Failure to Communicate

Recently one of my readers sent me this very accurate country ball cartoons, which just goes to show how thanks to the internet, more and more people are becoming familiar with Kremlin talking points and debate tactics.

SUICIDE

Yep, that’s pretty much the way it goes. But I was thinking about some whataboutist tactics lately and this reminded me of how pointless it is to try to teach these people by using your own country as an example. Kremlin supporters love to bring up the Vietnam War and all manner of heinous crimes carried out by the US government, but they forget two very important facts.

The first is that many of these crimes were opposed by either large numbers of people or at least prominent Americans. The second is that one reason they know about these crimes is because so much material on them has been published and popularized by Americans themselves. Want to know about US interventions and dirty wars since 1945? Check out Killing Hope by William Blum. Check out anything Noam Chomsky has ever written. Check out Michael Parenti. RT loves giving air time to authors and commentators who criticize American foreign policy without ever giving much thought to how easy it was for them to find people who have made their careers with that criticism.

I used to think that calling out the problems with the United States would show some of my Russian interlocutors that my condemnation of the Russian system, which is largely formed via personal experience and communication with hundreds of Russians in many different cities and towns over a period of more than eight years, is by no means an unfair, one-sided attack on Russia itself. Long time readers of this blog have seen how I have often compared the atmosphere in Russia today to that in America during the first few years after 11 September 2001. True, in the US you had a lot more leeway to protest and criticize the government, but a lot of people were intimidated out of fear for their job, fear of losing friends or colleagues, or even alienating their own family members.

Lately I realize that this kind of “criticize America, criticize Russia,” style is really a colossal waste of time. If you criticize the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq, or the shoddy handling of Syria or Euromaidan, your listener doesn’t hear your analogies, they don’t see the point you’re trying to make. They don’t think, “Hey wait a minute, Americans actually criticize their government all the time and don’t listen to everything their media says! Maybe I should do the same!”  What they think is “Here is an American who’s badmouthing America. This confirms what I already believe!”

I’ve actually written about this topic before, namely how Russians and Americans can agree when they’re condemning the actions of the US government, but the former see no solidarity with the latter. All that matters is that like Tim Kirby, you’re confirming what their intelligentsia and media has been telling them for years. Now I think I’ve finally found a way to illustrate what appears to be going on in these conversations. Enjoy:

1. Kremlin Supporter uses: Whataboutism.  It’s super effective!

“Aggression in Ukraine? What about slavery? What about Ferguson? What about Vietnam? What about Iraq?”  

2. What you say:

“Well I’m really glad you brought that up because you see, countries like America, the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, and so on achieved their position today largely because they had massive struggles involving millions of citizens. Through debate and self-criticism, these countries learned to evolve and improve. This process never stops, but as long as people are allowed to speak their mind and participate in politics these struggles will continue and society will improve. Nobody can deny that 21st century America is far freer and functional than 19th century America, for example. 

You mentioned slavery. Obviously Americans condemn slavery and fought their most destructive war to end it. Now there are some Americans who want to suppress the history of slavery because they claim that teaching that history is unpatriotic. Luckily there are plenty of people opposing that incorrect view, which is no longer dominant as it was decades ago. Pointing out America’s flaws is the first step to correcting them. As for Ferguson, the protests you see show why civil society and freedom of speech are so important. Police brutality is a major problem in America today, but as you see people have organized on their own initiative to bring this issue into the spotlight. This is the first step towards change, and luckily that change doesn’t require them to overthrow the American government.

