In recent weeks Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone from being a relatively obscure leader of the Russian Federation to a house-hold name around the world. As part of that process, he has been subjected to 'trial by Western media', and the judgement is conclusive: he's a 'thug' determined to reestablish the Soviet Union at the expense of the people of Ukraine who simply want some good old fashioned freedom and democracy.

But is the portrayal of Putin accurate, or even close to accurate?

From his political origins as an agent of Russia's FSB, to his nomination as Prime Minister amid 'Chechen terrorist attacks' on Russian civilians, to his current confrontation with the American Empire over Ukraine, Crimea and much more, this week we'll be delving into the details and asking the question, 'Who is Vladimir Putin?'

Running Time: 01:53:00

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Here's the transcript:

Joe: Hi and welcome to another edition of SOTT Talk Radio. I'm Joe Quinn and my co-host this week is Niall Bradley.

Niall: Hello everyone.

Joe: It's just the two of us this week, so you just have to deal with that. Our normal usual co-hosts are otherwise occupied. But we're going to try and hash out a few ideas, few thoughts, and pieces of inspiration. Obviously the topic of this show here if you've read it is Vladimir Putin, specifically who is Vladimir Putin? And that's a question that's probably been on many people's minds over the past few weeks because he has in kind of spectacular form stolen the limelight away to some extent, depending on where you come from or depending on what your position is, stolen the limelight from our vaunted western leaders, leaders of the "free world" and he seems to be presenting kind of a problem for a lot of people I think because on the one hand we have these leaders of the western world who are leaders of the free world: freedom, democracy all that kind of stuff, that's what they're there for to protect us around the world. But here you have Putin standing up and saying some very strange things that seem to question...

Niall: Yeah, he's talking about...

Joe: ...their freedom and democracy-ness.

Niall: He's talking about international law and legitimacy and strange things like that.

Joe: How can he accuse the leaders of the free world of violating international law or being hypocritical etc., etc.? Well I can ask my co-host here: Niall, do you love Vladimir Putin? Is he your savior now or do you think that he is this thug? I think thugs a common word used. He's just a thug who's trying to recreate the Soviet Union.

Niall: How could you possibly suggest that of the savior? It's really interesting Putin has been called everything you can possibly throw at someone to demonize him and recently compared to Adolf Hitler by none other than Killary.

Joe: Killary Clinton? We came, we saw, he died Clinton?

Niall: It's just a really interesting turn of events because it puts a lot of what we kind of had questions about Putin and Russia and their actions over the last decade plus the war on terror. It's put them in a bit more light at least. We're never sure, when Bush drew his line in the sand and said "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists." It seems pretty clear that Putin said "I'm with you."

Joe: Yeah, there was no rocking of the boat post 9-11 by anyone really, not by Putin or Russia. I think the problem with most people in terms of recent events is they don't know what to do with Putin. He's just appeared all of a sudden because in the past if you ask most people in the western world anyway probably didn't have Putin on the radar over the past 10-14 years. He's been in power in some form or other for the past 14 years since 2000 or just before it and he seems to have kept a very low profile on the international stage. He's always been that guy who's just quietly standing there at the G8 or something or the G20 or something. He's not really your typical western politician who's bombastic to some extent or...

Niall: Grandstanding.

Joe: ...putting himself out there and making grand statements about something or other. He tends to keep it all very quiet and he has done. So most people probably haven't had him on the radar, don't know who he is, and don't know what it's about and where the hell he's come from right now. Obviously he has come front on center because of Ukraine and we've been talking about that over the past few weeks. But the question remains, who is he? Where does he come from? What is his agenda?

Niall: He has a pretty ordinary background by the looks of it. Obviously the number one thing on his CV that people refer to is he was in the KGB for 20 some years, a bit less than that, but anyway. Therefore everything else is suspect if someone's KGB but with probably good grounds.

Joe: Only in the west though if someone was CIA?

Niall: Well I think you would get an eyebrow raised.

Joe: Yeah, you can't have a CIA president in America?

Niall: Who comes to mind?

Joe: I'm not saying that there has been one but....

Niall: Bush senior was.

Joe: Yeah exactly.

Niall: In fact Bush senior was, he was the director of the CIA for one year temporarily, as was Putin at one point just before he became prime minister. He was technical director of the FSB, the inheritor of what became the FSB which was the KGB. Profiled biographies on him are a little scarce. The few academic profiles, books anyway, that are published in English don't jive with his actions. They're pretty much singing from the same hymn sheet as the kind of line we've heard about Putin in recent years, you know dubious background, undemocratic, authoritarian, can't be trusted because he's KGB etc., etc. Even the "in-depth studies" pretty much follow the same line.

Joe: Well any reviews or articles or investigations into who he is that I've read have all been penned by western journalists mostly, some of them by Russian journalists who are anti-Putin. Basically everything I've read has been more or less anti-Putin and I also see always on the right hand bar of the Guardian website, the Guardian website that is supposedly liberal and leftist. I always see this advertisement for a book - I can't remember the name of it, you've probably seen it yourself. It's basically Mafia State something with the rise of Vladimir Putin. That says it all, that's our angle that it's a mafia state and Putin's at the helm and that's what it is.

Niall: It's written by a journalist called Luke Harding who became the first journalist since the Soviet era to boot it out of Russia in 2011 for - what did they put it - well there was some excuse; they said he overstayed his visa or something. But clearly they had marked him as a trouble maker.

Joe: He was probably working for British Intelligence.

Niall: They also recently booted out an American journalist called David Shatter I think and he works for either the Brookings Institution or the other one that begins with an H. Anyway, he's not a 'journalist '.

Joe: The Hoover Institute you're thinking of?

Niall: Possibly yeah.

Joe: Yep. So Putin became Prime Minister I think in 1999/2000.

Niall: '99.

Joe: '99 and it was on the back of, this is the official narrative, it was on the back of apartment bombings in Moscow that killed a lot of people and was officially blamed on Chechen terrorists.

Niall: Do you want to go back a little and tell a little more bio?

Joe: OK, go ahead.

Niall: Okay so, apparently his family tree cannot be traced further back than a grandfather who was somehow involved in the Bolshevik Revolution but not in any big way and then his father was a cook for Stalin at one point and born and bred in Saint Petersburg. Straight down the middle kind of education. On the one hand he's portrayed as being a bit of a tear away kid he could never concentrate, but I find that hard to believe because he seems to be pretty, pretty studious. He said of himself "yeah, I'm a fast reader." He does seem to read a lot. In the midst of juggling a few posts in Russia in the '90's he did a PhD in economics which was interesting. But it's pretty typical I think for the kind of class of people to become bureaucrats and or politicians in Russia.

He was KGB right up until 1991, I think he was actually still stationed in East Germany when he got the news of what was happening. Gorbachev had been booted out and Yeltsin took power back in Russia and he was called home and I think he basically kept his head down. He was moved first to a post in Saint Petersburg where he worked with the Mayor's office, that was his first civil service type of job, and then from there he got a quite prominent post in Saint Petersburg. At the time Russia was facing massive food shortages and he was involved in trying to get food in, making deals with companies and other states, this is his first state involvement liaising with other countries to try and deal with the immediate crisis in Saint Petersburg and this eventually got him noticed. I think straight away he made his thing in law and order because the cities in Russia were in chaos in the early mid-nineties and by the Kremlin around '96 I think and that's when he first got a national post. At a similar level kind of work he was doing so not that high up or anything, but very quickly then there's a succession of jobs and he moves up from one to the other until he's head of the FSB in '99 for a brief period and then he becomes Prime Minister.

It didn't stand out at the time, not just because of well who is this guy, but because in '99 things were again so chaotic in Russia that he was the 5th Prime Minister Yeltsin had nominated within a year and a half, that's how turbulent things were. He was number 5 so it was like yeah okay, another Prime Minister, he won't last long. I think the press took one look at him and said he's not statesman material or something and he's got a sort of now famous little interview at least its popular in Russia I think. I think it's his first big press interview upon being made Prime Minister, he's asked the question about you've no background in politics and how are you going to.. are you excited about it? How are you going to approach it? What's your message going to be for the Russian people? He didn't have this prepared statement that he was kind of being invited to. You're on the stage; grand stand a little, showboat and he just gave an answer like "Well whatever, I've been nominated for the job and I'll try my best." Silence and you could see the journalists were just sort of flustered like "No you're not supposed act like that, you're supposed to lie to me, something big." That was a first clue I think this guy just didn't care much.

