India Is Not Nationalist

Moreover, it might well even be closer to what some of us deride as “cuckservatism” in the Euro-American context.

At least, this is what Koenraad Elst, a dissident Indology professor, argued back in Nov 2016: The Modi Government as an Exponent of BJP Secularism.

I would suggest you read the whole thing – the article is quite short – but here are the most telling extracts:

In spite of having a more homogeneous majority, it is reluctant to do anything pro-Hindu or perceivable as anti-minority. On the contrary, one of its first acts was to decree a new subsidy to Islamic schools. The stray Hindutva statements by loose cannon (Akshay Maharaj, Jyoti Niranjan) were followed by retractions, condemnations by Government spokesmen, and indignant innuendos by Modi-friendly journalists (Tavleen Singh, Swapan Dasgupta). Public reconversions by the allied VHP, heavily publicized and demonized by the media, were promptly discouraged by the Government. Having learned from Vajpayee’s 2004 defeat, though, Modi does “keep the pot boiling”, does regularly throw crumbs of inconsequential Hindu symbolism to his support base, all while not formally changing anything.

However, if many BJP workers are disappointed with this Government, is not for what it does but mainly for what it persistently fails to do. Thus, it inducted no figures with a strongly ideological profile (Arun Shourie, Subramanian Swamy). Likewise, some public figures who had crossed the floor (e.g. Madhu Kishwar) were conspicuously not rewarded — a fact not considered here for disgruntled ego reasons but for illustrating the BJP’s lack of strategy: it doesn’t put people who have actually sacrificed for the BJP to any use, while awarding positions of influence to unreliable newcomers motivated by sheer opportunism. While some things on the Hindu agenda are either useless to Hinduism (e.g. declaring a “Hindu Rashtra”) and others would arouse violent protests for which the media are sure to blame Modi (e.g. a Common Civil Code, though “secular” par excellence), others are perfectly feasible and, moreover, turn out to be the most consequential for the flourishing of Hinduism.

… The main reason is the long-standing deliberate lack of investment (pioneered by MS Golwalkar) in an intellectual and strategic vision of its own, the spurning of any analysis of the forces in the field and of the potential and limitations of the situation. It therefore also lacks competent personnel for the ideological struggle, e.g. for a textbook overhaul or, now, for nominating politically friendly new Vice-Chancellors. Consequently, most BJP leaders have an enormous inferiority complex vis-à-vis the secularists and, even when in office, try to live up to the norms laid down by their opponents.

Notice anything familiar? 🙂

Now I do not have the country expertise to assess to what extent he’s right, but it sounds plausible and syncs with various other tidbits that I have read. The fact that the Western media loses it over Hindu nationalists sooner supports rather than refutes this thesis.

India vs. Pakistan

Hardly a surprise, but just to confirm that India massively outguns Pakistan:

  • India’s advantage on my CMP index, an attempt to objectively quantify military power, has increased from 60% in 1988 to almost fivefold today by 2015.
  • Military spending (2017): India – $60 billion; Pakistan – $10 billion
  • This is reinforced by a quick look through military inventories on Wikipedia. India has 1,650 T-90’s and 124 Arjuns; Pakistan has ~700 equivalents (T-80UD’s and Al-Khalids). And even that won’t matter much, as India has total air dominance: It has ~300 4+ gen fighters (mainly Su-30’s and Mig-29’s) to Pakistan’s 45 4 gen fighters (F-16’s).
  • Historical record: India has won (to varying degrees) all of the four wars it has fought with Pakistan.

A more interesting problem is what will happen if they were to fight a nuclear war. They are about equally matched in atomic weaponry, though Pakistan has more in the way of tactical nukes, while India’s are more for balancing against China.

A classic study published in 2007 estimates there would be 12 million fatalities in India and 7 million in Pakistan if they were to exchange 50 15-kt nukes in urban strikes. That sounds about right. At current growth rates, it would take Pakistan two years and India less than a year to replenish their populations.

