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Friday, February 23, 2007

Annals of Russophile Gibberish: Simon Jenkins

Writing in the Guardian, rabid Russophile Sir Simon Jenkins (pictured, left, can't you just feel the hubris oozing out of his pores?) offers the following screed attempting to help KGB spy Vladmir Putin perpetuate his anti-democratic reign in Russia with the help of the West, just like Neville Chamberlain before him. The Guardian doesn't tell readers a single thing about who Jenkins is, so let LR do so: He's a contributor to the left-wing Huffington Post, so he's a hard-core idealogue, and often pontificates at great length on the subjects of architecture and linguistics, so in other words he knows absolutely nothing real about Russia and has apparently never spent any appreciable time there. Despite claiming left-wing allegiance, it's clear Jenkins is really motiavated by nothing other than partisan hatred of Bush and Blair, since he's prepared to simply ignore Russia's massive documented human rights violations as he plants a big sloppy wet kiss right on Vladimir Putin's butt.

Here's his crazed diatribe, with LR's running commentary. LR dares to ask: If the KGB were writing, how would their comments differ from those of Sir Jenkins?

Countries too have feelings. So I am told by a Russian explaining the recent collapse in relations between Vladimir Putin and his one-time western admirers. "We have done well in the past 15 years, yet we get nothing but rebuffs and insults. Russia's rulers have their pride, you know."

So that's it! Litvinenko and Politikovskaya had to perish because we hurt Russia's feelings! If we hadn't bruised their ego, they wouldn't have shut down the TV news, abolished local elections or destroyed opposition political parties. Can you believe this? I mean, can you BELIEVE you see this in print?

The truth is that Putin, like George Bush and Tony Blair, has an urgent date with history. He can plead two terms as president in which he has stabilised, if not deepened, Russian democracy, forced the pace of economic modernisation, suppressed Chechen separatism and yet been remarkably popular. But leaders who dismiss domestic critics crave international opinion, and are unaccustomed to brickbats. Hence Putin's outburst at the Munich security conference this month, when he announced he would "avoid extra politesse" and speak his mind.

Ah. So when Putin attacked the West, this was "his way" of asking for compliments. And, presumably, sending Mikhail Khodorkovsky to Siberia was "his way" of asking for a hug and a mug of cocoa.

Putin's apologists ask that he be viewed as victim of an epic miscalculation by the west. Here is a hard man avidly courted at first by Bush, Blair and other western leaders. After 9/11 he tolerated US intervention along his southern border with bases north of Afghanistan. Yet when he had similar trouble in Chechnya, he was roundly abused. When he induced Milosevic to leave Kosovo (which he and not "the bombing" did), he got no thanks. When Putin sought to join Nato in the 1990s he was rebuffed. Then Nato broke its post-cold-war promise and advanced its frontier through the Baltics and Poland to the Black Sea. It is now planning missile defences in Poland and the Czech Republic and is flirting with Ukraine and Georgia. Against whom is this directed, asks Putin.

Putin sought to join NATO in the 1990s? Is this man drunk or simply a liar? Putin didn't even eve become prime minister until August 1999. Before that he was involved with Russia's regional government and the KGB, he had nothing to do with NATO discusions. "Tolerated intervention?" Just exactly what was Putin in a position to do to block such action? Chechnya and Afghanistan are similar? Really? How many convictions for human rights violations does NATO have in the European Court of Human Rights for its actions in Afghanistan? NATO broke its promise? Didn't Russians break their promise not to elect a proud KGB spy as president and starting singing the Soviet national anthem again?

The west grovels before Opec, but when Putin proposes a gas Opec it cries foul. America seizes Iraq's oil, but when Putin nationalises Russia's oil that, too, is a foul. Meanwhile, every crook, every murdered Russian, every army scandal is blazoned across the western press. True, Russia is still a klepto-oligarchy that steps back as often as forward, but what of America's pet Asian democracies, Afghanistan and Iraq?

This guy is completely unhinged. The American government doesn't receive one single dime of revenue from Iraq's oil. The Kremlin's entire budget is based on the oil it has seized. Is he saying the American press isn't covering the Iraq issue? Has he noticed the recent congressional elections?

In his Munich speech Putin asked why America constantly goes on about its "unipolar world". Does Washington really seek a second cold war? Russia is withdrawing from Georgia and Moldova. Why is Nato advancing bases in Bulgaria and Romania? The west is handling Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran with the arrogance and ineptitude of 19th-century imperialists. Is it surprising Russia is seeking allies where it can, in China, India, Iran and the Gulf?

