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Monday, December 31, 2007

EDITORIAL: John McCain for President

A Tiger Named Tatiana


John McCain for President

"Zoo personnel dispatch now say there are two males who the zoo considers 800. But one is in fact bleeding from the back of the head at the Terrace Cafe."


That's police code for "mentally ill." On Christmas day, a Bengal tiger named Tatiana broke free of her enclosure at the San Francisco zoo and killed one visitor, sending two more to the hospital. Responding to the scene, police officers were initially told by Zoo officials that the complaining victims were crazy, even though one of them was bleeding from a tiger bite to the head. Later, it turned out that the fence enclosure built to retain Tatiana was only 12 feet hight, far to low, making it easy for her to vault over it when she fancied a bit of dinner. At first, though, Zoo officials had claimed the fence was 18 feet high. The Zoo in nearby Oakland has a tiger fence of similar height, and is now saying it will be raised even though "it's not like the last foot or so is the difference between escape or no escape, but we are not interested in playing it that close."

We have disturbing a sense of deja vu when we read about this tragedy, which more and more begins to sound like it needs the word "outrage" instead. It's ironic that this tiger had a Russian name, because we've been warning the world about the danger that neo-Soviet Russia will jump its too-short fence and maul the world for some time now, and when we first started there was no shortage of people who called us crazy, too. And it's still the modality of choice for the neo-Soviet minions, who are busily grabbing their adversaries and chucking them into insane asylums -- as recently described by Paul Goble and Grigori Pasko on Robert Amsterdam -- just as was done in Soviet times. Many Russophile wackos really, genuinely believe that anyone who dares to suggest that Russia is dangerous must be mentally ill. It's this kind of "thinking" that caused the USSR to go the way of the dodo.

Word emerged last week of Russian plans to sell Iran yet another sophisticated missile system designed to help it fend off a NATO attack should it be determined that it has developed a nuclear weapons capacity, something that is possible only because of Russian assistance with its nuclear program. Even as the Kremlin was issuing a pathetic series of denials after the Iranians started bragging about the deal, it was being reported that the Kremlin had launched a whole new set of initiatives aimed at expanded military cooperation.

There's no way that any words (other than perhaps "neo-Soviet") can do justice to the hubris and hypocrisy that are necessary to undertake these actions: Even as Russia provides missile systems to Iran, it objects to the United States providing such systems to its former slave states in Eastern Europe, which would tend to undermine Russian efforts to reassert the Iron Curtain against those states. And can you imagine -- do you dare -- Russia's reaction if America were to try to provide dangerous weapons to a place Russia hates and fears as much as Americans hate and fear Iran -- Chechnya, for instance? What did the Kremlin expect the West to make of its childish denials -- that if/when it acts to undermine our security, it will frankly tell us about it? Only a neo-Soviet mentality can descend to this level of sophomoric imbecility.

So now, everybody in the world (who has a lick of sense) is singing our tune. We report below a new column from the pages of the Wall Street Journal, probably America's most powerful and well-respected newspaper, entitled "Putin's Cold War." The terms "cold war" and "neo-Soviet" that we began using long ago, and which then were considered questionable or extreme, are now conventional wisdom, and in fact it's quite easy to argue that they will soon become too moderate to truly describe the atrocities now being perpetrated in Russia.

In other words, this is only the beginning, as we've been saying before there was any beginning, back in April of 2006 when we began this blog.

Just as Tatiana the tiger was harmless when behind the walls of her enclosure, the West has nothing to fear but fear itself when confronting Russia, and should not allow Russia to blind it with neo-Soviet propaganda designed to intimidate it and stay its hand while Putin consolidates and bolsters his malignant regime. And it must act now; otherwise, sooner or later, Russia will figure out how to jump its fence and then we will find the Russian bear right in our own back yard, wrecking havoc.

Today, the Kremlin is constrained by two important and undeniable facts: First, it hasn't yet fully consolidated its power by making the transition between Putin I and Putin II. This won't occur for a few more months yet, although most of the transition is already complete (the parliament and local government have both been brought to heel, and the media establishment as well), so the Kremlin is still a bit shy. And second, it is still faced with massive economic limitations, revenues from oil sales being just a drop in the bucket in terms of what is needed to recreate a totalitarian state and wage cold war with NATO. As we report below, Russia's military is simply to puny to truly intimidate the West. Putin's mouth is writing checks his fists can't cash -- so he must rely on guile and misdirection, hoping to put off the actual confrontation for another day. He's counting on us leaving our fence at 12 feet.

