reede, juuni 08, 2007

Lula, Tarja, and Toomas

As an American, I feel a deep kinship with Brazil. To me, Brazil is the other "American" country. It shares our sordid past of slavery and our rich heritage of exporting the cultural stew of the new world back to the old one. We have given the world jazz, and blues, and rock. They have given the world bossa nova, and samba, and capoiera. We are so different yet similar.

I was pleased when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva became president of Brazil in 2003 because it reinforced a long-standing idea of mine with regards to our neighbors in the south: that not all Latin lefties were Soviet sycophants, and that socialist ideals, while marginal in the US, will remain attractive in South America and that the best course of action from the US perspective is to work with genuine democratic partners like Lula in Brazil and Michelle Bachelet in Chile while working against people like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

With that in mind, let me pose the following question: why the hell is Brazil not in the G8? This question is followed by the clarifying question: why is Russia in the G8 and Brazil is not? The G8 was founded in the early 1970s as a club for the world's large industrial democracies. Canada (pop. 33 million) perhaps no longer deserves a seat at the table, but due to its political ties to the UK, its cultural ties to France, and its economic ties to the US, no one questions the presence of Stephen Harper at the summit this week.

But if there is a question of who deserves to be the eighth member, then I think that Brazil wins it hands down. 188 million people live in Brazil, as opposed to just 142 million in Russia. Both the IMF and the World Bank rank Brazilian GDP ahead of Russian GDP. Brazil has been democratizing for far longer than Russia, and its elections are more competitive today than in Russia's managed or sham democracy. So again, why isn't Lula sitting in Vladimir Putin's seat this week?

The obvious answer is the complicated one. The West wants to influence Russia through institutional partnerships and the G8 is a mechanism for doing that. But when it comes to the West and Russia I think of the positions of two countries on Russia's border that have astonishingly different relationships with Russia and try as I might I can't find definitive reasons why the Russians, in particular, see these countries so differently.

I keep coming back to the idea of Toomas Hendrik Ilves: that Russia sees Estonia or Georgia as threats because it sees democracies on its borders as threatening Russia's own sham democracy by example.

The obvious counterpoint to this is that Russia shares a very long border with a former province that has been democratic for quite some time. In fact, wasn't it Finland that first allowed womens' suffrage in 1906? I know that Finland has a very different history from Estonia, but at the same time, the Finnish and Estonian reactions to Russification in the late 19th century caused similar results, the birth of national republicanism that led to all-out independence, granted by the Russians to the Finns and Estonians in the same house at the same time, just a few blocks from where I am typing this.

Yet Putin has visited Finland uncounted times, and Estonia remains a continuous focus of anti-everything Russian propaganda. The Finnish example certainly poses a direct challenge to Russian democracy, yet for whatever reason the Russians choose to ignore it, to the point that discussion of the Winter War is, as journalist Christopher Marcisz recently noted, off limits.

Russian financial interest in Estonia can also be discounted in a similar manner of comparison with Finland. Finnish trade with Russia substantially dwarfs Estonian trade, and the Finnish market of 5+ million people is enormous compared to any profits gained by a presence in Estonia.

So it interests me why Finland is continuously ignored from the man on the Russian street, while Estonia is paid attention. Finland is "different" and "far", while Estonia is "closer" and "more threatening". This is interesting because most Russians that I have spoken with indeed see Estonia as "far" culturally. To the bemusement of real Scandinavians, the "Soviet Scandinavian" image remains. In all times that I explained my knowledge of Estonian or my daughters usage of it to Russians, I was told that "Estonian is one of the Scandinavian languages" (contain your laughter). And I have seen on forums, like Lonely Planet, Russians who think that they can't use Russian in Estonia because of this cultural and national gulf!


Yet, again, we come back to statements made in the past week. Tarja Halonen exclaims that the "world needs a strong Russia", while Toomas Hendrik Ilves jets off to Prague to hangout with Vaclav Havel and constructively criticize Russia, even questioning its membership in the G8.

"If it is true that Democracies do not go to war with each other, then what is a country that threatens to target its nuclear missiles at Europe doing in the G-8, the club of large industrial Democracies? Either the proposition is wrong or the G-8 is based on something else than a common commitment to democratic rule," Ilves said.

These are approaches commensurate with each country's needs and they also highlight the two different approaches of the West to Russia and how it is that Vladimir Putin gets to share jokes about, no doubt, dead donkey ears and monsters with claws and horns, with Angela Merkel while Lula's presence at such a summit would merely be in an auxiliary capacity, even though his country is more deserving of being there.

The Finnish approach stresses accomodation with the realities of Russian illiberalism, while the Estonian approach is to continuously take the offensive against Russia so it has to play defense less of the time. These are both related to the security needs of both countries, and have as much to do with Estonia and Finland as they have to do with Russia.