Joe: He wasn't into the theatrics of it; he saw it as a job basically.

Niall: He was quoted in a few places saying in being prime minister in August '99, the last day before the year 2000, New Year's Eve, he was nominated by the people around Yeltsin, because Yeltsin was so sick at this point, he was barely lucid. He's nominated by the family they were called. Relatives and oligarchs placed themselves close to Yeltsin to be president, at least an interim president because presidential elections were coming up sometime mid-2000. That's kind of strange in a way. Let's assume he was an unknown to the people around Yeltsin as he was to everyone else in Russia. He's very quickly gone from one position to another. He was asked at the time and others have been quoted since as saying he didn't want it. He actually turned down the very first offer and said after being pestered "Well, ok if Yeltsin himself asks me, I'll accept. I'll become interim president until elections next year." It's a theme that goes throughout his career and even since then this guy who's kind of reluctant.

Joe: But the conditions around him being elected or nominated an interim prime minister after in that chaotic time in the late '90's in Russia, it seems that there was this idea of a family around Yeltsin as you said with oligarchs who are the rulers of Russia or had been for a while and Putin was seen as a kind of guy they could trust. He basically threw his lot in with him, toed the line, did what they wanted him to do and they figured "ok here's a guy we can rely on."

Niall: He wasn't completely unknown; he had kind of made a name for himself in St Petersburg: no nonsense.

Joe: Not necessarily as a politician or anything.

Niall: No, as a good manager.

Joe: Exactly.

Niall: Crisis managing.

Joe: Yeah and I should note here several of these oligarchs that were around Yeltsin and that were in control of Russia really at the time, they included people like Boris Berezovsky who has since become - well he's dead now, he died last year. Since 2002 or something, he's been Putin's arch enemy. But the reason I mention him is because he figures prominently throughout that whole era of Putin's era type thing, mostly in exile in the UK. As one of these oligarchs and it ties into the idea that a short while after Putin became prime minister and then through his switching between prime minister and president, he very quickly decided to know that he had the reins of power, he decided to basically get rid of a lot of these guys who were the most corrupt among them. If he was taking on the mantle of being the president or the prime minister of Russia, he was going to do it his way and he very quickly came into conflict with some of these oligarchs and he basically booted them out. He eventually imprisoned Khodorkovsky and several others fled to Israel because a lot of them had Jewish ties and dual Israeli / Russian citizenship.

Niall: The Cherney brothers led a guy called Gusinsky, he was a media mogul actually a rival of Berezovsky until the '90's but who teamed up with him to secure Yeltsin's re-election in 1996 and that was an important oligarch partnership; Berezovsky and Gusinsky.

Joe: The impression that I'm getting here is that Putin was taken in by this group of oligarchs who had basically colluded and consolidated their wealth and their control over Russia after the fall with the breakup of the Soviet Union and then they were looking for someone to be the president or the prime minister and that they could take control behind the scenes and in brief Putin did a switcheroo on them and i.e. basically gave them a choice; you're with me or against me type of thing and they're the ones that weren't going to go with that deal were expelled. Many of them then led the attacks against Putin throughout the past 10 or 12 years.

In the official history there's a founding in terms of those who are anti-Putin, this foundational criticism against him is that he as a former head of FSB was somehow involved in the Moscow apartment bombings in 1999 and these were a series of explosions in 4 apartment blocks. It wasn't just Moscow, in several Russian cities including Moscow and killed 293 people and injured 651. Now there have been a lot of allegations and freely put out there by the western media that this was an inside job essentially and that Putin was somehow involved in it. The simplistic narrative is that just have a few bombings around the country, blame them on terrorists and then therefore you will facilitate the rise of some strong man dictator into power i.e. that is Putin supposedly. But there's problems with that idea, that theory because putting Putin in the middle of it as in he was responsible to facilitate his own rise doesn't jive with the idea that Putin was essentially selected by those who were in control to be prime minister. Therefore if there's anybody in control to carry out this false flag attack inside Russia, then it's not necessarily Putin because he was fairly new on the scene at that point.

Niall: Yeah, he wouldn't have had control of the media for example by then. In order for it to be a false flag bombing there has got to be a media campaign that has got the right script to play after and during the course of it and for whatever purposes. Those bombings were contrived, assuming they were there's no point in doing them unless you're getting the right story out that you wanted to get out. In this case of course they're blaming Chechen terrorists, which have recently flared up again. But the first Chechen war in the mid '90's there was a breakaway separatist movement in Chechnya way down in South of Russia kind of dealt with by Yeltsin at the time but not really though and then you're got the series of bombings blamed on Chechen terrorists. Putin becomes prime minister and says "I'm going to deal with this" and they absolutely obliterated Chechnya, which certainly got him a lot of criticism.

Now is that the end of the story? Looking back, something happened after that that kind of points to something else going on. It seems that when Putin says "I'm going to deal with this", he really means it. He will actually go after. For example contrast with Afghanistan, the Americans pretend Bin Laden is still alive for 15 years because of course he's just a cover for what they really want to do. Then they make a show in pretending that they killed him and dumped him at sea. Putin was different; he was like "Oh we've got terrorists. Oh okay, well I'm going to deal with it."

Joe: Yes, he was just being straight up about it and honest about it.

Niall: Chechnya by the way was subsequently completely rebuilt within 2 years. The Russian government pumped billions into the place. It was so successful there is know no longer a separatist movement in Chechnya. It's solved basically.

Joe: They both shook hands and declared peace basically between them and Russia and they're officially part of the Russian Federation, that's the way to deal with actual terrorism. If someone says "we're terrorists and we're going to bomb Russia if you don't do this" well you're going to negotiate and you will be able to find some common ground on the way to sort the problem out unlike America who wants to have like this unending war against terrorists because they can't negotiate with terrorists, that's what they've always said: "we don't negotiate with the terrorist, we just chase them around the world" like something out of a bad 1950's British comedy movie with funny soundtrack to it chasing them around the world and the process obviously getting access to different countries by saying "oh you've got a terrorist problem, let me help you with that" and in they go. But the terrorist are never defeated, the terrorists are always there because you can use them to chase them around.

But Putin on the other hand says "okay terrorists? Let's go and deal with them. If they're not willing to negotiate, let's use military means and then we'll be fair afterwards" like you said they have actually rebuilt Grozny compared to what it was after several of these wars, it has been rebuilt if anybody wants to look into that. One of the things they would in terms of the apartment bombings that supposedly put Putin in power there's a film out called Assassination of Russia and it supported the idea that Russian intelligence is behind it, pointing the finger at Putin etc. But there's an advisor to the Russian government who for what it's worth has said that - I thought it was interesting actually - he said that the film was a well-made professional example of the propaganda and psychological war that Boris Berezovsky is notoriously good at. So the question here is in terms of these apartment bombings and the other bombings that have happened since then in Russia against Russia by supposed Chechen terrorists, the question is: are they genuine Chechen terrorists or are they being directed by someone else?

Maybe it's not so black and white, maybe there was these kind of oligarchs including this guy Berezovsky at the time in 1999 who decided that we're going to have some bombings because we want to inflame the population up, get them worried, get them afraid, get them on board with this terrorism business and then use that to our benefit in terms of control in various different ways and they may have been behind it and they maybe used the FSB in some way, no necessarily Putin used the FSB or certain elements of the FSB to be complicit in this. So it wasn't Chechen terrorists in 1999 but then the other question is, there's obviously evidence that western powers have used Chechen terrorism and funded it and they're been involved in it as a way to attack Russia since then, so the question is: do we separate the apartment bombings out and say that was an internal Russian thing as a way that the Americans used terrorism to further their own aims but then afterwards it was co-opted by western powers to attack Russian and I'm speaking here of Beslan school of hostage crisis when hundreds of people were killed including 100 school children. Later at least two Moscow metro bombings and it was the third one, the theatre shooting, that was where a few people were taken hostage by these Chechens in a theatre in Moscow where many people died.

