Big events don’t make small minds any bigger. Words uttered in passion usually produce drivel. So, if you are to understand the meaning of the American events, listen carefully to this old, cold man.

In 1968, when I was an editor on Madison Avenue, New York’s magazine row, I hired a man called Edward Luttwak to write an article on how terrorists could seize control of New York City. His plan of attack focused on showing how vulnerable Manhattan was because it’s an island. Luttwak’s hypothetical terrorists used small amounts of explosive to blow up the bridge and tunnel approaches to the city.

Luttwak himself went on from there to make a career of persuading U.S. governments to do what is in the best interests of Israel’s military establishment. That’s exactly what one of Luttwak’s old friends, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, is doing at this moment. If Secretary of State Colin Powell doesn’t stop him, the United States will follow Ariel Sharon, the Butcher of Beirut, into the latter’s bloodthirsty schemes. U.S. governments have been tempted, but none has ever been that foolish.

American war makers

In 1973, when I was an academic at Harvard University, I published a book called “Bringing the War Home.” It was a sociological study of a large group of American infantrymen I interviewed after they returned from combat duty in the Vietnam War. The book uncovered several important reasons, not thought of then and not remembered today, for the collapse of the American army’s will to fight in Vietnam.

Remember that was a conflict that cost about 50,000 American lives, and millions of Vietnamese. At the time, casualties on the scale the United States suffered last week caused an irreversible loss of confidence in the American ability to win. That translated into reluctance to fight on the ground; and support to end the war at home. The refusal to accept that lesson characterizes that era’s war-maker, Henry Kissinger. He started the United States down the track of committing war crimes in pursuit of national interest. His students in Washington have adapted his lessons, thinking they could get away with their crimes with a minimum of American losses. In time, they were bound to hit on reality. Reality struck on Sept. 11.

In 1977, I was a member of President Jimmy Carter’s staff, with the job of analyzing what happens in White House decision-making that can send the country down the wrong path. With a U.S. air force colonel, I did studies of how Carter’s national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski had been conducting his role. But when Brzezinski learned what we had discovered, he applied pressure on our superiors. The colonel and I were told that, if we said a word about our findings when we met Carter, the colonel would be cashiered, and I would be fired. We kept quiet. Brzezinski is another of the band of passionate haters like Kissinger, who believe the United States can extract benefit from the destruction they like to dream up. Wolfowitz is one of them; Sharon is their puppet.

If there is something fundamentally new for Americans in what happened last week in the United States, it is the interpretation, not the fact of violence as state policy. That, of course, depends on who is on the receiving end. It is hardly surprising that retaliation and revenge are now splitting the Bush Administration.

Symbolic responses

It has always been so. Even Franklin Roosevelt, a much wiser man than George Bush Jr., believed symbolic revenge for Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor was necessary, at least for public morale and presidential ratings. Watch the film “Pearl Harbor,” and you will realize that the Jimmy Doolittle raid on Tokyo that followed Pearl Harbor was a suicide mission dressed up as a symbol of resurrection.

Unfortunately, it is as difficult to convince a generation of American-haters in the Middle East that this isn’t so, as it is to convince Americans that the Doolittle raid wasn’t a victory. But an attack on Osama bin Laden can’t succeed, even if bin Laden himself is killed, because those who are attacking the United States don’t need bin Laden’s ideology or his money. A U.S. attack on Saddam Hussein, or Israeli attacks on Palestine and Lebanon, are just as doomed to repeat and intensify the cycle, not terminate it.

If you understand that the United States is now engaged in a war that will last as long as Britain, France, Spain, and many other states understand, then the implications for Russia, and for Russian business especially, become clearer.

Although the United States is heaving itself on to one of the worst waves of anti-Semitism ever seen in the country – Arabs are Semites as well as 3ews – Americans will soon lose patience with ineffectual war-fighting and unsated thirst for blood. They will realize they are being led to the slaughter for reasons they don’t support. In reaction to that, they will get used to terrorism as a calculated risk, like they have understood AIDs, teenage muggers, and cigarette companies. Because there is no alternative, they will get on with their business. If war-making doesn’t achieve prosperity, they will insist it does. This sentiment is already obvious, as the insurance, airline, and construction industries troop to Washington to demand a share in the $20 billion to $40 billion-dollar benefit fund the Bush Administration is promising the economy.