In this scenario, I expect Pakistan to cease to exist as a state.

There have also been many studies that even a limited nuclear war could produce catastrophic climate effects. I don’t find that too plausible. Even 100 15-kt bombs constitute just 3% of the power of the Tsar Bomba, and that didn’t really do much. You’d need all of the world’s nuclear weaponry just to equal the Mount Tambora eruption in 1815.

EDIT: Errata – chart’s left axis should say “Comprehensive Military Power (as % of US in 2000)”.

Map of UOC-MP Defections

Found this actively updated map on UOC-MP defections to the (schismatic) Orthodox Church of the Ukraine, which was granted its tomos by Istanbul Bart this January. (h/t Insomniac)

Commenter AP has predicted that UOC-MP will become the near exclusive province of Ukraine’s Russians in the coming years.

But that doesn’t seem to be coming along too well. Remarkably, it’s not just the Novorossiya region that is seeing very few defections into schism, but some eastern and otherwise strongly pro-Ukraine regions, such as Poltava. Even Kiev isn’t that dense adjusting for population.

And this is all despite the official pressure – sometimes backed up by legal proceedings and SBU questioning – to go over to the UOC.

However, this has probably helped raised Poroshenko’s ratings in western Ukraine. Apart from sending the Constantinople Patriarchate into anathema – as proven by God displaying his displeasure by sending down a heart attack on the Greek hegumen sent to observe the enthronement of Dumenko (“Epiphanius I”) – this may have been its biggest effect to date.

No Communism With Commies

One of the most memorable anecdotes from Stephen Cohen’s Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives is where he recounts a visit by Egor Ligachev, probably the second man after Gorbachev in the late 1980s USSR, to New York, in which he amazed his interlocutors by repeatedly asking who was responsible for organizing the food supply to the city. By all accounts, Ligachev was a nice man, not corrupt, a teetotaller unlike many of his chronically drunk colleagues… and yet he was what we would regard today as totally clueless.

And apparently this was a pattern. Commenter Dmitry recounts Gorbachev asking pretty much the exact same thing during a visit to Washington D.C: “He couldn’t imagine the logistical and organizational complexity of the Americans, to somehow supply so many different kinds of cuisine.”

You won’t particularly find this in Transition Economics 101 textbooks, but these anecdotes might be more telling than you might expect.

For instance, at explaining why the late USSR failed so hard at market reform.

Or why former KGB cadres, who were more clued in than the commies, ended up taking over much of the state.

reiner Tor writes:

There’s a materialistic explanation for this: [Gorbachev] was the first [Soviet leader] who never saw a normal country and political and economic system around himself, and even his parents only had some childhood memories of normalcy, and didn’t have much time to observe even the partially normal NEP system as teenagers. So he grew up totally clueless, only being fed propaganda. An ideology so far removed from reality will produce such totally clueless people. (I don’t think Gorbachev was malicious, not even in the sense of wanting to end the empire – he probably didn’t think it was all bad and thought it could be reconciled with the wishes of its subject peoples.)

So basically Bolshevism required that people educated outside of Bolshevism lead it. By the time they died out, the system started to collapse. For example I suspect Stalin or even Khrushchev wouldn’t have asked how New York restaurants were supplied, probably even Brezhnev had a foggy idea how it worked, but Gorbachev was already totally clueless.

As Egor Kholmogorov put it in a recent essay, Gorbachev was Soviet history’s “last man.”

Annatar on Soviet Military Casualties

I have long been in the Krivosheev camp, but this sounds like very plausible:


The casualty estimates of Overmans and Krivosheev are off by significant amounts. On the German side, the first estimate of military losses was produced by Gregory Frumkin of the, editor of the Yearbook of the League of Nations, unlikely to be biased who estimated German military losses at 3.7m in Germany + Austria. A 1960 West German Govt analysis of the demographic balance put total military losses in Germany + Austria at 4 million. Most other historians like Müller-Hillebrand also put losses at 4 million. My own analysis suggests a figure of around 4 million for Austria + Germany makes sense.

