Democracy and liberalism under pressure


–> The End of the End of History

… from within

Eastern Nations trailing back to a nasty past

  • “Now Mr. Orban has pulled the rug out from under his own propagandists. In an extraordinary speech delivered July 26 before an ethnic Hungarian audience in neighboring Romania, Mr. Orban proclaimed his intention to turn Hungary, a member of both NATO and the European Union, into a state that “will undertake the odium of expressing that in character it is not of liberal nature.” Citing as models Singapore, China, India, Turkey and Russia, Mr. Orban added: ‘We have to abandon liberal methods and principles of organizing a society, as well as the liberal way to look at the world.’”

–> Hungary’s ‘illiberalism’ should not go unchallenged

This is a very serious challenge to Europe from within. He is not referring to the liberalism of “neoliberal economic thinking” but to the liberalism of libertarian societies and democratic political systems governed by the rule of law (which at least some of his examples of inspiration are most certainly not). Since he delivered his speech to a Hungarian minority in a neighbouring country he most likely has more of the recent Putin in mind than of the early Putin with a focus on managed democracy. And this really brings back some very nasty ghosts of misguided ethnic inner-European foreign politics. I do not want to be over-pessimistic but it looks like we are in for an era of ideological as well as violent challenges to the thus far best (large scale, complex) socio-political system mankind came up with – der demokratisch legitimierte Rechtsstaat.

Western Systems running wild

  • “OK, you might say, but this has always been going on. But it hasn’t. This sort of utterly amoral screw-everyone capitalism has become much more prevalent in the last 15 years. Our financial elite is now totally out of control. They learned nothing from the crisis, except that the rest of us were stupid enough to give them a second chance. And, now, having plucked all the “low hanging fruit,” they’re destroying the middle classes for profit.

Our current problems have their roots in the early 80s. While much of what Reagan and Thatcher did was necessary, the trouble is that they set a deregulatory train in motion which, over the last couple of decades has dismantled so much of the legal framework that protected us from greedy scuzzballs. “

–> Why aren’t the British middle-classes staging a revolution?

  • Lord Tebbit, who served in various ministerial roles under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s, said at the time people had an “almost unconscious” tendency to protect “the system”.

–> Child abuse ‘may well have been’ covered up – Norman Tebbit

  • Falls mal Dateien verloren gehen: so können sie wieder hergestellt werden!


  • “From the perspective of many around the world, the United States currently appears to claim, in effect, the legal right to kill any person it determines is a member of Al-Qaeda or its associated forces, in any state on Earth, at any time, based on secret criteria and secret evidence … and with no means for anyone outside that process to identify or remedy mistakes or abuses,” the report said.

–> Report: Obama drone policy destabilizing for world, US democracy

Societies taking democratic risks

  • Ausländer, die länger als zwei Jahre in Schottland leben, dürfen mit abstimmen. “Niemand hat das Stimmrecht in Frage gestellt”. Wirklich bemerkenswert. Undenkbar auf dem Kontinent.

Hoffentlich bleibt die Insel – in wie vielen Teilen auch immer – in Europa!

Ein konsequent territoriales und nicht nationales Prinzip. Löst das Staatsterritorium von der vorgestellten Gemeinschaft des (ethno-national definierten) Staatsvolkes. Spannend finde ich, dass dies bei der auch hier ziemlich emotionalen Frage der nationalen Unabhängigkeit anscheinend nicht zu großem Widerspruch geführt hat. Zeigt auch, wie sehr der vom Kreml bemühte Vergleich mit dem Referendum auf der Krim hinkte selbst wenn das Referendum ordentlich durchgeführt worden wäre.

–> Exil-Deutsche zur Unabhängigkeit: “Da ging den Schotten die Hacke hoch”

Ukraine – capturing the imagination of the wrong people

–> Ukraine war pulls in foreign fighters

… from the fringes

Azerbaijan going Central Asia

  • Ohne Moskaus Georgienintervention hätte Baku vermutlich schon ein bisschen mehr militärisch experimentiert. Ein Herr, die seit langer Zeit mit diesem Prozess zu tun hat, meinte 2008 zu mir dass nach der Intervention die Heiße Luft in den Köpfen der Kriegstreiber in Az direkt in die Köpfe der Ar Blockköpfe geströmt sei.

