Vladimir Putin gets a bad rap that he doesn’t deserve. He would fit right in here in Texas, and I would happily comp his drinks at Muldoons. He is smarter by far than most world leaders and he has both a heart and a sense of humor. To me that makes him an excellent choice for conversations, for drinking, for just fucking around and having a grand time, and for solving problems. I wouldn’t want him in the government here in Texas, but for just being a hell raising pal he would work out just fine.
Lets begin with the hard part and get that out of the way. We see some of the stupidest things in the papers and on television about Putin’s manner of running Russia. Well, if you think Russia is not well run, try thinking about what Russia would be like had it been run by George Bush or by Barack Obama. Russia is different from Texas. Hell, everywhere is different from Texas.
Americans have not even the slightest notions about Russian history, Russian culture, Russian society, how its economy has evolved over the last 25 years or about the motivations for Russia’s foreign policies. And out of that abysmal ignorance, we feel perfectly free to make adverse judgments about how Vlad Putin has been running things, or about how Medvedev, working with Putin, has been running things.
Here’s a short tutorial on the subject of Russia. First, it is intellectually impossible to understand Russia through any mental exercise. You can’t even go to school and learn what you need to know to appreciate how Russia has worked historically; how and why it has changed; Russia’s ability to function under what kind of governmental format; and the motivations, positive and negative, for Russia’s foreign policy. Russia is a combination of intellectual factors, emotional factors, spiritual factors, economic factors that vary from one part of Russia to another, and from one period to another. There are so many variables in formulating the answer to any question about Russia that it is unlikely a rational and effective answer could be produced by only one person who was not at least a third generation and extremely highly educated Russian. None of the snap judgment makers in the news have knowledge or sensitivities for the difficulties associated with making the adjustments that Russians have had to make during this period and a host of other nuances, the appreciation of which hardly any Americans have the inclination to consider or the ability to fathom if they did have the inclination. Americans don’t even start from the same place as Russians when we think about anything. We assume that nothing bad will happen and that we will never have to pay for anything. Russians always begin with assumptions of the worst results and of the need to engineer a tough solution to everything, beginning with the fact that they also, as individuals in most instances, lack resources at every level. They and we are not even remotely approaching each other on any issue.
That is Russian everything 1.0. So pull your heads out of your asses and try dealing with all the problems we have here. Russia is not a current threat to the United States unless we make it change its positions and become a threat. After getting its comeuppance in Afghanistan and the collapse of the Soviet, the Russian world view has labored mightily to accommodate keeping its self respect and moving away from being the bully of the world. Much of that has been masterfully orchestrated by Vlad Putin. If our politicians could deal as effectively with the art of the possible as Putin has done in his milieu, we would be much farther ahead in solving the problems that confront us.
In consideration of the fact that no government in Russia can exist without the support of the Generals, and that the Generals are not looking for another near term opportunity to humiliate themselves as they did in Afghanistan, we should be trying to propagate optimum relationships with Russia now. Those who oppose that on some ridiculous grounds that democracy is “threatened” in Russia are hypocritical in the extreme.
China is more repressionistic than Russia, but we court China for our own economic purposes, kissing the Chinese ass for loans and access to their markets while the current winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is held in their prison for criticizing government policy. It is perfectly fine for China to govern as it deems appropriate, but not Russia? Someone please write and explain this to me, OK.
Many of our so called leaders charge Russia with being essentially a corrupt government, and that is certainly true. One the other hand, here in America the government agencies charged with regulating our most critical industries are controlled by those they are supposed to be regulating. The FDA is populated by people from the pharmaceutical and food industries. The regulation of offshore drilling policy has done nothing whatsoever for 40 years to protect the public and our resources from spoliation by petroleum industry malpractice. The recent Gulf of Mexico catastrophe speaks more loudly that I ever could to that point. The list is quite lengthy. These are just a few illustrative instances.
At the state level, insurance companies are regulated by insurance industry types, and the whole thing is just a state sanctioned price fixing/terms of dealing fixing conspiracy.
And where was the SEC this past decade when we were being fleeced by fraudulent securities scams that a few were making a lot of noise about when it could have been prevented? It was populated by securities industry people who saw to it that any scam was tolerated if it was being perpetrated by securities industry insiders. The relationships between the US government and those who steal from us are hardly different except perhaps in style from the corruption in Russia. At our southern doorstep Mexico is so criminal controlled that is it an exact replica of the Russian Kushchevskaya model. When government is simply “owned” by criminals and the criminals are bringing their influence over our common border, we might consider bringing our military resources home from Afghanistan and deploying them at our border with Mexico.