For Soviet losses, the Russian Academy of Sciences figure of 6.8 million military deaths in Russia and 10.7 million in the USSR as a whole makes more sense.

Furthermore, civilians losses in the USSR were not evenly distributed, there is strong evidence that the vast majority of Soviet forced labour, including Russian that was worked to death was male, in addition you had more or less a continuous low level of starvation in the unoccupied areas of the USSR through the war, again more males tend to die then females in such situations.

One thing that has always struck me about the German-Soviet war is although Germany lost they destroyed the demographic potential of Russia and other western Soviet Republics. For decades German thinkers were obsessed with the issue that the Slavs were having more kids, in 1940 the Russian TFR was over 4 and Russia was primed for a few decades of extremely rapid population growth, the war destroyed that possibility, after the war, the TFR only recovered to around 3 and the potential for rapid growth was gone, partially as a result of the increased urbanisation the war caused, the rural areas of western Russia were de-populated and have never recovered. In Germany on the other hand, the TFR was around 2.2 – 2.4 in the late 1930’s and recovered to the same level in the 1950’s.

Basically, Russia went from a 70% TFR advantage over Germany in 1940, to around 20% in the 1950’s, without the war if you look at projections, the German population was projected to be around 85 million by 1970 whereas Russia was projected to reach 180 million. In reality, Germany got to 78m, 75 million if you exclude ethnic German immigrants, around 10% less then projected whereas Russia got to 130m, almost 30% lower then projected.

Germany lost the war but they destroyed the demographic potential of the USSR outside of Central Asia.

Somewhat off topic, I feel the question of the Soviet collapse of 1941 in which the entire standing Red Army of June 1941 was destroyed, some 4 million men killed or captured, 60 million civilians fell under German occupation of which around 12 million were exterminated and 2/3 of the industrial and agricultural capacity of the country was lost hasn’t really been examined in Russia. One has to say that the Soviet High Command looks like it was run by idiots who basically nearly lost the war, they somehow managed to lose 4 million men while only managing to eliminate 300,000 enemy troops.

Often the question about Operation Barbarossa is how the Germans could have done better, I think it is the wrong question, the Germans did as well as was physically possible, the occupied 1.5 million square kilometres of land, advanced a 1,000 km inside the USSR, overran 2/3 of the economic base of the country and eliminated 4 million enemy troops while losing only 300,000 men in what is probably the single most impressive feat of arms in modern warfare. If it was a video game, people would be complaining about the Germans being overpowered.

Related to this is the myth that Germany ran out of manpower by 1942, until early 1944, Soviet losses as a percentage of manpower exceeded German losses, that is until early 1944 Germany was outright winning the war of attrition as its losses as a % of its manpower were lower then Soviet losses, this also means the USSR had to call up younger age groups, such as those born in the 1920’s in greater numbers then Germany as Soviet manpower was being drained more rapidly from 1941-1943. Indeed, some have argued that had Germany been fighting only a single front war, then by the end of 1945 they could have bled the USSR so much that a ceasefire would have been reached, by late 1944 the % of Soviet recruits from Central Asia had risen dramatically as the Slavic lands had been more or less completely emptied of potential recruits.

Basically it seems pretty clear that the Soviet Union was extremely wasteful in its use of manpower, throwing away millions of men and also failing to prevent starvation in the unoccupied areas, something that resulted in the complete destruction of the 1920’s cohorts. The 1900’s cohorts were also as you have pointed out hit heavily by the fact that the USSR had to resort to recruiting older men before Germany did as its manpower was running out faster then Germany until early 1944. I am pretty sure Operation Bagration was the first major military operation in which the loss ratio meant that German losses were higher as a % of its manpower compared to Soviet losses.