–> Azerbaijan Doesn’t Want To Be Western

–> Persecution of rights activists must stop – UN experts call on the Government of Azerbaijan


–> Together a lifetime, Azerbaijan couple now separated in jail

  • Ochen pechal’no.


Сегодня 2 августа я почти целый день не мог быть на связи – отвез лекарства и диетические продукты для своей супруги, потом был в отделение полиции. Только вечером стал читать новости и узнал о чудовищной провокации наших спецслужб в отношение нашей семьи. Они создали в социальной сети «В контакте» страницу на имя моей дочери Динары Юнусовой, которая в настоящее время живет в Голландии. И от ее имени стал распространять клеветнические материалы, к которым она не имеет никакого отношения и даже не была вначале в курсе. Официально заявляю, что все то, что появляется на этой вымышленной странице, является продуктом спецслужб Азербайджана и их провокацией и сознательной дезинформацией, к которой ни моя дочь, ни я не имеем никакого отношения и всю эту примитивную провокацию резко осуждаем.

Ариф Юнусов”

  • Very worrying. Ripping up the rule book of regional relations by a major player did set very unfortunate dynamics in motion (Russia in Ukraine). Then the unprecedented pressure on the more reasonable and decent part of civil society in Azerbaijan. Then this incredibly foolish revival of ethnic nationalism as a political tool in the hands of completely irresponsible leaders. And now the return of military force as a short-term cover up for utter political failures. I am seriously sentimental about the last generation of serious and morally at least somewhat grounded, responsible politicians of the late Soviet period. The breakup of the Soviet Union was a serious issue dealt with by serious men and it unfolded far apart from worst case scenarios. The violence today is completely unnecessary and of inept and incompetent politicians making.

–> Reports of deployment and use of heavy equipment in current Karabakh incidents

Georgia gone totally democratic

  • Nice long sentence summing it up pretty well: “Since leaving office last November, this George W. Bush favorite — whose confrontation with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia led to a disastrous war in 2008 — has commandeered his uncle’s apartment in a tower on the Williamsburg waterfront, where he luxuriates in the neighborhood’s time-honored tradition of mysteriously sourced wealth.”

–> Exile in Brooklyn, With an Eye on Georgia

–> Georgia’s Thieves-in-Law Reinvent Themselves to Survive

–> Georgia’s EU alignment: Regional repercussions

–> Obituary: Eduard Shevardnadze

Russia on the march alone

  • Charles Tilly analysed how organised crime can lead to state emergence. He did not, however, discuss the reverse process: How very bad governance can turn a state into organised crime. Not state capture as in this strange KGB-written book of 1994 “vory v zakone – brosok k valsti” or in case of some very powerful mafias. No – the state all by itself and in the absense of any serious crisis that would not be of its own making.

–> «Роль всемирного шантажиста в таком объеме Россия никогда не исполняла»

  • Er hatte bisher nicht so richtig viele gute Ideen aber dies ist mit Sicherheit eine wirklich dumme Idee. Er scheint die Signale aus Russland nicht wirklilch zu verstehen und meint wohl, den Konflikt mit Mauer dann doch noch militärisch lösen zu können.