This injection may not revive consumer confidence and corporate capital spending in equal measure throughout the U.S. economy. But for sheer size and speed, the volume of cash that is likely to be pumped into the U.S. economy soon will boost a number of sectors in which the Russian economy has a prime interest. So Russia stands to gain from the new U.S. boom, if not the thinking that is behind it at the moment. Can Russia, can anyone talk the Bush Administration out of thinking the worst, in order to secure the best that is now possible?

Russia the big winner

As a producer of oil and metals, Russia will gain directly from the combination of policies now being assembled in Washington and New York. If oil prices rise on Middle Eastern supply risks, then Russian policy benefits. Who now says a pipeline to carry Caspian Sea oil across Turkey would be more secure for U.S. interests than a pipeline across Russia?

If the U.S. dollar weakens, and foreign risks begin to converge toward the level of Russian risks, Russian capital currently held offshore is likely to accelerate its return home, where investment will pay higher rates of return. A decline in safe havens abroad can initiate more capital inflow into Russia than most Kremlin policies, although annua! 5 percent GDP growth rates can’t hurt. In a world of cheaper dollars, and rising real commodity export prices, repaying the Yeltsin debts should be easier.

If international banks and investors must reassess their global risks, at the same time as Washington starts priming the pump to record levels, then in emerging markets, Russia and perhaps South Africa will stand out. Turkey, Taiwan, Argentina are out of the question. By attacking the World Trade Center last week’s attackers were hoping to start a revolution in the distribution of international capital, and not simply strike at an object of political or ideological hatred. Again, if prudence in the pursuit of national interest prevails, Russia will gain.

There is nothing especially novel about that either; certainly not for Russia, which has been undergoing its own capital revolution for a decade. Wall Street has faced concerted attack before too. There is thus a chance for the two to benefit more equally than was true here since 1991. But if the Wolfowitz gang prevails, Wall Street will be the loser; Russia’s gains will persist.


To groznify – active verb. Maximum firepower concentrated on an elusive target, with severe collateral damage; derived from Grozny, capital of Chechnya until its destruction in 1996-99; colloquial use, as in “we had to destroy the village in order to save it” (Vietnam 1970).

Following President Vlad-imir Putin’s domestic television speech on Monday, and his address to the German Bundestag on Tuesday, it is being suggested that Russia’s foreign and security strategy has undergone a drastic change in the direction of the United States.

This interpretation is mostly to be found in American newspapers whose reporters and editorialists speak of a “huge shift,” “a fundamental break,” and “watershed.” Naturally, if a man speaks for too long about Russia with his eyes tightly closed, the sudden flash of light upon opening his eyes may produce the illusion that it is others who have changed, not himself. (more…)


By John Helmer, Moscow

The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.

In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration:  “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”

By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”

 To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.

A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

The war plan of the US and the European allies is destroying the Russian market for traditional French perfumes, the profits of the French and American conglomerates which own the best-known brands, the bonuses of their managers, and the dividends of their shareholders. The odour  of these losses is too strong for artificial fresheners.

Givaudan, the Swiss-based world leader in production and supply of fragrances, oils and other beauty product ingredients, has long regarded the Russian market as potentially its largest in Europe; it is one of the fastest growing contributors to Givaudan’s profit worldwide. In the recovery from the pandemic of Givaudan’s Fragrance and Beauty division – it accounts for almost half the company’s total sales — the group reported “excellent double-digit growth in 2021, demonstrating strong consumer demand for these product categories.”    Until this year, Givaudan reveals in its latest financial report, the growth rate for Russian demand was double-digit – much faster than the  6.3% sales growth in Europe overall; faster growth than in Germany, Belgium and Spain.    

Between February 2014, when the coup in Kiev started the US war against Russia, and last December, when the Russian non-aggression treaties with the US and NATO were rejected,   Givaudan’s share price jumped three and a half times – from 1,380 Swiss francs to 4,792 francs; from a company with a market capitalisation of 12.7 billion francs ($12.7 billion) to a value of 44.2 billion francs ($44.2 billion). Since the fighting began in eastern Ukraine this year until now, Givaudan has lost 24% of that value – that’s $10 billion.  

The largest of Givaudan’s shareholders is Bill Gates. With his 14%, plus the 10% controlled by Black Rock of New York and MFS of Boston, the US has effective control over the company.

