At this point my blogs seem to have exhausted themselves… how much more information do any of us need regarding death, destruction, war crimes, and a very uncertain future for all of us? What a world we live in. So for now, some commentary, and more of the day’s news later.

I have asked myself, what is it that holds the world together?  My answer- it is the international, rules-based order that we have tried to create and maintain since World War II. But rule of law, justice, democracy, and liberty are all very fragile, forever balanced on a thin line which, should they cross it, may mean their disappearance for a long time. This is nothing new; mankind has always lived on the edge of a precipice, from our hunter-gatherer days to… today.  The critical difference today is in the level of suffering and destruction that one person can exact from the world by crossing that line.

How do we fight against such a threat? Simple- by doing exactly what we are doing- decisive action, continued pressure, and the unprecedented response of a fairly united world.  But, the world needs to do more- there needs to be more action, more pressure, with more unprecedented responses with every day that dawns.

Psychology will tell us that the use of terror is the most effective way to control a person, a group of people, a country… and a world (this final item, at least in theory.) Terror is being used against us- against Ukraine, and all the people of the world who choose freedom and democracy over tyranny and authoritarianism. Our world has far too many madmen as “leaders”, foremost among them, at present, is of course Russia’s Putin. The level of terror he is responsible for inflicting has truly not been seen since the 1940’s. Our response- the response of the world, has to be commensurate at least, and in truth much stronger and greater to insure order is maintained and to facilitate Putin’s downfall.

But we- the “west,” need help. As I have said in the past, the people of Russia are being held hostage. It is imperative that they stand up to Putin and his followers, do their part in this fight, and become a part of the free world. This will not be easy, there will be suffering and death. But if they do not, all indications are that they will be subject to Stalin, revisited; to a new reign of terror, which means suffering and death. The choice it theirs- stand and fight, or cower and remain oppressed.

In the meantime, as governments continue to pressure Russia, we as individuals must continue to focus on Ukraine, on sending food aid through such organisations as the World Central Kitchen and medical aid through the Ukrainian Red Cross Society to name just two of many options. We must continue pushing corporations and government representatives around the world to keep the pressure on.  We also need to make sure we do not forget about other countries that are in precarious positions, such as Moldova, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia, Georgia, and Hungary. These are countries where Russian influence must be checked. These are countries that need our support, countries that are helping Ukrainian refugees and have a desire to become part of the EU and NATO. The rest of Europe, the west, the free and democratic nations of the world must help facilitate these desires if the free world, the precarious world we live in, is to prevail.


Latest combat loss update from the Telegram channel The Center for Countering Disinformation. Numbers in black show previous day’s totals, red are those added for yesterday.

Russian combat losses as of 29 March, 2022

Russian combat losses as of 31 March, 2022


If you are on Telegram a second channel to subscribe to is Ищи своих, or “Look for your…” assuming the videos and images following the title tell the rest of the story. This channel shows still images and videos of captured and dead Russian soldiers, equipment, ID cards, passports, and so on. Basically a site created so Russian families can look for their members who have been sent to fight for Putin’s mafia state.

Remember, the people of Russia are not our enemies. The people of Belarus are not our enemies. Putin, his cronies, followers, commanders in his nationalist mafia state army, and its mercenaries in Ukraine, Crimea, and Belarus are the enemies. The world must never let up if any of us are to sleep soundly at night, and be free.

🇺🇦 Glory to Ukraine!

Russia seems to be backing off with its rhetoric, at least in the news sources I view. This tells me that Putin may be listening to those from his inner circle, something that is clearly a difficult prospect for paranoid, isolated dictators. The question is why? Is he threatened by the unity of the rest of the world against his criminal intentions? Is it because internal dissent is increasing and his rhetoric is backfiring internally? Maybe he is realising his tenuous situation and where his country is headed? Or perhaps he overstepped strategically, revealed to much information and all of these options are still on the table? Just guesses on my part.

Examples of Putin’s ranting from a few weeks back that are no longer at the top of the headlines:

  • reports about nuclear capabilities
  • talk of invading Poland, other NATO countries
  • talk of retaliation “like the world has never known”
  • the “de-nazification” of Ukraine

While we do not know precisely what is happening in Russia, we have a fair idea. There are clearly those who oppose the war- there is dissent. There is also endless disinformation that confuses Russians as well as westerners. What we must remember is this- nothing has changed in this geographic region. The former Soviet Union is alive and well, albeit rebranded, still controlling the media, manipulating its people through fear, threat of violence, terror, and isolation. Many Russians have not recovered from the Soviet era; they are still living under a dark, hopeless, depressing authoritarian state. Don’t be fooled by thinking otherwise.

