Monday, August 20, 2007
Briefly Considered: Red Phoenix Rising?
Item: "According to a poll last month by the Moscow-based Levada Center, 54 percent of Russians between 16 and 19 believe Stalin was `a wise leader,' and a similar number thought the collapse of the Soviet Union was `a tragedy.' (Two thirds also thought that America was a `rival and enemy' and 62 percent believed that the government should `deport most immigrants.') `Many of my classmates believe that some kind of Soviet golden era existed before the West came in and destroyed everything,' says Fillip Kuznetsov, an international-relations student at Moscow University. `They also believe the state is justified in doing anything it likes to its citizens in the name of some great cause.'"
Item: "President Vladimir Putin said he had ordered strategic bombers to resume regular long-range patrols Friday as the Air Force carried out maneuvers involving 20 strategic bombers over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans," reported the Moscow Times. "One of those drills, involving 11 aircraft, prompted NATO member Norway to scramble F-16 fighter jets to observe and photograph the Russian planes as they flew over the Norwegian Sea. The group of strategic bombers, early warning aircraft, fighter jets and refueling planes represented the biggest show of Russian air power in that region since the early 1990s, said Brigadier General Ole Asak, chief of the Norwegian Joint Air Operations Center."
Item: "After a newly self-confident, oil-rich Russia teamed up with China in joint military exercises Friday, it is moving to reclaim the former Soviet Union's status as a global military power. A seven-year, $200-billion rearmament plan signed by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year will purchase new generations of missiles, planes, and perhaps aircraft carriers to rebuild Russia's arsenal."
My first thought, prompted particularly by the comment about the State "doing anything it likes to its citizens in the name of some great cause," was: The same neo-con cabal that has seized the U.S. executive branch has taken control of Moscow as well.
It makes more sense to believe that the Putin regime's embrace of a watered-down variant of Stalinism is at least in part a reaction to the militarist mania that has characterized Washington since the neo-cons -- who could be considered Trotsky's distant offspring -- took over. As I've noted elsewhere, Washington years ago replaced Moscow as the headquarters of the global collectivist revolution.
Managing relations with Russia would always be a challenge, even absent the ambitions of Putin and his siloviki. But in a display of the perverted genius peculiar to Washington, the Bush Regime has not only cultivated the worst elements of Russia's ruling clique, its behavior has provoked understandable concerns among the long-suffering Russian people and provided their rulers with a plausible foreign enemy.
For people living in Russia's "near abroad" -- Estonia, for example -- things are probably going to get unpleasant very soon. And Russia's status as a rising power in the most important economic realm -- energy -- will soon give Moscow greater leverage than its arsenal ever could.
The U.S. is deeply in debt to foreign lenders, particularly China. Washington's military (I don't know that the collective possessive pronoun "our" still applies) has been all but used up in the Idiot King's Mesopotamian war. Because of that war, and the sanctimonious bellicosity of the Bush Regime, our nation's international prestige is at its lowest ebb. The machinery for a domestic police state akin to Stalin's is in place.
It seems to me that the last thing we need -- however useful it would be to our rulers, who are ever in search of new rationales for regimentation -- is a revived stand-off with Russia, particularly one that in relative terms is a more plausible rival than the Soviets. But that's just what we're likely to get.
On the lighter side, it's always fun to see The Simpsons vindicated as a source of political prophecy. Here's their take on the Golitsyn thesis:
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