Looking at Putin, Ukraine, Terrorism and Democracy From St. Louis

To learn about this situation tune out the American and British media. All have their biases and traditional prejudices. FOX has a Republican conservative bias, MSNBC and Comedy Central a bourgeois-liberal Democrat bias, NPR and PBS has the bias of elite-consensus, CNN is just trying to stay on the air and yet all of them will stand in unison on some issues. Today they are united in the vilification of Russia and President Vladimir Putin. This is an old story and appeals to some of the oldest and most base desires humans posses: blind-patriotism, uniformed nationalism, tribalism, and the western need for conquest and domination.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Today Putin is the bad man and Russians are once again villains. Perhaps the fear-mongering towards Muslims got played out and America needed a new villain and they decided to bring Russia back for a sequel. Whether it be in Russia, Venezuela or Egypt today you are mostly getting one side of the story. The side of the story of those who lost elections and took to the streets. A side of the story that is pleasing to the American and British ear. A side that says you’re right, we are young, how can we be of service? A side that tweets in English, writes in English, and appeals to foreign sensibilities.

The American media has fallen for this type of okie-doke before. Remember Ahmed Shalabi and the other Iraqis with the ear of the Bush Administration who promised American troops in Iraq would be greeted as liberators? Thrown roses and chocolates? I said in an interview at the time on KMOV that thousands of American troops would come home in bodybags. Other anti-war folks scoffed at me and like naive liberals told me all of the casualties would be on the Iraqi side. They would be too overwhelmed by American force. What I knew and they didn’t was this: the pride of the Arab, and the pride of the Muslim, will never accept occupation. The Christian Bible ( in an often misused verse) says “turn the other cheek”. The Quran says “oppression is worse than slaughter”. Sadly I was right.

America has an “Atticus Finch Problem”. Remember Atticus instructed Scout to try and view the world through the other man’s shoes? America sees the world through their own shoes. Other governments and peoples should live and strive for the edification of America. If they want something good for themselves and maybe not America they are insane, evil, terrorists, or extremists. America goes all the way around the world to invade Iraq with no just-cause and the media and both parties  lines up in support. Russia goes down the street to look after its people and Putin is living in the 19th Century. Perhaps he is a madman. After all no sane person can disagree with the Western-view.

Times like these also illustrate with regards to foreign-policy there is very little difference in the two American political parties. The same liberals who marched and railed against President Bush or silent as church-mice about the drone-strikes, surveillance-state and aggression of President Obama.  John Kerry and Hillary Rodham-Clinton both voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq and today they are sounding like neo-cons once again.  Hillary, who perhaps flunked her middle-school history classes, even compared Putin to Hitler.

Russia-Ukraine: The View From St. Louis

I am no expert on the situation so I will just divide my basic knowledge into four categories:  my travels to the area in support of the Chechen Mujahudeen, my time with the Klitschko Brothers, a friend from Odessa named Oleg, and a Russian man in St. Louis I will just call Alex.

Chechnya 

In 1996 I was supposed to go to Chechnya to fight with the Chechen rebels seeking independence from Russia. All of these feds and know-nothing “terrorism-experts” today will tell you that people get motivated by a leader, motivated by the internet, or some external force. From my experience that is bullshit. My friend Ismail Royer, prior to meeting Ali al-Timimi or anyone else that people say motivated him, made up his mind from his parent’s basement in St. Louis that he wanted to go fight in Bosnia. He made this decision because he believed Bosnians were undergoing a great oppression, women were being raped, thousands were dying and he felt it was his duty as a Muslim to help. In hind-site of course it was mostly fueled by youthful-idealism and a sense of adventure.

While Ismail went to Bosnia and came back with all the Muslim glory, stories, and a wife I was in Kinloch selling crack to help support myself and my baby daughter and learning about grassroots Islam from Sheikh Abdul-Rahman and the brothers when I wasn’t high or drunk.  After I got clean and really started to deen I made up my mind the next time there was a major oppression of Muslims I would go and fight.

Saudi-born Chechen Jihad Commander Khattab

Saudi-born Chechen Jihad Commander Khattab

In 1996 the situation in Chechnya captivated the minds of young Muslims. The mujahudeen were not only fighting the Russians they were winning and the Saudi-born Khattab became a global celebrity. Ismail’s wife had gone to visit her family back home so along with a Saudi brother named Waleed I drove to Northern Virginia and stayed at his apartment. From there I planned to go to Chechnya and was given a contact in Saudi Arabia from a Yemeni brother. The contact in Saudi Arabia was named Hazem al-Kashmiri ( who would go onto have a long career in jihad before being killed) . I talked to Hazem on the phone and he told me to fly to Pakistan ( I guessed for training) but wouldn’t send me any money.  I tried to raise some money but in the process the Chechnya situation was winding down and the Russians were pulling out. I went back to St. Louis with the intention of returning to Virginia to enroll in the madhad. The thoughts of jihad left my mind.