But somewhere in the middle one can see that Finland is shown respect from Russia while Estonia is not, yet at the same time Russia gains power at the expense of Russian appeasement while more true democrats like Lula are left out in the cold.

So the question presents itself: what do we want out of this West in which we live vis a vis Russia. One where we ignore Russia and Russia ignores us, or one where we challenge Russia and hope it lives up to that challenge?

50 kommentaari:

Mait ütles ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finlandization

Russia has accepted that Finland 'got away', whereas Estonia is still considered a wayward, Taiwanesque province.

Finland feels itself more secure in dealings with Russia, while Estonia can't help but feel under direct threat.

Giustino ütles ...

Russia has accepted that Finland 'got away', whereas Estonia is still considered a wayward, Taiwanesque province.

Russia I think is slowly changing its mind. They know that they have already "lost" Estonia in the press. It's the government, made up of Soviet dinosaurs, that needs to wake-up.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Actually, it should be India.

Andres Sehr ütles ...

Blame Ford for inviting us to the table but please don't kick Canada out. Our inferiority complex couldn't handle it. ;)

Mait ütles ...

Russia I think is slowly changing its mind. They know that they have already "lost" Estonia in the press. It's the government, made up of Soviet dinosaurs, that needs to wake-up.

True, but in Russia there's only one opinion that counts, government's. No 'maybe kuraty ain't that bad after all' opinion can gather wider support when far too many people follow the official line on autopilot.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

The Soviet Union was not very helpful for the survival of The Republic of Korea. After the Korean War the South, formerly the rural part of the entire country, started the economic uprise. There was nearly nothing from where to start, few natural ressources. Then they got rid of their military government after the Olympics 1988. The GDP is as big as Russia's nowadays but South Korea has more than 4 times lesser population. Did anybody suggested Korea. No? Why? One reason: There are more countries without a lobby.

Giustino ütles ...

Is Latvianization the new term for Finlandization?

Andres ütles ...

Finlandization turned out to work in the long run. Is there a similar example of Estonia's current hard-stance-like politics working against a supe-- uhm.. large state?

space_maze ütles ...

Well there was the Duchy of Grand Fenwick .. ;-)

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Giustino ütles ...

Finland is not considered a limitroph or neptitsa any more.

Is it just because they repelled the Soviet attacks 68 years ago? That's all it takes to flee the dreaded near abroad?

They are going to have to accept sooner or later that Estonia is gone. I though the EU would do it, I thought NATO would do it, hell, I thought the BS would do it.

Here's hoping Medvedev or whomever is chosen in the next sham election has enough sense to come to Viljandimaa, shake Tom Ilves' hand, and act like a normal person.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Here's hoping Medvedev or whomever is chosen in the next sham election has enough sense to come to Viljandimaa, shake Tom Ilves' hand, and act like a normal person.

What's in it for "the next guy"? I don't see much of an upside. The current situation doesn't cost Russia anything.

Giustino ütles ...

What's in it for "the next guy"? I don't see much of an upside. The current situation doesn't cost Russia anything.

Russia's propaganda war is a waste of time. They get everybody freaked out like a war is about the start, and then when push comes to shove there are cyber attacks and gray sanctions.

What's the point? With all the bitching and moaning about stateless persons, the truth is that the number of stateless people declined 28 percent over the past four years, which is a lot when you consider your are dealing with only 8.7 percent of the population.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Russia's propaganda war is a waste of time. They get everybody freaked out like a war is about the start, and then when push comes to shove there are cyber attacks and gray sanctions.

Cyberattacks are hacktivism. It's been a month, and we still haven't seen the famous Kremlin IPs, just hearsay. The gray sanctions are not hurting anyone, except Matvienko's son, and will peter out sooner or later anyway.

The papers must have something to write about. It's Estonia this week, Ksenia Sobchak the next, analysing who sat closer to Putin the week after, etc...

The Nashyists must work off their budget somehow (though it won't help them in the long run).

The hacktivism and the press need no great input from the Kremlin, just a nudge. I think Ansip understands it all too well. You are not going to change Russian views of Estonia overnight, just as Americans will not learn geography all of a sudden. Russian perception of Estonia varies from complete ignorance to "oh yeah, those naziki". That's it. And Russia will continue sticking to its self-serving version of history, much like everyone else does.

What's the point? With all the bitching and moaning about stateless persons, the truth is that the number of stateless people declined 28 percent over the past four years, which is a lot when you consider your are dealing with only 8.7 percent of the population.

So? What's the cost to Russia here?

Mait ütles ...

So? What's the cost to Russia here?

Loss of leverage. Despite all that's being said lately, integration is working. Pumping in a few hundred thousand new colonists isn't an option, hence the stunts like post-pozor poofight to stall integration/assimilation and cement what support they have.

Cyberattacks are hacktivism. It's been a month, and we still haven't seen the famous Kremlin IPs, just hearsay.