Es gibt ein Signal aus Moskau: wir werden mit allen Mitteln verhindern, dass Kiew die Kontrolle über die von den Separatisten gehaltenen Gebiete wieder herstellt. Das ist über eine ziemlich deutliche abgestufte Eskalationskaskade bis hin zum Einmarsch regulärer Truppen und Eröffnung einer dritten Front kommuniziert worden. Die NATO hat eindeutig kommuniziert, wir machen da miliärisch nix. Jetzt eine geschlossene militärisch befestigte Grenze bauen zu wollen ist einfach grotesk dumme Symbolpolitik. So bitter es ist – es gibt keinen quick fix, keine Silver Bullet. Lediglich eine langfristige Politik, das System Putin zu schwächen um Russland irgendwann wieder stärker an Europa anzubinden. Für die Ukraine ist das bitter aber sie ist in diesem Konflikt militärisch einfach hoffnungslos unterlegen. Deshalb ja auch die Rede von der Schaffung von “Partisanenfähigkeiten” – damit plant die Regierung aber die Hölle für die eigene Bevölkerung. Georgien fährt sicherlich besser damit, sich politisch erst mal damit abgefunden zu haben, dass der Dicke im Norden zu stark ist um gegen ihn die Kontrolle über die verlorenen Gebiete wieder herstellen zu können. Dadurch hat Moskau sehr viel Einfluss auf Tbilisi verloren, vermutlich für lange Zeit. Kiew sollte es ähnlich handhaben. Elastischer Kung-Fu ist gefragt…

–> Poroschenko befiehlt Bau einer riesigen Verteidigungsanlage

–> Формула войны

  • Russia still good for novels. The career of two very different men that personify contemporary Russian politics and the foundation of the system Putin.

–> Putin’s Rasputin

–> Igor Sechin – Russias second most powerful man

–> Putin beendet das Interregnum

–> Putin’s Plan? Or Kremlin Chaos?

  • Budem rabotat’, shtoby i eto anti-utopia ostalas khoroshim proizvedeniem iskustva – tak kak 1984 Orvella – i ne stalo realnostiu.

–> На пути в «Теллурию»: почему антиутопии Владимира Сорокина воплощаются в жизнь

–> Putin Re-Interprets Russia’s Participation in the First World War

  • Voprosy khoroshii.

–> Список 500. Российских деятелей культуры, поддержавших присоединение Крыма, больше не пустят в Украину

  • Wirklich bitter. Tolle, mutige Menschen.

–> Propaganda im Ukraine-Konflikt: Intellektuelle fliehen aus Putins Russland

  • Smelost’ koechno khvataet u nekotorykh grazhdan Rossii. Snimayu zhlyapu.

–> «Это были подготовленные люди. Они напали со спины»

  • Tyazhelo smotret’

–> “Меня объявили главной укрофашисткой”

  • “Die Offiziere, die ich gesprochen habe, sind empört. Sie meinen, dass die russische Führung die Soldaten verraten habe. Es sei eine Schande, reguläre Truppen unter Waffen als Partisanen in ein fremdes Land zu schicken, um dann die Verluste zu verneinen und die Gefallenen heimlich zu bestatten.”

–> Verleugnet und vergessen

–> Putin’s Right Flank

  • Interesting analysis. Unfortunately only in English, not in Russian.

–> A journalist paints a doomsday scenario if Putin leads Russia down its current path.

  • Interesting, indeed. The art of ambigious warfare – from the Kremlin perspective just an adaptive measure to what they think the US has been doing all the time and for the most part against Russian interests.

–> Top Russian General Lays Bare Putin’s Plan for Ukraine

The Russian language original can be found at


  • Article 5 in times of “ambiguous warfare.”

–> The Russians Are Coming

  • NATO – fine. That was a consistenly communicated red line that the US under Bush chose to ignore. Then came Georgia and Russia set the record straight on NATO enlargement, missile defence as well as ambitions of some post-soviet countries to change the status quo of conflicts frozen by Russia via military force (Karabakh even more important than Abkhazia). But up until late 2013 EU enlargement was never set as a red line by the Kremlin. Had Merkel and friends not delayed the signing of the association agreement in 2012 for all the wrong reasons Russia would most likely still be playing chess rather than Pankration (this, of course, does not mean that Europe is responsible for the complete and bloody mess Russia is creating but introducing new conditions on the association agreement connected to the personal fate of Timoshenko was not exactly a smart political move). It is a bitter irony that the arbitrary conduct of Kremlin politics since early 2014 brings not only NATO enlargement back on the table but managed to single handedly turn NATO containment towards Russia into a self fulfilling prophecy. It was simply not on the table pre-2014 and this is one of the reasons the West is at such pains to coordinate a measured response. I wonder if theere are no advisors close to Putin telling him that this is really detrimental to long-term Russian security interests (forget about human development or effective governance at home).

