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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Hypocritical and the Moronic

When Russian diplomats are killed in Iraq, President Putin issues an edict stating that the secret services should "take all measures for finding and destroying the criminals who committed this atrocity."

Yet, when U.S. President George Bush issues a similar edict involving Iraq, suddenly Russians oppose the use of violence and favor diplomacy and bemoan the use of "unilateral" American "aggression" that is "counterproductive."

Isn't that rather hypocritical?

Moreover, who is Russia kidding? It can't even control the "bandits" in contiguous Chechnya and it has shunned participation in Iraq, yet somehow it imagines it can project its power into the Middle East, locate the right terrorists and liquidate them? What has the Kremlin been smoking?

Apparently, Russian foreign policy is still languishing in the Neo-Soviet dark ages.

For more evidence, consider how Bush has recently poked Putin right in the eye by inviting Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to the White House just before the G-8 summit and despite Russia's boycott of Georgian beverages.

Russia simply hasn't got the slightest clue.


Anonymous said...

That inviting Saakashvili to Washington was a poke in the eye to Putin is probably true, but it does also suggest that U.S. rhetoric about democratic values takes a back seat to energy concerns. As a letter to the White House from Human Rights Watch noted:

"Georgia's democratic gains remain fragile, and what we are seeing today are the warning signs of significant regression. ... The time to raise these issues with the Georgian government is now. No friend of Georgia is in a better position to do so than you [Bush], given the close relationship you have forged with President Saakashvili, and the deep engagement of the United States on issues profoundly important to his government, from energy security to the frozen conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhazia."

Whether Bush will raise these matters in what the NY Times reports as a meeting largely devoted to energy security we will have to wait and see. The likelihood is that this will not happen however. It is this type of double standard that compelled Dick Cheney to fly off to a friendly visit to energy resource-rich but undemocratic Kazakhstan shortly after decrying Russia's backsliding democracy. For all of the United States's grand pronouncements on values, it is abundantly clear that interests come first. This being the case, why does the U.S. administration not admit that it is playing a game of containment in Russia's regards, instead of feigning dishonest concern for democratic standards?

La Russophobe said...

But the point is that it is the last thing in the world that Russia wants, and yet it is happening. And that is only the beginning. Apparently some people think that America is just going to forget that Russia supplied U.S. military secrets to Iraq during the war and is sending nukes to Iran. Either that or they think Russia is so big and strong it can fight and win Cold War II. Either way, they couldn't be more wrong.

And remember, Bush is one of Putin's FRIENDS. Can you imagine what Putin's American ENEMIES are plotting (and there are plenty of them)? It's total failure of Russian policy.

Anonymous said...

For all of the United States's grand pronouncements on values, it is abundantly clear that interests come first.

I am not sure what is so surprising that countries follow their interests. I for one would not decry Russia following its interests if those interests would represent interests of Russian people, not a bunch of thugs that run it. As it happens a lot of US pronounced values are in US interests.

There is quite a difference between the US, a capitalist democracy - where interests of the people are represented via political and economic system, and Russia, a humongous feudal state that cares not a fig about interests of its people. Never had.

Anonymous said...

Georgian President's Popularity Plunges

The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 4, 2006; 1:59 PM

TBILISI, Georgia -- Tall and bursting with energy, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is in a hurry to integrate his small and impoverished ex-Soviet nation with the West and throw off Russian attempts at domination.

Saakashvili, 38, came to power in the November 2003 "Rose Revolution," which promised to restore the country's territorial integrity, fight corruption and reform the economy. However, he has seen his popularity plunge halfway through his five-year term and is accused of rolling back democratic freedoms.

Washington, which is competing with Russia for influence in the region and values the South Caucasus nation as a transit route for Caspian oil to the West, firmly supports the Georgian leader. He meets President Bush at the White House on Wednesday.

But some western European governments are concerned about his democratic record, casting doubt on Georgia's goal of joining NATO in 2008, according to a Western diplomat in Tbilisi who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

In March, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's envoy to Georgia expressed concern about media freedoms, due process and independence of the judiciary.

Under former President Eduard Shevardnadze, the government was riddled with graft and Georgia suffered from energy blackouts, crime and rampant unemployment.

Saakashvili pledged to attack all of Georgia's ills. He began by sacking the entire traffic police, notorious for extorting bribes from motorists, and replacing them with a new force. With a decent salary of $300-350 a month, they no longer demand bribes and respond quickly to calls, Georgians say.

The U.S.-educated lawyer next targeted what he insisted were corrupt judges: nearly half of Georgia's 330 judges have been forced off the bench. But critics say Saakashvili is appointing inexperienced replacements to make the judiciary pliant.

"They want totally loyal judges who will issue rulings according to the prosecutors' orders," said Nino Gvenetadze, 42, a Supreme Court judge who is fighting dismissal.

Amy Denman, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, said: "It's virtually impossible to win a case against the government here."

Journalists say television has largely become a mouthpiece for the government. Editors and journalists exercise self-censorship for fear of losing their jobs, and owners get phone calls with instructions from officials, says Ramaz Rekiashvili, head of the Georgia Helsinki Committee rights group.

The 2005 World Press Freedom Index by the Reporters Without Borders media watchdog ranked Georgia as 99 out of 167. That was down from 94 in 2004 and 73 in 2003.

Lyuba Eliashvili, who was head of news at Iberia TV, said the network was shut down in 2004 after government pressure. She said a talk show she presented during the last three months of operation was pulled off the air after it was accused of siding with the opposition.

Non-governmental organizations critical of authorities complain of reprisals. The Human Rights Information and Documentation Center said it has suffered official threats and harassment.