Niall: Putin was criticized for those 2 major hostage taking scenarios; Moscow's school, theatre and the Beslan School. He was criticizing the west because of the way that he did it, he did negotiate he said "well what do you want?" Basically we want Chechnya free, we want all our colleagues who are in jail released immediately and he said "well I can't do that" and he sent people in and they started shooting them and it led to many deaths. Now in the western narrative, their way of dealing with these situations is whatever you don't bring about a situation where many people die because you lose public support, his public support actually increased because of the way he dealt with it. No nonsense, I think people like that. It's not the other way round.

Joe: The thing that makes me suspicious of the whole Chechen etc. terrorism situation is this claim of emirate of the caucus region that certain groups have aspired to certain terrorist, let's say groups, have aspired to in terms of freedom for this area which, if you include all of the areas that supposedly want independence from Russia, it includes from sea to sea, from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea, straight across the bottom of Russia there's Russia's final territorial border just above Georgia's.

Niall: Just north of the Caucasus.

Joe: For that to be taken away from Russia and maybe Crimea, that would pretty much leave Russia without any real access to the Black Sea and the Black Sea is very important for Russia because it gives access to the Mediterranean where it has navy and commercial shipping. And that's a big thing, it's not just about military shipping or the military base in the Black Sea in Sevastopol in Crimea, it's also the access to that sea for commercial shipping and its almost immediate access to the Mediterranean for Russia as well. So it's commercial as well as military but people don't seem to be mentioning the commercial aspects of it. But just taking away that whole part of southern Russia from Russia would be a pretty devastating blow politically and economically for Russians and for the Russian government and that's where I'm suspicious of. These terrorists and the evidence there is that the US have been involved in backing them and funding them and stuff and it's in there interest to take that away from Russia to screw Russia over basically.

Niall: It's probably a safe bet to go with your theory there because it was a separatist movement and it came out of the fall of the USSR, so this was one among everyone else. They said well all the old nations are getting their nation and status back; we would like to be a nation too. That was an actual nationalist movement but by the time it became what it became a decade ago, it was this jihadist extremist Wahhabi Muslim. Suddenly they're all these white often red bearded Caucasian guys, "Jihad I have the al-Qaida flag" and now their mission isn't to free Grosnia and Chechnya as a nation state, now their mission is something totally outlandish, would never happen anyway. They wanted to unite all of Dagestan, another one that begins with an 'I', Chechnya and even part of Georgia, you can see where that's going because that would inflame Georgian Russian relations again which did actually happen in 2008. So there's this insane idea that was introduced that all these little smaller provinces basically but they're called republics, would become the Emir of the Caucuses, some invented name. There's no popular support for it, this is not a nationalist movement at all.

Joe: It's certainly not Wahhabism if you know what I mean. The Wahhabism that it has become that has informed these terrorists, these jihadists basically, because that comes directly from Saudi Arabia and it's exported from Saudi Arabia with the help or at the behest of the Americans. That's basically your seat of jihadi terrorism in terms of training, funding, and a lot of people comes from Saudi Arabia as a proxy for the US. When you see that jihadi fundi Muslim stuff springing up in places where you say "how did they get there?" well yeah, how did they get there is the question. They were imported. So it's not natural what we're saying, it's not natural to the region, not natural to even human nature in a certain sense. But you see, as we've been saying that Putin has been able to neutralize that in the sense of just facing it head on and saying okay you're terrorists what do you want? You're threatening to blow up half of Russia, what can we do to solve this problem? He's been able to solve the problem.

Niall: Yeah, if it was in any way as dangerous as the region was in the 90's, there's no way he would have had the Winter Olympics just take place right next door in Sochi as it's just happened. Before we get back to the Saudis, I want to just make note of some other - obviously it's a big complicated issue - we'll just try to hit the high note. So 9-11 happens and Putin it seems like everyone else except holy Moses somebody did this to America and got behind, got on board. He was one of the first to say look, whatever you need for help and the US got an airbase - the lease for an air base in Kyrgyzstan which wouldn't have been possible without Moscow's support. (audio dropped). But after 9-11, everything that came after that, they started to see he's more and more putting his foot down. You said earlier that, well it's only been more recently that we've become more aware of Putin, but actually if you go back and look at some of the things he said at the time which were never of course shown too widely, you'll see that there's a pattern to his behavior regarding the United States. The Iraq war, Putin was against that. The only reason it - I think I've already mentioned on a previous show but I'll just recap - the only reason they dropped their phony attempt to get the UN sanctioning resolution approved was because Putin had got then chancellor Schroeder and President Chirac of France in a little alliance that said "we won't support unless you can provide reasonable evidence that he does have WMDs" and so they just went in unilateral and that might have pissed somebody off because if you think about it, he forced their hand there. Okay if what you're doing is legit, show it and as a result this is what we can't. We're just going ahead.

Joe: That was a defining moment in recent modern American history in a sense that America was made or forced by Russia essentially, okay by Germany and France as well, forced to wage an illegal war that will go down in history officially recorded as an illegal war. When all they wanted was just them to agree to it and then it could be all legal and nobody would ever say anything bad about America. Obviously they didn't care and they went ahead anyway because they were so committed to it because of their grand chess board plan but they probably like you say that really pissed them off. I think it was after Iraq and Putin seeing them doing this and then that subsequent seeing what was going on in Iraq and then in recent years the regime changes that they've been encased in which are part of a long history of the American regime changes. But in terms of the modern era, in the 2000's let's say, I'm sure Putin has been watching that very closely and has seen what the Americans have been doing and the way they've been doing it. In the Arab Spring, specifically in Libya where they bombed Libya, the Arab Spring was brought to Libya by NATO bombs so that's how independent it was. And then Syria more recently somewhere along the line there, probably quite a long time ago, he figured out well this is how far these people will go with this. And he sees it moving, he probably has in his mind the idea that it's going to come to his borders and in particular with evidence of US funding for 'Chechnya terrorists'. He probably realized that it's already been attempted at Russia's borders.

Niall: There are a lot of snippets of speeches that have been translated I presume accurately. There's one he gave to CNN where he dropped a pretty big hint and the CNN reporter asked him to "well can you back that up?" And he said, I can't remember what he said with the reply but anyway his claim was that it was 2008 and he was being asked about Georgia and again it was framed in the western terms of Russia invaded Georgia. You got a hint there of the Soviet Empire trying to reclaim its territory. Shit that's not what happened at all. The Georgians baited by firing missile shells across the border into Russia. Of course Putin was well aware of that and he said to the CNN guy something like the stories I'm hearing are that there were US persons on the ground advising the Georgians. And he just left it at that, you can imagine he knows more though. Right there, the point is he knows the wagons are circling against him. Then of course there are throughout 2000's with the missile issue. NATO didn't just block in the 90's. They started putting their own - they effectively made garrisons out of the Czech Republic, Poland and put missiles.

Joe: And there's a direct link as soon as Poland joins the EU in 2005 the first thing that happened as all the Poles leave and flood across Europe, a bunch of American NATO missiles go the other way and established on the Polish territory.

Niall: A serious effort is made in the west to convince all of us dummies over here that "oh it's to protect Europe from, oh wait we need a new crisis, we've got one. It's to protect you from Iran". Putin was asked that once by a journalist and he laughed.

Joe: He laughed at the naivety of the journalist, that's all he could do just say thanks, you gave me a good laugh there. That's the perfect response anyway; he's looking at what's been going on in the world. People parroting the mainstream media lies that's given to them by the US government and he was asked this ridiculous question when anybody with any sense knew that it was pure propaganda and lies. So he just laughed at it. In terms of in the article that I wrote a few days ago about Ukraine I just got something from 2009 from Reuters who quoted the head of Russia's Chechen Republic who at this stage had turned around and become a more pro, after 2008, 2009 this was, he said that in terms of who they are fighting against now because the Chechen government had officially made peace with the Russians but they were still faced with an insurgency by someone and he said we're fighting in the mountains with the American and English intelligence agencies. They are fighting not against [Ramzan] Kadyrov, not against traditional Islam, they are fighting against the sovereign Russian state. So he basically spelled out there what the nature of these fundi jihadi Muslim terrorist operation in Chechnya was is that it's funded and manned by essentially agents of the American empire that is bent on attacking Russia. He was asked if he was saying there were signs of CIA and MI6 participation in the violence and he said "Of course. There was a terrorist Chitigov, he worked for the CIA. He had US citizenship. When we killed him, I was in charge of the operation and we found a US driving license and all the other documents were also American". This isn't conspiracy theory; this is for anybody who's aware of what has been going on around the world.

