Dear  Allan,

Finally! You posted  a clear and relevant commentary on what is going  on.


Marina Grzinic

From: [] 
On Behalf Of allan siegel A Train
Sent: Sunday, May 1, 2022 9:01 PM
Subject: Re: <nettime> Anne Applebaum

Hello Nettimers

I find it odd that Anne Applebaum's questionable commentary on the events - and 
historical references - in Ukraine are uncritically posted here. Anne Applebaum 
is a notorious right-wing ideologue of the unquestionable neoliberal persuasion 
who has been lauded for her attacks on left-leaning politics (to say the 
least). As the conflict in Ukraine becomes increasingly enmeshed in the myopic 
politics of the cold-war and as America descends into pre-civil rights post war 
policies it becomes increasingly important to consider who is describing 
reality and from what vantage point. Most people in the U.S. still believe that 
the atomic bomb was used to save the lives of U.S. soldiers and to end WW II. A 
very questionable assumption. Saber rattling by Biden and others indebted to 
military contractors won't bring democracy to Ukraine or necessarily even peace.



On Sat, Apr 30, 2022, at 10:34, 
<>  wrote:

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Today's Topics:

   1. Giorgio Meletti: The generals' optimism vs the lucid fear of

      the ignorants (Domani) (patrice riemens)

   2. Anne Applebaum: (patrice riemens)


Message: 1

Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2022 19:01:30 +0200 (CEST)

From: patrice riemens < <> >

To: nettime-l < <> >

Subject: <nettime> Giorgio Meletti: The generals' optimism vs the

lucid fear of the ignorants (Domani)

Message-ID: < 
<> >

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"


Back to my  traditional pursuit of Q&D translations (banned be 
algo/ai-translators ;-) with an op-ed in the Italian quality paper Domani, 
which tells quite well in which phase we have landed in the 'Ukraine crisis': a 
bad one, with worse possibly to come ('le pire n'est jamais certain' is the 
proverb the French console themselves with ...)

Domani points to mer things which I do not see mentioned very much - but then I 
don't read everything, by far. For instance that weapons send to Ukraine might 
well end up in wrong hands, since there is no control whatsoever on the stuff 
once it has crossed the Ukraine border - and no way 'we' would cross ... (for 
the time being). Some French and Italian ordnance has already been traced back 
to Donbass separatists. Wholesale sympathy and solidarity with Ukraine has also 
overshadowed the fact corruption there has diminished since the early 2010s but 
has - by far - not disappeared. And a crisis always provides a golden 
opportunity for miscreants to ply their trade, as shown by fleeing children and 
single women being targeted by sexual predators and human traffickers, who do 
not appear to be very much hounded down.

Well, 'enyvej', here's the article (no url, since Domani is pretty well 
paywalled, and I got it  in 'analog' format. (for ?1,50)

-----------------------------------------  Nuclear Escalation?  Optimism of the 
Generals, Lucid Fear of the Ignorants.

Giorgio Meletti, Domani, April 29, 2022.

It would be a grave error to undervalue the impact on popular sentiment of the 
Ramstein Summit on 26 April. On the US largest military basis in Europe, in 
Germany, 43 countries (30 of which NATO members, plus 13 others) have decided 
to increase many times their arms deliveries to Ukraine to help that country to 
fight against Putin. ?We need to move at the speed of the war?, said the 
American minister of defence, Lloyd Austin, behaving as if he was conducting an 
orchestra. The Italian minister of defence, Lorenzo Guerini did not stay behind 
in making promises in the name of the Italian People. After Ramstein it becomes 
difficult to deny that we stand at the cusp of a lengthy, wide-ranging, and 
unpredictable war. Experts are talking in terms of ?escalation?, but 
non-experts are afraid - and they have every reason to be.The great majority of 
European citizens (f/m) with voting rights are not able to inform themselves 
thoroughly about the Ukraine crisis, either because they are ignorant