Hmm, we must be following different news, then. Journalists were provided with IP logs after first few days. I believe it was a Norwegian newspaper that spent some time digging through them and published whois screenshots pointing to exactly where Paet claimed they would.

The Nashyists must work off their budget somehow (though it won't help them in the long run).

The hacktivism and the press need no great input from the Kremlin, just a nudge.

Following links are in russian:

http://www.smoney.ru/article.shtml?2007/05/28/3004
http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2007/40/18.html

In short, first article includes the Goloskokov/Nashi confession and second one describes Kreml's management of hacktivism in general (indeed, lots of nudging).

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Loss of leverage. Despite all that's being said lately, integration is working. Pumping in a few hundred thousand new colonists isn't an option, hence the stunts like post-pozor poofight to stall integration/assimilation and cement what support they have.

So? You think they have some kind of long-term plan to destabilize Estonia? I don't think so. Just an opportunity for some bellicose posturing.

I couldn't read the first link (got chopped off in my browser, and I'm too lazy to look for myself). The second one did not convince me though. I really think that this was just hacktivism, although who knows, perhaps there were some instigators working for the man, whipping things up on the forums. I can't really say. At the end of the day, Estonia is an easy mark, and doesn't require too much "administrative resource" to demonise.

In short, first article includes the Goloskokov/Nashi confession and second one describes Kreml's management of hacktivism in general (indeed, lots of nudging).

Everyone is overestimating the Nashyists. They are simply a sponge for active youngsters, lest they end up with Natzbols, or, God Forbid, some Orange-like outfit. I give them another 2 years.

stockholm slender ütles ...

A highly interesting question! I think the Grand Duchy time led to a certain tradition among Bolshevists for example - Finland was seen as a separate entity oppressed by the Romanovs. Then WW2 enforced the image and certainly Stalin and Molotov got a healthy respect of Finnish bloodymindedness. But crucially then under Paasikivi and Kekkonen Finland was able and willing to compromize: no Communism here, thank you, but we are willing to pretend to be great friends with you and not ally with the West. The war was a shattering experience for Finnish idealism that was replaced with purely Macchiavellian geopolitical cynicism.

Both Paasikivi and even Kekkonen were genuine Finnish patriots. Paasikivi wrote in his private diary that "we are not Czhechs", if the demands grow unacceptable, the Soviets must fight a bitter war, however hopeless to Finland, to get them through - the old statesman in his 80's even added, "I can take up a rifle and die in the trenches". A highly comical image actually, but also quite telling. I think Stalin well sensed this absolute firmness and didn't want a long and bloody guerilla war in the Finnish forests. So a working compromize was found.

Kekkonen, in himself much less principled politician than Paasikivi, then went so far in his later, geriatric years that in the late 70's much of the progressive part of the young generation took our cynical professions of great friendship seriously. The nation as a whole certainly didn't. Nevertheless our historical experience is that we had a mutual historical and military respect, no occupation, no communism and a working and even economically a highly beneficial relationship with the Soviet Union (we got the longer stick in effect in the gamble: their quite realistic hopes of gradual absorption were never realized). Largely this is the equivalent of what happened also in the Grand Duchy era outside the brief period of Russification in the end.

Estonia has had a much more traumatic experience: there is no memory of kept treaties and a working relationship but a bloody colonial occupation that is even now exalted by the Russian leadership. The Kremlin partially still sees Estonia as a "natural" part of the empire - as Finland was seen by many in the early 20th century. It takes time to change this perception. Estonia can do something in its part, like symbolic gestures and pragmatic compromizes about side issues, but mainly this surely needs a profound mental changes in the Russian elites. And that is bound to happen in the course of time as Russia integrates with the world economy. I don't think this is a too optimistic view despite of the gloomy times. Just a few more decades are probably needed which we moreover are likely to have available.

Mait ütles ...

So? You think they have some kind of long-term plan to destabilize Estonia? I don't think so. Just an opportunity for some bellicose posturing.

A fairly successful, westernized post-soviet republic at their borders/in their historical sphere of influence? Fiercely independent? An unstable - hence more open to manipulation/control - version would be preferrable.

I couldn't read the first link (got chopped off in my browser, and I'm too lazy to look for myself).

Try leftclicking, works for me.

Everyone is overestimating the Nashyists. They are simply a sponge for active youngsters, lest they end up with Natzbols, or, God Forbid, some Orange-like outfit. I give them another 2 years.

While they are marginal indeed (low public perception, etc), the resources they command are anything but. Holding training camps, maintaining vigils with full infrastructure, printing materials in huge tirages - hell, renting several botnets for 2 weeks - this all takes a major wad of roubles.

The breaking point for them should come after presidential elections. At present Nashi is useful as a counter-orange tool, remains to be seen if they will still be considered worth their pay when Putin's successor is in place.

stockholm slender ütles ...