Considering our military history over the last 50 years, one might well ask why we have not come to terms with our own inability to defeat Koreans/Chinese, Vietnamese, Iraqis, Iranians and Afghanis. We are still fighting as if combat were staged in the manner of World War Two. We say that we have changed (only very recently) to a counter insurgency strategy, but our counterinsurgency strategy lacks the element of having a reliable local government for us to be supporting. Marine General Brute Krulak’s treatises on counter insurrection, the Bible of that subject, all point to the requirement of having an in place stable government that villages can look to for meaningful support if they decide to refuse insurrectionist incursions. Arming villages against guerilla elements serves no purpose if the guerillas are more credible than the government in power. The villages will sell the guns to the guerillas. That is what the Afghanis and the Iraqis have been doing for the last nine years.
We also tell the locals to do things that make no sense. For example, we urge people to stop producing opium and coca and to plant beans instead. At the same time, we criminalize drug use in the US (the biggest market for drugs), and make drugs so profitable that no other crop could ever replace the economics of growing opium and coca. How fucking stupid can you get? If we decriminalized drug use, the value of the drug crops would fall to a point at which alternatives might become economically viable. And – to make it worse – we blame others for making and selling the drugs that we buy. Es el mas puto pendejo!
We should by now have learnt the lesson that Afghanistan taught Russia without having to make the same mistake and take it up the ass as we are now doing there. Afghanistan is like a stupidity contest that we have to win. If we do win, we will then be the dumbest sons of bitches since the Russians went in there. God forbid we should end up becoming the principal influence in Afghanistan for the next ten or twenty years.
The economic and human cost of that makes today’s USA difficulties seem like a walk in the park. The reason that counter insurgency isn’t working in Afghanistan is that in counter insurgency there has to be a government in place that the people can believe in and work with should they decide to oppose the Taliban. We are there selling a myth. There is no Afghan government and no Afghan army. Those are fairy tales that only Americans believe. It was disgusting to see Obama on television last night telling US troops about working with the so called Afghan government to make the place viable. Afghans know better and that is why they only pretend to cooperate while we are in their villages with guns. The government we want them to support would fuck them over worse than the Taliban, and they know it.
Ultimately, we have nothing to offer them that in their frame of reference would compare favorably to selling opium and raping children in the name of “marriage”, or the latest thing in child rape called temporary marriage. They know that if they were to support a liaison with the west we would immediately begin to reduce their abuse of women. We would urge that women – who are now just property to be disposed of as any man might wish –should be educated and given the right to vote. They would no longer be permitted to kill their daughters for embarrassing them – honor killings. And what do we have worth giving all that up for? Flush toilets? They don’t even have running water in most places in Afghanistan. Television? They don’t have electricity in tents and hovels. Of course we would promise running water and electricity, but we would never deliver on those promises. The local government “leaders” would skim that money into their pockets and the promised benefits would never happen. That is how it happens everywhere else.
This morning’s idiocy is that the state department is concerned over the relationship between Putin and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. A Russia-Italy axis hysteria is plaguing the theorists. They are absolutely nuts.
Putin’s relationship with Berlusconi is based upon the fact that they both like to fuck, drive fast cars, eat and drink well, raise hell and that they can both finance their appetites competently. That’s it. If I had any ambitions regarding power sharing anywhere in the world, the last place I would look for a partner would be Italy. Italy can’t even zip up its national pants – which is what makes Italy so much fucking fun. Illustratively, the so called Italian contingent of NATO support in Afghanistan pays the Taliban to go attack the Americans and not do anything in the so called Italian zone of “responsibility”. Militarily, all Italians are good for is to be cooks, ambulance drivers and to scrounge up the occasional hooker or case of booze. Russia is definitely not teaming up with Italy for any international purpose that anyone has to worry about.
Putin’s background is that he comes from the KGB. The history of the KGB and its predecessors, and their role in Russian government are total mysteries to Americans. Americans think of the KGB as something completely evil. The KGB and its predecessors have been the only continuing coherent functioning influence in Russia since the 15th Century. It has been a state within a state for six hundred years, serving every Russian government, regardless of format or merit. Its job has been to keep Russian government together, no matter what and no matter its form or leadership. From Ivan the Terrible through Joe Stalin, perestroika and the current near anarchy, the KGB – Putin and his associates – have kept the nation moving in its chosen direction, good or bad. One of the things we Americans don’t seem to understand is that the so called Russian mafia consists of ex KGB operatives who refused to allow the Russian treasury to remain unpillaged when the Soviet collapsed. Where did you think the Russian mafia got its initial working capital? Now you know where 3 – 4 hundred billion dollars disappeared to when the Soviet fell apart. And that is a very conservative estimate. That didn’t get accomplished by idiots. In America, when the government gets ripped off for 3-4 hundred billion dollars, it’s called economic recovery, TARP, bailouts and the like – but it is the same thing. And we have terrible unemployment that was not made easier by the disappearance of that money from the US treasury. The US government has been looted by crooks/industrialists who are simply hoarding that money. They sure as hell aren’t hiring anybody with it. If you think you see a difference, please write and explain it to me.