–> Блок НАТО разошелся на блокпакеты

  • They may have their own agenda but they would be absolutely nowhere had they not have the blessing and patronage and weapons of official Russian circles. Those circles would not operate without Putins blessing (until now that is). Personally I would prefere to see them in the Hague for the way they have been conducting this completely usesless civil war but if they are taken out by their patrons so be it.

–> Heirs of the ’93 Russian White House

–> Российский спецназ о войне на Донбассе: контрабанда, мародерство, бардак

  • Panslawismus geht aber irgendwie anders…

–> Спецтуристы

–> Orden für Putins Schläger

  • Very much to the point. Still hope that in the long run Russia will define itself as a European country and will develop into a vital ally of slowly declining pacifist and democratic Europe. Winning against Europe is about the silliest purpose the Kremlin may chose to define its position in the world.

–> Vladimir Putin’s pointless conflict with Europe leaves it a vassal of China

  • I think the feeling of “disgust” or “отвращение” is a very appropriate feeling. Looking at the political leaders and field commanders of this motley gang of gunmen one cannot help thinking of Bulgarkov’s “Heart of a dog”. Agents of chaos and arbitrary violence.

–> Абсолютно гениальное фото. Аб-со-лют-но. В нём — всё. Представители миссии ОБСЕ и пророссийский боевик на месте падения малайзийского самолёта.

–> MH17 Missile Can’t Hide From These Internet Sleuths

  • Кстати, помните того парня, Кирилла Калугина, который год назад в день ВДВ вышел на Дворцовую площадь в Питере с радужным флагом ЛГБТ?Александр Невзоров тогда точно заметил, что “если наименование «десантник» подразумевает храбрость, то десантник там был один – вот этот маленький рыжий парень, который не побоялся выйти к стаду загорелых качков в полосатых трико. Беспримерное мужество этого парня не может не вызвать уважение. При том, что на записях видно, до какой степени ему страшно. И все же он вышел и стоял там с радужным флагом. И если бы эти мускулистые мужчины в голубых беретах сами были мужественными людьми, они должны были оценить его смелость и отдать ему честь. Мужество видит другое мужество и склоняется перед ним”Так вот, сегодня спустя год Кирилл намерен в том же месте в тот же час выйти на одиночную акцию против имперского шовинизма, милитаризма и разжигания войны с Украиной


  • I have been working in this region since the breakup of the Soviet Union. I am still dumbfounded and highly frustrated to realise that the propaganda machine of the Kremlin succeeded in convincing many people that it is perfectly normal to go to a neighbouring country, get a weapon and kill people there under the order of leaders without names and faces and badges. No notion of honour, of patria, of decency. At the same time – not a mercenary. Just going for the hell of it.

–> I was a separatist fighter in Ukraine

  • Hard to believe what scum the Kremlin decided to let loose on Eastern Ukraine.

–> An audience with Ukraine rebel chief Igor Bezler, the Demon of Donetsk

  • this is significant, in terms of putting events within the domestic Russian context….

–> Grafik

  • Good piece of journalism.

–> Moldova: Under the influence

–> Украина невооруженным взглядом. Журналисты, вернувшиеся с Донбасса, развенчивают мифы

  • Lewada-Zentrum: Seit der späten Sowjetunion ein Fels der Vernunft in der Brandung der Propaganda.

–> Meinungsforscher: Unglaublich aggressive Propaganda in Russland

  • Normalnyi reportazh.

–> «Зачисток не было, армия тихо зашла». Жители Славянска о том, как украинские военные взяли город под контроль

… from beyond

International Jihadism, IS and other Would-Be Caliphates

  • They might want to revisit their Afghanistan strategy…

“Asked whether the US had also overestimated the ability or will of Iraq’s US-trained military to fight the jihadists, Mr Obama said: ‘That’s true. That’s absolutely true.'”