Now, according to the US war sanctions, trade with Russia and the required payment systems have been closed down, alongside the bans on the importation of the leading European perfumes. So in place of the French perfumers, instead of Givaudan, the Russian industry is reorganizing for its future growth with its own perfume brands manufactured from raw materials produced in Crimea and other regions, or supplied by India and China. Givaudan, L’Oréal (Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent), Kering (Balenciaga, Gucci), LVMH (Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy), Chanel, Estée Lauder, Clarins – they have all cut off their noses to spite the Russian face.



By Nikolai Storozhenko, introduced and translated by John Helmer, Moscow

This week President Joseph Biden stopped at an Illinois farm to say he’s going to help the  Ukraine ship 20 million tonnes of wheat and corn out of storage into export, thereby relieving  grain shortages in the international markets and lowering bread prices around the world.  Biden was trying to play a hand in which his cards have already been clipped. By Biden.  

The first Washington-Kiev war plan for eastern Ukraine has already lost about 40% of the Ukrainian wheat fields, 50% of the barley, and all of the grain export ports. Their second war plan to hold the western region defence lines with mobile armour, tanks, and artillery  now risks the loss of the corn and rapeseed crop as well as the export route for trucks to Romania and Moldova. What will be saved in western Ukraine will be unable to grow enough to feed its own people. They will be forced to import US wheat, as well as US guns and the money to pay for both.

Biden told his audience that on the Delaware farms he used to represent in the US Senate “there are more chickens than there are Americans.”  Blaming the Russians is the other card Biden has left.  



By John Helmer, Moscow

The problem with living in exile is the meaning of the word. If you’re in exile, you mean you are forever looking backwards, in geography as well as in time. You’re not only out of place; you’re out of time — yesterday’s man.

Ovid, the Roman poet who was sent into exile from Rome by Caesar Augustus, for offences neither Augustus nor Ovid revealed, never stopped looking back to Rome. His exile, as Ovid described it, was “a barbarous coast, inured to rapine/stalked ever by bloodshed, murder, war.” In such a place or state, he said, “writing a poem you can read to no one is like dancing in the dark.”

The word itself, exsilium in Roman law, was the sentence of loss of citizenship as an alternative to loss of life, capital punishment. It meant being compelled to live outside Rome at a location decided by the emperor. The penalty took several degrees of isolation and severity. In Ovid’s case, he was ordered by Augustus to be shipped to the northeastern limit of the Roman empire,  the Black Sea town called Tomis; it is now Constanta, Romania. Ovid’s last books, Tristia (“Sorrows”) and Epistulae ex Ponto (“Black Sea Letters”), were written from this exile, which began when he was 50 years old, in 8 AD, and ended when he died in Tomis nine years year later, in 17 AD.  

In my case I’ve been driven into exile more than once. The current one is lasting the longest. This is the one from Moscow, which began with my expulsion by the Foreign Ministry on September 28, 2010.  The official sentence is Article 27(1) of the law No. 114-FZ — “necessary for the purposes of defence capability or security of the state, or public order, or protection of health of the population.” The reason, a foreign ministry official told an immigration service official when they didn’t know they were being overheard, was: “Helmer writes bad things about Russia.”



By John Helmer, Moscow

Antonio Guterres is the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who attempted last month  to arrange the escape from Russian capture of Ukrainian soldiers and NATO commanders,  knowing they had committed war crimes. He was asked to explain; he refuses.   

Trevor Cadieu is a Canadian lieutenant-general who was appointed the chief of staff and head of the Canadian Armed Forces last August; was stopped in September; retired from the Army this past April, and went to the Ukraine, where he is in hiding. From whom he is hiding – Canadians or Russians – where he is hiding, and what he will say to explain are questions Cadieu isn’t answering, yet.



By John Helmer, Moscow

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, is refusing this week to answer questions on the role he played in the recent attempt by US, British, Canadian and other foreign combatants to escape the bunkers under the Azovstal plant, using the human shield of civilians trying to evacuate.

In Guterres’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on April 26 (lead image), Putin warned Guterres he had been “misled” in his efforts. “The simplest thing”, Putin told Guterres in the recorded part of their meeting, “for military personnel or members of the nationalist battalions is to release the civilians. It is a crime to keep civilians, if there are any there, as human shields.”  

This war crime has been recognized since 1977 by the UN in Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention.  In US law for US soldiers and state officials, planning to employ or actually using human shields is a war crime to be prosecuted under 10 US Code Section 950t.  