An addition to my previous comment: due to this more constructive background Russia is often seen in Finland as an opportunity also and not only a threat. Mostly of course in economic terms, but the whole national mentality is different, somehow less threatened by Russia, this is to a large part due I think to the fact that there is no gigantic minority inside our borders, nor much official Russian pressure. The Putin media is now spreading among the existing (and growing) Russian population, so this might change to a degree. Those "minority language status" wishes expressed by some Russian representatives were certainly noted widely in Finland (noted but not much commented by the government, a typical Finnish strategy as regards the East, a very low profile has proved its efficiency in the past at least).

Giustino ütles ...

So? You think they have some kind of long-term plan to destabilize Estonia? I don't think so. Just an opportunity for some bellicose posturing.

I have a very strange idea. Here it is. Americans react favorably to developments in other countries that mirror their own founding: ie. displacement of a repressive tyrant, establishment of democratic republic that favors the commercial elite, the John Hancocks of Estonia.

Here's the weird part: Russia also has a narrative to export, one of total and complete chaos where a deal-making, strongman leader with a cult of personality arrives and sets everything right again.

This narrative is played out in other countries to the extent that the US is willing to help "construct" tyrants just to tear them down, while the Russians seek to create chaus just to have a deal-making autocrat to deal with.

That's why they prefer these little post-Soviet dictators running countries in Belarus or Transnistria -- it reminds them of home. Likewise we like these uppity bastards that hole free elections because it reminds US of home.

The Russian ideal for Estonia isn't that it becomes part of Russia. No they are too nationalist to even stomach Azeris in their marketplaces.

Instead, they want to see chaos in Estonia followed by the institution of a deal-making strongman -- like Edgar Savisaar. They very badly want him to be their provincial governer in Estonia, and they thought they could use the Bronze Soldier to bring that about. Both Savisaar and the Russians worked to make that happen.

But they underestimated the commitment of the Estonian population to the "US" model, and reinforced Ansip's government. That is because the Estonian founding story -- of 1918, of being freed by school boys and assistance from the Finns and the Brits, meshes more with the Estonia of today than the "strong leader" paradigm that reminds Estonians of the Päts presidency that sold out their indepedence and cast them into 50 years of occupation, deportation, poverty, fear, and murder.

Ari ütles ...

wasn't it Finland that first allowed womens' suffrage in 1906?

New Zealand was first, Finland second. Finland was the first to give all women equal political rights, i.e. they could both vote and stand for election.

discussion of the Winter War is [...] off limits.

The Nazis weren't involved in the Winter War, which makes putting a pro-Soviet spin on it very difficult indeed. Finland and Russia have exchanged words on the subject of the Continuation War, although it didn't really hurt long-term relations.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

I don't deny that Nashyists have financial support from United Russia, but idealogically it's stillborn, much like United Russia really.

As far as Russia's perception of Estonia is concerned, I think I was a tad simplistic earlier. You have to factor in the following:

a) What part of the population believes what.
b) What part of the population sets the foreign policy.
c) What part of the population sets the public opinion.

Then you have the spectrum of opinions:

1) Complete ignorance - "Estonia - is that next to Sweden?"
2) Negative ignorace - "Estonia, yeah those naziki".
3) Soviet nostalgia - "We saved those bastards from the Nazis, this is the thanks we get in return!"
4) Soviet nostalgia 2 - "We subsidised them during the Soviet Union, this is the thanks we get in return!"
5) Liberal - "Estonia's on the right path. Man, I wish we ran our country the same way!"
6) Typical tribal response, which manifests itself everywhere from school level to town to national level ("Shelbyville vs. Springfield"). Needs very little to trigger - see items 1-4. After all, does any group of people really like another group of people? Really?
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/33426
7) Typical human response - it is very difficult to like someone that you know
(or think) doesn't like you for whatever reason (even if your grandfather killed his grandmother). This, IMO, is the main reason Russians don't like Poles. Simply because every Russian knows that Poles hate Russians. Item 2 is probably a variation of this.
8) Yankee meddling and their atlanticist psychophants - "That Estonian guy, The
twins in Poland... They are just American stooges, trying to cordone off Russia from real Europe, the countries that matter: France, Germany, Italy."

What do I believe? The l33t (patricians) set the foreign policy and their pinions trickle down to the plebs in a more simplistic explanation. The l33t is for the most part populist when it comes to foreign policy, so must accomodate the plebs to some degree. So in theory, a foreign policy reaction can rise from the bottom to be shaped by the l33t and exercised. In any case, the l33t looks out for its interest first of all. In the case of Estonia, there are few interests - none after Nordstream and the new ports are finished. However, #8 is the most likely for the l33t. This probably explains the difference between Finland and Estonia. After all, Finland is democratic and liberal and prosperous, yet there is no idealogical friction with Russia. Furthermore, by a happy conincidence, Finland's foreign policy hardly ever contradicts Russia. However, Finland is a real independent country, while Estonia is #8. This trickles down from the top to the plebs, and manifests itself in this and other forms, depending on the age group. The older ones cannot forgive the betrayal of the Soviet Union. To the youngins, "Estonia, huh?"... to "they are people who don't like us, so we don't like them."