Those who decry what they call the erosion of the short lived democracy in Russia have no concept of the significance of its political history or of the attitude of Russians toward their government. They have never had democracy. They would have no idea how a democracy would work. They prefer a reliable strong central government, even if they have to put up with its arbitrariness. Russians are masters at coping. If you and all your ancestors washed your balls in ice water for the last ten generations, you might also have good coping skills.
Putin is perfect for Russia at this time in its history. If not provoked or made to feel threatened or frustrated in its attempt to play a role on the world stage commensurate with its position and its economic importance, Russia would never be a threat to anyone under Putin.
Putin does see it to be in Russia’s interest to oppose many US foreign policies. Unfortunately, much of the reasoning for his opposition is rather intelligent. In the last 50 years the US has been the country most frequently in the midst of stupid military campaigns, none of which have we won. Think of the Bush regime and Iraq. Does that illustrate my point? China is doing much of the same thing in its approach to dealing with American foreign policy. We don’t have to be having as much trouble as we do now have in the world. Harvard think got us into Viet Nam, and Harvard think is now playing a serious role in the stupidity of what we are mired in today. Harvard think is stupid think. Want an illustrative example? Think of the Domino Theory that the McNamara group of idiots put forward as a brilliant think tank at the White House in the early 1960s.
We were not fighting for any democracy in Viet Nam in that war. We were fighting to prevent democracy in Viet Nam in the 1960s. If we had stepped back and let Viet Nam have democratic elections in the 1960s, the Vietnamese would have voted overwhelmingly for Ho Chi Min. The thugs we supported were far worse than Ho Chi Min, and the Vietnamese knew it. The extremely wealthy Vietnamese supported our thug, but the people of Viet Nam did not. And in the end, our ridiculous and incredibly costly involvement in Viet Nam merely delayed the will of the Vietnamese. If the Vietnamese had not favored Ho Chi Min, they would not have fought so hard to put him in power.
We have a history of supporting thugs and driving the populations to oppose what we try to peddle as capitalistic democracy. Think of Battista in Cuba, Noriega in Panama, Somoza in Nicaragua and the Shah Reza Pahlavi in Iran. Just as in the instance of Viet Nam, the scenario repeated itself over and over again and we learned nothing from any of those fiascoes. When we offer thuggery and brutality and no opportunity for improvement, what are the locals to do? The systems we supported in these countries are the stuff of which insurrection is made. No one among us would fail to resist conditions like they lived in while the people we supported were in power. Is it any wonder they became guerillas? Is it any wonder that the Communists found it so easy to recruit them?
What we call foreign policy is so often incompetent. Who teaches this shit? The answer is that our foreign policy is formulated by the nominees of those who profit from conflict. We would spend far less in economic and military resources if we were to engage the populations of poor countries in support mechanisms that produced actual improvements in their lives. Think of electricity, clean water, schools, medical resources. Instead of providing those, we support the people who deny those essential facilities. And the so called foreign aid we do provide is skimmed off by the local leaders and never reaches the people. In the midst of a cholera plague in Haiti today, medical supplies that could deal effectively with the problem lie in warehouses because the local leaders refuse to distribute them to the people. I know what they are waiting for. They are waiting to see if they can sell these supplies elsewhere instead of distributing them to their own people. And we tolerate this kind of bullshit, all the while spewing propaganda that no one believes because they know the truth of the local situation. Gimme a fucking break!
We need to consider that Putin is doing as well as he is because he has great organizational skills and credibility with his own people. That he may end up as the dictator of Russia should surprise no one. Russia has never had, and does not know how to function, in any other kind of government. Democracy is not for everyone. There are areas in which democracy would produce mostly chaos.
I will acknowledge one thing, however. While I would enjoy drinking with Vladimir, it would have to be here in Texas. You see, I can write anything I like here in Texas. If I were to write something about Vladimir that he didn’t like while in Russia, I would probably find myself excluded from my profession, under investigation, picked up for interrogation, followed everywhere I went, with all my phones tapped and my computer hacked into, and my bank account all fucked up.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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