Our only hope is that the younger generations especially, those who have felt freedom over the last 30 years, refuse to give it up. The only answer for a free Russia, and a free world, is for the removal of its current dictator and the dismantling, finally, of the Russian mafia state allowing the people of Russia to actually choose their path.

Latest combat loss update from the Telegram channel The Center for Countering Disinformation. Numbers in black show previous day’s totals, red are those added yesterday.

Russian combat losses as of 29 March, 2022

Russian combat losses as of 29 March, 2022

If you are on Telegram a second channel to subscribe to is Ищи своих, or “Look for your…” assuming the videos and images following the title tell the rest of the story. This channel shows still images and videos of captured and dead Russian soldiers, equipment, ID cards, passports, and so on. Basically a site created so Russian families can look for their members who have been sent to fight for Putin’s mafia state.

Then, it will not invade Poland or Moldova.

Next it will not invade Romania, Hungary, or Slovakia.

Nor will it invade Lithuania, Latvia, or Estonia.

Never mind Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

This is not just about the sovereignty, freedom, and security of Ukraine- but surely we must start there. Nor is this about the sovereignty, freedom, and security of eastern Europe, or greater Europe. This is about the the fate of the world. Russia is not to be trusted and must be stopped.


Collage- cutting, tearing, gluing of paper- by Nicolai Trainor

Glory to Ukraine!


Conspiracy theories run rampant in Russia. They are part of Russian society, deeply entrenched throughout at least much of the 20th century onward, and from what I can gather, are readily consumed by the populace. The biggest creator and perpetuator of conspiracy theories  is the Russian government… no surprise there. One only needs to open any of the government controlled  “news” sites and this is perfectly clear, especially right now. The line between conspiracy theories, “fake news”- a term which I loathe, and consider engineered to deflate the only word which should be used in this case- LIES, has become blurred in Russian society, and of course in our own, as well as in most countries across the globe.

One thing that struck me recently, while wading through Masha Gessen’s The Future is History, is that the “pedophile lobby” as Gessen calls it, features very prominently in Russian conspiracy theories.  (I say “wading” only because Gessen’s book contains so much information, so many facts to follow up on, so many books to add to my reading list, and the content itself is so unbelievable and disturbing- it takes effort and focus to digest it all. To clarify, if you want to develop an understanding for the last 30 years of Russian history, the power vacuum that developed, and the society’s return to authoritarian rule, you must read this book!)

Reading about the perpetuation of the myth of the “pedophile lobby” in dissident circles in Russia, and how at certain times it permeated and took over so much of life there, brought me to theorise on the origins of QAnon, our own “pedophile pizza cult”, and how and why it captivates and captures so many.

First, the parallel evolution of the underground, subversive, and criminal pedophile cults in Russia and the U.S. bear far too much resemblance to be coincidence. The timing of their emergence is curious as well. Between 2005-2010, according to Gessen, Russia saw a surge in the fear of the pedophile lobby by the government and many government funded organisations, thereby perpetuating the same in the general populace, with the government actively promoting the disinformation and fear, and as a result legitimising violence against people who were deemed part of it. According to Gessen, violence could be arbitrary, directed at anyone who was suspect or different (think of the literary examples of Miller’s The Crucible, or It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis). According to Gessen dissidents, activists, and gay men and lesbians were primary targets.

In the U.S., extremist, conservative, and right wing “news outlets” began promoting the “pedophile pizza cult” around 2014, adding that it centered on government officials and Washington D.C. It certainly came into the forefront in 2016 during the election campaign when used against Hillary Clinton. Coincidence… or easily managed subversion? It worked in Russia. Russia (that is, Putin) was very much interested in the U.S. presidential race, so why not force it into a U.S. market? Gullible is gullible, no matter what country or continent.

What does it all boil down to? Simply this- disinformation is used to divide people against each other so they are distracted from the corruption, thievery, lies, and criminal acts of governments. Division allows governments to conquer. The pedophile cults of Russia and the U.S. are nothing more than disinformation. Ocham’s razor tells us to look for the simplest reason behind an occurrence- there being not a shred of verifiable evidence on either side of the ocean, the pedophile cults become nothing more than a work of fiction created by the state. In this case Russian disinformation which overtook that country so easily reformulated and fed to a hungry American audience where it was swallowed without the slightest regard to its source or the verity of its content.

To use a familiar family adage, conventional wisdom holds that one should not go grocery shopping while hungry.  These days when all of us force-fed our news, when we are trapped in feedback loops and information bubbles, I would add that we should stay away from listening to, watching, or reading any news when we are looking for answers to the instability and insanity of today’s world. We just might find what we are looking for.