Georgy Bokeriya, 34, Saakashvili's closest adviser, insisted Georgia was "moving quite quickly compared to other countries toward becoming an established liberal democracy."

But life has worsened for ordinary people because the large shadow economy has shrunk due to government measures to boost tax collection and enforce customs dues.

Unemployment has risen to nearly 14 percent from 11.5 percent in 2003 because of public sector cuts, official statistics show. More than half the country's 5 million people live below the poverty line.

Dozens of men stand around the Iliava Bridge in Tbilisi every day hoping for work. Mirab Sepiashvili, 45, says he sometimes spends up to a week waiting there.

"Unfortunately, I voted for Saakashvili. We thought things would get better but they got worse," he said.

Tensions also have flared over Saakashvili's drive to restore control over two Russian-backed separatist regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Washington, which has U.S. military trainers in Georgia and this year approved a nearly $300 million, five-year aid package for Georgia, says the leadership is on the right track even if democratic reforms are incomplete.

"We're glad they're doing what they're doing and we want them to keep going," U.S. Ambassador John Tefft said.

Anonymous said...

"There is quite a difference between the US, a capitalist democracy - where interests of the people are represented via political and economic system"

you are so naive...

I guess you lived in cave for the last six years, or more.

Cyrill stick to AM radio broadcasts. Some basement living wacko needs to hear your shows...

La Russophobe said...

ANONYMOUS: You are just spouting Russian propaganda. Only really insane Russophiles believe that Ukraine and Georgia really love Russia, and it is just a matter of time before they come back to to the Russian fold. It's just the same old Neo-Soviet delusions that brought the USSR to its knees. You told yourselves that Yanukovich would win back the presidency and the duma in Ukraine, but he didn't, and Russia will never have control over Ukraine again. They will move into the EU and NATO and become transformed, while Russia languishes in the backwaters. All the delusional propaganda in the world won't change that, and Georgia is on the same path. Decades of Soviet abuse have permanently poisoned theses countries against Russia, and instead of facing up to reality and seeking change Russians just go on living in a totally pathetic world of denial.

And now, ever worse, you've provoked the United States. You couldn't win Cold War I when the USSR was larger than the US. Cold War II will utterly destroy you.

La Russophobe said...

CYRILL: La Russophobe could not agree more. If Russian people would take responsibility for their government, she would have no problem with Russians pursuing their national interests and welcome them to the international game. In theory, Russians have much of value to contribute to the world. But the act of returning via "democratic" choices to the failed model of the Soviet Union is unprecedented in human history, and indicates that Russians, like Stalin and Hitler, must be opposed until they see the light, or until they see stars.

Anonymous said...


All the exchanges having been made, this still leaves an uncomfortable truth. The vicissitudes of realpolitik are such that it is quite worthless to analyse diplomacy through some kind of moral framework. That the Russian government does not care at all for all of its subjects is a rhetorical observation rather than one that illustrates profound differences between the way that Russia and the United States do foreign policy. My original observation relates to the obvious fact that U.S. foreign relations are predicated on self-interest every bit as much as Russian foreign policy. Frankly, whether befriending a dubious government favours your own voters or not is quite a separate issue. My guess is that if Russia told Ukraine and Georgia tomorrow that it planned to sell them gas at $50 per 1,000 cubic metres, things would change pretty fast. That would be the Soviet thing to do, plus a few tanks for safe measure. I suppose this might effect some abstract and fundamentally pointless coup in neo-imperial intentions. However, it would materially benefit few people, other than Ukrainian grannies, who the government in Kiev ought to providing for anyway.
In fact, international relations now work on a much more rational basis, whatever one might wish to argue. In short, the matter requires more even-handedness and moderation than just knee-jerk vilification.

Anonymous said...

"And now, ever worse, you've provoked the United States."

With what did Russia provoke the USA? with its independent foreign policy?

Dear LR, it's all in your head, just go out for a walk; talk to some people. Make friends...

Do you go to sleep thinking about how Russia provoked the USA, and do you wake up thinking how you gonna stick it to everyone on your POS blog?

Anonymous said...

REITH: Let me repeat that I have no problems with countries following self interest in foreign policy, I am not sure why it was so difficult to see from my post.

Yet again, US foreign policy is largely (not always) predicated on interests of capital. I assume most of us here had enough Marxist training to understand it. Stability of markets is one of the fundamental interests of capital and as such, a wealthy and stable partner is always preferable to a poor, unstable drunk. Hence, advancements of free market capitalism is the core interest of the US in terms of foreign policy.

Russia, on the other hand, is a feudal state based on state ownership/control of means of production. Interests of such a state only reflect interests of the ruling elite - Putin and Thugs for now.

This is theoretical but I would be happy to entertain your examples of how Russian foreign and domestic policy in any way reflect interests of Russian people. How are foreign trade monopolies beneficial to Russian people and not to the bureaucrats controlling them? How does destabilizing the Caucasus area beneficial to Russian People? It is clear how does it benefit the oil/gas monopoly, however. How does support for Lukeshenka beneficial for Russian or Belarusian people?

When talking about some neo-imperial coup, you are arguing with yourself, it is a simple straw man, nobody is suggesting to force Russia to give its gas for 50 bucks. Let us not forget how much does benevolent Russia pay for Turkmen gas and how much of a margin does it get from sales in Western Europe.

Getting back to the Cheney double standard accusation, you have to decide for yourself - should Russia and Kazakhstan be measured by the same yard stick, or is Russia a G8 caliber society and should be measured by higher standards? You can not have it both ways.