, or have to work full time, or simply do not want to. Yet to all of them, 
wether informed by the TV news, the car radio or the social media on their 
phones, the news from Ramstein tells them of a dangerous turn and the message 
is being received loud and clear. Their opinion, given that exams in 
geopolitical science are not part of what entitles one to civil rights, should 
count for just as much as that of the generals. Above all what needs to be 
considered are hypotheses about a nuclear war and the destruction of the planet 
and of the human species. The dangerousness of the moment is - possibly 
involuntarily so - is well represented by the headlines in some newspapers. The 
word ?war? is no longer tabu, the objective appears no longer to save Ukraine, 
but to topple Putin. ?Winning? has become the parole du jour. We now have an 
enemy. There is a ?we?, and there is a ?them?, the others. Those we have missed 
out on the lectures in geopolitics might well, and with every reason, figure t

hat it would be nice if their national governments would explain that part a 
bit more. First: ?we? want to win against Putin, but what if he wins? And: if 
?we? win, do 150 million Russians suddenly become subjects of the White House, 
or are they going to reorganise themselves in order to exact revenge? And in 
the meanwhile, what would be the costs of victory, and what will it cost to 
humanity to rebuild entire nations that have been levelled by bombs? The dread 
of war is a founding principle of united Europe, grown out of the 
reconciliation between France and Germany, which were at others throat during 
two world wars, and Italy which fought against both in the second. War is not 
only vicious, it is also stupid. Where are those geopolitical geniuses, first 
in the Soviet Union, then in the United States, who went to war in Afghanistan? 
War being a terrible thing is a popular and reasonable opinion, but missiles 
are being fired by generals and their political leaders who have fallen pr

ey to totally irrational superstitions, as can be seen from the outcomes. This 
contradiction might well explode in the era of social networks.

[OK it?s always difficult to conclude an op-ed ? -PR ;-)]

Q&D translated by yrs truly  Fiesole (FI)  April 29, 2022

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Message: 2

Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2022 11:34:10 +0200 (CEST)

From: patrice riemens < <> >

To: nettime-l < <> >

Subject: <nettime> Anne Applebaum:

Message-ID: < 
<> >

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

NB, just a reminder: I do not necessarily share all the viewpoints expressed in 
texts I 'filter' for nettime. I just find them interesting &/or worthwhile to 
take cognizance of.


I was induced to search for this article by an excerpt in Domani's excellent 
international affairs supplement 'Scenari'. It is useful to remeber that the 
complicated (euphemism) relationship between Russia and Ukraine have a long, 
and sad, history. Meanwhile Russion foreign affairs minister Lavrov has sortof 
reactivated the themes developed below. In short 'we'  -and not only Ukrainians 
- are all nazis. Nobody's gonna believe that, least of 'm himself, but as 
talking point ('element de language' as the French have it) it's quite 
frightening ..

Have a sunny day all the same!


Original to:

First comes the dehumanization. Then comes the killing. By Anne Applebaum, 

The Atlantic, April 25, 2022

In the terrible winter of 1932?33, brigades of Communist Party activists went 
house to house in the Ukrainian countryside, looking for food. The brigades 
were from Moscow, Kyiv, and Kharkiv, as well as villages down the road. They 
dug up gardens, broke open walls, and used long rods to poke up chimneys, 
searching for hidden grain. They watched for smoke coming from chimneys, 
because that might mean a family had hidden flour and was baking bread. They 
led away farm animals and confiscated tomato seedlings. After they left, 
Ukrainian peasants, deprived of food, ate rats, frogs, and boiled grass. They 
gnawed on tree bark and leather. Many resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. 
Some 4 million died of starvation.

At the time, the activists felt no guilt. Soviet propaganda had repeatedly told 
them that supposedly wealthy peasants, whom they called kulaks, were saboteurs 
and enemies?rich, stubborn landowners who were preventing the Soviet 
proletariat from achieving the utopia that its leaders had promised. The kulaks 
should be swept away, crushed like parasites or flies. Their food should be 
given to the workers in the cities, who deserved it more than they did. Years 
later, the Ukrainian-born Soviet defector Viktor Kravchenko wrote about what it 
was like to be part of one of those brigades. ?To spare yourself mental agony 
you veil unpleasant truths from view by half-closing your eyes?and your mind,? 
he explained. ?You make panicky excuses and shrug off knowledge with words like 
exaggeration and hysteria.?