Niall: There's a lot more to it. These guys, Chechen terrorist - it's even in movies. There have been a few movies where part of the plot involves Chechen terrorists surfacing in Bosnia and Iraq. That's actually based on the reality of it the so called Kosovo Liberation Army, completely manufactured, there was no civilian national insurgency in a region in Serbia, it was the KLA. Bin Laden himself was supposedly out there involved with that too. These guys are shipped around. Today there are Chechens with the big long neck beards are training 16, 17, and 18 year old French Swedish and American kids in Syria.

Joe: They're essentially mercenaries for the Empire type of thing that prefers to engage in its expansion of Empire in that way rather than direct military confrontation. They tend to prefer usually proxy armies that they can distance themselves from. The real genius if you want to call that is behind that is that these guys aren't officially working for the Americans. You find a bunch of nut jobs who can be whipped up on a very small group.

Niall: And the more insane, the better.

Joe: Yeah, exactly yeah. They can be whipped and have some crazy idea of wanting to establish some kind of caliphate or emirate or something somewhere in a place where they have no right to do that and you give them loads of money and guns and training and you stir it up and cause problems for the host nation that they're attacking because it serves your interest ultimately whether its regime change or whatever to destabilize the country. Generally speaking it's about getting rid of a certain government and as I've seen in Libya when that doesn't work effectively enough and Gaddafi and the people of Libya were strong enough to repel these imported mercenaries from other parts of Africa and the Middle East into Libya when that wasn't working quite as well as they expected, you get NATO bombings to officially impose a no fly zone but then bombing the crap out of the country and affectively decapitating the regime or the Libyan government and installing a bunch of fundi nut jobs who just run the country into the ground as is happening in Libya today, that's the legacy.

Niall: The prime minister, the puppet they installed quit 3 days ago. That's how stabile it is.

Joe: The thing about it is that, you know as we've been saying Putin has...

Niall: I want to make sure we cover just a little bit the changes that happened within Russia before we go to how is this playing out geopolitically. So in the background it's been 14 years Putin gets lampooned and criticized heavily in the west because it's obviously undemocratic to have a guy run for 2 terms and become prime minister and then become president again and while he's prime minister have the law changed so that in the next term as president is now extended to a 6 year term. He's doing what he has to do to stay in power. Now we are so hard wired into pre-westerners to just assume that that's the root of all evil. Is it? Think to what happened to Chavez in Venezuela at every step of the way that he extended his power, he put it to a vote and it came back in favor every time except for once and he accepted it. The same thing is happening in Russia in some form or another. They don't have direct national referendum but to a parliamentary elections in between the presidential elections.

Every time Putin has either personally won or his party has won, he doesn't have a fixed party because there have been 2 different alliances through the last 14 years. The politics, you look at it on the surface and that sounds really dodgy, now let's look at the actual concrete stuff, the stuff that matters. Economically the people of Russia, what do they think? Well Russia lost several million people in the 90's as in its death rate increased dramatically through a combination of starvation the average life expectancy dropping into the 50's for people, it was just devastating. That has turned around to the extent today under Putin that the birth rate in Russia is now higher than in the US. Unemployment is way down despite global financial crisis, Russia was pretty well protected from it even though it has an open market economy. Putin never challenged that, he accepted, fine Russia's going to be a capitalist and not only are we going to be capitalists, we're going to be better capitalists than you which is a rich irony in this.

Joe: Unemployment 6%?

Niall: Something like 6% compared to the real rate of unemployment in the US is got to be 30 plus %.

Joe: Wages went up.

Niall: He has mass popular support and that can't be because they're all just brainwashed idiots?

Joe: No, they're not. Russians, generally speaking, are a lot smarter than the average American in terms of being informed. But he also increased the state pension at the point that one of the actual attractions for the people in the Ukraine now with this idea of in Crimea in particular that they maybe becoming part of the Russian Federation is that older people will get twice the state pension that they're given by the Ukrainian government if they join Russia, they get twice as much. He also passed laws where the military, as part of this military overhaul, military personnel officers and soldiers all will get really stark increase in their wages so it's like they're some of the best paid military personnel in the world. I'm not talking here about like in the context of Russia the cost of living in Russia; they're getting paid like the starting wage for a soldier in the Russian Army is like $2,400 a month. An officer gets up to $4,000 to - $6,000 a month. Compare that to the wages that the average American military grunt or even officers get in the US. So yeah your point is that obviously despite all the propaganda Putin has been doing what the Russian people wanted him to do and kept them happy.

Niall: And he's been doing it well, it's not that he's throwing money at them to buy them; he's doing this by managing. In fact his thesis for his economics PhD was that to enable market forces to do their work you need what he called national champions which is really the same actually that they have in France where you've got these large - originally they are private entities but the rely heavily on the state - champions in each sector of industry and that's essentially the model he brought to Russia. Bit by bit taking it back from these oligarchs who were in it for themselves. He's harnessing it all to actually reinvest back into the Russian people. His internal speeches that he gives, again there's no wishy-washy there. He often just gets up on the stage for a minute and says "Awesome thank you for your support, it's great to see you all here. The goal is simple; everything I do is about trying to raise Russian living standards. Thank you and have a good night. See you, I'm out of here, I'm busy."

Joe: Is that not what many Americans actually want to see in their own government: less interference by governments, less grandstanding and fancy speeches and stuff and just get on with the job of doing what you're meant to do and your results will show whether you're doing a good job or not i.e. standard of living quality of a life all that kind of stuff? That's what Americans want but they've been coerced by the media to demonize Putin who's doing exactly what they all want to do. Look at the results of Americans despite Obama's and various different US presidents' speeches and fancy words. You've got 50 million people in the US on food stamps. That's a quarter of the adult population.
That point you made earlier on about Putin becoming prime minister then president then prime minister then president then being in power now for 14 years being the leader for Russia let's say for 14 years more or less. That really shouldn't matter, it's just the idea of democracy that you can't have one person. It's ridiculous the idea of democracy in the west in terms of the leaders of a country are limited to 4 or 5 years to stop any one person from becoming corrupt or becoming a dictator but it's ridiculous because that's exactly what you have in the west, particularly in America. You just have 2 parties and they just keep changing and they're both one of the same and you just have this bunch of corrupt puppets representing the corrupt corporatists in the US who really rule the country and its this sham of a change every 4 years in the US or every 8 years if its 2 terms that makes people think "Ok well we're safe from anybody ever amassing any one group amassing too much power to themselves " but that's what is behind the revolving door of different faces for the presidency. You have this long term corrupt elite in the US that never changes.

Niall: Yeah and also...

Joe: So what I'm saying is you have the same thing in the US as you have in Russia in a sense and it's much longer. Putin's been in power for 14 years while you've had the people in power in the US for 40 years. The point is that it doesn't matter, what matters is the results, it's what they do. You can have a bunch of monkeys leading a country. As far as the people are concerned to some extent you could but as long as those monkeys were implementing the proper policies that kept the standard of living at a decent level for most of the people in the country, they would vote the monkeys back in forever as long as they keep on doing it. Just the very notion that you have to change the leadership is nonsensical without the context of what's the particular leadership doing, how are they doing? That even comes down to a dictator and you can have a benevolent dictator let's say. It's never happened really because dictators synonymous with evil and corruption. But if there ever came along a person who was well disposed to the average person in the street and he is somehow able to maintain himself in power against all the competing influences and kept on being benevolent and treating people on the street well and then who would argue that that person is doing a very good job should not be there for as long as they can keep doing it?

Niall: Putin is there because he's the man for the job and I think most Russians recognize that. It's funny in the west they disparage what he does by saying for example "oh Putin has promulgated several...[lost audio]...overhauled their tax code, streamlined and simplified their bureaucracy the way in which regions have a centralized budget handed out. He's restructured regions grouping together different parts of Russia and reorganizing. The more you look at it he's done so much work and still continues to. It's not all down to just him of course. I think one way you could say it there's a certain culture that he has brought back into Russia, stabilized the place economically, politically and got it back up on its feet. It has recovered what's it lost in the 90's and bit by bit what we see of Putin now internationally is a reflection of the strength that has been built up within the country. I think it's no coincidence that we find Russia in a position now to say "No we draw the line here."