You mention wars like Iraq and Vietnam. Were you not aware that both wars were opposed by millions of people and radically altered American politics? Failure in Vietnam brought down one administration and the Iraq War totally discredited Bush and his neoconservative ideologues. The next time an American politician tries to float the idea of invading and conquering another country, they will be confronted with Iraq and the horrible legacy of George W. Bush. “

3. What they hear.

“Well I’m really glad you brought that up because you see, countries like America, bzzzzzz, Japan, Germany, and so on achieved their position today largely because they had bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Nobody can deny that 21st century America is far freer and functional than bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 

You mentioned slavery. Obviously Americans bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz slavery and fought bzzzz most destructive war bzzzzzzzz. Now there are some Americans who want to suppress the history of slavery because they bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz patriotic. Luckily bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz that bzzzzzzz view, bzzzzzzz is bzzzzzzzzzzzz dominant bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  As for Ferguson, bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Police brutality is bzzzzzzzzzzzz in America today, but as you see people have organized on their own initiative to bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz overthrow the American government.

You mention wars like Iraq and Vietnam. Were you not aware that bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz radically bzzzzzzzz American politics? Failure in Vietnam bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Bush and his neoconservative ideologues. The next time an American politician tries to float the idea of invading and conquering another country, they will be bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz George W. Bush. “

This is basically what happens, though you can only truly appreciate this when you’re arguing face to face. You can almost tell when they are paying attention and when they are tuning out because you started mentioning one of Russia’s problems.

There are some people who should openly acknowledge Western mistakes when discussing Russia, namely Western leaders and diplomats. But for those of us living in Russia and dealing with the consequences of the government’s policies just like any other Russian citizen, there is no such obligation. Obama’s crap policies in regards to Syria didn’t cut people’s salaries in half or cancel any commuter trains in Russia.

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61 thoughts on “Failure to Communicate

  1. Asehpe

    I have often heard about (and on occasion met directly) the kind of Russian you’re talking about, who listens only to what confirms his expectations and tunes out once non-confirming claims begin. The ones who angrily shout their slogans, regardless of what you’re trying to say.

    And I wonder, have all Russians become like that? Surely there are people who can see through this web of lies and deceit? Where are they now, in Russia, and what are they doing to cope with such a politically deranged society? I wonder if this question wouldn’t be worth a post of its own: where are the people in Russia who understand what is going on, and what are they doing now, in your own personal experience?

    Another group I sometimes wonder about are the Russians who live abroad. Not the Russian minorities in ex-USSR countries like Ukraine or the Baltic States, but actual émigré communities living in the UK, in Western Europe, in the US or Canada. How do they feel about present-day Russia? And are they doing something about it, even if only talking to their relatives and friends in the Motherland? (I say this because my wife, Ukrainian by birth but self-identified as Russian, participates in a group that organizes anti-Putin protests in the Netherlands. I wonder how often this happens among émigré Russians, or even those who are simply studying abroad in European or American universities.)

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      This is a really complex question. One point I can make is that sometimes these reactions are provoked by the ideology of Cold War liberals and European historians who insist on shitting on every single aspect of Soviet history, which is in turn entirely laid at the feet of Russians. True, Russians monopolized power in the USSR and abandoned internationalism, but even until the very end there were plenty of other self-identified Communists of other nationalities. The difference is that the latter got to become instant patriots and were reborn so to speak.

      To get deeper into the topic, in many venues these days you can’t talk about a piece of Soviet history without immediately being hit over the head with Katyn, the Holodomor, deportations, repressions, etc. Make a movie or video game about the battle of Stalingrad and I guarantee you someone will call it propaganda unless it makes a reference to how horrible Stalin was and shows NKVD men shooting their own people in the back.

      By contrast, I could put out a film about the exploits of the British army, even in the Imphal campaign, and not have critics suddenly assail me asking why there’s nothing in the film about the West Bengal famine of 1943, which was extremely comparable to the so-called Holodomor and in some ways with more malice aforethought from Churchill.

      You can make movies about the US in WWII, honoring the so-called “Greatest Generation” without making any reference to the fact that American society was still racially segregated with black Americans being second-class citizens still very much threatened by violence or lynching when the war broke out. If you put something like that in a film, people all over America will accuse you of “playing the race card” and trying to inject a “politically correct” agenda into what should have been a patriotic film.

