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Michael C. Ruppert

[© Copyright 2001, 2002, Michael C. Ruppert and FTW Publications, All Rights Reserved]

[The lead essay from FTW’s March 31, 2001 issue described the devastating effects of a decade of the looting of the Russian economy by The United States using The Harvard Endowment, Goldman Sachs, The U.S. Treasury and the International Monetary Fund. In light events in the post-9/11/01 world it now seems clear that these actions were intended to weaken Russia to the point where it could not oppose U.S. military operations that have now successfully secured control of the oil and gas reserves in Central Asia.

In understanding that we are witnessing the implementation of a multi-decade plan for global dominance it is worthwhile to take a look at what I saw in Russia just six short months before we entered a new paradigm of human civilization. - MCR ]

I had no idea when I boarded an Aeroflot 767 at LAX on March 3 that by the time I wrote this story the US and Russia would have turned up the heat in a growing spy scandal by tossing out each others diplomats in bushels. I had no idea that the Dow would have lost more than 800 points in its worst week ever. I had not expected that the Chechen conflict would have intensified or that President W would have expanded Plan Colombia by proposing another $500 million in military aid, now calling it "The Andean Initiative." There are many eyes on us this month and I battle with my constant fear that I have not studied enough, absorbed enough or looked hard enough to get what is important for you.

And this brings me to one of the most important ideas I heard discussed on March 6th and 7th at the Bor Presidential Hotel and Retreat, 30 kilometers south of Moscow. The issue was exemplified for me by two men, Kirill V. Tremasov, Research Chief of Zerich Capital Management and Russia's brilliant economic thinker Michael Khazin. Tremasov is a young, intelligent, clean-cut analyst, perhaps one of the most widely respected financial gurus in Russia. During his presentation on the second day of the conference he delivered a complete analysis of numbers and trends, a thorough dissection of the current US economic picture and he confidently presented a prognosis that sounded like it had been written for him by the Bush Administration. The markets had been hurt but they would recover. Tax cuts were the answer. There was no cause for alarm.

Khazin, whom FTW has quoted often for his breakthrough predictions on last year's market crashes, however, added the human element to his analyses. In his presentations and counters to Tremasov in an open forum on the second day he constantly discussed things like social unrest, living standards, household debt, crime - the human elements that do not lend themselves to mathematical analysis. It took less than a week for the universe to support Khazin and to rebuke Tremasov. These events confirmed my belief that we will find no solutions to the rapidly approaching global crisis until we look at the human element in every equation. And this raises the age-old Taoist maxim that the act of measuring and the presence of the measurer influences that which is measured.

Russia is a country that is hemorrhaging badly. It is bleeding money. It is bleeding people. It is bleeding energy and life. It is truly a country of friendly people and I am most certain that Russia is as far removed from Communism as Tombstone Arizona was removed from the Puritans in Massachusetts

Everywhere on the Moscow skyline, next to stunning architectures, are huge neon Gods proclaiming Sanyo, Sharp and Samsung. Western TV is also everywhere. There are more than 30 McDonald's in the greater Moscow area. The US dollar is king in an economy that was devastated by the 1998 devaluation of the ruble. Every hundred meters along Tverskaya, the main street leading out of Red Square, are currency exchange windows. Only dollars and Deutschmarks matter here. Almost every car in Moscow, except for those with a flashing blue light on top (VIPs, oligarchs and government officials) is for hire. All a westerner has to do is step out into the street and extend a subtle hand and privately owned autos in various states of repair dart to the curb chasing currency like bloodhounds. A vast improvement over Manhattan but a sad commentary about Russia's underemployment and poverty.

From a peak of approximately 170 million people, Russia has seen its population shrink to 145 million. That number is projected to dwindle to 134 million by 2015.  And it is the best and the brightest that are leaving. For a nation that gave the world Tchaikovsky, Dostoevsky,  Solzenytsin, Sakarov, the Bolshoi ballet and a hundred other treasures this is a tragic loss. I was told of the beauty of Russian women. It is true. I was told that top Russian nuclear physicists were selling flowers because they were unemployed. It is true. I was told that the "maffiyas" and the "oligarchs"- robber barons who enrich themselves by facilitating the looting of their own country - basically control the economy, that they have systematically shipped out almost anything of value. This is also true. I was told that Moscow is a city where anything goes if you have money. True again. But a concept that blames this solely on the Russians is patently incomplete. As one Russian businessman told me, "Russians care about only three things: food, clothing and shelter."

For more than ten years now American financial institutions such as the Bank of New York, Goldman Sachs and Harvard have facilitated the looting of Russia to the tune of up to $300 billion. US foreign policy during the Clinton era, in effect, treated Russia like the post Civil War South where carpetbaggers roamed the countryside. Another term I also heard frequently used was "Weimar Russia." This refers to Germany after World War I when reparations and plundering by the Allies destroyed Germany's economic base, created hyperinflation, ripped the social fabric apart and ultimately evoked a nationalistic, defensive reaction named Adolph Hitler. It is therefore of no small concern to Russians  when a 17 year-old Russian girl, asked who the leader of her country was during WW II responds, "Lenin?"