He also described how political jargon and euphemisms helped camouflage the 
reality of what they were doing. His team spoke of the ?peasant front? and the 
?kulak menace,? ?village socialism? and ?class resistance,? to avoid giving 
humanity to the people whose food they were stealing. Lev Kopelev 
 another Soviet writer who as a young man had served in an activist brigade in 
the countryside (later he spent years in the Gulag), had very similar 
reflections. He too had found that clich?s and ideological language helped him 
hide what he was doing, even from himself:

> I persuaded myself, explained to myself. I mustn?t give in to debilitating 
> pity. We were realizing historical necessity. We were performing our 
> revolutionary duty. We were obtaining grain for the socialist fatherland. For 
> the five-year plan.   There was no need to feel sympathy for the peasants. 
> They did not deserve to exist. Their rural riches would soon be the property 
> of all.

> But the kulaks were not rich; they were starving. The countryside was not 
> wealthy; it was a wasteland. This is how Kravchenko described it in his 
> memoirs, written many years later:

> > Large quantities of implements and machinery, which had once been cared for 
> > like so many jewels by their private owners, now lay scattered under the 
> > open skies, dirty, rusting and out of repair. Emaciated cows and horses, 
> > crusted with manure, wandered through the yard. Chickens, geese and ducks 
> > were digging in flocks in the unthreshed grain.   That reality, a reality 
> > he had seen with his own eyes, was strong enough to remain in his memory. 
> > But at the time he experienced it, he was able to convince himself of the 
> > opposite. Vasily Grossman, another Soviet writer, gives these words to a 
> > character in his novel Everything Flows 
> > <>:

> > > I?m no longer under a spell, I can see now that the kulaks were human 
> > > beings. But why was my heart so frozen at the time? When such terrible 
> > > things were being done, when such suffering was going on all around me? 
> > > And the truth is that I truly didn?t think of them as human beings. 
> > > ?They?re not human beings, they?re kulak trash??that?s what I heard again 
> > > and again, that?s what everyone kept repeating.  Nine decades have passed 
> > > since those events took place. The Soviet Union no longer exists. The 
> > > works of Kopelev, Kravchenko, and Grossman have long been available to 
> > > Russian readers who want them.

> > > In the late 1980s, during the period of glasnost, their books and other 
> > > accounts of the Stalinist regime and the Gulag camps were best sellers in 
> > > Russia. Once, we assumed that the mere telling of these stories would 
> > > make it impossible for anyone to repeat them. But although the same books 
> > > are theoretically still available, few people buy them. Memorial, the 
> > > most important historical society in Russia, has been forced to close 
> > > <>.
> > >  Official museums and monuments to the victims remain small and obscure. 
> > > Instead of declining, the Russian state?s ability to disguise reality 
> > > from its citizens and to dehumanize its enemies has grown stronger and 
> > > more powerful than ever.

> > > All of this?the indifference to violence, the amoral nonchalance about 
> > > mass murder?is familiar to anyone who knows Soviet history.  Nowadays, 
> > > less violence is required to misinform the public: There have been no 
> > > mass arrests in Putin?s Russia on the scale used in Stalin?s Russia. 
> > > Perhaps there don?t need to be, because Russian state-run television, the 
> > > primary source of information for most Russians, is more entertaining, 
> > > more sophisticated, more stylish than programs on the crackly radios of 
> > > Stalin?s era. Social media is far more addictive and absorbing than the 
> > > badly printed newspapers of that era, too. Professional trolls and 
> > > influencers can shape online conversation in ways that are helpful to the 
> > > Kremlin, and with far less effort than in the past 
> > > <>.