Juan Manuel ütles ...

I don't know if someone has already said this but I think that that trade with Finland was very profitable for the USSR. In the Soviet Union there was always shortage of some manufactured goods, and they could be cheaply imported from the Finns.

Putin is quite an eccentric guest at the G-8 meetings, but the others are too polite to tell him to f*** off. After all, the G8 has become a club of old (democratic) friends that gather to see how they are loosing influence over world affairs. It should allow in Brasil, India and China if it wants to play a role in global governance.

Puu ütles ...

Guistino, I love your blog and I realize that I was the one suggesting Putin work on chanelling his sacred Kundalini energy, but in my humble opinion as a crazy barrio dwelling outlier this entry is neither here nor there. All the media attention as the moderate American voice of Estonia must be getting to you. Take it easy. Just enjoy being a daddy and husband, if you stop this blog for a while or start writing about pop music instead of geo politics the world will keep on spinning. Don't take it to heart, but being well acquainted with burn out I sense it here, this entry is just WTF?!?
That said you are fabulous and keep up the good work.

Giustino ütles ...

I think this blog started with burnout. So I definitely don't take it to heart.

Giustino ütles ...

this entry is just WTF?!?

Do you know who I am? I am the type of guy who rights rambling, incoherent things on the Internet. I write songs about Fonzie, media attention or no media attention.

Now, I think the point was that the Finnish approach and the Estonian approach to Russia basically encompass the two options the West has of dealing with Russia.

1) Keep a low profile, hope they don't notice us is the Finnish approach.

2) Call those assholes on their shit, duck when they freak out, is the Estonian approach.

Lula enters the picture because in the Western-Russian dialogue we tend to forget that Russia really isn't the most important country in the world and that there are other countries, like Brazil, that are more deserving of attention.

So, the bottomline, send Ilves to Rio de Janiero for Carneval next year.

Scott ütles ...

Puu said…

Guistino, I love your blog and I realize that I was the one suggesting Putin work on chanelling his sacred Kundalini energy, but in my humble opinion as a crazy barrio dwelling outlier this entry is neither here nor there. All the media attention as the moderate American voice of Estonia must be getting to you. Take it easy. Just enjoy being a daddy and husband, if you stop this blog for a while or start writing about pop music instead of geo politics the world will keep on spinning. Don't take it to heart, but being well acquainted with burn out I sense it here, this entry is just WTF?!?


Puu, it's Guistino's blog. If he wants to write about how space aliens landed and planted Latvian control Repse chips in his head, it's his call.
Be a good visitor and don't pee on the carpet.

karLos ütles ...

Puu, it's Guistino's blog. If he wants to write about how space aliens landed and planted Latvian control Repse chips in his head, it's his call.
Be a good visitor and don't pee on the carpet.


agreed - however criticism is good for writers. it helps them write. peeing on the pee only makes more pee.

kiitos

Puu ütles ...

I am not trying to pee on anything. I just think that for right now the how horrible russia thing is has been played out. Russia is one of the biggest oil producers in the world, the G-8 is an economic forum, it has as much a right to be in it as the united states, it is a nod to the countries potential what it could be if it didn't have such crappy government. The way the united states is going we could be argued as not perfect candidates on world forums based on our leadership.Yes, other countries should be included but Russia shouldn't be left in the lurch for lack of reform, or maybe it should but if that is the arguement, Brazil has tons of problems too, very similar to Russia in that it has a minority upper class and a large lower class. The current Russia was created while paying lipservice to capitalism, the worst carcitures of capitalism. Capitalism is a logical system, but only when it is functioning (oxymoronically in a way) in a highly egalitarian manner.When capitalism( or communism, the system actually doesn't matter) is being used as a tool in a peeing ( sorry) contest, it is rarely effective for a long time.

Giustino ütles ...

Yes, other countries should be included but Russia shouldn't be left in the lurch for lack of reform, or maybe it should but if that is the arguement, Brazil has tons of problems too, very similar to Russia in that it has a minority upper class and a large lower class.

I feel like by including Russia we "make" Russia an important world player, but by excluding Brazil or India, we somehow put those countries in the "developing box" -- where also Russia belongs.

But why Russia and not Brazil? Brazil is richer and more democratic and it has more people and, if you want to cut greenhouse gases, you should call Lula up and tell them to stop cutting down the Amazonian rain forests.

While writing about Brazil I felt that we have been looking at the world all wrong, or at least I have. We have a tendency to exclude countries like Brazil because in our old "Cold War" mindset Russia is still important.

