Bucha Is Just The Beginning

A Quick Update

I’ve been busy with several intense projects the last couple of weeks so have been a bit quieter here than normal. I am watching the situation closely though for ways to add value to the conversation. The war in Ukraine is grinding forward, and we are seeing increasing evidence of widespread war crimes against civilians. The massacre in Bucha in particular has struck a global nerve, and people seem both ready to do whetever is necessary to end this scourge, and also somewhat resigned to the banality of violence. We should all be considering the emotional impacts of consuming imagery of violence and death and give ourselves what’s needed to process it.

My opinion is that this war is in its opening phases and that it will continue until Putin’s capabilities are fully exhausted. That could take a while, and may involve escalations that we can’t anticipate. Towards that end, I want to share a few projects that speak to the current situation.

New Podcast Episode with Wesley Clark, Jr.

This week I dropped Episode 12 of my podcast series “Dave Troy Presents: Oil, Gold, Crypto, and Fascism” featuring US Army veteran and climate activist Wesley Clark, Jr. Wes’s experiences run the gamut of everything we’re facing right now, from the end of oil, to PSYOPs and influence, to global war. If Wes’s name sounds familiar, it’s because his dad, General Wesley Clark, was former Supreme Commander Europe of NATO. So Wes knows a few things about the war situation, as well.

Please join me for two special live broadcasts, “The Psychology of Dictatorship” on Wednesday April 6th and “Nuclear Weapons and the War in Ukraine” on Thursday April 7th.

The Psychology of Dictatorship: The current war in Ukraine has raised critical questions about the mindset of Vladimir Putin. Many believed him to be a cold rationalist, calculating for concessions from the west. But his actions say something different — about his actual motivations, mindset, and ultimate goals. As he appears to become increasingly isolated, what do science and history tell us about how to gauge his mindset, and how he may behave? And how might insights into Putin’s mindset inform our understanding of so-called authoritarian “strongmen” more broadly? Please join us as three leading experts (Bandy Lee, Steve Hassan, and Nick Carmody) offer their points of view on this complicated set of topics, and we discuss your questions.

Nuclear Weapons and the War in Ukraine: Vladimir Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine has raised the spectre of whether and how nuclear weapons might be deployed. While the use of nuclear weapons is widely considered to be “unthinkable,” and may lead to unpredictable escalation and even mutually assured destruction, we are now faced with the possibility that new, smaller tactical weapons may be used as part of a strategy to “escalate to de-escalate.” We’ll hear from nuclear weapons experts Emma Belcher and Sarah Bidgood about what’s real, what’s not, and most importantly how we can maximize the probability that nuclear weapons are never deployed.

Emma Belcher spoke at TEDxMidAtlantic in 2019 — during the before times—and her talk has now been viewed over 2 million times! This is a good time to watch it again; and we can ask her how her opinions may have changed when we visit with her this week.

And speaking of Putin’s psychology, I was featured on Canada’s CTV News last week talking about why Putin is more like a David Koresh or a Jim Jones than a cold, calculating chess player.

Please Support World Central Kitchen

Some of you may know that I am co-curator and co-producer of TEDxMidAtlantic, mentioned above. My partner in that endeavor is Nate Mook, who also serves as the CEO of World Central Kitchen, Chef José Andrés incredible non-profit which has gone to incredible lengths to feed people in Ukraine and throughout the region. They have repeatedly put themselves in danger (while also taking precautions) to serve others. It’s hard to imagine more heroic service.

If you would like to support Nate and his work, please consider donating to World Central Kitchen. You can also support our work on TEDxMidAtlantic (which we expect to accelerate this year to respond to the world situation), you may do so here.

The Origins of the term “De-nazification”

Many have remarked on the hollowness of Russia’s “de-nazification” narrative and assume that it’s some recent piece of disinformation cooked up for the purpose of this present conflict. The history is more complex, and frankly, delicate. I’ll attempt to explain here briefly.

During World War II, some Ukrainians sympathized with Hitler because they either admired fascism, hated Russia, or both. They coalesced into an organization called the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). That group had two factions, the OUN-M led by Andrew Melnyk, and the OUN-B, led by Stepan Bandera. OUN-B was much more extremist, and aligned with the Nazis. (It also capitalized on the considerable lingering resentment and anti-Russian sentiment that resulted from the Holodomor, Stalin’s mass starvation campaign in 1932-1933.)