The losses you indicate include overall casualties, which includes fatalities, the Germans did suffer 800,000 casualties in 1941 of which around 300,000 were fatalities.

In terms of industrial output, the German economy was roughly equal in size to the Soviet economy in 1940 if you look at indicators such as steel production. During the course of the war, German industrial output was far larger due to most of the Soviet industry having been overrun, in 1942 for example. Germany outproduced the USSR 3.5:1 in steel and coal, Germany produced 269 million tons of coal and 28.7 million tons of steel to the USSR’s 75 million tons of coal and 8.1 million tons of steel.

The destruction of soviet industrial potential as a result of the loss of the western territories was significant, in 1940 the USSR produced 18.3 million tons of steel, that figure fell to 45% of that level by 1942, it would have been even lower had the USSR not built new steel mills in the Urals in 1941. In terms of coal, output fell from 166 million tons to 75 million tons, down to 45% of 1940 levels.

The idea the Soviet economy was larger then Germany is unfortunately a myth that has been perpetuated in the post ww2 era, German industrial output was around 3 to 4 times that of the Soviet Union through 1942 and 1943. Soviet output of weapons was greater because Soviet equipment was less resource intensive and the Soviets devoted a larger percentage of their industrial output to certain weapon systems such as the T-34 tank then the Germans did. The USSR did not beat Germany because it had a greater industrial base, it won because of the way it utilised its resources.

German artillery ammunition consumption for example which was the number one expense for both sides and was what caused over 80% of casualties was far greater. In 1942, Germany expended 710,000 tons of ammunition to the Soviet’s 446,000 tons, in 1943, Germany used 1.1 million tons of ammunition to the USSR’s 828,000, the difference in per capita consumption is of course greater. The reason for this disparity is the Germans had a far larger industrial base so they could produce more ammunition overall and of course had far more in per capita terms, something which helped increase the combat effectiveness of the average German division as compared to its Soviet counterpart. For all the focus on Soviet artillery barrages, the German army used far more artillery, simply because they could produce more.

Is Metro Exodus Russophobic?

Russian TV – being, for the most part, sovok bilge – says that it is… because you get a “decommunization” award for sniping off the head of the Great Bald One.

But basically the entire ideological spectrum outside sovokland dismisses this.

The anti-svodomist Insomniac Resurrected:

It is an unfortunate state of affairs that Lenin is associated with Russianness. He was nothing but a ghoul, who killed many Russians. And while I am staunchly against the Maidan and against Ukrainian nazis, when the latter began toppling Lenin statues around Ukraine, I did not feel any regrets. It is not Russophobia to remove the statue of a rootless cosmopolitan, who hated the Russian people.

The arch-svidomist Polygraph.info:

Ironically, Lenin himself derided what he called “great Russian chauvinism,” leading to a policy of korenizatsiya (“putting down roots”) that sought to curtail Russian linguistic and cultural domination in other Soviet republics. In Ukraine, that policy included mandatory Ukrainian-language education.

In 2016, Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed Lenin for this policy, saying it “planted an atomic bomb under the building that is called Russia which later exploded.” Ironically, many of Lenin’s policies have made him a lighting road for Russia’s far right. Russian nationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the misleadingly-named Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, decried Lenin in the State Duma as a “Russophobe,” as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev could be seen smirking behind him. Russian white nationalist blogger Anatoly Karlin derided Lenin as “a sadist, a Russophobe and a tyrant” in an extensive polemic echoing a commonly held view among similar ideologues. In this context, equating criticism of Lenin to Russophobia is inconsistent with fringe or even mainstream ideological discourse in Russia.

But in reality, there was no shortage of hidden and not so hidden anti-Russian content in this Ukrainian-made video game they could have focused on, had they so wished.


