teisipäev, oktoober 16, 2007

Putin farted: what does it all mean?

I know it's a crude way of putting it, but perhaps it sums up the international perspective best. Every news article I read about Russia tells me that its 'resurgent'.

Four examples, from today:



Time Magazine: "an economically resurgent Russia views the Iran standoff as another opportunity to reclaim some of the strategic ground it lost after the Soviet collapse."

Newsday: "She said the next president must juggle challenges posed by a resurgent Russia, an ascendant China, global terrorism and an unpredictable Middle East that threatens Israel and the world's oil-based economy."

Boston Globe: "He was insinuating that the US scheme for installing a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, far from responding to an eventual threat from Iran, was really a disguised element of a plan to encircle and humiliate a resurgent Russia."

BBC: "Scotland's tourism authorities have seized on the increasing wealth of a resurgent Russia as a source of affluent visitors in recent years."

Whoever chose that word out of Dr. Roget's Thesaurus at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow should be promoted. Talk about stellar marketing. But beyond that there is something in the Western media that wants to build a Tsar out of Vladimir Vladimirovich. They like taking pictures of him walking strongly into meetings. Guys like us on the Internet think he's a clown. Russian teenagers parade to celebrate his birthday.

It's not just him though. Nearly every European leader, save Romano Prodi and Gordon Brown, has taken office in recent years amidst a PR blitz of sycophancy. Angela Merkel was similarly going to put Germany back to work and solve all of its problems. Nicolas Sarkozy is going to put France back into an Atlantic orbit. If Sauli Niinistö wins up north in the next presidential election, I am sure he'll revolutionize Nordic identity and look good while doing it.

But are these cults of personalities all they are made out to be? Am I glad Sarkozy was elected? You bet I am, considering Chirac had been in politics since before I was conceived, nay, before my parents even knew each other. Do I like Merkel? She seems pleasant enough, but having been in Germany during the 2001 campaign season, I don't even want to get immersed in German politics.

So what lip service should we give resurgent Putin and his Judo chop? Should we really believe that Russia is resurgent because it deported Georgians last year to "teach them a lesson" as a snarky commenter put it on Ed Lucas' blog. Why, didn't Russia back bloody separatist movements in Georgia in the early '90s when it was not "resurgent"?

Should we really believe that Russia is resurgent because it is complaining about Estonian citizenship policies or NATO membership, or trying to make Estonia look bad in the court of European public opinion? Hasn't it always been trying to do that, since the day after it signed the Treaty of Tartu in 1920? In the 1920s and 30s too the wealthy nations of Finland and Estonia were brutalized as 'fascists' in the Russian press. What's changed?

And that's sort of the ultimate point. What has changed? Russia has a leader who refuses to voluntarily surrender power to a democratically elected successor. Instead he'll find away to keep it himself.

Same as it ever was.

22 kommentaari:

space_maze ütles ...

But are these cults of personalities all they are made out to be? Am I glad Sarkozy was elected? You bet I am, considering Chirac had been in politics since before I was conceived, nay, before my parents even knew each other.

Well, it's not like Sarkozy kicked out Chirac in the election, as Chirac was no longer running. Sarkozy was Chirac's party's new candidate, lest I am totally mistaken. So it's more the comparison to the French social democrats that should decide if him being elected is a good thing or not

Juan Manuel ütles ...

Actually Sarkzozy is very similar to Putin, at least if you consider the PR brainwashing that brought him to the presidency. In the French election you could see French youths wearing sarkozy-t-shirts that were similar to those used by Nashi. I think many Western politicans would like to copy Putin's success. Just take a look at how he looked before becoming Super-Putin:

http://pics.livejournal.com/eliseev_ved/pic/0002gp44/s320x240

Juan Manuel ütles ...

Here is the link:
http://pics.livejournal.com/eliseev_ved/pic/0002gp44/s320x240

Giustino ütles ...

The press has been much softer on Sarkozy than Chirac, especially the American and British press. If you didn't get the memo, Sarko stands for goodness and law and order.

Blogaddict ütles ...

Eh-eh-eh. He said "farted"! eh-eh-eh.

Giustino ütles ...

Ah, Blogaddict, but what did Putin's broken wind mean? Could it be a signal that he's willing to compromise on NATO missile installments in Europe?

Blogaddict ütles ...

Broken Wind (Slomanny Veter)? Do you have a reference to it somewhere? Is this some kinda misnamed campaign header like "Operation Iraqi Freedom"? If it is, I learned about it here. Keep up a good work G.