Instead, Guterres ignored the Kremlin warning and the war crime law, and authorized UN officials, together with Red Cross officials,  to conceal what Guterres himself knew of the foreign military group trying to escape. Overnight from New York, Guterres has refused to say what he knew of the military escape operation, and what he had done to distinguish, or conceal the differences between the civilians and combatants in the evacuation plan over the weekend of April 30-May 1.May.



By Vlad Shlepchenko, introduced & translated by John Helmer, Moscow

The more western politicians announce pledges of fresh weapons for the Ukraine, the more Russian military analysts explain what options their official sources are considering to destroy the arms before they reach the eastern front, and to neutralize Poland’s role as the NATO  hub for resupply and reinforcement of the last-ditch holdout of western Ukraine.

“I would like to note,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, repeated yesterday, “that any transport of the North Atlantic Alliance that arrived on the territory of the country with weapons or material means for the needs of the Ukrainian armed forces is considered by us as a legitimate target for destruction”.  He means the Ukraine border is the red line.



By Lucy Komisar,  New York*

Here’s a story the New York Times has just missed.

US politicians and media pundits are promoting the targeting of “enablers” of Russian oligarchs who stash their money in offshore accounts. A Times article of March 11   highlighted Michael Matlin, CEO of Concord Management as such an “enabler.” But the newspaper missed serious corruption Matlin was involved in. Maybe that’s because Matlin cheated Russia, and also because the Matlin story exposes the William Browder/Sergei Magnitsky hoax aimed at Russia.



By John Helmer, Moscow

In 1939 a little known writer in Moscow named Sigizmund Khrzhizhanovsky published his idea that the Americans, then the Germans would convert human hatred into a new source of energy powering everything which had been dependent until then on coal, gas, and oil.

Called yellow coal, this invention originated with Professor Leker at Harvard University. It was applied, first to running municipal trams, then to army weapons, and finally to cheap electrification of everything from domestic homes and office buildings to factory production lines. In Russian leker means a quack doctor.

The Harvard professor’s idea was to concentrate the neuro-muscular energy people produce when they hate each other.  Generated as bile (yellow), accumulated and concentrated into kinetic spite in machines called myeloabsorberators, Krzhizhanovsky called this globalization process the bilification of society.



By John Helmer, Moscow

In imperial history there is nothing new in cases of dementia in rulers attracting homicidal psychopaths to replace them.  It’s as natural as honey attracts bees.

When US President Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke on October 19, 1919, he was partially paralysed and blinded, and was no longer able to feed himself, sign his name, or speak normally; he was not demented.

While his wife and the Navy officer  who was his personal physician concealed his condition, there is no evidence that either Edith Wilson or Admiral Cary Grayson were themselves clinical cases of disability, delusion,  or derangement. They were simply liars driven by the ambition to hold on to the power of the president’s office and deceive everyone who got in their way.  

The White House is always full of people like that. The 25th Amendment to the US Constitution is meant to put a damper on their homicidal tendencies.

What is unusual, probably exceptional in the current case of President Joseph Biden, not to mention the history of the United States,  is the extent of the president’s personal incapacitation; combined with the clinical evidence of psychopathology in his Secretary of State Antony Blinken;  and the delusional condition of the rivals to replace Biden, including Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Like Rome during the first century AD, Washington is now in the ailing emperor-homicidal legionary phase.  But give it another century or two, and the madness, bloodshed, and lies of the characters of the moment won’t matter quite as much as their images on display in the museums of their successors craving legitimacy, or of successor powers celebrating their superiority.  

Exactly this has happened to the original Caesars, as a new book by Mary Beard, a Cambridge University professor of classics, explains. The biggest point of her book, she says, is “dynastic succession” – not only of the original Romans but of those modern rulers who acquired the Roman portraits in marble and later copies in paint, and the copies of those copies, with the idea of communicating “the idea of the direct transfer of power from ancient Romans to Franks and on to later German rulers.”

In the case she narrates of the most famous English owner of a series of the “Twelve Caesars”, King Charles I — instigator of the civil war of 1642-51 and the loser of both the war and his head – the display of his Caesars was intended to demonstrate the king’s self-serving “missing link” between his one-man rule and the ancient Romans who murdered their way to rule, and then apotheosized into immortal gods in what they hoped would be a natural death on a comfortable bed.

With the American and Russian successions due to take place in Washington and Moscow in two years’ time, Beard’s “Twelve Caesars, Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern”,  is just the ticket from now to then.


Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

Copyright © 2007-2017 Dances With Bears

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