Fast-forward to 1999. The last few years had been pretty rough ones. A lot of drama. And then Russia invaded Chechnya. I think I was really looking for an escape because things were going so poorly. In my heart I also did feel bad for the Chechen people, felt they had a just cause, and wanted to help them. It would be better to die in Chechnya for a good cause than to die in the streets of America for a bad cause.

I have told the story before so let me just fast-forward to being in the Republic of Georgia. Georgia is an amazing place: beautiful nature, history, amazing architecture and most importantly to me some of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life. Without the connections I needed I was unable to get into Chechnya and I endured quite a bit of hardship in the mountainous border region. Saddened I went back to Tiblisi and consoled myself by having a threesome with two of the baddest chicks I had ever seen and staying at another gals shitty project apartment for the rest of my stay. So whether the trip was successful or unsuccessful depends on your vantage point I guess.

Looking back I’m glad I didn’t make it in. The Chechen mujahudeen may have originally had a just cause: but by the time the Saudi-backed jihadis took over it was a movement of madmen. Horrific terror-attacks, infighting and carnage. Putin coming in and restoring order was the best thing that ever happened to Chechnya and the peace and security you see there today is a result of that and the efforts of President Ramzan Kadyrov who is still fighting a battle with the khawaraj.

The Kilitschko Brothers, Oleg and Alex

The Klitshcko Brothers

The Klitshcko Brothers

While living in Brooklyn and working as a boxing correspondent for fightnews.com I had the opportunity to interview the Kiltschko Brothers and their manager Bernard Bonte. We met at the Hilton in Times Square and talked for hours. Any ignorant stereotypes anyone has about boxers would be shattered by both Vitali and Wladimir. Both are extremely intelligent and well-spoken. Instead of talking about boxing I engaged them in discussions about history, politics, the nature of the state and health-care.  Today Vitali is a leading figure in the Kiev Opposition and may even be a future president. He shared with me his perspective and it is a perspective from the western part of Ukraine. A narrative of Russian-domination and a yearning to be with the West and to enjoy a Western-lifestyle. It is a narrative common in the western part of Ukraine and one shared by the protesters who toppled the democratically-elected government. It is a view I respect, the chosen view of America, and one that only tells one side of the story. Which brings me to Oleg and Alex.

Oleg is a friend of mine. A sailor born and raised in Odessa, Ukraine he got in trouble years ago when drugs were found on his ship. The drugs were actually smuggled by the captain of the ship and not the impoverished sailors: but we are in America and the War on Drugs feeds the machine with collateral-damage. Oleg told me he was a Russian, Russian was the language of his home, and that he didn’t vote in Ukrainian elections because he had no desire to be a part of Ukraine. He told me years ago there was only one election he would ever vote in and that was one to become part of Russia. While they are worlds apart politically, and I told the Klitshcko Brothers about his politics, they both signed autographs for him and Wladimir wrote him a short letter and expressed an interest to visit Oleg in prison. Good men on both sides of the divide.

Alex has been living in St. Louis for more than 20 years. Most of his family is in Ukraine. They are Russian just like him. The other day I saw Alex and he looked sad. He told me he had not been sleeping well and he was trying to get his family “away from the fascists”. The America media and politicians would tell you oh this fascism talk is just Putin rhetoric. Yet it was Russia who gave tens of millions of lives in the fight against fascism. The Great Patriotic War burns in the souls of Russians in a way World War II does for few Americans. The sacrifice just isn’t comparable.  That part of the Russian Soul brings us to this question: where was Western Ukraine during World War II ? Of course en masse they were with the Nazis, active and willing participants in the holocaust, and fighting to establish fascism in Russia. No American reporter has went to the streets of Kiev and asked ” hey what was your grandpa doing in World War II” or “give me your thoughts on Hitler and World War II”. Maybe they don’t wanna hear the answers. They are too busy covering with glee scenes of mobs tearing down the statues  commemorating the brave men and women who saved Ukraine from fascism.  Ironically American-Jews, who would have found themselves either in ovens or dead in a ditch in Western Ukraine during World War II, are cheering on the Kiev mobs even as open fascists are among their ranks.