–> Islamic State crisis: Obama says US underestimated threat

  • Kurdische Aktivisten verdächtigen die AKP. AKP Mitglieder verdächtigt die USA. Alle sind für Luftangriffe auf IS. Mit Ausnahme der jungen Männer schließen sich der IS an, weil sie so an Geld und Ehefrau kommen (letzteres ist in Gesellschaften, in denen erst die Familiengründung zu voller sozialer Anerkennung führt, dieser Schritt aber extrem teuer und fremdkontrolliert ist, ein ganz erheblicher Anreiz). Und die PKK soll im Rahmen des Friedensprozesses doch erst später ihre Waffen abgeben. Derweil hocken tausende Menschen im Grenzschlamm und wissen nicht, wohin. Wenn eine junge Mutter alleine mit drei kleinen Kindern in die Stadt zurückkehrt, die jederzeit von den Mordbrennern der IS überrannt werden kann, dann muss die Lage an der Grenze dieses NATO-Landes hoffnungslos sein.

–> Zwischen den Fronten

  • What a desperate situation for those confronted on the ground by this apocalyptic riders of international jihadism (apocalyptic certainly for those communities marked as infidels).

–> Islamic State crisis: People flee fighting at Kobane

–> The Syrian Front: Waiting to Die in Aleppo

–> Islamic State: Can its savagery be explained?

–> Ein totalitäres, expansives und hegemoniales Projekt

–> “Eine Bankrotterklärung für den Journalismus” – Christoph Reuter zu Berichterstattung zu Syrien

Afghanistan still trying

  • Taliban clearly understand that while fear may indicate illegitimacy it always implies power. The bitter irony is that the fact that many Afghans accept their security forces and are not afraid of them (at least according to our research in the North of the country) is turned into a short-term weakness by the targeted terror of the Taliban (killing people somehow associated with the security forces). The militias will only counter this “deficit” if their violence is also perceived as targeted and not criminal or arbitrary. The official security forces – with attrition rates of 30% per year and 100 deaths per week in 2013 and now without professional air support – will be unable to counter Taliban pressure in places where there is no strong armed homegrown resistance against Taliban domination. The new government may try to turn the official security forces into a more suppressive feared force (may be looking at Putin’s solution for Chechnya) but this would most likely fail because the West is unlikely to keep financing an outright oppressive security sector.

–> Taliban fighters storm Afghanistan district

  • I think he means business but micro-managing Afghanistan is different from mircromanaging Kabul University. Quite a handfull to do ahead of him.

–> Afghan president ‘will not tolerate corruption’

  •  This is what happens if you combine governance by patronage, ethnic clientelism and a rentier-approach to state finances with elections in an ongoing conflict. The government will be twice as large, twice as expensive and most likely in permanent deadlock.

One needs to outsmart the other and both need to outsmart their respective and very different clientele in order to move Afghanistan ahead. Not a very likely scenario.

–> Afghan presidential contenders sign unity deal

  • More or less good news. The picture with Kerry is, however, a little bit unfortunate.

–> Afghans sign unity government deal with US backing

  • Aborting evolving institutions, hurting stalemates that do not hurt enough and commitment problems on the side of the candidates. Political theories in action.

–> Elections 2014 (49): Still deadlock, make or break

–> Afghan militant fighters ‘may join Islamic State’

  • Very bad news if the interpretation of Al Jazeera is right.

–> Fourteen civilians shot dead in Afghanistan

  • Wrong turn after an election Afghans should be proud of. I hope the Abdullah camp only tries to increase its negotiaiton position for a possible government of national unity and this does not get completely out of hand. Big implications for Afghanistans future and major implications for Germanys development strategy focussed in the North.

–> Afghan poll crisis: Defiant Abdullah claims victory

–> Afghan militias have accumulated a lengthy record of human rights abuses, including murders and rapes

–> Afghans to Alter the Government

–> Afghanen haben ihren neuen Präsidenten gewählt

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