition is based on a common misunderstanding of the term that has been bandied about by ignoramuses in the UN recently. Total war is about the exploitation and abuse of domestic resources. Targeting civilians in hostile countries is a different crime entirely and is generally classed as terrorism or genocide, or use of weapons of mass destruction.
You may argue about the precise meaning, but I was just stating that this definition is sometimes used. By the way, are the people in the UN just ignoramuses ? It can be argued that this use of the term is relevant. When one exploits and abuses his own country and people, treating them as mere objects at his disposal, it will necessarily reflect in the treatment of his ennemies. They are the ones who are loathed and vilified in a conflict, so, if rulers already treat their own population with utter contempt, this doesn't bode well of how they will handle their ennemies. Invariably, it results in a policy of inconditional surrender and of devastating the ennemy country.

As to the notion of the wars of religion as a total war, I must disagree. The fact is that a total war must, by definition, include an embargo on all goods coming to and from hostile nations. The simple fact is that this was never the case during the wars of religion.
Well, I doubt that during wars of religion, when a religious party ravaged a region, it conducted business with it !

On the other hand, according to yourself, Trump is largely viewed as a non-dynastic political outsider who attacks the values and aspirations of the entrenched political interests, while being too rich to effectively bribe.
It would be a good description of the reasons that have him attract hate from the establishment. But he is not opposed to all entrenched political interests, he is ready to favor some of the business circles.

You also discredit the accusation that he is involved with Russia (you could hardly call that xenophobia).
How much he is involved with Russia, we may not know, but calling him a Russian asset or a Russian pupett is definitely clownish. I stand by my position, this is ham-handy propaganda from an elite aware that it is losing its grip on the conduct of global policies. However, they've already succeeded to put him in line for some extant.
 
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AlchoPwn

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#52
Be careful, this has become a cliché, but in fact, only some of the smallest and underdevelopped countries in Africa can sometimes have their budget dwarfed by big corporations.
Clearly you need to be a bit better educated on this point. It isn't a cliché and it isn't merely small African countries we are talking about.

For example, Walmart had an annual earning of 482 billion $US in 2016, while Belgium, which is a highly developed and wealthy country in Europe and home of the Hague earned only 463 billion $US. Walmart also earned more than the following developed countries in order: Norway, Austria, Israel, South Africa, Malaysia, Denmark, Egypt, Singapore, and more than double the developed countries of Finland, Portugal, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Hungary, and Ukraine. This is utterly ignoring the hundred or so other smaller and less developed countries whom you would probably dismiss as underdeveloped shit-holes.

Pretty much every corporation in the USA's top 200 earns more than Iceland, which currently has the highest personal earnings and wealth of all EU nations.

In short, I repeat, this is not a cliché, but a truth that should inform your worldview.

Please review the following:

The top 500 Corporations by earnings
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/07/20/revealed-the-biggest-companies-in-the-world-in-2016/

versus

National GDP stats
http://statisticstimes.com/economy/countries-by-projected-gdp.php
 

Analis

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#53
I stand corrected. I had no idea that WalMart had such a revenue, dwarfing even the big oil companies. The next non-public company, Royal Dutch Shell, is behind Belgium, but above Venezuela, Chile and Pakistan, and the next one, Exxon Mobil, remains above Finland, Peru, New Zealand , Czech Republic, Greece, and Algeria.

However, the values are very dependant of the dollar's rates. And being, at $226bn, richer than Greece and Algeria or not, BP still had to pay huge fines and for the clean-uip of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
 

AlchoPwn

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#54
You are correct about the variations in the value of the dollar. Obviously fortunes shift. On the other hand, when personal fortunes dwarf the wealth of entire countries then the system is broken. As for BP and Deepwater Horizon, I am surprised they aren't still in court given the way our corporate "citizens" normally behave.

Are you aware of the fact that corporations are legally considered to be "people". Albeit people without a soul, as while lawyers can "incorporate" (meaning to embody, from which we get "corpse") a business, apparently all corporations are gingers (jk). That is why they are intent on destroying humanity (also jk).
 

uair01

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#55
https://www.unian.info/politics/104...s-white-book-of-info-ops-against-ukraine.html

The Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine on Tuesday, Feb 12, presented the "White Book of Special Information Operations Against Ukraine, 2014-2018."The experts collected fake stories spun by Russian propaganda aimed at undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity and discrediting the country in the international arena, according to ZN.ua.

The book is structured as a set of “series” (narratives) with several “seasons” (sub-narratives) in each of them, which highlights Russian propagandists' consistency in their application in 2014-2018.Read alsoGazeta Wyborcza: Russian trolls, propagandists intensify attacks on Ukraine ahead of elections"This is not just a certain list of episodes and stories – this is the concept of vision we're offering our colleagues in the educational field, in the field of journalism, and in the area of state bodies. This is a concept of how one should view the situation that unfolds in the information space," Deputy Minister of Information Policy Dmytro Zolotukhin during a Kyiv presentation on Tuesday.

In the White Book, the authors showed which topics were most frequently exploited in Russia's information attacks on Ukraine, how they unfolded, and what channels were used to spread disinformation.In particular, among such conditional "series" are the following: "Pocket ISIL", "Crimes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Minsk Agreements", "Flight MH17: from Carlos to the Russian Buk","Invisible [Military] Units of Western Powers in Ukraine "," Fight for EU", "Search for Ukrainian weapons"," International Courts and Krelin Lies","Ukraine as Failed State", and "Schizophrenia of the Occupier: Between Zoryan and Shkiryak".Read alsoRussian disinformation on Facebook targeted Ukraine well before 2016 U.S. election - WP“However, the book is not a fixed version. These 'series' continue – they are now in production. And we are trying to present you this model only to continue working on it," added Zolotukhin.

Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/104...s-white-book-of-info-ops-against-ukraine.html
 

AlchoPwn

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#56
https://www.unian.info/politics/104...s-white-book-of-info-ops-against-ukraine.html The Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine on Tuesday, Feb 12, presented the "White Book of Special Information Operations Against Ukraine, 2014-2018."The experts collected fake stories spun by Russian propaganda aimed at undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity and discrediting the country in the international arena, according to ZN.ua. Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/104...s-white-book-of-info-ops-against-ukraine.html
Yes, the behavior of Russia is pretty reprehensible towards the Ukraine and always has been. It wasn't enough to deny Ukrainians their freedom for centuries, keeping them in serfdom, then when communism came, to starve 8 million of them; now, having obtained their freedom Putin wants to re-assert Russia's old privileges over not just Ukraine but all of Eastern Europe, despite the fact that nobody has forgiven or forgotten what the Russians did. And seriously, Russia has absolutely no excuse. Russia is the single largest country by land in the world, and yet it isn't even as productive as South Korea and twenty other countries. If the Russians got off their arses and actually started building prosperity rather than acting like bandits and trying to steal someone else's it might be the richest country in the world. Their fate was sealed for all time when Alexander Nevsky spread his buttocks and capitulated to the Mongols. The Russians aren't European at heart, they have no love of anything beyond the most brutal and reductionist lowest common denominator. Russia is the continuation of the Mongol Empire by people who should know better.
 

kamalktk

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#57
Looks like the ruble denominated contract ended the Friday after the 2018 US election.
 
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