Hey everyone! Remember Pyotr Romanov? Of course you do! He’s the one who told us all kinds of fairy tales about how Russians believe in justice without laws, and how they’ll happily endure any hardship when they think they’re right, as with the annexation of the Crimea. He told us sanctions were useless, but also passive-aggressively suggested that the West remove them, because supposedly the same people who will endure any hardship don’t like “unnecessary troubles.” Well guess what- because there never seems to be a Bolshevik firing squad around when you need one, Romanov is back with another hilarious article in The Moscow Times. And this time, he’s upset.
A Russian friend who relocated to London a few years ago responded to a comment I made on Facebook concerning the start of the Cold War. With self-satisfied irony he wrote: “To be honest, the West does not really care much about Russia.”
How strange! Of course, it is very possible that his British neighbors and friends are too preoccupied with their house, lawn, car, children, dentist, etc. to worry about a Cold War with Russia.
Pyotr is dumbfounded at the idea that Westerners, Britons in this case, don’t care about Russia, much less a Cold War with Russia. This is because as is typical for his ilk, he imagines that Russia is this incredibly important center of global civilization. In reality, even now with Russia in the news every night, most Westerners, including Americans, simply do not care about Russia. If this weren’t true, my email and message inboxes would be jam-packed with messages, full of questions about what is going on in Russia. Guess what- they aren’t. Even close friends and family members rarely ask me anything about this country, even during international crises like the present one. There’s a reason why RT barely got any viewers back in its early days when it was actually about life in Russia. It’s the same reason why the all-time record for most views in a single day on this blog was, by far, a satirical post about Gamergate. People in the West just don’t give a shit about Russia.
They haven’t given a shit since 1991. This is because the conflict which existed between the West and Russia during the Cold War was an ideological conflict, whereas your modern Russian pseudo-intellectual wants to believe there is some kind of eternal East/West divide that drives the conflict. Or I should say it is a Russia/West divide, since these same Russians certainly don’t want to be associated with Chinese, Arabs, or any of the other dozen or so groups they harbor prejudices against. Perhaps they are reluctant to admit it was an ideological conflict because doing so would be an admission that they betrayed that ideology and were thus responsible for the state of their country today- a major no-no for your average “patriotic” Russian these days. That, however, is a topic for another article.
What the reader must understand is that Romanov’s friend, by pointing out an obvious fact, shook Romanov’s little world to its foundations. There is nothing more devastating you can say to someone like him than reminding him that the West not only isn’t afraid of Russia, but that it doesn’t even care. For Romanov and many Russians, they will indeed live in utter shit, with no rights under a government that so clearly has nothing but contempt for them, so long as they have this idea that they are either making someone else miserable, such as the Ukrainians, or that they are feared by someone, such as the Americans or Europeans. Just like an angsty teenager, any attention is good attention, and Romanov and his ilk possess minds which do not develop beyond the level of teens. The tantrum doesn’t take long to begin.
But what will happen tomorrow when the average Westerner finally realizes that his whole life — his house, children, car and even his dentist — is under threat? What thoughts will run through his head when he comes to understand that the politicians he elected behaved in such an unfriendly way toward Russia that the Russian politicians elected by the people of this country made equally unfriendly moves in response? And that everything simply went downhill from there?
Gee Pyotr, I don’t know how to answer that because all those things aren’t under threat from your basketcase, corrupt nation run by thieves, con-men, and imbeciles. Petey, sweetheart, we’ve been over this road before, remember? You continue to lie to your people as reality starts to cave in on them on all sides. Eventually people get fed up and demand change. The system collapses, people start stealing, then some slick, authoritarian figure promises he can give you stability so long as everyone is willing to give up their freedom. You make that bargain, agreeing with him that your nation’s last failure was all the West’s fault. They imposed Putin on you; he was doing the Americans’ bidding! Then your new leader, unable to deliver on his many promises because he only sought power so as to be in the best position to rob your nation blind, begins shrieking about the evil West more and more. This shrieking builds up to aggressive foreign policy designed to provoke the West, Russia gets isolated again, and the cycle begins a new. Some people just aren’t fast learners. It might happen next year, or it could be two or three years away. How long is unimportant; a state so disconnected from reality is living on borrowed time.
Now this is a bit of an aside, but I love how he talks about these different nations, the collective “West” and Russia, electing their leaders. In the West, leaders change. In Russia, according to the government’s own claims, their country has produced just one qualified national leader in 25 years. One. There is only one person who can actually run Russia, otherwise the whole thing falls apart over night. All of Russia’s natural resources are given to America in exchange for cheeseburgers, and all Russian citizens instantly become homosexuals, thus utterly ending Russian reproduction and by extension, the Russian people as a whole. No, Pyotr, we’re not dealing with equals here.
Anyway, terribly upset that those decadent, well-to-do Westerners aren’t shaking in their boots about Russia, Romanov turns to passive-aggressive threats, the Russian pseudo-intellectual’s weapon of choice.
