Putin Kept His Promise

The Crimeans were promised that if they supported the annexation of the peninsula by Russia, Putin would raise salaries.

Putin is an honest guy and today he announced that salaries will, indeed, be raised by 2,6 times. The salaries being raised are his own and Medvedev’s.

I mean, it isn’t like he ever specified whose salaries would be raised, and if people assumed he meant anybody but himself and Medvedev, that’s their misfortune.

 

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Is Iran a Threat

I don’t see Iran as a nuclear threat to the world right now. And I’m not usually wrong in my political analysis.

However.

There is a great danger that Russia will push Iran in the direction of aggression and heavy militarization. This would be straight from Comrade Stalin’s bag of tricks. Use Iran to start hostilities, then pretend you need to save the world and interfere.

This is why I believe that the US’s best course of actions right now would be to lift all embargoes and restrictions from Iran and work hard to improve Iran’s economy and standard of living. It wasn’t done in Ukraine when there was still time. Now there is still time to do it in Iran.

This leaves North Korea, where Russia might employ the same strategy as I prognosticate for Iran. Here I don’t know what can be done, so I’m worried.

Why Should I Care?

The most annoying people are the ones who bleat, “But why should I care about what’s happening in Ukraine? We have so many problems in this country, maybe we should just concentrate on solving them.”

The problem with this approach is that even if you stop paying attention to the world around you, it doesn’t stop paying attention to you. Only very small children believe that if they close their eyes, nobody can see them. Adults usually know better.

Yes, why should you care that the largest country on the planet is turning Fascist? The same country that has one of the world’s biggest nuclear arsenals and that builds its identity around hysterical and massive anti-US and anti-EU propaganda.

Of course, I could start explaining why it makes sense to care about Fascism, but I’m thinking that if the tragic history of the XXth century was not enough to get that point across, I might not manage to be any more convincing.

Two Steps Away From Fascism

A colleague whose research has to do with the development of European Fascism said, “There are just two more steps Russia has to make before it becomes a fully Fascist state.”

I studied Fascism but not as profoundly as my colleague, so I asked, “What are the steps?”

“The first one is the collective and massive militarization of regular people.”

“That part of the journey to Fascism has already been traveled,” I said. “Putin recently brought back the GTO norms. They had been created by Stalin in preparation for WWII. Now Putin says they are part of the Russian cultural traditions and brings them back. What’s the second step?”

“People have to accept this militarization enthusiastically and joyfully. This must become a massive, collective ritual everybody engages in with enthusiasm and glee. Have you seen the footage of Stalin-era Red Square parades with gymnasts and all kinds of half-naked athletes? The moment this comes back, we’ll know that Russia has become Fascist.”

This entire time I was betting on the Russian-speakers’ notorious and usually very obnoxious cynicism. After the decades of Soviet propaganda, our people developed a knee-jerk reaction of boredom, contempt and disgust towards anything that even remotely smacks of ideology or even just simply ideas. If they manage to hold on to that skill of distancing themselves emotionally from propaganda, there is hope. But I’m afraid the current wave of ideological conditioning is too strong and the message that is being peddled is too seductive.

africa to ukraine

Ukrainian Digest

I often get quite desperate after reading my news feed because so much really stupid stuff gets published concerning the events in Ukraine. But there are people who write intelligently about Ukraine, even though they are very few.

First of all, see this inspiring photo provided by a blogger writing from Africa.

And here is some intelligent analysis:

In so far as the Russian Empire and later the USSR were great world powers, possession of Ukraine was absolutely vital to their global status. Without the population and resources of Ukraine Moscow could not even afford to keep subsidizing the Central Asian republics yet alone clients in far a way places like Cuba, Vietnam, and Ethiopia. The USSR was a state that systematically transferred resources from the richer western republics including Ukraine as well as the even richer, but much smaller Baltic States to poorer republics in Central Asia.