Russia's economy is also an illusion. HSBC economist Alexander Morozov says: "The [Russian] economy bears all the hallmarks of overheating, which brings the danger of a sharp slowdown in the future." Specifically, he's talking about inflation, which is increasingly going to undermine even the illusion of economic progress that Vladimir Putin has projected. Putin doesn't seem to understand -- and how could he, since he has no training or experience in economics or business -- that Russia is not immune from the business cycle. Or it could be that he understands perfectly well, but like the Politburo before him he simply doesn't care, and will charge blindly ahead diverting Russia's precious resources away from the people's needs and towards a futile attempt at reviving Soviet imperialism and cold war.

Russia has no economic fundamentals it can rely upon to help it weather the inevitable downturn in the business cycle, as America had to help it during the Great Depression. Such a downturn will simply wreck havoc on the nation, and force Putin to implement draconian restrictions on liberty in order to hold onto power. All the signs are there that Putin will not hesitate to take such steps, and in fact he now will have the convenient figure of Dimitri Medvedev as a figurehead president to blame them on.

Russia's military and economic impotence doesn't mean it is harmless. Osama Bin Laden also operates with restraints like Putin faces. It's pretty hard to take over the word from a dark, dank little gave in the mountains of Afghanistan, especially when bombs are raining down all around you. But that apparently didn't stop Bin Laden from carrying out the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the best hope for democracy in Pakistan, while she was running for office last week. One might hope that Vladimir Putin, who unlike Bin Laden presides over and must govern an actual country whose people have everyday social needs, would face some limits on the extent of his ability to harass the world with acts of governmental terrorism because the people of Russia would object to the diversion of resources. But what such limits were imposed on the old Politburo in the USSR? Virtually none. Heedless of the people's welfare, the Politburo was willing to drive the USSR right into the ground rather than give up its feverish hope of sticking a knife into the belly of democracy.

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote: "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." This truism, however, understood by civilized people everywhere, simply isn't recognized in Russia. The people there have never accepted the need to place checks on the power of their government because the people who run it are inclined to injustice. They don't understand that an unfettered national ruler can be just as dangerous to a nation's survival as any invading army -- and their failure to understand is simply inexcusable and inexplicable, because they have so many times in the past seen that danger lay their country low.

So we say again to the world: Your fence is to low. Tatiana can jump it. She means to. Raise that fence, or suffer the consequences as you did when her mother Bolshevika jumped it in 1917.

Specifically, we urge American voters to consider in their upcoming presidential elections a candidate's position on Russia as a key indicator of their level of sophistication and commitment to democracy and American national security. Below, we report on their positions, and we now endorse U.S. Senator John McCain as by far the best available contender where Russia policy is concerned.

This brave, intelligent, tested, patriotic man understands Russia, and will do the right thing if given the chance. Boldly and appropriately, he has called for Russia's ouster from the G-8 group, where its very presence is an offense to the basic principles around which the group was organized. Russia is a fox in the hen house where the G-8 is concerned, and the Kremlin uses its membership as powerful leverage against Russia's liberals, arguing that it has the endorsement of the Western democracies so there is nothing for them to worry about. Senator McCain is the only individual seeking the presidency who clearly understands that Americans have enemies who must be fought, and that fighting them is as good for the people of Russia as it is for the United States. If McCain isn't elected president, he should be vice president charged with Russia policy or Ambassador to Russia. Unless some better candidate enters the mix, any other result will be a betrayal of American national security as well as the best hopes of the people of Russia themselves.

Russia is, by far, the greatest threat to the institution of democracy and basic human values of liberty and justice in the world today. The Kremlin's odious revival of Soviet politics is barbaric and destructive of the basic rights and interests of the people it governs. We need a man like Senator McCain in the White House, someone who -- like Ronald Reagan before him -- will make no bones about standing up to the Evil Empire that the Bush and especially Clinton administrations have allowed to coalesce once again behind an iron curtain.

America needs John McCain. Vote for him.


Anonymous said...

"Russia is, by far, the greatest threat to the institution of democracy and basic human values of liberty and justice in the world today."

Why Russia, which as you point out suffers from all sorts of systematic demographic, economic, and social issues, and not China? China, as you surely know, is still ruled by an autocratic Communist party and has stringent restrictions on political and religious activity. If Russia is really as dangerous as a tiger on the loose, what is China? A hippo? An elephant? A tank?
And please spare me the "you're a Russophile hack and idiot" schpiel. I'm not defending Russia, merely wondering why you seem to studiously avoid the much larger, stronger, and more populous country that borders it.
Let me offer one possability. Since everyone that disagrees with you is on the Kremlin's payroll, amazing how they can buy off so many people with such a pitiful economy, perhaps you're on Bejing's payroll? They have a lot more money to throw around than those barbaric Russians, after all...

Anonymous said...

"Russia is, by far, the greatest threat to the institution of democracy and basic human values of liberty and justice in the world today. "

More so than China? Iran? S. Arabia?