Israel Shamir

The Fighting Optimist

Before the Elections

FRENCH TRANSLATION: Avant les élections américaines

The world began its countdown to the most dramatic event of this dramatic year, to the US Presidential elections. Will Trump make it? Will this great orange man who beat Coronavirus and came back from the clutches of death manage to beat Sleepy Joe and his multitudes? Or will the Dems take us all into the night of eternal lockdown, where heavily armed Black and Antifa activists patrol the streets and Big Data corporations rule? It is all up to the American people, and to the steady nerves of their captain on the bridge of the White House.

It’s not the same for us. The difference is greater than it has been for many years. It is a chance to stop the disintegration of manhood and womanhood into multigender distopia, to acknowledge the Divine Will of “male and female He created them”. Class struggle is surely important, but from this point of view there is little difference between the two; while saving our children from forced instruction in homosexual lore, or even castration in due course (“transgender rights” for eight-year olds) now takes a front seat. Trump is rather weak; we would like to see a stronger man who would take US troops out of the dusty fields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, a man who would be able to overcome Twitter and Facebook and forbid them to censor him. But we have what we have, and this well-intentioned man will have to do.

The battle for SCOTUS nominee Amy Barrett nomination is going well. She can answer the annoying insinuating questions of the Dems. She is a good warrior. As a wife and mother, she is immune to the usual attacks and assertions of a sexual character. There is a good chance she will go through the ordeal with flying colours. This is tremendously important – her defeat would make Trump’s defeat almost certain. Her success will give Trump a fighting chance.

However, the final decision will be made on the streets. Recently the aftermath of the elections was wargamed. One possibility was played out in Belarus. Its president Alexander Lukashenko is a sort of Trump. He kept industry in his country instead of shifting industry to China. He is a macho man. He bravely discounted the fearsome virus Covid-19 and refused to plunge his nation into the quagmire of lockdowns. He won the elections, but his opponents refused to recognise the result and demanded his resignation. They took huge crowds to the streets and marched to the President’s Palace. Many demonstrators wore masks stressing their adherence to Covid-loyalism. Lukashenko took a helicopter and flew into the besieged compound, accompanied by a few soldiers and his teenage son, and armed with a submachinegun. This vision of a decisive president armed and ready to use his weapons rather than submit was enough to repel the hostile crowds. He won. Not forever, but not many things are forever in this world. He is doing well in the meantime.

Another possibility played out in faraway Kyrgyzstan. This country had been undermined by the flow of guest-workers from abroad: they were made unemployed by the Corona crisis. After the Parliamentary elections, crowds of disaffected unemployed converged on Parliament, took it over, sent the President into hiding and enthroned their candidate as the Prime Minister. Their candidate seems to be a frontman for local mafia, or more precisely for the mafia godfather who goes by the name of Kolya Kyrgyz. The legitimate president accepted his defeat and retired, while the new Prime Minister assumed the Presidential post as well.

What will happen in the US: the Belarus or the Kyrgyz solution? It depends entirely on you, Americans. You will have to brave the streets and support your president against his armed opponents, and do it with all the hostile media against you. It is a hard job, but an enviable one: what you will do, will decide the fate of your country and of our planet.


Will Russia try and influence the US elections? Well, no. Russia wants to sit it out. As nobody can predict the result of the US elections, Russians want to bide their time. However, there are forces dreaming of starting a war between Russia and its powerful neighbour Turkey. This war would be disastrous for both states, and the cautious President Putin is determined to avoid it. So was the last Russian Tsar Nicolas II keen to avoid war with Germany. Will Putin succeed where Nicolas failed? It is still uncertain.

Unwilling Russians were pulled into the WWI willy-nilly by well-organised public opinion that demanded that Russia “save the Serbs”, as this Balkan nation had been attacked by Austria with German support. Now, the media pushes Russia into war with Turkey in order “to save the Armenians”. This is the background of the Qarabagh war.

Anti-Turkish feelings are strong in the West; partly as a result of the activity of the Armenian Lobby, and partly due to the rise of a powerful and independent Turkey after a hundred-fifty-year-long lag. The US is unhappy that Turks buy weapons and generally play ball with Russia. France and Germany dislike Turkey asserting its rights in the Middle East and North Africa. Greece has its long-term obsession with Turks arising from old disputes and ending with oil exploitation rights and the flight of refugees. However, Armenians are unique in their feeling they can make the Russians fight for them.