UPDATE: 05 March, 2022 at 1725 MTN.- The big news today seems to be that Putin has declared he will not impose martial law in Russia. So now the question becomes, just when will he impose martial law in Russia? This is the next big step in cutting his own throat, and I am personally counting on him to add this to his list of mistakes very soon. The people of Russia are being held hostage, lied to, beaten, and imprisoned. We know that the majority of Russian’s do not support the killing of their neighbors. It is up to them just as much as it is up to the heroes in Ukraine to fight against the totalitarian regime now fully in place in Russia. Martial law will give them one more push to do so. Freedom awaits!

Original Post- 05 March, 2022 at 08:22 MTN.
The more things change, the more they stay the same- certainly this is true of the differences between the west… the differences between freedom, rule of law, justice, liberty, and life in modern Russia, at least as imposed by the rulers of the state. For perspective, we only need look back to purges, gulags, secret police, and the Terror that happened in what was then the Soviet Union. According to The “Beginning of the End for Putin”, and article on the Foreign Affairs website on March 2nd, 2022, a Levada Poll in Russia puts people’s fears of retaliation by the state against them at its highest since 1994.  That says volumes about where Russia- and its dictator- now find themselves. 

Putin took office on 31 December, 1999 and immediately began a course towards the past. According to Masha Gessen, in The Future is History, within a couple of years Putin had put “military officials in 25% of the top government jobs, had monopolised state media, and reversed judicial reforms.” He also began writing history (and rewriting it)- depending on how one views the limited information released on such events as the Moscow theater bombing, the Beslan school siege, the apartment house bombings, and the wars in Chechnya around that time, to mention a few points. What Putin did was nothing short of rebranding- what were essentially advertising agencies stepped in and created Putin, his party, “opposition parties”, and carefully choreographed responses to the attacks mentioned above, taking full advantage of each one to chip away at the few reforms that had been made in years since the fall of the iron curtain. 

And now it is 2022, and Putin’s egotism, his personal greed and that of his cronies, along with his paranoia and dissociation with reality- or so it seems- is putting his tenure at great risk. And good riddance. Nothing good can come of war, but if the world can find a way to find some sort of positive outcome from the current situation, the fall of Vladimir Putin, and a second chance for freedom in Russia, and relative peace in eastern Europe must be part of that outcome.

Pressure from the world must hold steady, and grow daily, become stronger and stronger, and not let up until we see images of Putin’s dead body flashing across all the screens of the world. This is the best chance the world is going to get, and we must take it. 



While I do my best to only scan the daily news, and not let it consume me, the events on the Poland- Belarus border are hard to gloss over. First, the intent behind it all is quite clear, as reported even by U.S. news agencies- essentially regional destabilisation and distraction of the European Union and its allies.  The BBC and Aljazeera give good background on the crisis, and yesterday I began hearing how the term “hybrid warfare” best describes what is now playing out in the region. Hybrid warfare, in case you are unfamiliar, encompasses all possible forms of confrontation- asymmetric warfare, cyber warfare, “lawfare”, economic warfare, regular and irregular warfare including psychological operations and the extensive use of propaganda. The final items in the list are some of the easiest to use in our day and age, with the “democratic” internet and social media at everyone’s fingertips, especially governments, and more important to most people than the oxygen they breathe. What we are seeing currently goes well beyond that, using living humans as fodder, battering rams, and Trojan horses on a new kind of front line.

Now a word about background. First we have a resurgent-minded Russia- Vladimir Putin’s clearly expressed goal in life is to reclaim and rebuild greater Russia. His ally is Belarus and its dictator Alexander Lukashenko (a reminder to A.L. in case he should read this- be careful! If Putin succeeds your country will no longer be an ally, but a satellite, and you will become expendable.) Their aim again, or I should say Putin’s, is disruption and distraction of Europe, the European Union, and its allies. I am sure Putin would be perfectly happy if bullets started flying; proxy warfare is one of the best kind- why use your own troops when you can use those of others to die for your cause? All very straight-forward.

Finally, something that seems to be forgotten by most observers and news reports is the fact that Syria is also an ally of Russia, and that with Russia’s support, the pathological, megalomaniacal, murdering dictator, Bashar al-Assad is largely behind the crisis.  Remember where many of these migrants have come from- Syria, as well as other, similarly dysfunctional countries (if we can still call them countries… when does a country just become a battleground? ) throughout the region.

What to do about it all? Good question. One of the most important things we can do for the entire world is to address climate change. Which is clearly not at the top of Putin’s agenda. Why? If we were really serious about stopping global warming, fossil fuels would have to become obsolete, and soon. This would put Russia in a very precarious position- the power behind its riches in oil and gas would fall away, and its would-be super-power status would be at risk. That is not going to happen! The world will continue to heat up, we will become a world full of refugees, and sic transit gloria mundi.