In 1941 Yaroslav Stetsko and OUN-B led a massacre of Jews in Lviv (or Lwow, to reflect its then-Polish status), and proclaimed himself premier of a new short-lived Ukrainian government, with allegiance to the Nazis. After the war, the OUN-B remained aligned with various anti-communist factions around the world and collaborated with the ABBN (anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations), the WACL (World Anti-Communist League), and the Asian People’s Anti-Communist League.

The Korean CIA, Moonies, and Taiwanese nationalists, allied with these European factions to fight communism; they persisted throughout the Cold War and Reagan endorsed the OUN-B, going so far as to appoint its affiliates to key positions in/near his administration. But as alarming as that sounds, the OUN-B was a small faction of rabid fascist nationalists and not representative of the broader coalition of pro-democracy factions that emerged in Ukraine after 1991.

But the OUN-B hated one thing even more than communists: Russian imperialism.

Since Putin’s rise to power, he has resented this small OUN-B faction because it historically resisted Russia’s imperial advances. No longer important politically in Ukraine, today’s far-right parties struggle to gain more than about 2.3% of the vote.

By contrast, Germany’s far-right AfD party has attracted around 10% of the vote, more recently. So which country has more of a Nazi problem? Thankfully, far right parties are failing to gain much support anywhere in Europe today.

The fact that Zelensky is himself Jewish makes claims of “denazification” by Russia seem all the more ludicrous; but it makes more sense (kinda) when you understand this backstory about the OUN-B.

In 2014, when Putin illegally invaded Ukraine for the first time they also invoked this “Ukrainian nazis” narrative and it was as stupid then as it is now. But Putin is trying to exploit this odd bit of history, and the revulsion towards 20th century naziism as a propaganda device for his military and domestic audience.

I hope this makes more sense now and will help people debunk Russia’s lies more effectively. Primary source for this was Russ Bellant’s “Old Nazis, The New Right, and the Republican Party” (1988) pp. 69–73. The book is worth the read, especially right now.

The Dugin Playbook

I shared a brief update with friends this week:

I don’t see any signs that Putin will back off from the Dugin playbook. I don’t see many signs that the West understands that. Nuclear war may only be avoidable if Putin’s orders are ignored.

Look, Dugin is nuts. That doesn’t mean his isn’t the playbook being used. In fact, I can find no material departure from his strategy as defined in “Foundations” in the events of the last 5 years.

Dugin throws around the terms “eschaton” and “katechon” a lot. Look them up. I’m getting tired of warning people about this and being gaslit by casual observers who haven’t studied the work. Been saying this since 2017. Correct so far.

Only question is timing, and whether Putin’s orders will be obeyed. I do not say this lightly. We need to assume this is the strategy, because it absolutely has been so far — nuts or not. Ignore at our peril.

All For Now

As mentioned, it’s been an incredibly busy few weeks, and I’m working on some important new projects that will be released soon. I remain concerned as ever about the war and think we’re heading into something much more protracted, complex, and global than anyone is willing to admit right now. Elon Musk’s soft takeover of Twitter this week is not a good development and speaks to more trouble ahead, something I’ll have to get into another time. But in the meantime, we should be looking at all such shifts as preparation for a future phase, and a good question to ask might be what steps would he be anticipating where having direct control over the global information environment would be useful? Many have pointed to the idea that Trump may be allowed back on the platform, but frankly I think that’s the least of our worries (though it, too, may happen).

If Musk is as committed to “The Mission” as his baby-mama pal Grimes seems to indicate, then we need to be thinking about what exactly Nick Bostrom’s “Long-Termism” might countenance in terms of global conflict. It’s possibly akin to Jim Jones buying the San Francisco Chronicle, to draw an analogy. The idea that a neo-reactionary “dark enlightment” mindset may become pervasive and unavoidable is unpleasant.

We’re interested in the major historical trends that shape current events. Tips? Ideas? Drop us a line via email or Twitter DM. If you enjoy my work, please consider making a donation to World Central Kitchen, to support their work feeding people in times of need.

For an even deeper dive, check out my other writing here on Medium, and my podcast series, “Dave Troy Presents,” wherever you get your podcasts.

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