Armenians are faux-Jews, another “people who dwell alone”, engaged in trade and discourse. They imitate Jews: Jews have their Holocaust, legally protected against denial. Armenians actually succeeded in protecting their own tragedy of 1915 by a similar law in France. The result was tragicomic. They brought an important Jewish historian (and warmonger of the first degree) Bernard Lewis to the court in Paris, and he was found guilty of denying their tragedy, just like David Irving. But David Irving got three years in jail, and now his name is always preceded with the title “discredited”, while Bernard Lewis was fined one franc and his name graces various petitions.

Imitation is not the real thing: if famous Jews are Einstein and Rothschild, the famous Armenian is Kim Kardashian. However, like Jews, they have a lot of feelings of superiority towards their neighbours. I came across Armenians in 1988, when they explained me that they are so smart that Azerbaijan survives only thanks to their guidance. They occupied privileged positions in Baku in those days. I told them that there are Jews who are obsessed by a similar feeling of superiority, but Jews would never share it with a stranger, but at most with their own wives in the kitchen. This feeling played a bad trick on them: they pushed Azeris out of the areas where they were in the majority, and in response they were pushed out of Baku where they formed the middle and upper-middle class.

Again, it reminds me of Jews. If Jews illegally occupied Palestine and expelled its native inhabitants, the Armenians illegally occupied a part of Azerbaijan and expelled its native inhabitants, too. They had made this land grab at the beginning of the 90s, when the USSR collapsed. Armenians contributed a lot to this collapse, as eighty years earlier they had contributed to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Armenia was the first Soviet Republic to leave the USSR; thanks to its powerful diaspora, Armenia defeated the much more populous Azerbaijan, as Israel defeated populous Arab countries. Now Azerbaijan attempts to regain the lost territories and return home one million Azeri refugees, just as Arabs tried to return Palestinian refugees back to Palestine. In my view, refugees should be allowed to return, whether Palestinian refugees to what became Israel, or Azeri refugees to what became Artzakh. People should live together without ethnic cleansing.

For 30 years, Armenians had the possibility of finding a modus vivendi with Azerbaijan on advantageous terms; there were many options. But, like Jews before 1973, they thought this was unnecessary. Azeris commenced the war in the end of September hoping to restart the peace process. Russia convinced them to cease fire on condition of renewing negotiations, but the Prime Minister of Armenia stubbornly refused to negotiate. The war resumed, and Azeris did liberate a part of the occupied territories. Now there is a new cease-fire; if the Armenians won’t negotiate in the earnest, the hostilities will resume.

Armenians shifted their fight into the media and PR; they call upon the world to prevent “genocide”. (Killing a few dozen Armenian soldiers is “genocide”, while killing thousands of Palestinians or Azeris does not count as genocide.) They try to suck Russia into their war, to fight Azerbaijan and Turkey. The Armenians have a very strong position in Russian discourse, mainly supporting a “patriotic”, loyalist, Putinist line. In Soviet days they were a minor element outside Baku, but after the collapse a lot of Jews left for Israel, and the Armenians, more clannish even than Jews, took over the vacated places and became the top dogs in the Russian media.

The Armenian diaspora in Russia is longstanding and well established. The Russian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs are partly of Armenian extraction, though this doesn’t mean too much. The RT head Mrs Simonyan is an ethnic Armenian, but she was rudely attacked by Armenia for her lack of support for the Armenian cause. (Not every Jew is a Zionist or even a supporter of Israel.) Now the Armenian Lobby pushes for war – as the US Jews pushed America into its Middle Eastern wars.

Armenia is a member of CSTO, a new (and much smaller) version of the Warsaw Treaty. This is the main claim of Armenians on Russian help. However, Qarabagh is not a part of Armenia; it is an internationally recognised part of Azerbaijan. That’s why the Armenians try to provoke an Azeri attack on its own territory. The last provocation took place last night (Friday night), when Armenia fired a SCUD ballistic missile on the Azeri city of Ganja located over a hundred miles from the fighting area. A dozen civilians were killed, fifty wounded, a few houses destroyed. This is a step towards open war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, something that the Azeris were loth to entertain. They prefered to fight on their own ground, on their own (even if occupied) territory. Now the Azeris will be under pressure to respond to the source of fire, and that will be Armenia proper. Would this force Russia to enter the fray?

Meanwhile, Putin is trying to avoid such a confrontation. He has spent too much effort wooing Azeris back into the Russian orbit after this oil-rich republic was lost to Moscow in the days of Yeltsin. Then the Azeris remained loyal to the Soviet Union, while the Armenians allied themselves to Yeltsin’s democrats, and Moscow supported them. Russia’s efforts to improve relations with Baku and abandon unilateral support for Armenia were successful: Azerbaijan also turned from a pro-Western position to a more balanced one that recognizes Russia’s interests.