Now I share the instant observations of many that it was President W's grandfather, Prescott Bush, who helped arm and finance Adolph Hitler in the 1930s. It was good business. Of course the end result, WWII, or as the Russians call it, The Great Patriotic War, was good for business also. The problem for the Russians was that it killed 27 million of them as compared to America's loss of only 300,000. I thank my newfound friend Anatole Selivra, an American lawyer of Russian parentage who now practices in Moscow, for taking me to Russia's Victory Park where a breathtaking museum displays 2.7 million tear-drop shaped crystals suspended from brass chains over books recording the names of Russia's war dead. In pure Bush/Clinton mathematical terms this might be called "the cost of doing business." But in the 21st Century where we toss around depleted uranium in ways that render portions of the earth uninhabitable forever, where the organized smuggling of Freon out of Russia by organized crime groups expands the hole in the ozone layer every year, and where weapons of mass destruction proliferate in direct proportion to their ability to generate profit, the fundamentally suicidal nature of the current human paradigm is utterly transparent.

The plane ride home for me was the most haunting experience of the entire trip. I met five Americans on that flight. Three were American men who travel to Russia seeking women eager to leave the country. These men, not exactly fashion models, enjoy sex while "shopping for brides." There are side trips with Russian women to Austria or Poland, dinners out, gifts purchased. Part of me sympathized with the men, eager to be judged by some other standard than physical appearance.  But it sounded more like wine tasting than bride shopping to me.

Also on the plane was an American aerospace entrepreneur, a very bright man who was bringing back one of Russia's best computer engineers to work in California for US aerospace corporations. He has been doing well culling the cream of Russia's scientific crop - largely unemployed since the 98 economic collapse - and bringing them back to the States. Here they will have good lives and do advanced work for companies like Lockheed-Martin or Boeing. He was proud that the projects designed with Russian brains would then be subcontracted back to Russia for manufacture the way "Maquiladorization" allows GM to make Chevrolets in Mexico for a fraction of the US labor cost. In this way unemployed Russian nuclear physicists could at least have work as skilled labor in Russia.

Then there was the American woman from Arcadia, California. Once childless, she was now bringing back one of the most beautiful six-year-old girls I have ever seen, an adopted child from an uncertain past in the mangled Russian economy. I will never forget how guilty and fearful the woman looked as she herded her precious cargo onto the plane.

Now every one of these people can make an argument that their short-term behavior was a direct benefit to all of the Russians involved. They would, in fact, be right. These were Russian lives that would have been hopelessly wasted or unhappy without the actions taken by lonely men with money, hard working entrepreneurs providing opportunity, or a childless woman of means who could provide a good life for a child. These people did not make the world that exists, they are just living in it and responding to it. Why then did the whole picture make me ill?

Perhaps it was because I could see how financial interests in the west deliberately created the collapse of the Russian economy which then made it as inevitable that colonial behavior would occur as surely as water flows downhill. Only Russians who are not "oligarchs" seem to be asking what will be left over. Oil? The Bolshoi? Cucumbers?

I agree with Michael Khazin that globalization will fail because the strains and pains of the regions sucked dry to feed it will trigger nationalist and regionalist reactions of self preservation. And the Russians, who were so quick to point out the ever increasing economic disparities on the planet, remember that it was those kinds of disparities, coupled with the irrational and inflexible behavior of empires that gave us both World War I and the Russian revolution. And speaking of irrational behavior I'll offer here a recent observation made to me by the wife of one of the biggest drug dealers of all time. She is now an executive with a major international financial firm. On condition of anonymity she observed, "The big players don't think about where it's all going. It's just a game where they want to see who can play better than the other. They have so much money they don't care. It's all about adrenaline. That's it. It's about sipping virgin vodka on the beach and hatching schemes to get richer. None of them thinks that it all might self destruct."

In the meantime, as the US starts to loot itself, the "barbarians at the gates" - which means most of the world - smell blood. And George "W" Bush responds by calling for an arms race, National Missile Defense, a war in Colombia and expansion of the military.

Suddenly it looks as though stabilizing Russia is important to more than just the Russians. The major problem that I see is that some Russians actually believe that they are playing in the world economy with full knowledge of how it really works. That's kind of like trying to understand the US government on the basis of a tenth grade civics text. As the Bush administration appoints Wall Street investment banker "Buzzy" Krongard (March, 17) to the number three post at CIA and as it wields the influence of secret technological weapons like Promis software (see FTW Sept, 2000), the Agency maneuvers to control the liquid cash of the drug trade and money laundering to patch up a rapidly deflating economy here at home. If Russia tries to compete on this basis it continues to play in a rigged game. This is why I was particularly intrigued by reports of vast opium fields in Uzbekistan, allegedly protected by the Russian military, for the purpose of generating hard currency. The Americans play this game better than anyone. And now I see the truest irony of Vietnam in the 1960s and Afghanistan in the 1980s. In the 1960s the CIA and Wall Street profited heavily from the Vietnam war - fought by Americans - partially as a result of the opium smuggled by the CIA out of Laos and Thailand. In the 1980s the CIA and Wall Street again profited heavily from the opium smuggled by the CIA out of Afghanistan and Pakistan - in a war fought by Russians. See the difference?

About three years ago I gave a speech introducing the legendary comedian Dick Gregory on a local college campus. I told a crowd of predominantly African Americans that the world had changed. If they were going to save themselves they would have to save all of us white folk too. The world didn't allow them to think about just themselves anymore. The same is true of the Russians. Pure nationalism in an age when nations have become obsolete is self defeating. But recognition and preservation of localities, neighborhoods, cultural identity and values is essential if the human race is to survive. If it is diversity that will liberate us from outmoded thinking we should hope that when the world needs another Russian genius we will be able to find there something more than a Big Mac, a dollar bill, a casino, some cocaine, and NYPD Blue.

-- Mike Ruppert

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