> > > The modern Russian state has also set the bar lower. Instead of offering 
> > > its citizens a vision of utopia, it wants them to be cynical and passive; 
> > > whether they actually believe what the state tells them is irrelevant. 
> > > Although Soviet leaders lied, they tried to make their falsehoods seem 
> > > real. They got angry when anyone accused them of lying, and they produced 
> > > fake ?evidence? or counterarguments. In Putin?s Russia, politicians and 
> > > television personalities play a different game, one that we in America 
> > > know from the political campaigns of Donald Trump. They lie constantly, 
> > > blatantly, obviously. But if you accuse them of lying, they don?t bother 
> > > to offer counterarguments. When Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot 
> > > down over Ukraine in 2014, the Russian government reacted not only with a 
> > > denial, but with multiple stories, plausible and implausible: The 
> > > Ukrainian army was responsible, or the CIA was, or it was a nefarious 
> > > plot in which 298 dead people were placed on a plane in orde

r to fake a crash and discredit Russia. This constant stream of falsehoods 
produces not outrage, but apathy. Given so many explanations, how can you know 
whether anything is ever true? What if nothing is ever true?  (sorry, c+p snafu 
here ...)

> > >

> > > Instead of promoting a Communist paradise, modern Russian propaganda has 
> > > for the past decade focused on enemies. Russians are told very little 
> > > about what happens in their own towns or cities. As a result, they aren?t 
> > > forced, as Soviet citizens once were, to confront the gap between reality 
> > > and fiction. Instead, they are told constantly about places they don?t 
> > > know and have mostly never seen: America, France and Britain, Sweden and 
> > > Poland?places filled with degeneracy, hypocrisy, and ?Russophobia.? A 
> > > study of Russian television from 2014 to 2017 found that negative news 
> > > about Europe appeared on the three main Russian channels, all 
> > > state-controlled, an average of 18 times a day 
> > > <>. Some of the 
> > > stories were invented (the German government is forcibly taking children 
> > > away from straight families and giving them to gay couples), but even 
> > > true stories were picked to support the idea that daily life in Europe is 
> > > frightening and ch

aotic, Europeans are weak and immoral, the European Union is aggressive and 

> > >

> > > If anything, the portrayal of America has been worse. U.S. citizens who 
> > > rarely think about Russia would be stunned to learn how much time Russian 
> > > state television devotes to the American people, American politics, even 
> > > American culture wars. In March, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, 
> > > displayed an alarmingly intimate acquaintance with Twitter arguments 
> > > about J. K. Rowling and her views on transgender rights at a press 
> > > conference. It?s hard to imagine any American politician, or indeed 
> > > almost any American, talking about a popular Russian political 
> > > controversy with the same fluency. But that?s because no American 
> > > politician lives and breathes the ups and downs of Russian partisan 
> > > arguments in the same way that the Russian president lives and breathes 
> > > the battles that take place on American cable networks and on social 
> > > media?battles in which his professional trolls and proxies compete and 
> > > take sides, promoting whatever they think will be divisive and polarizing.

> > > Within the ever-changing drama of anger and fear that unfolds every night 
> > > on the Russian evening news, Ukraine has long played a special role. In 
> > > Russian propaganda, Ukraine is a fake country, one without history or 
> > > legitimacy, a place that is, in the words of Putin himself, nothing more 
> > > than the ?southwest? of Russia, an inalienable part of Russia?s ?history, 
> > > culture and spiritual space.? Worse, Putin says, this fake state has been 
> > > weaponized by the degenerate, dying Western powers into a hostile 
> > > ?anti-Russia.? The Russian president has described Ukraine as ?fully 
> > > controlled from the outside? and as ?a colony with a puppet regime.? He 
> > > invaded Ukraine, he has said, in order to defend Russia ?from those who 
> > > have taken Ukraine hostage and are trying to use it against our country 
> > > and our people. 
> > > <>?