      Hell, you can make GERMAN films that separate the deeds of the German military from issues like the Holocaust. See Das Boot and Stalingrad(1989), for example. Letters from Iwo Jima humanizes the Imperial Japanese army without ever mentioning the horrible atrocities they committed against the Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, allied POWs, etc.

      So many Russians look at this and they get this idea that there’s this double standard whereby everyone else, including the Axis, gets to have their non-political history that glorifies their heroes, but it seems like the second someone talks about the Red Army liberating some part of Eastern Europe we MUST also hear about the rape of Berlin or Katyn forest, in spite of the fact that those who committed rapes represented a small minority of the more than 6 million Red Army personnel in Eastern Europe by the end of the war, and obviously far fewer had anything to do with Katyn. I might also point out that the question of mass rape is virtually never brought up when it comes to the “honorable,” “non-political” Wehrmacht, when in fact not only did rape happen on the Eastern Front, but German personnel were specifically exempt from any prosecution from it via the Fuhrer’s “Jurisdictional Order.” The Third Reich also engaged in women trafficking and sexual slavery, mostly with girls conscripted from occupied Soviet territories like Belarus and Ukraine. The women were forced to work mostly in military and camp brothels.

      So the point is that sure, there are these hard-headed patriots like the ones you see in the USA who believe in “my country right or wrong” because they have nothing else to be proud of. But then you have a lot of unassuming people who probably were willing to look into things more critically until they encountered this Western/Russian liberal tendency of shitting all over any and every aspect of Soviet history. (BTW- If you want to see a great example of this practice I’m describing here, look up Catherine Merridales Ivan’s War.)

      Soviet history, as professor J. Arch Getty has written, needs to be studied over again from the beginning. We have discovered that many of the horror stories or telephone number body counts of the Cold War turned out to be vastly exaggerated and in some cases fabricated. It doesn’t matter what conclusion one draws from this information- what matters is historical truth.

      If we want to be able to talk about the positive parts of America or Britain’s past without constantly being reminded of slavery and colonization every single time, we ought to be able to separate the positive aspects of the Soviet Union and 20th century socialism from the bad aspects. After all, this is pretty much exactly what our capitalist leaders are asking us to do when it comes to their system.

      Reply
      1. Asehpe

        “Soviet history, as professor J. Arch Getty has written, needs to be studied over again from the beginning. We have discovered that many of the horror stories or telephone number body counts of the Cold War turned out to be vastly exaggerated and in some cases fabricated. It doesn’t matter what conclusion one draws from this information- what matters is historical truth.”

        Amen to that!… Especially in these times of ‘Information War’ and Russia Today, someone has to care about historical truth and about professional historiography with scientific standards. I wonder, however, if it is possible to do that in times of conflict. Russia and its government certainly have no interest in non-partisan views of history; and as the emotions become wilder and the rhetorics more stratospheric (Lavrov’s speech!…), I wonder how easy it will be, even in the West, to mistrust people who want to do justice to Soviet history as people who secretely want to help Putin.

        Which authors on Soviet history do you consider ‘more impartial’? Service? Conquest? Or none at all?

      2. IOS

        a subtle but important distinction at least between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia is that Nazi Germany was forced to accept and atone for their sins whereas Soviet Russia never had to and to this day refuses to accept any sins of the past.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Soviet Russia stopped existing, fell apart, and lives a humiliating existence under a right-wing fascist government that corrupts any positive legacy it ever had. That is punishment whether they admit it or not.

  2. Godzilla Pitbull

    I think you misunderstood.

    Russians do not want to be told by America how to manage their affairs. Russia saved South Ossetia, and Crimea from genocidal governments of Georgia and Ukraine. The Russians do not require America’s opinion on what is right. What’s right for America is not right for Russia. America is a country that invaded, occupied, nuked, sprayed with agent orange many countries around the World, she has no right to preach to Russia.

