I think that it is good time to share with you some news about the future of this blog and what I have been working on behind the scenes. Much of what I will describe you have already seen, but I wanted to spell out where I think we are and where we are going. So let’s take it one by one.
This is something I have been dreaming about ever since I started this blog. It took a long time, but we are getting there: I wanted to try to provide a steady flow of high quality guest posts on as close as can be to a daily basis. I think that with contributors like Ghassan Kadi and Andrew Korybko this is really happening now. There are some who deplore that I write less than I did, which is not quite true (more about that later), but I would like to point out to them that since I am the one choosing the people I ask to post as guests on the blog this is also a way for me share top quality analysis with you, analysis with I picked out, but which is written by a specialist who knows his/her stuff at least as well as I do, and mostly better. The truth is even if I wanted to write as much as the guests I post, I physically could not do it. So for you it is a win-win: not only do I write as much as I can anyway, but you get additional analyses written by folks I have selected.
You probably have noticed that this week I posted three analyses by Alexander Mercouris. Here is what is going on. Since the folks at Russia Insider post my own articles several times a week, we have agreed that I would post analyses by Alexander Mercouris also a couple of times (probably twice) a week. I consider Alexander one of the best analysts on the planet and a good friend and I think that you will all immensely benefit (and enjoy!) his analyses. Since Alexander and I have a “more than guest post” agreement, his columns will appear in the “analyses” section of the blog. I will conclude by saying that I consider Alexander an ideal “counterpart” to me. I am more of the “military and security” type – he is more of a “law and economics” type, thus I hope that between the two of us you get some pretty decent analyses going.
Original Saker articles
As you know, the past couple of months have been very hard on me. A lot of energy went into the preparation of the book, the events in Syria made me begin writing a weekly column for the Unz review, then my mother passed away and I had to fly to Europe. I had to prioritize and I did. I chose to make the Unz Review column my priority because I considered the events in Syria hugely important and because Ron Unz and I agreed that I could repost my column for him on my blog. This way, even in the worst of times for me, you got at least one weekly analysis from me. That worked out well I think.
However, God willing, I hope that the bad times are coming to an end and that I will be able to resume writing much more, especially about the Ukraine were all hell is about to break loose again (the Ukrofreaks are seriously discussing a “naval blockade of Crimea” if you can believe that, while their country is about to go into an official default!).
I will also continue to write a weekly column for the Unz Review and post it here.
Bottom line: expect an increase in my original writings for this blog.
I also plan to make more short podcasts (like the 10th one recently) while I am driving. In these podcasts I will address one, maybe two, issues. This is easier on me and, probably, on you too.
The guys at SouthFront are doing an *stellar* job providing you with daily “war news” and I intend to continue collaborating with them. Thanks, by the way, for the donations you have sent them! I think that our community immensely benefits from their work. I most definitely could not produce the kind of video analyses they do.
Scott and the SITREPs
My Director of Research, Scott, who has played a key role in making my book happen, has also done a superb job coordinating the production of regular SITREPs by a team of very sharp analysts. This is a big burden taken off my shoulders which will allow me to concentrate on other tasks such as writing SITREPs myself, which I shall resume in January.
All in all, between SouthFront and out SITREPs I feel that you are in very good hands :-)
I am really fortunate to have Eugenia has both the Russian Saker Blog Team leader and as the Translation Team Leader at the same time. Thanks to her work and to the efforts of her translators, we have been able to provide you a steady stream of exclusively translated Russian documents. In addition to this group, my friends Alena Scarecrow and Tatzhit Mikhailovich have also provided us with very rapid translations, including subtitled videos, on many occasions. Barring some disaster, I am confident that next year we will continue to provide you with many more interesting translations.
IT and computer issues
On that front too, things look good. Between my webmaster (Herb) and two server and security specialists (AA and LL), things have been running smoothly. We might make a major technological change in the course of next year which you, hopefully, will not notice but which will make the management of the server easier. To the best of my knowledge, there have been a few hiccups here and there, and some suspicious activities, but no sustained or full-scale attacks on our servers. This is very encouraging.