This should be enough for those who keep hoping that Russia will tire of its aggression against Ukraine and just go away. Putin is not an idiot. He knows that relying solely on oil and gas is a shitty long-term strategy. He needs some area of the Russian federation actually to produce something. At least, the most basic food and consumer goods, which right now Russia overwhelmingly imports.

And somebody else makes a good point:

I subscribe to the New York Times on-line. Twice this week I received notifications that there was breaking news. My fear was that the “Breaking News” was something about the United Soviet Socialist Republic restructuring and that the Ukraine was now part of the New USSR — shades of Uncle Joe Stalin.  But, no. The breaking news was that David Letterman had announced when he would retire from Late Night with David Letterman.

I had the exact same experience this week.

Everything else that’s good on the subject is written either in Ukrainian or in Russian. 

And to conclude, here are some beautiful photos of Kharkov:

Kharkov

 

If you follow the link to the blog of the talented photographer who took this photo, you can see more, including a photo of the Kharkov synagogue.

Cassandra

Now that Putin has officially invaded Eastern Ukraine (as I predicted weeks ago), the main line of impotent American pundits is that “it isn’t clear” where the Russians will stop.

Nothing teaches these losers. Putin is not planning to stop. He wants global dominance. And he wants the entire territory of Ukraine to be part of Russian Federation.

I totally feel like Cassandra.

Stupid Invaders

The Russian terrorists who invaded Ukraine should keep their mouths shut if they want to maintain the pretense that they are pro-Russian Ukrainians. I just watched several videos where these “Ukrainians” use slang that is incomprehensible to anyone not from St. Petersburg or speak in very distinctly Moscow accents.

A bunch of brainless idiots.

Foreign Policy

A friend who met Romney in person says he wouldn’t have been any better than Obama on foreign policy because he doesn’t even know where Ukraine is located. Barely recognizes the country’s name, and two years ago had no idea it bordered Russia.

McCain, on the other hand, she says, is very knowledgeable about the region, follows all of the developments, etcetera.

Military Option

Everybody keeps asking, “But why doesn’t Ukraine deploy troops already and beat back the Russian invaders and provocateurs?”

The Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov said today that finally troops will be deployed in a full-scale anti-terrorist operation.

Of course, the second a single Russian soldier appears with a bloody nose, Russia will invade openly and joyously. There is no chance Ukraine will win a full-scale war with the largest country in the world.

When 14 years ago Russians “elected” a KGB agent as their president, that was the time to ask what was going on with the supposedly democratic Russia. When Russia rigged elections in Ukraine, poisoned Ukrainian politicians, bombed Georgia – that was the time to start doing something.

Better yet, back in 1990 there should have been an ultimatum: no assistance, no trade agreements, no humanitarian aid, no discussion until the Communist Party goes on trial, its leaders get prison sentences, KGB is proscribed and everybody who worked for it testifies publicly about their crimes.

Instead, the Communist leaders and the KGB were allowed to remain in power. How shocking that after taking two seconds to regroup, they continued doing exactly what they were always doing.

Lenin wrote that any lie, any form of pretense in the relationship with the capitalist world was justified, even pretending that you are a democrat and capitalist, even making the pretense last for years and decades. The Westerners are so dumb, he wrote, that they will believe any lie you tell them.

A Possibility

There is, of course, a possibility that the US is letting the USSR be reborn and Cold War re-initiated because it isn’t doing well without a concrete, single, well-defined enemy.

The Arab world is very unconvincing in the role of Enemy #1. The USSR was obviously much more helpful as THE mortal foe. Weak national identities (like the American, the Russian, the Israeli, and others) require a clearly defined, obvious enemy in order to continue existing. The Enemy motivates, holds together, and provides a reason or an excuse for pretty much anything.

After Spain’s dictator Franco died, the former dissidents popularized the saying, “Against Franco we lived better.” Is what we are witnessing now a case of the US leadership quietly agreeing that “Against the USSR everything worked out better?”