> > > In truth, Putin invaded Ukraine in order to turn it into a colony with a 
> > > puppet regime himself, because he cannot conceive of it ever being 
> > > anything else. His KGB-influenced imagination does not allow for the 
> > > possibility of authentic politics, grassroots movements, even public 
> > > opinion. In Putin?s language, and in the language of most Russian 
> > > television commentators, the Ukrainians have no agency. They can?t make 
> > > choices for themselves. They can?t elect a government for themselves. 
> > > They aren?t even human?they are ?Nazis 
> > > <>.?
> > >  And so, like the kulaks before them, they can be eliminated with no 
> > > remorse.

> > > The relationship between genocidal language and genocidal behavior is not 
> > > automatic or even predictable. Human beings can insult one another, 
> > > demean one another, and verbally abuse one another without trying to kill 
> > > one another. But while not every use of genocidal hate speech leads to 
> > > genocide, all genocides have been preceded by genocidal hate speech. The 
> > > modern Russian propaganda state turned out to be the ideal vehicle both 
> > > for carrying out mass murder and for hiding it from the public. The gray 
> > > apparatchiks, FSB operatives, and well-coiffed anchorwomen who organize 
> > > and conduct the national conversation had for years been preparing their 
> > > compatriots to feel no pity for Ukraine.

> > > They succeeded. From the first days of the war, it was evident that the 
> > > Russian military had planned in advance for many civilians, perhaps 
> > > millions, to be killed, wounded, or displaced from their homes in 
> > > Ukraine. Other assaults on cities throughout history?Dresden, Coventry, 
> > > Hiroshima, Nagasaki?took place only after years of terrible conflict. By 
> > > contrast, systematic bombardment of civilians in Ukraine began only days 
> > > into an unprovoked invasion. In the first week of the war, Russian 
> > > missiles and artillery targeted apartment blocks, hospitals, and schools. 
> > > As Russians occupied Ukrainian cities and towns, they kidnapped or 
> > > murdered mayors, local councilors, even a museum director from Melitopol, 
> > > spraying bullets and terror randomly on everyone else. When the Ukrainian 
> > > army recaptured Bucha, to the north of Kyiv, it found corpses with their 
> > > arms tied behind their backs 
> > > <>,
> > >  lying in the road. When I

  was there in mid-April, I saw others that had been dumped into a mass grave. 
In the first three weeks of the war alone, Human Rights Watch documented cases 
of summary execution, rape, and the mass looting of civilian property 

> > > Mariupol, a mostly Russian-speaking city the size of Miami, was subjected 
> > > to almost total devastation. In a powerful interview in late March, the 
> > > Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, noted that in previous European 
> > > conflicts, occupiers hadn?t destroyed everything, because they themselves 
> > > needed somewhere to cook, eat, wash; during the Nazi occupation, he said, 
> > > ?movie theaters were operating in France.? But Mariupol was different: 
> > > ?Everything is burned out.? Ninety percent of the buildings were 
> > > destroyed within just a few weeks 
> > > <>.
> > >  A massive steelworks that many assumed the conquering army wanted to 
> > > control was totally flattened. At the height of the fighting, civilians 
> > > were still trapped inside the city, with no access to food, water, power, 
> > > heat, or medicine. Men, women, and children died of starvation and 
> > > dehydration. Those who tried to escape were fired upo

n. Outsiders who tried to bring in supplies were fired upon as well. The bodies 
of the dead, both Ukrainian civilians and Russian soldiers, lay in the street, 
unburied, for many days.