As far as I can tell, moderation is working well. I have received a few emails from people who claim that their comments were “banned” for no good reason, but each time I looked in the “comments” section of the blog, including the “trash”, I did not find them. My best guess Either WordPress has some kind of bug, or these users did not really finish the “posting” action. I really don’t know, but if that happens again, just repost the comment and fire the moderators a small email telling them that you are resubmitting. By the way, I want to repeat here that I do not micromanage the moderators. All I did is give them these public guidelines. However, I draw your attention to rule #3 “Any comment designed to make me angry will make me angry and will be removed in anger“. By “me” I mean “me” and any moderator, so please try not to antagonize or insult them as any deliberate attempt to do so will result in the comment being trashed. That is not to say that you have to kowtow to them (or me!) – only that any deliberate effort at pissing us off will be trashed. We simply don’t have the time to engage in shouting matches or endless arguments.
New feature announcement!
My webmaster is working on a really cool feature: a special section of the blog dedicated to the reposting of the most interesting comments received. The idea came to Herb when he read some really thoughtful and well written comments and felt that they deserved recognition. I fully agree. We have one of the most lively and interesting comments section in the blogosphere and some commentators provide truly excellent comments and opinions. They most definitely deserve to get more exposure and their authors more credit for what they wrote. This is also a way to further raise the bar on the quality of comments and encourage even better discussions. I am absolutely thrilled by this idea and I hope that it will happen in the near future (thanks Herb!!!)
The Saker book
I don’t know if that is deliberate or whether Amazon is just being incompetent, but the book is yet again out of stock (and right before Christmas!). This is very aggravating for me and even more aggravating for you. There is, however, nothing anybody can do about this. We have to be patient and accept the facts of life: Amazon is a giant, I am a tiny little gnat.
The only way to put pressure on Amazon is to order the book now, while out of print. That is the only effective way to make them order enough copies to meet the demand.
Needless to say, nobody in the corporate media reviewed the book. That was expected. So far, only Russia Insider posted a real review. That, and 7 people on Amazon – my most sincere thanks to them! Three people have promised to write a review in the next couple of months, but this is clearly an uphill battle.
If you can, please spread the news about the book amongst your friends, write a review on Amazon or any of your blogs and, of course, get the book if you haven’t done so in the past. The reviewer for Russia Insider, Patrick Armstrong, did notice that the book is it is almost 200,000 words long, the equivalent of two PhD theses (600 pages) and I believe that it is much more than just the sum of its parts: it is a systematic and coherent presentation of my worldview, something I fully realized only when I held the book in my hands. So this is, really, the “Essential Saker”. So, please help me bring down the “Amazon obstacle” and order as many copies as you can (to give your family and friends!).
That’s it for the latest news about how things are going on the blog.
Now are few words about the rest of the Saker community.
The other Saker blogs
All in all, things are going well in the rest of the Saker community. Still, I learned with great sadness that the Team Leader of the French Saker blog had asked to be replaced due to health problems. Considering the great team he had assembled, I am not worried about the future of the blog, but I am sad to hear about his problems and I wish him a full and speedy recovery.
The German, Russian, Italian, Latin American and Oceania blogs are all doing well, even though, as we all, they struggle with the daily difficulties of life. I had the huge pleasure of meeting the Italian Saker Blog Team Leader during my short trip to Europe recently, and I can tell you that he is an absolutely terrific person. It was a joy meeting with him, and his father, face to face over a wonderful Italian meal. While my trip was truly a horrible one, this meeting was one moment of real joy for me.
I am particularly happy about the Serbian Saker blog which, after several false starts, is finally in really good hands and which is doing extremely well. I am in contact with various Serbian analysts who all are expressing support and confidence in this latest (and, hopefully, final) iteration of the Serbian Saker blog.
I have one dream which I hope will come true one day. I would like to meet with all the Saker Blog Team leaders face to face and use that opportunity to get to know each other better, to brainstorm and also to just have fun. In my dreams, I see the ideal place in Cuba, on Playa Giron, known as the Bay of Pigs in the USA, for an evening barbecue with music. Would that not be the perfect location?
Alas, most Saker Team leaders live on a very tight budget and, barring some kind of miracle, this is not going to happen anytime soon. But I enjoy just daydreaming about that. And until that day, Skype and Google Hangouts are the only way for us to communicate.
I think that I have covered it all. If you have any questions or suggestions, please post them in the comments section here and I will try my best to reply to them.
I wish those of you who celebrate Christmas on the 24th a joy-filled and peaceful celebration and to all the rest of you a very good end of the year. Kind regards and tons of thanks to you all, hugs and cheers,