Ordinary citizens remain calm because of the simple fact that they typically do not know the full picture — nor do they try to know it. It is easier to live that way. Just the same, it is time to wake up and recognize what is happening. This is no Hollywood blockbuster unfolding outside our windows, but a force majeure of international proportions. True, it is not the first that the world has experienced, but knowing what hardships previous conflicts have brought to mankind should motivate us to try to prevent any more from occurring.
First of all, Mr. Romanov, if you’re so concerned about a massive military conflict, lobby your government to end its support for armed insurgents in Ukraine, and its illegal occupation of the Crimean peninsula. Oh wait, that’s right, you can’t, at least not if you want to keep your job, stay out of jail, or not get beaten by masked thugs outside your apartment building one night.
In fact, the world began living under the real threat of nuclear war long before the Cuban Missile Crisis, although that confrontation was one of the most dangerous moments of the first Cold War. And fortunately for mankind, sensible politicians always emerged who could put a stop to the ambitions of the warmongers.
Here it is, ladies and gentlemen. As is typical for this sort of Russian, he brings up nuclear weapons, as though that’s going to make a difference. The USSR had plenty of nukes, none of which saved it from destruction. Russia’s nukes won’t save it either, especially because nuclear missiles aren’t edible. Romanov, in spite of being a “historian,” doesn’t seem to be familiar with the concept of “mutually assured destruction.” If Russia launches its nuked, Russia is destroyed forever, with far less probability of survival due to its poorer infrastructure and much lower population. China might also flip a few nukes at Russia for attacking its most valuable trade partner, and to help secure whatever land it can in Siberia. Of course, it would be difficult to tell exactly which parts of Russia got nuked and which did not, as the difference wouldn’t be clear in some areas of the country, but that is unimportant.
Pyotr, stop talking about nuclear weapons. Nobody is afraid of your country’s nukes. Nobody is afraid of your country beyond a few former Soviet republics. If your delusional president ever presses that button, everything you have will be gone. Your dacha, and all your precious jars of pickles will be reduced to radioactive ashes. RADIOACTIVE ASHES! Seriously, shut the fuck up.
Romanov’s second idiotic article demonstrates the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t nature of trying to communicate with Russian supporters of the state. If you acknowledge that relations are bad and there’s a new Cold War, then you’re engaging in aggression against Russia. If you don’t, they agitate and rail against the West until people start reacting, and then that just proves their original claims. One should ask, what does Romanov want when he says Westerners should care about his precious new Cold War? Should they band together and take a more resolute stance against Russia? Oh no, of course not! Russia has nukes, remember! No, what they should do, if Romanov’s previous article is any indication, is give in to Russia and let it do what it wants. To use Putin’s metaphor, leave the bear alone in the forest to eat berries, honey, and do some other assorted Winnie the Pooh-style shit.
The problem with that idea is that it implies that Russia was just minding its own business when the aggressive West came in and started slapping sanctions on Russia for no reason. Reality is quite the opposite. For years the West turned a blind eye to Putin and his cronies. Western capital flowed into Russia and Russia’s oligarchs stowed their ill-gotten wealth in Cyprus, the UK, France, and the US. Of course as the consequences of this system continued to mount, the state ramped up its anti-Western rhetoric, which usually went ignored back when times were good. Unfortunately for the Kremlin, the Western response was still too apathetic. Ukraine’s Maidan movement was an embarrassment to the Kremlin, but it brought a double opportunity- win back local support and pick a fight with the West. Nobody can deny that this new Cold War has benefited Putin, at least in the short term. It’s also the nail in the coffin for Russia, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
The moral of this story is that the best defense against Putin’s Russia is not the fear-mongering of Edward Lucas; that only pleases people like Romanov and the other Putin hacks out there. Rather it is best remaining calm and collected, always reminding people like Romanov how insignificant his country really is. As a good friend of mine used to put it, there are people in provincial Russia who will think about America several times in one day. They know that there is a place called Kentucky. By contrast, there are millions of Americans in major cities like Chicago, LA, New York, or Boston, who go days without ever thinking about Russia. None of them know that there’s a place inside the Russian Federation called Bashkortostan, and few of them could name another Russian city besides Moscow. It’s not that they’re horribly uneducated either. It’s simply that they don’t care, and they’ve never had to care.
Romanov needs to understand that while all his home-spun delusions are really meaningful to him, in the eyes of most of the world Russia is essentially a laughing stock at worst, and at best a wacky, crazy land where up is down and cats chase dogs. It is not mysterious or enigmatic. It is simple. More than that, people like him must be reminded that this sad state of affairs, which was by no means always the case for Russia and certainly doesn’t need to be, is in fact the fault of people like him. It’s not the Americans, the Jews, the Masons, the British, the fifth column or the sixth column. It’s people like him, with their utter lack of ethics and principles, their laziness, their immaturity, their envy, and their hatred. People like Romanov must be reminded every day how much richer Russia would be without them.
You have had 25 years to make something of this vast, rich country. Instead you have run it into the ground. Obviously you are unable to handle the responsibility. In the words of Oliver Cromwell, “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”