The game is based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s eponymous series, and the third game in particular is based on Glukhovsky’s third book, Metro 2035. Now the first book, Metro 2033, goes light on politics and constitutes standard (if rather well-written) post-apocalyptic doomporn. There has been a nuclear war and the last survivors eke out a desperate existence in the Moscow Metro, subsisting on mushrooms and dwindling fuel stocks. Heroic “stalkers” venture out onto the blasted and irradiated surface to scrounge for supplies and spare parts. The Metro government has itself collapsed into many different station-states, including “Hansea” on the Circle Line, the “Red Line”, and the “Fourth Reich” at Tverskaya. I assume you can figure out their respective ideologies yourself. The Hero needs to navigate through these various station-states in his quest to stop a mortal threat to his home station.

However, as the third book (Metro 2035) rolls around, it becomes increasingly evident that the cake is a lie. The war is long over, and in reality, it is not really all the radiation and mutants keeping Muscovites in their sordid bunker. If only they knew that NATO is now friends and they could all go out and sing kumbaya in a circle with the Dark Ones and rainbow-colored pterodactyls flying overhead! Unfortunately, a deep state – the “Hidden Watchers” – blocks radio transmissions to Moscow, preventing them from embracing that happy fate.

Now this is all fine, sci-fi writers have always made critical comments on their societies. The Strugatskys were brilliant at it (who could the “unknown fathers” have been referring to? hmmm…). But the problem is that by the third book it was an open polemic, not the grimdark post-apocalyptic adventure story it started out as. This resulted in a suspension of belief and low ratings, though Glukhovsky himself would probably ascribe it Putler’s brainwashing.

People in Russia say that they’re happy with Putin – but then they’re being brainwashed day and night by all channels of TV, and they’re asked about their love for Putin by state-controlled sociological services.

Anyhow, in the book itself, the deep state at least lets the Hero leave, one of them remarking, “Let him leave. Good riddance!” as he observes him through a binoculars (a German made binoculars, Glukhovsky points out). Now apparently, things don’t go as smoothly in the video game (Metro Exodus), where they set out to hunt for him and his merry band of emigre outlaws as they traverse the post-apocalyptic zoo that Russia has become.

Promotional poster: “Wildlife of post-apocalyptic russia” (Russia written in lower-case).

Enemies are parodies of Mordor Russia, many of them ironically from a sovok perspective (but Ukrainian svidomism is pretty sovok itself). These include a Baron, a representative of the aristocracy sucking out oil and refusing to share it, as well as a Priest leading some crazed religious cult, a satire on the Orthodox Church, whose followers wear vatniks and imprison unbelievers.

The Continuity of Government has become the Cannibalism of Government. In the post-nuclear apocalypse, the surviving members of the Russian state at the Yamantau mountain base habr degenerated into a pack of crazed man-eaters literally feeding on local Russians. Or maybe they were always such.

They chief says, “We are the government that you deserve.”

You get a badge where the scepter and orb on the Russian coat of arms is replaced with a fork and a skull for dealing with them.

DEEEEEEP, man.

Now speaking of governments that one deserves… it is unsurprising that, as members of Kiev’s creative class, 4A Games heartily supported the “Revolution of Dignity”, including their co-founder and creative director:

I want during my time on Earth to live in a normal country – and if it could be the Ukraine, I can’t even imagine this… People gave their lives for this chance …

Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!

He wrote that in February 2014. Three months later, 4A Games relocated to Malta.

PS. As I don’t currently have a gaming PC, I haven’t played the game itself, and thus have only relied what other people have written about it. So I can’t comment on any of its actual gaming quality (but it seems to be respectable).

Ethiopia Will Be Muslim/Protestant

Ethiopia’s religious dynamics from 1994 to 2019 (via zemfort1983):

Oriental Orthodoxy: 50.6% to 38.9%
Islam: 32.4% to 34.6%
Protestantism: 10.1% to 23.4%
Pagans: 4.6% to 1.5%
Catholics: 0.9% to 0.4%
Other: 1.0% to 0.9%

So you basically have the Orthodox converting to Protestantism – mostly Pentecostalism at that – while Muslims edge up as a share of the population through greater fertility.