Putin wishes to limit the armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and not to allow Russian troops to be involved in the war, as well as keeping foreign troops out of Transcaucasia. Another task is to keep the oil and gas wealth of the Transcaucasia and Turkmenistan in the system of Russian oil pipelines. This calls for shrewd politics. A very useful text for understanding this aspect is the Wikileaks-released confidential dispatch of the US Ambassador in Baku 09BAKU109 (I published it here in Russian and English). It says that “Russia has stepped up diplomatic efforts to lure Azerbaijan away from its political, security, and energy links to the West. They note that this is part of a broader Russian effort to regain its position as the political and economic arbiter of affairs in the greater South Caucasus region. Recognizing the premium the Aliyev regime places on stability, Russia will likely continue attempts to show that the West is an unreliable partner, that westward orientation and democratization lead to chaos, and that the road to regime stability runs through Moscow.”

This was written in 2009, and since then Russia succeeded in making a friend of Azerbaijan. Now Putin is naturally unwilling to risk this achievement for the sake of Armenia which is rudely described by many Russians as “a suitcase without a handle – it is difficult to carry and a pity to throw away”. More of a liability than an asset, as many Americans view Israel, too.

Turkey is a very important partner for Russia, despite many disagreements and even minor confronations in Syria and Libya. Turkey holds the key to the warm seas by controlling the Bosphorus. The warmongers claim that Turkey wants to take over Transcaucasia and other Turkic-speaking states in Russia and in former USSR. This is impossible: Turkey is a successor state to Byzantium, and it never crossed its historical borders. Commonality of language is a good thing for cultural ties, but hardly enough for union in one state. Race and ethnicity is even less of a reason. Adolf Hitler, being a race romantic, believed that the racial unity of Germany and Britain would bring about their partnership, which explains the Dunkirk debacle; but reality slapped him in the face. The conflict between Russia and the Ukraine is another proof that race, ethnicity and language are of little importance in politics. Accordingly, there is no chance for Turkish expansion into former USSR Turkic-speaking territories.

However, Turkey wants to play a role in Transcaucasia, and it is a perfectly legitimate wish. Putin recognises that, and he is ready to accommodate it, as we learn from his phone conversation with Erdogan two days ago. Indeed the Minsk group co-chaired by Russia, the US and France in 1994 achieved precisely nothing, as all three chairs have powerful Armenian lobbies. Active involvment of Turkey is likely to take the peace process out of the bog where it is stuck, and bring about a modus vivendi between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This modus vivendi will allow Azeri refugees to return home, while preventing the expulsion of Armenians from Qarabagh. Azeris promised to guarantee the autonomy of Qarabagh, so it seems a possible win-win solution. As a Homer scholar (and a translator of Odyssey) I am certain that a compromise is better than an outright victory. The Greeks and Trojans had many options to end the war with a compromise, but they pushed for victory and all perished. Hopefully, the Azeris and the Armenians will take this advice to heart, and Russia will be able to remain sitting on its hands, at least until the US elections are over.

P.S. What happened with the Armenians in 2015? Armenians suffered during WWI because they fought against the Ottoman Empire – and lost. They sided with its enemy. They were promised almost the whole of Anatolia by the Allies, and Turks would have experienced the grim fate of Azeris but for the sword of Mustafa Kemal. Armenians made a good attempt to ethnically cleanse the Turks and the Kurds, but failed.[1] They were interned or deported by the Imperial government. Likewise, the Japanese were interned by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Germans were deported by Britain, the Palestinians were deported by Israel, the Turks were deported by Greece – and many perished.

Since then, the world has changed. The Ottoman Empire is gone; if Armenians want to return to Lake Van, they may be allowed to come back while fully recognising Turkish sovereignty. The Armenians are advised to take care of the present. Because of their obsession with the past, their republic is in dire straits. Whoever can emigrate does so. There are more Armenians in Moscow than in Yerevan. Playing into neocon hands won’t improve their situation. Instead of aggravating the situation and dreaming of redrawing maps, they should cool it and make peace with their Turkish, Azeri and Kurdish neighbours.

Israel Shamir can be reached at

This article was first published at The Unz Review.


[1] A good summing-up by an American historian: Speech given by Dr. Justin McCarthy at the Turkish Grand National Assembly, March 24, 2005.

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