KLEPTOCRACY AND AUTOCRACY

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act. If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
George Orwell

KLEPTOCRACY AND AUTOCRACY

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The U.S. Needs a New Strategy

Toward the Autocratic World

By Anne Applebaum — The Atlantic

By enabling Putin and other global kleptocrats, the West undermined democracy. It’s time to change tactics.

THINGS HAVE CHANGED: “Nowadays, autocracies are run not by one bad guy, but by networks composed of kleptocratic financial structures, security services (military, police, paramilitary groups, surveillance personnel), and professional propagandists. The members of these networks are connected not only within a given country, but among many countries.”

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“These are the times that try men’s souls: the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country…”
— Thomas Paine 1776

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Autocracy Is Winning

By Anne Applebaum — The Atlantic

If the 20th century was the story of slow, uneven progress toward the victory of liberal democracy over other ideologies—communism, fascism, virulent nationalism—the 21st century is, so far, a story of the reverse.

Democratic revolutions are contagious. If you can stamp them out in one country, you might prevent them from starting in others. 
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“The thing about long-serving autocrats is that they become increasingly detached from not only the truth but also from being able to tolerate criticism.”
James Bruno

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The Heartland Theory & Vladimir Putin

Back to the 19th Century

By James Bruno — Dispatches From Exile

Putin aims to return the world to a hierarchical and largely anti-democratic time when Great Powers called the shots. He must be stopped.

In many ways, the world has been harkening back to the 19th century, Halford Mackinder’s century which was lorded over by kaisers, tsars, emperors and sultans, when realpolitik was marked by the moral conscience and actions of junkyard dogs, when cultural communities were divvied up like so much real estate and potentates drew lines on the map delineating spheres of influence. Vladimir Putin aims to return the world to this hierarchical and largely anti-democratic time when Great Powers called the shots.

He must be stopped.
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There Is No Liberal World Order

Unless democracies defend themselves, the forces of autocracy will destroy them.

By Anne Applebaum — The Atlantic

We convinced ourselves that there was no harm in enriching dictators and their cronies. Trade, we imagined, would transform our trading partners. Wealth would bring liberalism. Capitalism would bring democracy—and democracy would bring peace.

But while we were happily living under the illusion that “Never again” meant something real, the leaders of Russia, owners of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal, were reconstructing an army and a propaganda machine designed to facilitate mass murder, as well as a mafia state controlled by a tiny number of men and bearing no resemblance to Western capitalism. 

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“Terror can rule absolutely only over men who are isolated against each other … Isolation may be the beginning of terror; it certainly is its most fertile ground; it always is its result.”
— Hannah Arendt

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The Origins of Totalitarianism

By Hannah Arendt

The definitive work on totalitarianism—an essential component of any study of twentieth-century political history.

Arendt explores the institutions and operations of totalitarian movements, focusing on the two genuine forms of totalitarian government in our time—Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia—which she adroitly recognizes were two sides of the same coin, rather than opposing philosophies of Right and Left. From this vantage point, she discusses the evolution of classes into masses, the role of propaganda in dealing with the nontotalitarian world, the use of terror, and the nature of isolation and loneliness as preconditions for total domination.

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The Revenge of Power

How autocrats are reinventing politics for the 21st century

By Moisés Naím

In The Revenge of Power, Naím turns to the trends, conditions, technologies and behaviors that are contributing to the concentration of power, and to the clash between those forces that weaken power and those that strengthen it. He concentrates on the three “P”s—populism, polarization, and post-truths. All of which are as old as time, but are combined by today’s autocrats to undermine democratic life in new and frightening ways. Power has not changed. But the way people go about gaining it and using it has been transformed.

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Putin Doesn’t Fear a Coup by Oligarchs

But he should fear his fellow spies!

By Steven L. Hall — The Washington Post

Russia’s security services have tried to topple its leaders before!

“If the security elite perceives the system is rotting, they will do what’s necessary to protect their interests.”

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Putin’s Nuclear Threats

A Wake-Up Call for the World

By Uri Friedman — The Atlantic

The Russian leader’s actions have opened our eyes to how dependent we all are on the whims of one man and his nuclear arsenal.