> > > Yet even as these crimes were carried out, in full view of the world, the 
> > > Russian state successfully hid this tragedy from its own people. As in 
> > > the past, the use of jargon helped. This was not an invasion; it was a 
> > > ?special military operation.? This was not a mass murder of Ukrainians; 
> > > it was ?protection? for the inhabitants of the eastern-Ukrainian 
> > > territories. This was not genocide; it was defense against ?genocide 
> > > perpetrated by the Kyiv regime.? The dehumanization of the Ukrainians was 
> > > completed in early April, when RIA Novosti, a state-run website, 
> > > published an article arguing that the ?de-Nazification? of Ukraine would 
> > > require the ?liquidation? of the Ukrainian leadership, and even the 
> > > erasure of the very name of Ukraine, because to be Ukrainian was to be a 
> > > Nazi: ?Ukrainianism is an artificial anti-Russian construct, which does 
> > > not have any civilizational content of its own, and is a subordinate 
> > > element of a foreign and alien civilization.? The existential threat was 
> > > mad

e clear on the eve of the war, when Putin reprised a decade?s worth of 
propaganda about the perfidious West, using language familiar to Russians: 
?They sought to destroy our traditional values and force on us their false 
values that would erode us, our people from within, the attitudes they have 
been aggressively imposing on their countries, attitudes that are directly 
leading to degradation and degeneration, because they are contrary to human 

> > > For anyone who might have accidentally seen photographs of Mariupol, 
> > > explanations were provided. On March 23, Russian television did broadcast 
> > > film of the city?s ruins?drone footage, possibly stolen from CNN. But 
> > > rather than take responsibility, they blamed the Ukrainians. One 
> > > television anchorwoman, sounding sad, described the scene as ?a 
> > > horrifying picture. [Ukrainian] nationalists, as they retreat, are trying 
> > > to leave no stone unturned 
> > > <>.?
> > >  The Russian Defense Ministry actually accused the Azov battalion, a 
> > > famously radical Ukrainian fighting force, of blowing up the Mariupol 
> > > theater, where hundreds of families with children had been sheltering. 
> > > Why would ?ber-patriotic Ukrainian forces deliberately kill Ukrainian 
> > > children? That wasn?t explained?but then, nothing is ever explained. And 
> > > if nothing can be known for certain, then no one can be blamed. Maybe 
> > > Ukrainian ?nationalists?

  destroyed Mariupol. Maybe not. No clear conclusions can be drawn, and no one 
can be held accountable.

> > > Few feel remorse. Published recordings of telephone calls between Russian 
> > > soldiers and their families?they are using ordinary SIM cards, so it?s 
> > > easy to listen to them?are full of contempt for Ukrainians. ?I shot the 
> > > car,? one soldier tells a woman, perhaps his wife or sister, in one of 
> > > the calls. ?Shoot the motherfuckers,? she responds, ?as long as it?s not 
> > > you. Fuck them. Fucking drug addicts and Nazis.? They talk about stealing 
> > > television sets, drinking cognac, and shooting people in forests. They 
> > > show no concern about casualties, not even their own. Radio 
> > > communications between the Russian soldiers attacking civilians in Bucha 
> > > were just as cold-blooded. Zelensky himself was horrified by the 
> > > nonchalance with which the Russians proposed to send some trash bags for 
> > > the Ukrainians to wrap the corpses of their soldiers: ?Even when a dog or 
> > > a cat dies, people don?t do this,? he told journalists.

> > >

> > > All of this?the indifference to violence, the amoral nonchalance about 
> > > mass murder, even the disdain for the lives of Russian soldiers?is 
> > > familiar to anyone who knows Soviet history (or German history, for that 
> > > matter). But Russian citizens and Russian soldiers either don?t know that 
> > > history or don?t care about it. President Zelensky told me in April that, 
> > > like ?alcoholics [who] don?t admit that they are alcoholic,? these 
> > > Russians ?are afraid to admit guilt.? There was no reckoning after the 
> > > Ukrainian famine, or the Gulag, or the Great Terror of 1937?38, no moment 
> > > when the perpetrators expressed formal, institutional regret. Now we have 
> > > the result. Aside from the Kravchenkos and Kopelevs, the liberal 
> > > minority, most Russians have accepted the explanations the state handed 
> > > them about the past and moved on. They?re not human beings; they?re kulak 
> > > trash, they told themselves then. They?re not human beings; they?re 
> > > Ukrainian Nazis, they tell themselves today.

> > >

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