In reality, what would Brazil's policy towards Russia be? What is its policy towards China, and indeed, the US? By elevating an unsung superpower to the club of superpowers we broaden the dialog. It's no longer just about the odious Mr. Putin or the massage-happy Mr. Bush.

So we've been shooting ourselves in the foot by viewing Russia through the current lens. Just as I argued before that Estonia's minorities should all be seen as equals, again I could argue that the world's developing economic powers could all be seen as equals too.

This eliminates some of the idea of Russian leverage in current affairs. It dilutes their impact on issues on the security council or at the G8 if they have to share the floor with China, India, and Brazil. And that is exactly how it should be.

As for the US, we stink, but we also stink of money. Follow any business transaction in the world. Chances are it leads through Silicon Valley or Wall Street at some point.

Ditto for Japan and Germany and France (and by proxy Switzerland). People talk about booming China and India, but who are the ones outsourcing all those drug R&D trials to India, to cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad?

It's the Germans/French/Swiss and the Americans. It's Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Novartis, and all of those companies. So we are helping to create those developments and we are the ones that will consume them in the end as well.

karLos ütles ...

Russia is one of the biggest oil producers in the world, the G-8 is an economic forum

you said it. the G8 is an economic forum, and thankfully for our grandchildren, the non-cynical among us think economics is much more than oil. if commodities were what the G8 was about, why not get australia to join (one of the worlds biggest producers of coal, and potentially uranium) - though a country of only 21 million people, and AU is hardly a major player in world economics.

as well as the reasons Giustino pointed out... including brazil would also make the G8 a little less eurocentric.... oops did i just accuse russia of being european? my bad.

Puu ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Puu ütles ...

Eeh. Lighten up, you sound like my mom. Instead of single minded hatred of Russia why not focus your attention on other countries with corruption and poor allocation of resources, like say Zimbabwe. Just for a chage of pace. What about Africa, why doesn't it get any attention hmm? Russia's leadership is not so hot right now, but call me an eternal optimist, I think that somehow, someday, democratic reform is possible, I don't think it can get much worse. It's important to differentiate Russia from its leadership, hopefully the leadership will change, but kicking Russia while it is down won't help matters. Attacking Russia if it attacks Estonia in its sovereign right that is justified, but for now the attacking is over and everyone needs to just move on. Estonia won, sorta. The "Russia is not European", which are the equivalent of White Trash jokes are better left at the door.
I don't like the current government in Russia, but I have nothing against Russian culture or Russian people. In fact I really like both. As MLK would say, Putin and his hoodlums are our brothers, they are just our sick brothers. Growing up, and interacting with ( because I can't escape it my mom fucking is the Estonian community) in the outside Estonian community one of things that drives me crazy is the knee jerk anti Russian sentiment and the jumping onto various now defunct cold war band wagons. Yes, the current government in Russia sucks, but one should treat a neighbor, especially a sick neighbor with respect.It's better to chart out a course of positive behavior rather than always assume combat and look for conflict as a site of interaction. Which is what some idiot Estonians ( including lots of people I care about) like to do. Don't fucking go there.It makes you uglier than your preceived enemy.

Giustino ütles ...

But why do we really care what Russia thinks about Kosovo? Why do we really care what it thinks about 10 anti-ballistic missiles in the Czech Republic and Poland?

What does Brazil think about these matters? If there are no spheres of influence, then it should all be the same to both countries.

Instead we are looking for a permission slip from the Russians to do anything.

Estonia "defied" Russia by joining NATO and the EU? Give me a break. Estonia joined the same defense organization as Norway and Denmark and Iceland. It joined the same economic organization as Sweden and Finland. There's no defiance, just rational moves.

But even still, the Finns fear joining NATO not because they hate the US, but because they don't want to make Russia mad. They act out of fear of Russia.

By adding Russia to the G8 we prolonged its great power status out of the idea that it *should* be a superpower. The recent articles that state, "Russia is back" are fulfilling this fantasy.

But look at the hopeless Nashi standing in the park in Tallinn. Nobody cares what they wear. Nobody cares what they do. Nobody, I have to say it, really cares that much about the "Great patriotic War".

We know what happened in Estonia, and that's what happened. The end. They violate their tourist visas and get sent home. I wonder what they expect other than people treating them like a curiosity and taking their photos. Were they expecting evil skinheads with Estonian flags?

They must feel really disappointed.

Russia is sort of the same story. They get up at Munich and beat their chests. But in the end it's just *yawn* -- they're boring. That's because, as I have said before, they have so little to offer.

And the Russians you meet are just as boring as we are. Their middle class is getting just as yuppified. So their government is really a retroactive circus. It's behind the times. One could imagine that you could say the same thing about some of the politicians in Estonia.

Puu ütles ...