    Russians do not care about the therapeutic debates you Americans are having about the crimes of your government. Most decent people do not give a flying … about Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Who said America is telling you what to do? Countries should abide by international law. Sometimes Russia pointed that out to the US. Now Russia is the one breaking international law.

      The Ukrainian government hasn’t committed genocide.

      ‘The Russians do not require America’s opinion on what is right.”What’s right for America is not right for Russia.”

      Do you think Canada, the UK, Japan, Norway, or Poland, or a bunch of other liberal democracies are like America? For one thing their political systems are completely different. Their values and cultures are different too. Why do you think Russia being a functional democracy with respect for human rights and rule of law will somehow mean the end of everything Russian?

      Look, I realize you have your “special way” and all, but in the last ten years I’ve just happened to notice that it’s not working for you. At no time in the past 15 years has Russia come anywhere close to rivaling the US in terms of standards of living, and the US is actually at the low end in some of those categories when compared to other industrialized nations. Hell, if it weren’t for Russia we’d be dead last in some categories.

      So the question is- What do you do when you try the same thing over and over again and fail every single time? You look at what successful nations are doing and you emulate that. Germany did it. Japan did it. So did China and Turkey.

      “America is a country that invaded, occupied, nuked, sprayed with agent orange many countries around the World, she has no right to preach to Russia. ”

      Russia has committed its fair share of atrocities in the past, both against its own people and other nations. Since I am not the American government, and insofar as I have been a staunch critic of many American policies since my teenage years, you can’t use any of those historical examples against me.

      What is more, you people and your TV stars seem to revel in the idea of launching a nuclear war at the drop of a hat. In the US, this idea of using nuclear weapons as a first strike is considered abhorrent, and anyone who wants to be taken seriously in media would never suggest such a thing. In Russia, however, it makes you head of Russia Today.

      “Russians do not care about the therapeutic debates you Americans are having about the crimes of your government. ”

      Oh yes, I know, you Russians don’t care about what anyone thinks. That’s why you have InoSMI and constantly obsess over what the Americans are teaching their kids about WWII. That’s because you don’t care. Maybe if you paid attention to those debates you’d actually learn something, but then again you’ve been doing great since 1991 right? Who needs advice from the leading countries in the world when you’ve got your “special path?”

      Reply
      1. Godzilla Pitbull

        Did I say that Russia being a functioning democracy with rule of law would be the end of everything Russian? I did not even mention domestic politics.

        I also did not say Russians do not care about the stuff InoSMI publishes. Translations of rabid anti-Russian rants made by Western pundits that is. This stuff is the bomb.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Bullshit. There’s a reason why almost every person I’ve met since 2006 asks me who won the Second World War within ten minutes of meeting them.

        Face it- You obsess over America and what it’s supposedly doing to Russia, yet Americans in general do not think about Russia. How do I know? Because I’ve lived here through two wars and one protest movement and even during these times when Russia was always in the nightly news, I NEVER have people(friends, family members, etc.) filling up my message boxes with questions about Russia. In fact, people rarely reacted to the fact that I’d spent years here when I actually went to the States.

        What you fail to realize is that this idea of a historic rivalry between the US and Russia is a complete myth. The only conflict was an ideological one between the USSR and the US which started after 1945.

        Nobody’s trying to tell you what to do, but you and I both know that Russia’s “special path” isn’t working out too well for most of Russia’s population. So it might be a good idea to try a different path.

      3. Godzilla Pitbull

        But still you do not understand, Russians do not care about internal US politics. They obsess about America being the superpower, and they being her subordinate, and rightly so. It is you who thinks that the rivalry between America and Russia is a myth. As the preeminent power of the West today, America follows in the footsteps of European great powers and their policies towards Russia.

        It is called containment of Russia, and in practice it means blocking Russia’s access to global markets, in order to punish Russia, keep it at bay, and keep it backwards and unstable. All this is done to take out a potential competitor. Do you have any evidence to prove this is a myth? This is a consistent policy over hundreds of years.