Joe: That's a perfect explanation of why we're seeing all of this anti-Russia and anti-Putin propaganda over the past several years because he has done that to the Russia economy and the country and he has done it the right way and he has support of the majority of the population and that is like a red flag to the empire builders in the west because the one thing they have staked their claim to or made it their main priority to achieve since really over the last 100 years beginning 100 years ago or more was that there would be no other power in the world that would be able to stand against the American empire essentially as it began to develop itself at the turn of 20th century. That was the policy, that was the idea of these bankers and corporatists at the time, that was their plan to take over the entire world and if you look at the history of the 20th century, that's pretty much what they did.

That's the policy they pursued and they got very far and to have it kind of all go a bit wrong at this point at the very end when success and completion of their grand plan was so close to have something like big Russia to come out of nowhere in a certain sense because obviously they didn't budget very well for Russia so quickly remaking itself its really frustrating to them and they're pulling out all the stops in many different ways to thwart Russia and to put it back in its place. We see it most notably in the propaganda war, one example is that homosexuality or anti-gay law supposedly that was passed in Russia. Surprise, surprise that turns out to be completely false. In the legislation that was passed, there is no reference to gay, homosexual, LBGT or any other reference in the legislation itself.

My question is how can you pass an anti-gay law when it doesn't mention gays anywhere or the word homosexual anywhere in the legislation? People might say "well it's subtle; it's insinuated in there somewhere" but yeah really? You think any prosecutor is going to try and argue a case based on insinuation of the law? It'd be thrown out as it makes a mockery of law completely and the whole legal process. You can't interpret laws on the idea that there are hidden words in there. Well they're there, they're not laws, they are meant to be very specific and this law is very specific. Basically the essence of that legislation was that it was a criminal offence and it was mostly fines that are penalties for infringing this law, breaking this law and the law specifies that it's an offence to misrepresent the number of homosexuals or gays of any persuasion in the media. It's mainly focused at the media - that's all it says. It says there are certain statistics on the number of homosexuals in Russia and anybody who goes around misrepresenting official data or statistics or anything relating to homosexual community if you misrepresent it you'll be fined and its directed primarily at as we've mentioned quite specifically the media corporations and stuff and you can see it in the context of this Pussy Riot kind of stuff and all these other foreign supported and funded organizations rising up within Russia that have nothing to do with the will of the actual Russian people that are like a fifth column within the country designed specifically by the west to try and destabilize Russian society.

So this law specifically is just one of a lot of other legislation that was designed to stop that from happening in Russian. As any country would do, when you start to realize that there are elements of foreign nations essentially in your country trying to rabble rouse and stir up essentially a revolution against the country. America has all sorts of laws on its books and so do western European nations; they've all sorts of laws on their books to stop that specifically happening. It's a crime in every other nation in the western world yet when Russia passes with Russian parliament, the Duma passes those kinds of laws they immediately pick on one and spread this ridiculous rumor and that's all it is a rumor, completely false. That they pass an anti-gay law, that you're not allowed to be gay in Russia, it's ridiculous. But that's the level of propaganda that we are dealing with. It's a big lie, they don't actually twist the truth a little bit, they actually make stuff up and promote it so widely in the media that the majority of people in the western world if you ask them about Putin or Russia, they'll say "yeah they have those anti-gay laws don't they" when it's a complete lie.

Niall: The other thing they conveniently left out is at the same time Putin passed, well the Duma passed but I'm sure it might have been his inspiration, an anti-extremism law and this too they read into what they wanted in the west. "Anti-extremism hmm oh yeah, yeah, so we see what he's doing, he's doing that to go after any form of opposition." No it's specified by anti-extremism, it was exactly that. It meant specifically taking funding from foreign NGOs to agitate.

Joe: You see a raft of laws passed of that nature in Russia and you wonder why. It's easier to spin it as oh he's being dictatorial or draconian law etc., etc. But you see clearly that it's designed as a response to an already existing threat within Russia against the status quo in Russia which is supported by the majority of the Russian people. So it's completely anti-democratic what they're doing yet what they're doing is completely anti-democratic but they use a rallying cry of anti-democracy or anti-democratic means and blame Russia and Putin for doing it. I mean they are essentially doing what psychopaths do which is to blame other people for exactly what they're doing.

Niall: In France they've hate laws exactly the same thing. In the US it's, of course, illegal for any foreign entity to fund a political action committee or anything that is going to influence political persuasion.

Joe: Absolutely, any foreign fund is completely illegal and none of them supposedly have ever done it because it's such a high profile law and very well known. Yet millions of dollars or more of American tax payer's money and government money has been going directly into Ukraine to subvert the election process and the democratic process in Ukraine against exactly the same law on the books in Ukraine. That it's illegal in Ukraine for any foreign entity or any political party in Ukraine to take money from any foreign entity. Exactly the same as in the US and yet the US just completely ignores that law and goes ahead and does it.

Niall: It's no conspiracy theory, we've seen the receipts.

Joe: Absolutely.

Niall: We saw who paid what to which far right

Joe: The NED, Mr. EBay and stuff, sent money to all these democratic movements, it's ridiculous. They're promoting democracy in Ukraine by subverting the democratic process, that's what they're doing.

Niall: And at the same time of course this is where we come to Crimea and the people are today effectively rubber stamping because we know they have popular support in Crimea to join Russia. The rubber stamping the local parliament has already got it on the books and this is Putin's answer to your hypocrisy. Until now it's been maybe some back room deals and he's been trying to sway others by making trade deals and now when it's come to his doorstep he's like well trade deal didn't work with Ukraine because they've got actual physical fighting forces involved in this. What are they going to do? So here we are at this crossroads, maybe we should talk about what else is going on in the background, try to see how we see this playing out.

Joe: Well for a start, I just want to mention something about the many articles that I've seen of late opining on the situation in Ukraine vis-a-vis Russia and the US etc. These are from alternative media outlets who have a long history of railing against what the Americans have been doing around the world and expanding their empire through all sorts of duplicitous and scurrilous means including creating civil war in countries like Syria for example. So they're these websites that have been writing on this Ukrainian situation and they tend to be coming out with this phrase of the enemy of my enemy and their point is that's not always true i.e. the enemy of my enemy is my friend is a maxim but they're saying it's not necessarily true in this case that the enemy of my enemy i.e. our enemy is the American empire and its enemy is Putin therefore Putin is our friend, they're saying no. That they stand against any military incursion in the affairs of another nation and therefore people should not be glorifying Putin. We're not glorifying Putin; we're just calling it as it is.

They trump them up as people who see them as a savior and people are being forced into this division to either support the west or support Russia and that people shouldn't fall for that trap. You should stand against any kind of military incursion or any kind of draconian measures against other people and speaking specifically here as I recall it James Corbett of Corbett Report, some of you might know him, he came out with this angle criticizing Putin for the kind of legislation that we've just been talking about and he was decrying the lack of freedom of the press and the laws that are being passed in Russia by Putin supposedly clamping down on the media etc. But that's completely obtuse really if you think about it because what's missing is the context of the world we live in and the fact that we are at the tail end of the expansion of the American empire, the empire of the bankers, the psychopaths in power that have been spreading it around the world.

Can you imagine, I'll use an analogy, you live in a house and you've got a family inside? Outside there's a lot of threats from various types of wild animals and marauding bands of people. The marauders will disguise themselves as poor old women and the wolves let's say that are banging at the door are disguised as sheep. And they'll be knocking on your door saying "let me in, I just want to be friends. I'm all for freedom and democracy and open society" and at the same time the people in the house are saying "well you are being a bit severe in locking this place down against these people. Look they're only sheep and little old ladies and we want an open society so we want multi-culturalism and multi-pluralism and stuff, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression and new ideas coming into our house. Why are you doing this?" That's so naive in the sense that the people who are demanding that freedom of expression are completely unaware that these are actually wolves and marauding bands of psychopaths who want to come in and destroy your house and steal everything in it and kill you all. That's the reality of the situation and in that situation, what are you going to do?