Evil Purc ütles ...

I think it could be interpreted as resurgent Russia threatening the West with biological weapons.

gaborien ütles ...

I think politicians as Putin, Sarko and Tymoshenko know quite well that a strong image helps to keep masses on their side and that gives them the power to "do things" in their spheres of influence.

They knew how to sell their image and that made the difference between being perceived as strong instead of authoritarian... like Chavez or Lukashenko.

However there are other connotations on Putin's profile that cannot be compared to Sarkozy, Merkel or Tymoshenko. As I read somewhere: "just russians could kick out comunists to put the KGB in charge"...

Giustino ütles ...

I am just getting a bit tired of the articles gushing over powerful Putin and debating what his latest insignificant action means. Maybe it means nothing. In his managed democracy he is known to be pretty direct, ie. "Khodorhovsky, you're going to jail."

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

There is no Maidan in Russia, in Ukraine there are two political forces that are opposing each other. The Blue and the Orange. Is something similar thinkable in Russia? I still hope it is. Like the beginning of a parliament before the Bolsheviks took over. There is a scientific excamination running on universities in Germany which are trying to find out whether there was a basis for a civil society before the Soviet revolution. Nobody came to this conclsuion yet: Nyet. I am still waiting for the outcome of the research.

Thomas ütles ...

might sound a bit silly...but may be we (democrats) should forget about to demand democracy from other countries as russia or iraq...I mean, we should not expect democratic behaviour of countries which are appearantly not ready for it or where democracy is just due to mentality reason not "applicable"

Giustino ütles ...

Here's another example of this crap from today's New York Times.

Putin Is Said to Offer Idea on Standoff Over Iran

TEHRAN, Oct. 17 — Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, proposed a new way to help resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program during an extraordinary meeting with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the country’s chief nuclear negotiator on Wednesday.

The negotiator, Ali Larijani, told reporters that Mr. Putin, who was granted an audience with Ayatollah Khamenei on Tuesday evening, “offered a special proposal.” Neither the Iranians nor the Russians would disclose any details, but Mr. Larijani said the Iranian side was studying it.

“One of the issues he brought up was his view on the nuclear issue,” Mr. Larijani said, according to the ISNA news agency. “We are reviewing it now.”


So Putin discussed nuclear issues in Iran? No way!!! The accompanying photo has Putin looking like a deal maker. Check it out for yourself.

Giustino ütles ...

Thomas,

I think it is German-EU policy to involve Russia in European projects with the (some would say naive) hope of exporting EU values of modernity with its euros.

This is what Joschka Fisher, who has one of the best first names in Europe, said:

Europe thus has a strategic interest in Russia’s successful modernization and in good bilateral relations. Above all, the European Union and its member states cannot allow Russia to recapture its imperial spheres of influence without severely damaging its own central interests. It is for this reason that securing the independence of Ukraine is so important, as is assuring Turkey’s European orientation.

So, while Russia’s modernization and democratization are in Europe’s interest, its return to an imperial foreign policy and barely veiled authoritarianism at home is not. Most Russians look westward. In the next few years, Russia will offer Europe a great opportunity for closer cooperation, but it will also pose a risk of increased intrusion in European affairs.

The right responses to these opportunities and risks require a united, strong Europe. Indeed, a strong and united Europe will also make an important contribution to Russia’s sustainable modernization. A weak and divided Europe will tempt Russia to pursue dangerous paths into the future.

Thomas ütles ...

well you know...Joschka Fischer is not a penny better than Gerhard Schröder...seriously, both are opportunistic politicians which promise you today what the betray tomorrow...just look into their vita, their statements 30 years ago and now...dont use them as a reference

Frank ütles ...

I guess Thomas has a point there, we must not forget that our ideas of democracy and civil society are closely linked to the evolvement of strong middle classes in a society.

I remember doing long-term election monitoring in Serbia for the O.S.C.E. mid of the nineties right after an extended stay as consultant to lawyers and judges in Estonia.

Two worlds, two concepts of society, one level-headed and decidedly heading for Western Europe (although in Tapa, in the train station´s buffet you could still smell a bit of the Breshnev era), one Byzantium ... and full of sympathies for mother Russia!

When the barons were disowned in 1919, half of the agriculturally used land in Estonia already belonged to self-dependent Estonian farmers.

And self-dependent farmers are - if not bourgeois - very very middle-class ... and certainly not the material to coin homines sovietici from that easily.

Frank ütles ...