Sad fate for one of the world’s first Orthodox nations.

Russia’s Military Losses in WW2. A Few Puzzles.

Greg Cochran’s recent post on the topic reminded me of a post I began writing but then abandoned ages ago (like in 2012). I can’t find whatever I wrote (no big loss; there wasn’t much) but I did come across this graph I had quickly and messily compiled back then:

Population figures are taken from https://www.mortality.org/ for the year 1959.

As you can see, it is congruent with the map of male/female ratios in 1950 that Cochran cites in his post (see right).

In the younger cohorts, the GDR was about as hard hit as the RSFSR (~40% mortality relative to women) by WW2; the FRG did somewhat better (30% lost).

However, the RSFSR had a lot more men born around 1895-1905 missing relative to Germany, and the ratio only worsens from there on.

In contrast, in a “normal”, pretty rich country like Sweden that avoided both wars, men and women retain numerical parity until around the 1905 cohort.

Possible explanations:

  1. The scale of male surplus deaths during the Red Terror or Civil War casualties has been grossly underestimated.
  2. Victims of Stalinist terror (that’s around 1 million men; 99% were men) have been grossly underestimated.
  3. Usually, more boys than girls die in famines, and Russia had a lot of them: Early 1920s (5-10 million); collectivization (7 million); WW2 dearth (2 million); 1947 famine (1.5 million). This isn’t a huge difference, but must have played some role.
  4. Russian military losses in WW2 are grossly underestimated, on which more below:

The 1920s Russian cohorts were all pretty much smashed in 1941-42 (including the hunger-genocide of the great bulk of POWs that died in captivity during WW2; at 3.5/5.5 million, that’s more than 50% of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust). This left the older generations born in the 1900s-10s to do most of the fighting in 1943-45. I suspect this is the strongest effect, which accounts for the prolonged dip. (In contrast, Germany only had to start resorting to calling up oldtimers on a large scale after Operation Bagration in 1944).

The most cited figure of Soviet military losses in WW2 are around 8.7 million, of which 5.8 million were ethnic Russians [Krivosheev]; though some say it is an underestimate.

The Germans lost around 5.3 million [Overmans]; though some say it is an overestimate. The German government says 4.3 million.

So that’s broadly similar in terms of population (in 1941: around 110 million in RSFSR; 80 million in core parts of Nazi Germany).

However, something that doesn’t up here. During the 1920s-30s, Russia (RSFSR) was producing 3x as many babies as Germany. However, its 1920s cohort appears to be even more depleted than Germany’s.

(That said, the Russian infant mortality rate during that period was still around 200-250/1,000. So Russia’s effective lead over Germany was more on the order of 2.5x. Still a large difference).

And that doesn’t begin to explain the sharp divergence after the 1915 cohort: While Germany starts going up (albeit taking another slide around the WW1 period), Russia keeps going inexorably down.

Explanations that don’t fit:

  1. Gastarbeiters. This is 1959, that jig is only getting started in West Germany.
  2. Volksdeutsche deported from Eastern Europe. Would have actually worsened the German figures, as they suffered even greater military losses as a percentage of their population than the territory of the GDR.
  3. Russian alcoholization. While this accounted for the disparity in Russian men/women seen from the late USSR to today (seeing as it overwhelmingly affected men), this was not relevant to the pre-1965 period. There was no mass alcoholism before that period, and the gap between male and female Russian life expectancy was not dissimilar from those of other countries.

In general, a great deal more quantitative work needs to be done on the multiple Russian genocides and democides of the first half the 20th century.

Regarding the rest of Cochran’s post:

Seems pretty far fetched to ascribe the events of the late 1980s to the demographic catastrophe of the early 1940s. While I am mostly a materialist on history, if I had to add a “spiritual” reason to why the USSR collapsed, I’d say it had to do with the fact that Gorbachev was the first Soviet leader not to have been born in the Russian Empire. As Egor Kholmogorov put it in a recent article, he was the Soviet history’s “last man.”