You are obviously going to take the necessary precautions because you understand and you see the nature of the beast outside your door and what its intentions are you're not fooled by the propaganda and the lies and the appeals to "can't we all be friends and just let us in and if you've got nothing hide, why are you afraid? We just want to share the love and stuff." That's what happened in Venezuela, Chavez was accused of clamping down on freedom of the press and was called a dictator for banning certain stations and people completely ignored the fact that those media stations and media corporations that wanted to set up in Venezuela and had been set up in Venezuela were there specifically for the purpose of spreading lies about Chavez, about the government and inciting the people to revolution. But what he is expected to do to maintain this appearance of not being a dictator and to avoid that accusation, he's meant to let them all in so that they can all destroy the country.
It can get so bad that the people within your own country will demand that because they're fooled by it they'll say "why are you doing this? You should let these corporations in because they say they just want to do some good for our country and I believe them." I'm glad you're not president, that's why you're not president, that's why you're not in any position of authority or leadership because you cannot see the reality of the situation or the world in which you live, you don't know the forces at work here. The nature of these forces is amply documented and easily provable and we're not talking about conspiracy here, we're talking about official track record of what these individuals do, corporations and agents of empire do.

Niall: Economic hit men

Joe: Exactly, like last week. So the point is in the context of the world we live in, any laws, like for example Putin is passing right now that appeared to be dictatorial or draconian or clamping down on the freedom of press, you can't even say that they're in his interest because obviously there's a threat of a backlash from the population who get fooled by what was said about these laws that are dictatorial and he wants to be the dictator. So it's a dangerous position to be in to pass these kinds of laws. But they have been obviously passed in the context of a clear and present danger and threat to Russian society from outside. So if your goal is to keep the Russian people for example safe and maintain the integrity of the Russian federation against this kind of threat well then you will have to do whatever is necessary within reason obviously. But you do everything you can within reason and respecting the rights of the people that the real Russian people respect in their rights but absolutely denying the right of any interlopers or any fifth column that attempts to come into the country.

Niall: Exactly, no one has been disappeared of the streets in Russia. The rule of law is actually applied there of course Khodorkovsky and Navalny and the others who are funded by the west and/or have their own funds will cry bloody murder and say "Oh my god it's happening to me and the whole country is suffering under tyranny with me" because they're so self-centered. When they get into power, that's how they would see things, everything is a reflection of me.

Joe: Absolutely. What's clear to me is that Putin has been watching what the Americans have been doing in the Middle East for a long time and in other areas around the world in South America for a long time is probably not ignorant of the history of America and what they did in South America and Latin American countries. He knows the MO, the modus operandi of how they operate and he sees this happening in the Middle East and in Syria. Russia was very closely involved in that and observing that situation.

Niall: Well he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for...

Joe: Exactly.

Niall: ...he affectively, at least for now, staved off a bomb threat, the NATO bombing of Syria.

Joe: Yeah, so he knows all of this and probably more than any of us or anybody listening can gather from the situation based on available evidence. He knows more because as a government as the apparatus of the state and the resources of the state he has more information

Niall: He is going to have a lot more access to info than us

Joe: More detailed information of what was actually going on in the ground.

Niall: So he knows who those snipers were and so on.

Joe: Yeah, so he sees this coming and he sees it coming in Ukraine. He is very, very much aware of the threat to Russia from the EU and from their master in the US to Russia by Ukraine, Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet and Russia's access commercially and military too the Mediterranean otherwise half way around the world. So he sees this coming and he sees the signs well in advance. So none of this stuff is new, it's new to us we get breaking news about Nuland's telephone conversation and stuff but that's totally to be expected from the point of view of the Russian government. They have well laid plans to deal with that. It'd be extremely stupid if they didn't, there's no business being in power if they didn't anticipate that and it's obvious that they did based on the speed with which they responded to the situation.

And they're talking now about sanctions and stuff but even that's falling on its face. The EU is planning these sanctions at the behest of America who can very easily just sit over there in the USA and say yeah EU you impose some sanctions there against Russia. Of course sanctions are a two way street right? You stop doing business with Russia and Russia stops doing business with you. You lose a lot of money as well. The EU is a bit less enthusiastic about the idea of sanctions than the Americans are because the Americans don't have that many trade ties with Russia because they're 5,000 miles of water between them. The EU is on a continuous land mass with Russia, right next door; gas pipe lines, oil pipe lines, lots of economic ties with the Russians. So they're talking about sanctions now and there's one guy, he's a former senior European commissioner, he's one of these guys from the European commission who make statements on these things and he says that "we can expect tough measures from Putin in response to these sanctions, he has nothing to lose now". He says I would expect him to up the ante and he mirrors what we're saying here by saying his plans i.e. Putin's plans "have been laid long in advance".

Niall: Yeah

Joe: I mean that's coming from a spokesperson for the EU commission. They're fully aware of the nature of the situation and yet you have the Americans with their cavalier attitude of you know we're just going to impose or will on the rest of the world and it's not really working out. It's all up in the air and the person with all of the cards really or the best hand in this situation seems to be the Russians despite all the pomp and circumstance and bluff and bluster from the EU and US officials. They're not really doing very much about it you know.

Niall: Got a little story here in terms of Russia's interests. Let's assume for a second the US's main target with Ukraine from a strategy point of view was to remove Russia's Black Sea fleet from Crimea. Russia is thinking no way because that is our access, easy access to the Mediterranean right? Little headline here from December: Syria signs offshore oil and gas exploration deal with Russia.

Joe: Exactly

Niall: The deal's benefits are more than economic it was signed a month after Syria encourages Russian ally to explore its waters and break the oil sanctions imposed on Syria. He's directly going around the sanctions they already have on Syria to go that route. So it's not just to be in a position to protect Syria, it's to protect Russian interests in Syria.

Joe: In terms of engaging in international economic oil deals with other countries but you see you're not allowed to do that on your own under the American Empire. It all has to pass through the American Empire first and you get...

Niall: Whatever trickles down.

Joe: ...you get the crumbs, that's the way it all has to come back through the banker first you know what I mean? These days you can't just go and get some money and go and do some deals on your own. You have to pay with the credit card and pay fees on it and you have to pay taxes on it. You have to go through a controlling power essentially and that's what America represents with their IMF and various banking interests around the world. As far as we're concerned totally justified in what Russia is doing because they're under attack. They have been threatened and an attack has been launched on many different fronts against them. This is just the culmination of an attack that's been going on for maybe 10 years now or maybe a bit less by the west against Russia and they come knocking on the door of Russia i.e. in Ukraine and directly threaten their legitimate interests because they don't like the way Russian is doing things i.e. Russian is doing things kind of in an independent and sovereign nation kind of way. That strange idea of sovereignty and deciding for yourself how you're going to engage with the rest of the world.
That's what they don't like and that's why all of this is happening and Russia's response is entirely justified, even if it includes an invasion of Ukraine because the point here is what's the alternative? People like James Corbett, as was mentioned before, and all the people like Abby Martin from RT being down on the actions of Russia, have they questioned if they understand the reality of the situation? Have they wondered? Have they asked themselves what's the alternative? Well obviously the alternative is for Russia to not do it what it's doing. What it basically comes down to is just rolling over and have Ukraine and have its access to the Mediterranean and its access to international trade severely curtailed and Russia turned into a vassal state of the American Empire and allow the IMF to come back into Russia and devastate the country and essentially, like I mentioned before in the 1990's, kill off through various different means a large percentage of the population from mental health and lack of social services and that's the alternative.

So this is what people like Abby Martin and other people who are criticizing Putin or Russia, this is their alternative. But see they don't see it that way. They don't even see the world in that way. They don't even take stock. I don't know what world they live in or what's going on inside their head. Supposedly they're looking at the situation and they have an awareness of the history of the world in modern history and how we got to where we are today and what the nature of it is, yet they don't apply that to the situation. They see someone standing up against that affectively, no one disagrees that the Russians are standing up against this march of the American Empire around the world but they don't like it because they want to take some sanctimonious absolutess kind of idea that it doesn't matter what's happening in the world, freedom of the press is paramount. If you in any way clamp down on any kind of freedom of the press, even if it's like from your enemy neighbor who wants to screw over your country, you have to let him in there in the name of freedom of the press and do what he wants to do even if it includes a coup d'état or a civil war in a country. You have to allow that because a civil war or the destruction of your country in some way or other is a price we have to pay to maintain freedom of the press. That's kind of what they're saying and that's like are you serious? What's wrong with you? Really, you shouldn't really be speaking on this matter.

Niall: I think it's...