So little to offer who though? Obviously
Nashism resonates with some people... if nothing else it has made for good critical press.
And I am not trying to go down a path to
the wretched of the earth and anti-colonialism and blah blah blah,because like I sort of stated earlier out of control populist governments( perhaps Like venezeula or Cuba) can be just as bad as out of control, perverted "capitalist" governments like current russia and iraq in the eighties, but the governments of south america are for the most part just as eurocentric as, um europe. Are the indigenous people in power for the most part? No, it's the decendents of european immigrants. Are they taking really good care of their natural resources or people? No. Brazil has one of the highest rates of tooth decay in the world. It has huge rates of deforestation. Is this an indicator of a stable government, that allocates the right resources to its people?Umm.. not sure. Do I want to go to Rio? yes.
Is this all really relevant in a discussion about what is wrong with Russia? Not sure.

Giustino ütles ...

So little to offer who though?

Their neighborhood, for example. Take Russia's actions towards Georgia. It in no way adjusted Georgia's attitude. Georgia -- a country I have heard lots of Borat-like jokes about (cooking on bonfires outside of tenement blocks because there's no electricity) -- obviously doesn't want to stay that way.

It wants to participate in the global market and that means being friendly with Brussels and Washington and Beijing and basically being your own guy, Shevernadze wasn't going to accomplish that, so they elected Saakashvili, and all of a sudden Georgia's a bad boy because they have Western aspirations.

That's what I mean by "having little to offer" -- Russia actually has literally little to offer Georgia to keep it under any kind of direct influence.

Obviously Nashism resonates with some people... if nothing else it has made for good critical press.

The Nashis dress up in the clothing of communists. But are they communists? I don't think so.

The soldiers that took over Estonia, arrested, tortured, raped, killed, and mutilated women then dumped them in rivers or wells across Estonia were communists.

Nashi is a bunch of adolescent brats on the Kremlin's leash that like to dress up like communists, but in reality they are empty. They have no ideology. That's why their street theater is nothing but perverse entertainment.

karLos ütles ...

giustino has it right. look at how far estonia has come since it gave up what russia had to offer?

and puu - i think it is you that need to lighten up. for a start, i'm not even estonian. the world would truly be a sad place when estonians had a monopoly on russia-bashing! :)

my comment about russia not being european was a tongue-in-cheek remark echoing what i have heard from some russians in the past - basically that russia is so great and so wonderful and powerful and has such big boobs that it's a whole other wonderful thing next to europe - part slavic bravado, part nationalist innuendo. 100% bullcrap. russia is european whether they like it or not. the fact they now don't control central europe (slavic countries that are now in the EU reminds them of this, and they don't really like it).

teeth as natural resources? umm... what?

the fact is, in economic terms brazil is more important (environmentally, trade-wise), and has more to gain (perhaps further to come, too) from being a member than russia.

karLos ütles ...

further on memberships: it's similar (though not as practical perhaps) to EU membership. being members of clubs helps poor countries. that's why i think it's so important for countries like serbia, albania - perhaps even armenia and yes, georgia to join the EU eventually. before turkey, which neither needs membership, or really wants it on current members terms.

Puu ütles ...

To say countries like Georgia or any of the former Soviet Republics, which were forcibly occupied ever choose in the manner of a consumer with free will, to take what Russia had to offer is putting a weird spin on history. As far as I can understand the Russian sphere of influence was always exerted by force and not the appeal of what was being offered. Estonia never took what Russia had to offer it was forced upon it.

To karlos, dental hygiene and infectious diseases ( admittedly Brazil has done a really good job with AIDs) are indicators of wealth to an extent so that's why.

Other than that what you say about middle europe is true. I still dislike the vestigial cold war hang over of taking snipes at the languishing or not so languishing super power.I repeat Russia does have a lot to offer it just needs government reform( and to maintain clear borders)... this reform hasn't materialized in a couple thousand years of history but I am still hopeful. One has to be. One has to interested and in dialogue about a better Russia, because it isn't just going to fade away, it is going to fester if something isn't done.Russia's economic nosedrive and billionaire elite is of not benefit to the countries around it, it is like living next to a black hole.

And not to be reaaally cynical (and two faced since I am after all american) and because I am sure everyone is a good guy, but whoever saves Eastern Europe stands to gain from it, like the United States did after the second world war with Japan and Germany. Even on an individual level if you have the means to invest in the region; so maybe some criticism of russia stems simply from the fact of not being Russian.

Puu ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Puu ütles ...

And as to communists... the rapists were communists, yes, but they were soviet and they were in a war. They were fighting under a form of totalitarianism that hijacked the dreamy uptopias spawned by the intelligensia of the nineteenth century.

The Shakers, the Oneida community in upstate New York, the Hutterites of Montana,kibbutz dwellers and all the native american tribes and misguided rich kids that feed the homeless and plant community gardens were/are also communists. Bretcht was a communist. The governments of Scandivania have some communist ideas worked into them. Sexual assualt in Williamsburg and the Lower East side is remarkably low in spite of all the self-professed communists and anarchists running around( clutching five dollar lattes).