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“The entire system of nuclear deterrence is and always has been incredibly dangerous and fragile. We tend not to notice this—or, perhaps, are more able to push this knowledge far enough into the background to ignore how disturbing it is—until there is a crisis that brings the absurdity of the whole system into focus.”
— Eryn MacDonald, global-security analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists

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Ukraine’s Revolt, Russia’s Revenge

By Christopher M. Smith

An eyewitness account by a U.S. diplomat of Russia’s brazen attempt to undo the democratic revolution in Ukraine

Told from the perspective of a U.S. diplomat in Kiev, this book is the true story of Ukraine’s anti-corruption revolution in 2013—14, Russia’s intervention and invasion of that nation, and the limited role played by the United States. It puts into a readable narrative the previously unpublished reporting by seasoned U.S. diplomatic and military professionals, a wealth of information on Ukrainian high-level and street-level politics, a broad analysis of the international context, and vivid descriptions of people and places in Ukraine during the EuroMaidan Revolution. The book also counters Russia’s disinformation narratives about the revolution and America’s role in it.

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“With searing clarity, Red Famine demonstrates the horrific consequences of a campaign to eradicate ‘backwardness’ when undertaken by a regime in a state of war with its own people.”
The Economist

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Red Famine

Stalin’s War on Ukraine

By Anne Applebaum

In 1929 Stalin launched his policy of agricultural collectivization—in effect a second Russian revolution—which forced millions of peasants off their land and onto collective farms. The result was a catastrophic famine, the most lethal in European history. At least five million people died between 1931 and 1933 in the USSR. But instead of sending relief the Soviet state made use of the catastrophe to rid itself of a political problem. In Red Famine, Anne Applebaum argues that more than three million of those dead were Ukrainians who perished not because they were accidental victims of a bad policy but because the state deliberately set out to kill them. Devastating and definitive, Red Famine captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil. 

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Blowing Up Russia

The Book that Got Litvinenko Murdered

By Yuri Felshtinsky and Alexander Litvinenko

Alexander Litvinenko wrote Blowing up Russia to reveal in gripping detail how his FSB colleagues in the Russian secret service started an unprecedented ‘Islamist’ bombing campaign of apartment buildings in Moscow as part the first election campaign of Vladimir Putin. MI6 judged this whistleblowing book to be the reason for his assassination with Polonium-210 in London in 2006.

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How the War in Ukraine Could Change History

A political scientist on why the fate of the global political order hangs in the balance.

By Sean Illing — Vox

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a world-historical event and the effects of it will likely ripple out for years to come.

Since 1945, the world has done a remarkably good job of preventing wars between great powers and making the costs of unprovoked aggression extremely high. In a matter of days, Russia has upended this system. A major war, if not probable, is at least plausible — and that’s a significant shift.

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The War in Ukraine Could Change Everything

TED Talk on YouTube

By Bruno Giussani and Yuval Noah Harari

Concerned about the war Ukraine? You’re not alone. Historian Yuval Noah Harari provides important context on the Russian invasion, including Ukraine’s long history of resistance, the specter of nuclear war and his view of why, even if Putin wins all the military battles, he’s already lost the war.

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“How people think about the country depends on the stories they hear about it.”
Heather Cox Richardson

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Malcolm Nance in Mariupol

The Plot to Hack America

How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election

By Malcolm Nance

Published a full month prior to the divisive Trump vs. Clinton 2016 presidential election, this book exposed the Russian hacking while the CIA was drafting their own report. In April 2016, computer technicians at the Democratic National Committee discovered that someone had accessed the organization’s computer servers and conducted a theft that is best described as Watergate 2.0. In the weeks that followed, the nation’s top computer security experts discovered that the cyber thieves had helped themselves to everything: sensitive documents, emails, donor information, even voice mails.

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The Plot to Destroy Democracy

How Putin and His Spies Are Undermining America and Dismantling the West

By Malcolm Nance

A provocative, comprehensive analysis of Vladimir Putin and Russia’s master plan to destroy democracy in the age of Donald Trump.

In the greatest intelligence operation in the history of the world, Donald Trump was made President of the United States with the assistance of a foreign power. For the first time, The Plot to Destroy Democracy reveals the dramatic story of how blackmail, espionage, assassination, and psychological warfare were used by Vladimir Putin and his spy agencies to steal the 2016 U.S. election — and attempted to bring about the fall of NATO, the European Union, and western democracy. It will show how Russia and its fifth column allies tried to flip the cornerstones of democracy in order to re-engineer the world political order that has kept most of the world free since 1945.

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The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes

315 years. 20,528 Voyages. Millions of lives.

By Andrew Kahn and Jamelle Bouie — Slate

From the trade’s beginning in the 16th century to its conclusion in the 19th, slave merchants brought the vast majority of enslaved Africans to two places: the Caribbean and Brazil. 

Of the more than 10 million enslaved Africans to eventually reach the Western Hemisphere, just 388,747—less than 4 percent of the total—came to North America. This was dwarfed by the 1.3 million brought to Spanish Central America, the 4 million brought to British, French, Dutch, and Danish holdings in the Caribbean, and the 4.8 million brought to Brazil.

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