Joe: Put that in the press. Don't cut me off to The Corbett Report. I'm going to hack his website

Niall: We're going to revoke your press pass. No we're not going to because the propaganda, I mean Jesus that word is overused so much. Let's just say the information warfare because that captures more of what it is. When it comes to Russia, it's so vast, it's so long term. The cold war rhetoric didn't really end; they are just pretending it came back out of the blue. In many respects the problem the elites had was always Russia, what are we going to do with Russia? It became a problem again when Putin came to power or whoever is behind Putin, some combination or both. So we got to ask if the American Empire's plans are more or less predictable based on the pattern to date we want it all, control everything. What then are Putin's plans?

Joe: I don't think you have to have any longer term plans other than maintaining the integrity and sovereignty of your country such as it is and doing your best by the majority of the people in the country and opposing, to the greatest extent possible, any attempts by any foreign powers to diminish that integrity or to take it away and to diminish the living standard and the quality of life for the people in the country who you are tasked with caring for and looking after. I'm not being naive or idealistic about their isn't corruption in Russia and all that kind of stuff but in the context of this world and the kind of forces that are rained against that very idea of people having a decent quality of life and that doesn't just include food on the table or a roof over your head but access to objective information and data and the truth about the world in which you live on and the ability for people to express themselves based on the truth. If you look in that context the world is a hell hole from that perspective and that hell hole has been imposed progressively on the rest of the world by the USA. All you have to do is look at the massive lies. I mean lies will destroy the world ultimately when people live in complete illusion where they take for truth a complete and grotesque lie and act on it and live that.
What kind of future can any people expect to have if that is the basis of their understanding of it, of what's in their head going around completely fabricated and illusory understanding of what is happening in the world. That's setting them up for destruction. So that's why we stand in support of what Putin is doing simply because for whatever reason even if it's by accident or fate or whatever or history that he finds himself in a position where he can use the fact that the western powers have been egregiously lying over and over again in such a blatant way. If he can use that to serve his own interests then ultimately because we serve the truth and we stand in support of him in the sense that he is telling the truth about the nature of this world and what's going on and what the western powers of the world have been doing. It doesn't mean we're standing by Putin and we're going to erect statues to him. He's just a vessel or a vehicle by accident like I said perhaps for this truth at this time. It's the truth that we serve therefore we support the truth that he is speaking.

Niall: Something popped up on the radar recently concerning Saudi Arabia and Qatar. What is going on there?

Joe: Yeah, that's kind of bizarre there.

Niall: It ties into this discussion though.

Joe: It kind of does. It seems that things are kind of shaken up a little bit in the world coincidentally at the same time as this whole Ukraine and Russia thing that's been going on. There's a story I think it's from about a week ago, I only really found it in the...

Niall: March 11th.

Joe: Yeah, in the Irish Times. The title of it is Saudi Arabia threatens to blockade Qatar over terrorism and it says Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade Qatar by air, land, and sea unless Doha, capital of Qatar and Qatar is a tiny little state sticking out there in the Persian Gulf, unless it cuts ties with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and closes global Al Jazeera and expels local branches of the US Brookings Institution and Rand Corporation think tanks. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has decreed that any Saudi who fights abroad could be jailed for 20 to 30 years and that those who join, endorse or provide moral or material support to groups classified as terrorist or extremist will risk prison sentences of 5 to 30 years. Now this is from a country, from a regime a real regime of evil and corrupt oil barons essentially masquerading as leaders of a patch of land that just happens to have a bunch of oil on it and who are installed many years ago by the British effectively and then kept in power by the US. This comes from these people who have been the preeminent exporter of jihadi terrorism around the world for the past 40 to 50 years maybe, all in league with the US. Essentially they're like the US's outsourced jihadi terrorist supplier for around the Middle East to keep control and destabilize regimes and to remake the Middle East and tweak with it here and there. This is what the Saudi's have been doing and they have been funding the "war" in Syria. Suddenly they turn around and pass laws that outlaw terrorists or extremist groups - that's one thing that's bizarre. They've also attacked Qatar and the thing is Qatar was the staging ground along with Saudi Arabia but Qatar was a staging ground for a lot of the planning and implementation of the attack on Syria in terms of arms, money and individuals and training and propaganda.

Niall: Al Jazeera.

Joe: Yeah, exactly for the jihadist in Syria. So the Saudis are turning against them now and most importantly they said that they were going to blockade them by air, land, and sea unless they kicked out local branches of the US Brookings Institute and Rand Corporation think tanks. Now the US Brookings Institution is basically the think tank in Washington DC that provides most of the American government's policies on most things. Obama and those people and Clinton, Kerry and stuff, they don't really think for themselves because they don't know enough about the world.

Niall: They get the memos from these guys.

Joe: Exactly because these institutions have a long history and their staffed with political thinkers and stuff who have all these ideas and supposedly know in a very in depth way what's going on in the world and what best serves the American policies and they have direct connections to corporations who essentially run America so they're really the ones who direct overt American government policy. They tell the government what to do in any given situation and there setup in Qatar as an outreach or as a subsidiary of the Brookings Institute in Qatar and that's where all the thinking and policy comes forth for what to do, what the Americans should do in Middle East and they have this little setup in Qatar and the other one is a Rand Corporation. The Rand Corporation is basically a think tank as well but it's kind of more orientated towards a think tank on the military aspect of it. It's basically a global policy think tank formed to offer research and analysis to the United States armed forces.

So on the one hand you have the Brookings Institute think tank to deal with the policy on the other hand you have the Rand Corporation which is to advise the military on how to go about implementing that policy that the Brookings Institute actually came up with from a military perspective. So both of these are being booted out or being told that they have to be booted out of Qatar by Saudi Arabia which is supposedly totally in line with the US. They have been the US's, along with Israel, the policeman in the Middle East along with their substantial oil resources. So it's very strange that this has happened and it marks a strange moving away from a very close relationship.

But it ties in with other events going on - well just before I do that - we'll go onto those other events that are tied into it that may answer the question as to why Saudi Arabia is kicking out 2 US think tanks out of its back yard basically. I immediately after reading that went to the Brookings Institute website. There's a section that is dedicated specifically to the Middle East and it's called the Saban Center at the Brookings Saban Center for Middle East Policy. So I went to the website and I read their research article for February and it says The End of Sykes-Picot? Reflections on the Prospects of the Arab State System. This is a policy paper from the Brookings institute that was released just recently and it's quite short but I'll just give a few lines of it here.

Its talking about the Arab Spring it says: "as the conflict festered it also prompted a broader discussion and debate over the future of the Arab state system", dun, dun, dun, "Robin Right a journalist and scholar at the Woodrow Wilson international center for scholars argues that the map of the modern Middle East a political and economic pivot in the international order is in tatters. He also warned that competing groups and ideologies are pulling the region apart. A different map would be a strategic game changer for just about everybody potentially reconfiguring alliances, security challenges, trade, and energy flows", i.e. oil, and then they quote "Lieutenant colonel Joel Rayburn writing from the Hoover Institution"' i.e. other think tanks in the US are thinking the same way, "points out that the alternative may not be new states but rather simply collapse." He says "if watching the fall or near fall of half a dozen of regimes in the Arab spring has taught us anything it should be that the Arab states that appeared serenely stable to outsiders for the past half century, are more brittle than we have understood."

Niall: Saudi Arabia is nervous.

Joe: Yeah and then the author of this Brookings Institute article says "this discussion touches on a key question when the collapse of one or several other Arab states produce a new order in the region?" Hmmm, it gets worse, "ambitious monarchs in the 1930s and 1940s", guess who that is, House of Saud, "challenged the order after the colonial period the doctrine of Pan Arab nationalism and Nasser's messianic leadership in the 1950s and by Saddam Hussein in 1990 again posed a threat." It's says, "It is not challenged now by a powerful state or a sweeping ideology but by the weakness of several Arab states that seem to be on the verge of implosion or disintegration." So I just thought it was very interesting with the apparent jitters that the Saudi's have got about you know we don't like the Brookings Institution or the Rand Corporation anymore, get out of here. They seemed to be a bit concerned maybe that this Arab Spring business that the US has been supporting and implementing around the Middle East, there's not that many states left, who's next? You know the way Bush use to hold hands with Bandar Bush, he use to hold hands with this ruling Saudi and stuff anytime they visit Washington, was that all false? It's just like a business arrangement we have, which means that you don't really care who's in power in Saudi Arabia and that means that we might be kicked out?

