“Russian intelligence” has many meanings

Nikolai Patrushev used to be head of the KGB, oops, the FSB, and currently heads the so-called “Security Council” of Russia – a body made up largely of intelligence and defense bosses that seems to have a major influence on Putin’s policy making these days.

Last week, the official Rossiyskaya Gazeta ran an interview with Patrushev under the title, The Second Cold War. Genuinely funny stuff: Patrushev manages to be both paranoid and silly, as in “I didn’t go to school and I’m an honorary member of the Flat Earth Society.”

And the ROTFLMAO award goes to this bit:

In the 1970s, Brzezinski [yes! Brzezinski is to KGB types what Zionist Occupation Government is to wingnuts] developed a version of a strategy of “vulnerable spots” as applied to the USSR, which became the basis of US policy under president Reagan. The National Security Council, headed by the US president, was in charge of implementing that strategy. Detecting and specifying the “vulnerable points” as well as arranging ways to transform them into substantial problems for the USSR was a task assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency of the USA. [Sic: not just “the CIA” but “the Central Intelligence Agency of the USA”.]

It is remarkable that the then CIA director William Casey decided to engage prominent scientists/scholars in the activity, above all economists as well as business professionals with a real experience of business wars with competitors. As a result of the wide-scale analytic work, the USSR’s “vulnerable spots” were identified and systemically studied, in the economic, ideological, and other areas.

The principal “vulnerable spot” of our country, as the CIA had determined, was its economy.

At which point, I choked on my buterbrod. Mate, how old were you in 1980? Going on 30, right? And you still thought that Ladas were the best cars in the world? That Soviet shops were bristling to the brim with organic foods unheard of in the decaying, decadent West? Come on. Americans can be a little slow at times, but in 1980, it did not take a Nobel winner to figure out what any Soviet schoolchild knew, if only from standing in food lines: outside of the military-industrial complex, the Soviet economy was shit.

Last time I heard this CIA-Brzezinski-Casey-Reagan pabulum as an official line was back in 1983 or 1985 on the Soviet TV show called International Panorama. Where did they keep Patrushev all those years between Andropov and third-term Putin — pickled in a KGB jar? It feels wonderful to know that Russia is governed by such Pyecraftian heavyweights, people who manage to combine highly developed paranoid fantasies with stunning educational deficiencies.

To quote Alexander Ostrovsky’s great play, “O tell us, o tell the world how you managed, having lived to the age of sixty years, to preserve in complete inviolability the mind of a six-year-old child?”


  1. This would be hilarious if it wasn’t true. Does this guy actually believe the version of history he’s putting out?

    • I’d like to know the answer too. He also mentioned Soviet troops getting lured into Afghanistan by devious Americans.

  2. Maybe he thinks the CIA and Brzezinski invented the Brezhnev Doctrine. Perhaps US agents faked a memo, forged Brezhnev’s signature and sneaked the document into the Kremlin to hoodwink members of the Politburo.

    • Two Soviet writers invented a non-existent Dulles doctrine. I’m waiting for Putin to start quoting it.

      • That would fit with the spirit of this whole crisis, i.e. the Russian nationalist/Putinista inability to separate reality from fiction, symbolised by Igor Strelkov trying to recycle a plotline from the TV series Lost to explain the M17 shooting. With his children’s books, conspiracy theories and brutal military discipline, Strelkov is like the bastard offspring of J.K. Rowling and Arkan. But I assumed he was just an extremist weirdo under the control of cynical Machiavellian puppet masters. Now it seems those masters may themselves be infected by the same delusional world view. Scary.

        • “Strelkov is like the bastard offspring of J.K. Rowling and Arkan.” It made my day – I even tried to picture the two having an affair, assuming JKR had gone to Montenegro instead of Portugal to teach English. But, alas, Strelkov is only five years JKR’s junior. Besides, he imagines himself a character from Bulgakov’s White Guard rather than a Balkan mafiosi. He has something in common with Peter Hitchens.

          • Ah yes, Hitchens is a right-wing crackpot Putinist.

            I notice that his left-wing counterpart Seumas Milne has just taken part in the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi in the presence of the Great Leader himself.

            The Guardian commentariat used to include Richard Gott, who admitted taking money from the KGB.

            • I used to think Seumas Milne was some Irish Anglophobe and learned only recently that his father was head of the BBC. For some reason, he gave his sons old Celtic names. Both the father and the son went to Winchester and Oxford. Seumas is an upper-class leftist, then.

              • Oh yes, Seamus Milne is a proper old school hard leftist, hence perfectly at home in The Guardian. He spent a while as editor of the hilariously oxymoronic Marxism Today.

                • Didn’t Marxism Today change to the more appropriate MT (read the name out loud and you’ll see what I mean)?

                  Russia Today, rebranded RT, has followed a similar path. Speaking of which, good old Noam Chomsky appeared there last week to denounce “Western warmongering” against poor little Putin. That channel is like a honeypot that attracts the Western world’s dumbest commentators. It’s become my acid test of political stupidity.

                  • “Empty?” I’m a little busy at the moment but I hope to write a few lines about Ofcom’s censure of RT and Margarita Simonyan’s angry outburst.

                • I’m afraid Marxism is very much alive although Marx world hardly recognize it as his own. The Guardian is an odd beast: in some ways, it’s very good and humanly decent but it also generously hosts people like Milne. Its US edition is fun, especially their obsession with gun control.

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