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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

EDITORIAL: No Country Disappoints Like Russia


No Country Disappoints Like Russia

Today we report on a stunning litany of evidence that Vladimir Putin's government is in freefall.

From Poland to Kosovo to Moscow's stock market to the prying eyes of international human rights groups to the secret dark places within Russia's hospitals and the Russian home itself, Putin's Russia is time and again proven a dismal disaster -- yet the lemming-like Russian people ignore this failure, just as they ignored the failure of the USSR, and favor Putin with ridiculously high approval ratings. As such, they are accountable to history as a root cause of the neo-Soviet problem, and cannot plead for its mercy on Judgment Day.

Once again, we see a Russia totally cut off from reality which chooses to simply imagine it is successful rather than to actually be so, which thinks it can simply deny any problem and thereby solve it (as the Kremlin press secretary pathetically does when confronted with the most recent Human Rights Watch report, which equates Putin with crude African despot Robert Mugabe). As we showed in a recent post on Publius Pundit, Russia's level of economic attainment is laughably inferior to that of the G-8 countries it seeks to sit at the same table with, and even more so with that of the U.S., which it perpetually seeks to confront and provoke. If Russia continues on this path, it can only meet the same fate as the USSR.

In a major pathbreaking editorial about independence for Kosovo, which Russia fears since it will diminish its Serbian little brother, the Wall Street Journal boldly states:
With its own Presidential poll next month, Russia may be tempted to press this hot button issue by again claiming a Kosovo precedent for "frozen conflicts" such as Abkhazia and Trans-Dniestr in its neighborhood. But someone could remind Moscow that it then might apply to Russia's own ethnic minority republics, starting with Chechnya. In the meantime, the Western allies would be wise to guard against instability in the Caucasus and Moldova and come up with a credible response against any misbehavior by Moscow, including with sanctions.
This is what Vladimir Putin's Russia has come to. Sanctions from the civilized world just as if it were Libya or Iran. John McCain, leading U.S. senator, calling for its ouster from the G-8. This man Putin (Lenin, Stalin -- how ironic that they sound so similar) has led his country right to the precipice of disaster.

But no matter how bad things get in Russia, they can always get spectacularly worse, horrifyingly more humiliating. Moscow Times columnist Richard Lourie, for example, states:
Mentioning Senator Hillary Clinton's name in an e-mail to a Moscow friend evoked a fury in the reply that caught me off guard. Though counting herself no great follower of President Vladimir Putin, my friend was still put out by Clinton's comment that he had no soul. She was offended both as a patriot and as an Orthodox believer. It is never pleasant to hear your country's leader compared to the walking dead -- especially by a foreigner. This also would seem to be a perfect example of the "politics of personal destruction" that Bill Clinton wished to put aside during his own run for U.S. president. My friend and her family are beneficiaries of the success of the Putin years. They are able to worship freely without fear of consequence in their careers. They are able to make a decent, honest living and have risen from the squalor of a communal apartment to acquiring a comfortable, spacious apartment of their own. They travel frequently and freely. Though they speak of their annual vacation in Spain with casual insouciance, on some level they remember when the Soviet border had a lock and key. Their pleasures are keener precisely because they don't take them for granted.
So get this: The Russians have no problem when their "president" jokes about liquidating the Chechens in their outhouses or complimenting the president of Israel on his sexual prowess after a rape. They have no problem with his devoting vast uncounted sums towards military confrontation with the United States, nor do they have the slightest difficulty with all manner of public and private attacks on Georgians, Ukrainians, and every other racial and ethnic minority in Russia. They cheer loudly when he publicly attacks and ridicules the U.S. and when he provides weapons to American foes like Venezulea and Iran. But let any U.S. leader give their "president" the business, and they start sobbing like little babies, claiming righteous indignation?

Isn't it possible for Russians to ask: What have we done to deserve this? How can we change to stop it? Are Russians really so fundamentally barbaric that all they can do is physically destroy their critics, ignoring the basis of the criticism until they themselves are physically destroyed by it?

No, it's not possible. And that's the reason we routinely report so much disastrous news for Russia on our virtual pages.

A tiny group of wealthy Russians with foreign friends now live in luxury, and this is an excuse to ignore the plight of the vast unwashed population, consign it to misery and squalor just as in the time of the Tsars? Can Russia really have learned so little from the terrors of the Soviet interlude? Indeed, of course, one can easily argue that all the Soviets themselves did was to replace one oligarchy with another, and that Putin has done exactly the same thing, simply bringing in yet a third.

It would be hilariously funny, if it were not so brutally tragic.


Anonymous said...

What can you do? Majority of Russians apparently want Putin and his pack to do what they do. People can only be brainwashed to some extent - and the Russians would by now have come to some conclusions...

Anonymous-ONE said...

"brainwashed to some extent"?

Yes, it's called battered wife syndrome. Only on a national scale. Do what ever the abuser wants, that way he won't beat you. (Michael Khororkovsky sp) Don't try to speak up (A. Politkovskaya sp) or try to stand up (Oleg Kozlovsky) for your rights.

When you get beat down so many times, there comes a point when you no longer care, about yourself, about others, about the world...even about the abuser. Seems the Russian people are just about at that point.