Niall: Does this mean that we can't be friends?

Joe: That's pretty much what's going on and that seems to be to me anyway. It could be just some real politic coming into it; well it's obviously the US getting a bit concerned about the state of things in the Middle East, with Syria and the shakeup of the whole situation. Russia is tied into this and access to resources and the US is wondering maybe it's the time before things go south on us here, maybe it's time to shake things up in the Middle East and install a whole new system so that we can start again and keep it under our control.

Niall: Shake, that's a good one.

Joe: Yeah, so the background to this is a story from August 2013, 7 months ago; Saudis Offer Russia Secret Oil Deal if they Drop Syria. This is a story about Bandar who is head of Saudi security going to the Russians last year and saying we can keep the Olympics safe if you - that's all what was reported. That they said we control the Chechens, we can keep the Sochi Olympics safe if you do us a deal on Syria but apparently there was also discussions about as the title says a Secret Oil Deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia who together produce 45% of the world's oil. That's got to scare the Americans.

Niall: Absolutely. Notice that Putin has been accused of a new low in state craft by leaking those tapes of Nuland's plotting to overthrow the Ukrainian government. Well that came right before about the Saudi Russian potential oil deal that would completely change the game for the US. It was leaked transcripts of a closed door meeting between Putin and Bandar bin Sultan and it went into some detail, it had big long quotes of exactly what was said between them and I can't help but think that that's got to have been leaked by the Americans or by MI6 because it was released in a British newspaper The Telegraph by a guy who probably gets his Intel from MI6, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

Joe: Yeah, absolutely. There are other stories just from December last year: Iraq Expects Russian Weapons Delivery Next Month as all of this is going on, the Russians are doing major deals. Well they're talking about maybe doing an oil deal with the Saudis, they're doing major deals with the Iraqis in terms of weapons and at the same time the Iraqi government is accusing Qatar and Saudi Arabia of waging war in Iraq. You know Iraq has been like a wreck basically since the US brought freedom and democracy; the bombings have been going on all the time.

Niall: Well it more or less stabilized but last year it blew up again.

Joe: Exactly.

Niall: Iraq is now saying its Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Joe: It seems that there's an awful lot of infighting going on here and the old order is no longer stable and it's largely because what the Americans have done in terms of extending themselves thinking they're god's gift to the entire world and that they're going to remake the entire world in their image and its pure hubris and this is what happens. The real politics of this situation is when it comes down to it is that Russia has finally come of age and is in the position to stand up to the west at least to some extent in a position to stand up to the Americans to some extent but they're also being very smart about it behind the scenes as we talked about it that they've been planning this for a long time and we don't know all the details of what they've been planning but clearly they have a lot of cards up their sleeves and the reality of the situation is that Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, all the countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the European Union are all on one continuous land mass. They're all naturally in a position to do easy trade etc. with each other. Your guy over there, Uncle Sam, he just happens to be 5,000 miles away over a big ocean.

Niall: So how easy would it be for people to cut them out the loop?

Joe: Well it would. I'm sure the Americans in their paranoia have thought about this but also in their self-delusions they're missing a lot of points and they don't think this can happen and they've extended themselves so far that it's too late for them. There's no possibility of them basically reigning themselves in and falling back into a protectionist America type of country because they see themselves and have seen themselves for a long time as a global empire and they have this remit, they have this duty as they see it to spread their magnificence around the world as they imagine it. They're far too far gone in that sense and they'll fight until the last but the reality of the situation is turning against them and the reality of the situation is just basic demographics and ultimately the interests of people all living on the regional land mass all being neighbors essentially and then slowly getting fed up with the influence and the input and the manipulations of the US and most importantly there being someone who has the resources, the know-how, and the skills essentially to stand up and say "I'm willing to say no to these guys" and I think that's Russia obviously and that signals to fall in behind them.

Niall: It sends a signal to all the others.

Joe: Yeah and these people have got to understand the Russia isn't a communist state, it's not the Soviet Union anymore, its fully embraced over market policies and essentially capitalism so there's nothing to be afraid of in terms of Russia that you wouldn't be afraid of about America and much less in the sense that Russia isn't showing any signs right now of wanting to dominate the world or take America's place. It's simply saying enough of this empire bullshit, let's do a deal guys. There's nothing to stop us, America is full of bluff and bluster, what's it going to do? Send a couple of aircraft carriers with 5,000 miles of ocean? Really it's going to launch some nukes, seriously? Let's call it a bluff and I think there are moves on this minute, not that it's all benevolent or well-meaning in the sense of all these Middle Eastern states and European Union all vying for position or jostling for position as things shake up a little bit, but ultimately when the chips fall, it's not looking good for the Americans. They've over extended themselves

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: That's the classic problem of empires throughout the ages they just keep going and going, it's impractical that you can see the power in a land mass thousands of miles away from where you are trying to impose this hard and rigid set of rules on people thousands and thousands of miles away from where your power emanates. That's a recipe for disaster and has been repeatedly throughout history. So watch it happen. Are we going to say something on Malaysia?

Niall: Malaysia?

Joe: Airlines? Malaysia Airlines?

Niall: God that is so weird.

Joe: Flight, where did it go?

Niall: Where did it go?

Joe: Finally now they are saying as you probably noticed that from the data information that it flew on for 5 more hours is pretty much accurate because they had the data pings from parts of the air craft, the engines were saying that it was still aloft and the last one they got after 5 hours after its last known official position it was still at 35,000 feet. This plane turned around and went somewhere else and it kept going even after the 5 hours because it had fuel for 12 hours. It's just speculation. It's one of those many trajectories and it's not going to be the be all and end all. One of the many trajectories that it could have taken seems it was pointing according to one source directly south west within 5 hours. In fact at the time when the last ping was given about 5 hours from its last official known position is the Isle of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is a really complex and scary US military base handed to it by the British about 30 years ago after the British obviously removed the 2,000 local islanders and kicked them into slums in the Seychelles where they're all living in poverty now. But that's the British for you.

Niall: It's basically an Island with a base on it and nothing else. Can you imagine with no prying eyes what they get up to?

Joe: Absolutely, there's all sorts of stuff on their. There are several different detachments of various US naval and military operations based in that as they have in various others placed around the world. One of them is in the naval support facility in Diego Garcia. Well there's two actually that are interesting to me. One is the 22nd Space Operation Squadron and the other one is the 18th Space Surveillance Squadron and they have these giant radar arrays and telescopes that apparently provide direct support to USCINCSPACE which is another back at home US military space observation operation. They provide direct support to that control mission through optical space surveillance. This includes detection, tracking, identification and special signature collection of near space and deep space objects in particular satellites. So basically the impression you get from this place of course a lot of it is hidden and top secret all that kind of stuff. The impression you get from this place is that it's packed full of high tech gadgetry belonging to the US navy and the US military and its various different sub divisions because there's a naval yard there and they station boats and stuff there but there's this very strange space observation squadron, space surveillance squadron and it's for tracking satellites among other things but supposedly satellites. So I'm just saying there's a load of gadgets there and based on what we know from 9-11, planes can be remotely hijacked and flown to wherever they want and this plane was heading in that direction and there's a station there that plausibly could have that kind of technology. It's probably not that kind of technology, it's very advanced at this stage, it's probably run of the mill kind of stuff. But that obviously leaves open the question of why would they do that? Well I could toy with the idea that it's a sign for the Russians we can hijack any plane anytime, anywhere.

Niall: This became the headline news and Ukraine took a back seat. The missing plane, the missing plane everyone's talking about it. There could be a few things at work there.

Joe: That kind of just about wraps it up I think for this week. That's our news from inside our heads.

Niall: With token conspiracy theories.

Joe: It's still all to see on the Malaysian airlines plane but it's really bizarre. Really bizarre things are happening on the planet right now and it's a real kind of show and it should keep everyone entertained and nobody should be getting into any kind of doom and gloom because all things come to an end and new things begin again and you can learn a lot from the process.

Niall: Exactly. The US empire will end, and it looks like it's coming apart at the seams before our eyes. Enjoy the show!

Joe: Thanks to our listeners and to our chatters. We'll be back next week with our yet to be announced topic, keep your eyes on the pages. Have a good one everybody.

Niall: Goodbye.