A quote from Giustino´s latest post to underline my last one:

"The Baltic States, in contrast, had a free economy. Their currency was stable, their currencies were convertible into gold, they were accepted all over the world. Their fiscal policies were completely successful,; their budgets were all balanced, their industries were thriving, their agriculture was making an astonishing progress."

You can´t take that away ...

And you can´t put it there by infusion.

Giustino ütles ...

seriously, both are opportunistic politicians which promise you today what the betray tomorrow...just look into their vita, their statements 30 years ago and now...dont use them as a reference

But Fisher was foreign minister for a long time, and Germany's current foreign minister is also probably not "a penny better" than Fisher.

And because the UK still thinks its not part of Europe and because the French are going through an administrative change, it's arguably Germany that's driving EU foreign policy.

So I guess we should at least read what he says. I know that he's cut from the same cloth as Savisaar, you know many convoluted positions, multiple marriages, et cetera, et cetera.

bureau ütles ...

Joschka Fischer, I guess, is a much better choice than Gerd Schröder, because

a) he does not chum up with people the way Schroeder does

b) he is supposed to have more intellectual insight in what he says

c) he left party-politics for good ...

Thomas ütles ...

quite out off topic but have a look in this scary document I recently found...http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/longrange2/WorldPop2300final.pdf on page 199, line 12 in the document...wow...isn't scary???

Leo ütles ...

+ Lukashenko farted:

http://www.eux.tv/article.aspx?articleId=16324

(not so funny any more)

magusgreen ütles ...

Hi,

I'm a goddamned American. Here's the deal with Vladimir: We're putting him on the cover of "Time" magazine as person of the year. For all his crazy shit, you've got to admit, he's got a set of balls and he's smart.

We don't view Russia as the devil, we understand where Vladimir is coming from and all that shit. Seriously, we do.... So, when he says he's going to hand over power to one of his Lieutenants or whatever the fuck you call that, we'll all applaud like clapping monkeys. Why?

Because we wan't him to turn that mother fucking economic hub in Iran so we don't have to kill those mother fuckers. Get it? So really, what is Vladimir doing? He's kind of letting it go, but not letting it go, he's sticking around as a sort of "fail safe". They're afraid we'll create another generation of Oligarchs and gut their fucking economy again. Can't really blame Vladimir, he's the first Russian, in a long time, that could do a goddamn thing with America. We OWNED Gorby and Yeltsin. So see, we've got to give him his props.

Vladimir is the only Russian since Kruchev who has even tried to stand up to us. Really, we're glad for that. We can kind of respect Russia again. We didn't have a goddamn ounce, and I mean not a fucking ounce of respect for Russian until Vladimir.

So, the American message is pretty clear. We get it Vladimir, you don't trust us, you shouldn't, and we don't blame you. Still, thanks for stepping back, not down really, as we get rid of Bush. Also, when we transition power over here, think we can get together and build this mother fucking Arab hub in Dubai with us? I mean, that way, we don't have to sniff each other's asses, like dogs, in places like Georgia?

As ashamed as we Americans are to admit it, we need Russia right now. We do, because we can't turn this goddamn middle east into an autonomous economic entity by ourselves. We've got to have some help goddamnit. We've driven the arabs back and forth between ourselves and the Russians for years.

Once again, we've driven them to the Russians. So Russians, how about you make a fucking deal with us, and let's bring these people into the first fucking world already? We're tired of maintenancing these fighting fucking arabs. You handle the trade with Iran, we'll handle the trade with the Jews, and then, we'll trade between ourselves through China, North Korea, and South Korea. Maybe then this global economic fucking machine will start clicking again. How about it? C'mon Russia, let's put these otherwise draining people to work. You're tired of our shit, we're tired of stirring up Chechnya to fuck up your day, so let's just work together here and fix some of this shit. We'll get rid of Bush soon, we know you don't believe it, it's cool. We really don't want Vladimir to stand down, just appear to... that's all the fuck we want. Kind of like how they call themselves a democracy, and really, they're still communists. It's o.k. we don't give a shit about that either. Just look at us, we let Bush rig / cheat in the election twice. We sure as fuck are not a democracy either. Still, playing along with it, as if we are, that's some cute shit you have to agree huh?

P.S. We're still pissed about Sasha and Anna god damn it! That was un-called for.... For that reason, we'll still regard the Russian people as uncivilized. Really, you didn't have to kill them. They were no threat to you. So see, it's not that we like Vladimir, we don't! Yet, we do respect him, and really, that's worth a lot more in the long run.

P.S.S. We know you gave gas to Egypt, we don't give a fuck.

Merry Christmas from America!