Giustino ütles ...

As far as I can understand the Russian sphere of influence was always exerted by force and not the appeal of what was being offered. Estonia never took what Russia had to offer it was forced upon it.

Think of our friends Comrade Stalin and Comrade Vares-Barbarus. They both took what Russian Bolshevism had to offer.

What does Russia have to offer now? A seat on the board of Gazprom?

To karlos, dental hygiene and infectious diseases ( admittedly Brazil has done a really good job with AIDs) are indicators of wealth to an extent so that's why.

Brazil is a hell hole, riddled with organized crime, shady politicians, and a poor lower class, this is true. But so is Russia.

And as to communists... the rapists were communists, yes, but they were soviet and they were in a war.

Who exactly were they warring with in 1940? They were still allies with Nazi Germany. One can only deduce that theirs was a war against the Estonian state and its people. When you consider that the Estonians leased them military bases and put up little fight upon occupation by their "sick brother" then the war crimes that occurred here become even more grotesque.

karLos ütles ...

...that occurred here become even more grotesque.

and local ethnic ruskys going on about liberation and "russiya" adds insult to injury, over and over. sigh.

Puu ütles ...

Right, the war crimes were grotesque. They were grotesque in Finland too.... But they moved the monument and they have a museum to the occupation. And hopefully there will be research center to what happened and more history will be sussed out. Good.

The stuff that is wrong with the current Russian government( which is a whole lot), however, isn't neccessarily tied to what was wrong with the Russian government in the 1940's and 1950's ( like platforms for extreme sadism and torture, mass murder, political purges, propaganda, looting). Yes, you could argue that it is all the same government, just like the united states government is a continous line from 1776, and on a less happy note just like had Nazis stayed in power ( shudder) they would have had a Nazi government for the past 50 years in Germany. But relatively speaking Russia was doing ok in the nineteen eighties. The purges had died down, civil servants were looking forward to their pensions, there was a softening toward the west under Gobakev. Was it a good thing that Russia still held all the countries it occupied in the second world war? No, it was horrible, but Russia was still doing pretty well.
Then in the nineties with the blessing American and England and Canada and France (well France has almost always given Russia its blessing). Russia started toward capitalism but it was this perverted gangster movie version of capitalism, and a few people grew rich and but the Russian civil servants and pensioners and farmers were left in the lurch to starve. What happened in the fifties may have been a failure of communism, but what happened in the nineties was not a failure of communism so much as a failure of capitalism, granted a perverted capitalism, the result of a generation raised to hate capitalism trying to emulate it... it was as if monks who had lived their entire lives on a mountain isolated from women suddenly started having sex and all they had as guidelines were like really raunchy porn, which previously they had viewed as cautions againsts the excesses of the flesh...Of course such monk would have really messed up sex, and of course such communists would do a really botched and sadistic version of capitalism, as they had been raised to believe capitalism was botched and sadistic, but it was the only thing initially that would get them into blue jeans and later into SUV's and their children into private schools in Switzerland. And this was whole heartedly sanctioned by the west especially by America, Clinton at the time.

Puu ütles ...

Karlos...

I am an Estonian ( as much an Estonian as Giustino's daughter at any rate) and my grandmother was in fact assaulted during the second world war, but I seem to have gotten over it a lot better than you.

Unless you really want to have a little cold war remembrance party at the grave of McCarthy, the Russian Hoodlums deserve pity rather than moral outrage.

Giustino ütles ...

And this was whole heartedly sanctioned by the west especially by America, Clinton at the time.

Clinton couldn't even get the Branch Davidians out of Waco in one piece. And he was supposed to see the benevolent reconstruction of Russia?!

Right, the war crimes were grotesque. They were grotesque in Finland too.... But they moved the monument and they have a museum to the occupation. And hopefully there will be research center to what happened and more history will be sussed out. Good.

That is sort of my point on why Nashi is empty. They are soft and lacking in any coherent ideology.

It took genuinely fucked up people to commit those crimes against the Estonians and Finns. Nashi isn't that fucked up -- they are just stupid.

Puu ütles ...

Well, even if they were that fucked up...I mean their grandpa's might be... only fifty years right, some rapists are probably chilling by the black sea or something right now... they still deserve our pity. Despite what they did is going after old men whose chosen weapon of war had probably been out of order for quite some time ( maybe viagra is included in care for Russian Second World War veterans, but somehow I don't think so) a nice thing... do two wrongs make a right?
And what child however disfunctional their family history, does not want to be proud of grandpa. We are all human after all.

Giustino ütles ...

And what child however disfunctional their family history, does not want to be proud of grandpa. We are all human after all.

You have a point. Even Alessandra Mussolini is proud of grandpa Benito.

Nothing is Free ütles ...

Brazil sure is a nice place to visit, but even South Korea is more important than Brazil.

Architectse ütles ...

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