Yes, it's suprising that Russia is selling nuclear technology and weaponry to defend it to Iran, a rogue state despised by the entire world, a clear act of direct provocation against the US, the world's most powerful country. What's not surprising is that this LUNATIC isn't surprised.

At an Anglo-Russian conference in Moscow last weekend I was bemused by the talk of a return to "east-west" confrontation. Diplomats have a habit of listing complaints like marriage counsellors inviting couples to catalogue what most irritates them about each other. The list seems endless, but it surely points to a proper talk rather than a divorce. Don't they really need each other after all?

Divorce? Has Russia been married to the West? Did LR miss something big? Why doesn't somebody TELL us these things?

Having visited Russia three times since the demise of the Soviet Union, I remain impressed by its progress. Debate and comment are open. Russia is not squandering its energy wealth but setting $100bn aside in an infrastructure fund. The links between Russia and western business are worth $30bn in inward investment. Cultural and educational contacts are strengthening. Moscow and St Petersburg are booming world cities, their skylines thick with cranes.

Notice how he doesn't say how long each visit lasted or where he went? Notice how he doesn't claim Russia is actually spending anything on infrastructure, and doesn't mention that it is massively expanding its military budget? Notice how he forgets Russia's wonderful "progress" in decimating its population or increasing the average hourly wage from $1.90 to $2.50 per hour over the course of eight years under Putin?

The west views pluralist democracy as so superior that any state coming to it fresh must surely welcome it with open arms. When there is backsliding, as in former Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Russia and parts of Africa, let alone the Arab world, the west behaves like a peevish car salesman whose client has not obeyed the repair manual. If the west can do fair elections, market capitalism, press freedom and regional secession - after a mere two centuries of trial and error - why can newly free states not do them overnight?

It seems he's not that impressed with Russians after all. He seems to view them as cave men who can't be expected to come up to Western standards and therefore shouldn't be asked. Why does he hate Russians so much?

The tough response to Putin is easy. It is the one he has from Washington and Nato. We won the cold war. You lost. Shut up. If, as Russia's top general said last week, you want to withdraw from the intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty, then withdraw. If you think gas and oil enables you to play the superpower again, see what happens. Bush and Blair may be screwing up "Islamistan", but their successors will be more canny. Our defence budget is bigger than yours and we have you surrounded.

Actually, it's the soft response that's easy. Just give Putin what he wants, like Chamberlain did with Hitler. The tough response is the hard, scary one. This man is a shameless liar.

All this makes for good realpolitik. But what Putin actually said in Munich reflected not belligerence but puzzlement at the aggressive course of western diplomacy. In the old days, he said, "there was an equilibrium and a fear of mutual destruction. In those days one party was afraid to make an extra step without consulting the others. This was certainly a fragile peace and a frightening one, but seen from today it was reliable enough. Today it seems that peace is not so reliable." Putin is hardly seeking a return to the certainties of the cold war. He has no more interest than the west in stirring the hornet's nest of Islamic nationalism, stretching as it does deep into Russian territory. His desire for "ever closer union" with Europe and Nato after 1997 was sincere and was surely welcome.

Sure he wants "ever closer union." Exactly the kind Stalin wanted with Hungary. Why is it that if Americans talk like Putin did at Munich they are maniacs to morons like this ape, but when Putin does it he's just a misunderstood teddy bear who needs love and tolerance?

While Putin appears to have been conducting his diplomacy over the past decade from weakness and the west from strength, the reverse has been nearer the truth. Britain and America have been led by essentially reactive politicians with no grasp of history. A terrorist outrage or a bombastic speech and they change policy on the hop. When Bush and Blair go, they will leave a world less secure and more divided in its leadership than when they arrived. Their dismissive treatment of Russia's recovery from cold war defeat has been the rhetoric of natural bullies.

Seems like this lunatic would prefer to be governed by Putin than Blair and Bush. Odd then that he's made only three trips to Russia. Why not relocate?

Russia and the west have everything to gain from good relations. Putin has struggled to modernise his economy while holding together a traumatised and shrunken Russian federation. The west may feel he errs towards authoritarianism, but second-guessing Russian leaders is seldom a profitable exercise. This is a huge country, rich in natural and human resources. It is hard to think of somewhere the west would be better advised to "hug close". Instead, Putin will hand his successor an isolated and bruised nation. Under a less confident president, it could retreat into protectionism and alliances the west will hate. To have encouraged that retreat is truly stupid

Putin has NOTHING to gain from good relations with the West. Note that this imbecile doesn't even try to name ONE thing he has to gain. Enhanced contact with Western values can only serve to undermine Putin's authority.

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