End of Monday afternoon rant.




Justice? As I have said again and again, it is an illusion. Our “democracy” has become an abortion. For four long years, and more slowly, more insidiously for many more years and decades before that, it has been steadily destroyed, trampled on, chipped away, thrown in the trash bit by bit. But more damage has been done in these last four years than throughout the history of our country, overt destruction of what my country stands for. But this is the nature of political systems including democracy; all democracies eventually degrade into tyranny. Just the way it is. Now back to the present day.

Do we live in the United States, or am I confusing my country with the so many countries in the middle east, the Caucuses, the Balkans, or maybe Ukraine, Belarus, or some other eastern European Russian satellite playground? Trump clearly emulates Putin, the dictator of Russia for those who don’t recognise the name. Both suffer from serious mental incapacities, megalomania, delusions of grandeur, etc. and so on, and pass that suffering on to us, the citizens who they purportedly work for.

Make America great again… ha! Destroy America and make us the laughing stock of the world. This is the sad reality of the state of the greatest nation in the world, the leader of the free world, the scion of democracy. America as we knew it is gone. We will never recover from Trump.

And speaking of Donald Trump (inserting opinion here), he should be taken away in a straight jacket at the very least, at best in handcuffs for a few life sentences for treason, sedition, fraud, deceit, and countless criminal actions he has committed. Not to mention incompetence and stupidity… if only Americans valued intelligence, logic, foresight, leadership, and strength the way they do television, Mc Donald’s, and beer. But we are far beyond that. At least with justice served, Trump in handcuffs being led out of the white house, filmed and broadcast live around the world, we will feel like there is still some semblance of democracy left. It won’t happen though, because our “leaders” are spineless, and thereby complicit, afraid to upset their own positions in the illusion. Nothing more can be said about that. Get ready for the next four years… we haven’t seen anything yet.

(Re-posted from another of my blogs- this post needed to be here as well, to support other posts about the Balkans.)

As a follow-up to my recent post on the Balkan wars of the 1990’s, I felt it was time to add more book reviews for those who might be interested in immersing themselves in the issues facing the Balkans and eastern Europe. With the future in mind, first on the list is a recent (fall, 2017) edition from the Brookings Institution titled Beyond NATO: A New Security Architecture for Eastern Europe (The Marshall Papers) by Michael E. O’Hanlon.

In summary, the book argues the case against NATO expansion and presents the alternative of a “negotiated agreement” between current NATO countries, the non-NATO and non-aligned states that would remain sovereign and neutral, and Russia. The catalyst for this new type of security agreement is Russia, and namely Russia’s fear of NATO and the west uncomfortably approaching, and eventually encroaching upon, its borders. The author does cause the reader to step outside the western view that our intervention in eastern Europe, most notably Bosnia, Kosovo, and Ukraine, even when labeled humanitarian, can be construed as threatening when viewed through Russian eyes.

The premise is that the new security architecture would act as a deterrent to Russian posturing and aggression and its plans for military growth, including nuclear weapons. It is believed that the coalition of neutral states, not overseen directly by NATO or the United States especially, will eventually allow Russia to cease their destabilisation efforts in the region, specifically in Ukraine and Georgia, and allow these and other states such as Armenia and Azerbaijan to develop towards normalcy after being able to turn away from a continuous defensive/offensive posture.

While theoretically possible, the concept relies on Russia’s acceptance of the new structure. Whether or not Russia accepts, and if so, their willingness and ability to remain faithful to the agreement, is a different story. There would be a built-in “range of responses” to different threats against the agreement participants, be that Russia or other nations. These responses could include anything from economic sanctions to expedited NATO membership for threatened agreement participants.

Street art in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo by Gerald Trainor.

Street art in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, October, 2017. Note the artist’s use of a bullet hole for the left eye, obviously the starting point for the image.

Seasons in Hell: Understanding Bosnia’s War by Ed Vulliamy was published in 1994. At that time the siege of Sarajevo had ended, Serbia and its forces understood that the UN and NATO would actually take decisive action against them, and the concentration camps, mass murder, atrocities, and genocide of the war in Bosnia had been exposed to the world. Vulliamy’s book reports what was known at the time of publication and paints an ugly, demented picture of what was perpetrated on so many innocent people by the Yugoslav army/ the Serbian army, by “paramilitaries”, by criminals and thugs. But he also tells stories of hope, heroism, and bravery, of fighting against all odds, and of how so many of the people of Bosnia endured. Interspersing these stories in a book of this nature is absolutely necessary, lest the sickened reader cast the book aside. If you choose one book to help your understand the war in Bosnia, Vulliamy’s book will painfully, yet clearly meet that goal.