That said, I do agree with his idea that the USSR was much weaker than it looked in the decade after WW2. Most of the divisions that invaded Germany were severely undermanned, unlike their fresh and often replenished Western Allies counterparts. While military histories often speak of Germany “scraping the bottom of its manpower barrel” by 1944, in reality that applied just as much if not more so to the USSR. Combined with its massive lead in strategic delivery platforms and atomic weaponry, this is why I have myself argued that the 1945-1955 period was the one time in world history that a single power (the US) had the means to become a world-dominating singleton.

Open Thread 68

Not a very eventful week. But I think the upcoming one will be more productive, and speaking of blogging in particular, with a couple of longreads.

TIL I learned am a US-based Orthodox zealot.

Moderation note: I am tired of Gerard2’s scatalogy-laced attacks on AP clogging up every second thread. AP, please stop replying to him. Gerard2, just ignore AP, since he “triggers” you so much. I don’t know if you realize it from the side, but it’s you comes off as a troglodyte in those “debates”, not AP or Mr. Hack. I have started deleting these comments and may move up to a ban if you don’t desist. Which would be a shame as some of your contributions are good.


@ak

Notable posts since the last Open Thread.


Featured

  • Scott Alexander does away with the Culture Wars threads
    • So basically American SJWism is strong it can bully a liberal, bisexual Jew from hosting a politics forum just because he thinks Charles Murray might have something legitimate to say.
  • *powerful comment* Thorfinnsson on US financial power
  • Greg Cochran on why he was sure that Iraq wasn’t working towards an atomic bomb in 2002 (TLDR: not smart enough).

Russia


World


Science & Culture


Humor

  • Neoreactionary Bruce Laliberte embraces “the trans vector” as it coincides with “the trend to greater autonomy of the individual and freedom from state forces.”

Venezuela Aid Scam

As I have made clear, I am not any sort of fan of Maduro/Caballo’s regime. When you have the empty shelves of the late Soviet Union, the inflation rate of Zimbabwe, and the murder rate of Honduras, it’s safe to say that things have gone wrong somewhere. Nor am I blaming the US for it. Iran has avoided going down this route, despite much harsher and longer US sanctions, because its leaders avoided waging war on Economics 101. Heck, probably not even Cuba collapsed as badly after the withdrawal of Soviet aid in the 1990s.

However, the current farrago with the aid trucks getting set on fire is obviously a complete scam that is meant to either create room for total sanctions at the minimum, if not military intervention.

Venezuela, like any country, has this thing called borders and customs. I seem to recall that Trump is big on them, or used to be, anyway. Presumably, neither Colombia nor Brazil are launching an invasion of Venezuela. So why the universal expectation on CNN and Le Reddit that Venezuela is legally obliged to let them through?

Yes, procuring food is not trivial in Venezuela (though it is far from famine). It would be much better off under free markets than the crazy nationalizations of supermarkets and rationing through biometric cards. However, half a dozen trucks carrying 100 tons of food (or whatever) are not going to make the slightest difference to material welfare in a nation of 32 million people. So the humanitarian argument is also a total scam. Especially when these token aid declarations are accompanied by the THEFT of billions of dollars worth of Venezuelan gold held in foreign bank deposits.

Yes, I’m sure that a majority of Venezuelans disapprove of Maduro. Possibly a large majority. I don’t have the country expertise, or even the language skills, to offer a very qualified opinion (neither, of course, do 99% of US politicians and journalists). However, just a couple minutes’ worth of Internet searching found that as of mid-2018, a quarter of Venezuelans were still describing themselves as “chavistas”, versus another quarter that identified itself with the opposition.

25% is not an insignificant figure, so I think it is reasonable to assume that not all of the people depicted above were public workers forced to go to those rallies.

It’s clear that this is just another neocon attempt to foment a color revolution.