I pray for the safety of all of those caught up in this conflict and for Alex’s family and I know that Alex and Oleg would thrown down the welcome-mat for any Russian troops showing up at their doors. You cannot call it an invasion when someone sees their brothers and sisters just down the road getting beat-up by guys from the other side of town and they decide to jump in and help.

Elections Are Passe For Elites? 

This decade has shown us that people really don’t believe in elections. America especially doesn’t believe in elections. Hamas wins in Palestine and the Palestinian people are punished. Mobs of the urban affluent elites march to protest the results of democratic ( or quasi democratic in some cases) elections in Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela, Iran, Thailand and other places and it is not the democratically elected governments that are supported by America and the elite-consensus :   but rather the mobs. Mobs who would be mowed down in DC if they tried to take down buildings and unseat Obama ( we are talking about a dude with a kill list).

In each case the protesters have something in common. They are urban, affluent, come from ruling-class families, colonialism left them in a good place, previous dictatorships left them in a good place, they tweet and blog in English, they identify with the West, and they have no desire to cede power to the poor masses they have previously exploited.  These are people whose fathers thrived under the likes of Sadat and the Shah of Iran and didn’t have to worry about the concerns of rural-farmers or the social attitudes of the working-class slums. These are children of the elite who identify with the American-elite and want to be at one with them. These are the elites who are not concerned with the workers in the mine: but rather in securing lucrative contracts with American corporations to exploit the workers in the mines.

Terrorism: Nobody is Really Against It

 

People say they are opposed to terrorism. Are they really? Since 9-11 American-Muslims have bent over backwards condemning terrorism ( and still nobody is listening).  The conversation has changed. Suicide bombings in Palestine are no longer announced at the masjid to takbirs. Yet, have people changed? I say no. Sure you have popular bloggers who once openly supported Kashmiri jihad groups now sounding like Ralph Nader and celebrity-imams would no longer praise Egyptian jihadis in speeches. I get all of that.  But let me blow them out the water.

These same Muslim organizations and members praised the mobs that ousted Muammar Gadaffi in Libya. Even while many in those militias were either openly affiliated with al-Qadea or similar groups or were sympathetic. These groups are now reeking havoc in Libya. You cannot be against terrorism and support the FSA in Syria. Those peaceful democratic opponents to President Asad can be found at cocktail parties in London and Manhattan or boring forums at universities. On the ground the opposition is dominated by groups like ISIS ( a group so radical al-Qadea calls them extremists) and Jahbat al-Nusra. These groups are raining terror on the Syrian population and you can go to YouTube and find a greatest hits of their suicide-bombings, beheadings and murders. If you think you are going to defeat people like this by inviting them over for milk and Girl Scout cookies you’re crazy. Thousands are flocking to Syria from around the world thinking they will establish Khilafah from Damascus. In all actuality outside of a few areas they are getting their asses kicked and when they come back to America, England, Canada or France how do you think they will adjust to life in “Dar al Kufr “?

Yet America wanted to intervene ( OK lets play along like we are not covertly involved now) on the side of the rebels. Which just as in Libya happened to be the same side as al-Qaeda. It was President Putin who stopped America from getting involved along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov outfoxing John Kerry. For keeping America out of Syria every American is in debt to Putin. It would have started with a “humanitarian mission” and ended with dead Americans littering the streets of Syria.

Which brings me to the point there is no real war on terrorism. It is like the war on drugs. It’s not really about terrorism or drugs. Its about control and exploitation. Israel don’t look back at the Irgun and the Stern Gang as being terrorists. America says its against terrorism and then funds terrorist groups like the MEK in Iran.  Professional Muslim activists say they are against terrorism and then cheer for every terror attack in Syria as long as the victims are not Sunnis. Congressman Peter King supported to the provisional-IRA campaign in Northern Ireland back in the day and then tries to become a leading voice against Muslim terrorism.

Like I said, nobody is really against terrorism. Its just all talk consumed by ignorant sponges.

Jihadis Will Never Succeed 

Which brings me to jihadis. The 7th Century is not coming back. These jihad groups will never succeed and it is for a few simple reasons. One they always fight one another. If you look in Syria now they spend most of their time fighting one another. What happened when Kabul fell? They fought one another. What happened when the Russians left Chechnya? They fought one another.  The nature of jihadis is the nature of salafeeyah ( and most of them are salafi anyway) and that is to spend 90% of their time and energy fighting one another. Easily exploited, easily divided, and ultimately easily defeated. When they do briefly take power what do they do?  Force upon the people their version of Islam and violently oppress the rest. The nature of such an unpopular rule by a minority of zealots cannot be successful in the long-run.