        The Russians do not care that in America there were protesters against Vietnam War. They care about how best to beat America over the head with the Vietnam War. So please, stop adding our own meaning to what my writing.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “They obsess about America being the superpower, and they being her subordinate, and rightly so. It is you who thinks that the rivalry between America and Russia is a myth. As the preeminent power of the West today, America follows in the footsteps of European great powers and their policies towards Russia. ”

        No, not really. The problem is that your intellectuals who peddle this crap have barely made it into the late 20th century, much less the 21st century. That kind of 19th century imperialism is dead. America hasn’t been the sole superpower for quite some time. America and China are deeply dependent on each other, for example. Russia is not subordinate to America. Russia is subordinate to her own corrupt leadership.

        “It is called containment of Russia, and in practice it means blocking Russia’s access to global markets, in order to punish Russia, keep it at bay, and keep it backwards and unstable. ”

        If anyone is denying Russia access to global markets, it’s Russia’s government which failed to get off the oil needle after 15 years. First of all, that kind of imperialism really died in WWI. Second, what would be the opposite of containing Russia? Allowing Russia to expand into countries which don’t want to be in her sphere of influence?
        The truth is that Russia cannot compete with America in this economic sphere, largely thanks to the mismanagement of its own government. The Russian economy is slightly higher than that of the state of California. Prior to that it was even worse- So where is the imperative to contain Russia and deny it access to markets? Russia wasn’t even competing with most US corporations in many of these markets.

        It is the government which has kept Russia backwards. America didn’t force Russia to have poor laws governing private business and property. America doesn’t force Russia to let the church interfere in all manner of life in opposition to the Russian constitution. Again, nobody to blame but yourself.

        ” Do you have any evidence to prove this is a myth? This is a consistent policy over hundreds of years. ”

        Here’s a little tip that will save you a lot of money, time, and possibly your life some day: The burden of proof is on the claimant. It is up to Russia to prove that there’s some kind of centuries old rivalry between the US and Russia. That’s going to be hard to do because of the fact that America wasn’t even considered a world power until WWI, if even then(due to its isolationist policies), and of course in that war the US was an ally of Russia. Russia and the US were also de facto allies during the Civil War, when the Russian navy patrolled the US coasts with orders to assist in the American naval blockade of the Confederacy in the event that France or the UK were to recognize the CSA.

        As for the interwar period, the American government was afraid of America’s domestic socialist/Communist movement, which was very influential in those days. They did not consider the USSR a threat(instead they trained against Japan and the UK in their military exercises), and of course Ford helped built the Russian auto industry of GAZ. Then you have the thousands of Americans who volunteered to help with industrialization in the Urals, for example.

        “The Russians do not care that in America there were protesters against Vietnam War. They care about how best to beat America over the head with the Vietnam War.”

        And wouldn’t you agree that this is stupid, because if the Vietnam War was immoral that’s all that matters as opposed to which country was leading it?

        The saddest thing is how so many people in Russia are willing to live without dignity or any well-defined rights all because they fear what people an ocean away might think of them- and those people aren’t even thinking of them at all. Some people would rather allow themselves to be humiliated by a tiny coterie of greedy men just for the illusion that other countries fear them, not respect them for actually contributing something to the world.

      5. Godzilla Pitbull

        Russia may be mismanaged now, but it may not be always that way. But not being Russian, I rarely care about domestic policy of Russia, and you being and American should too. It is none of your business how Russians run their affairs at home.

        American foreign policy seeks to prevent Russia ever becoming a competitor, and that’s why America always tries to target the business of the few companies that Russia has that present a completion to American companies. I personally have seen governments overthrown with American backing, special visits of Secretary of State, sanctions imposed on countries, sanctions imposed on Russian companies, all with the purpose to attack Russian business.

        Americans literally are the worst scum imaginable…

      6. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “Russia may be mismanaged now, but it may not be always that way. But not being Russian, I rarely care about domestic policy of Russia, and you being and American should too. It is none of your business how Russians run their affairs at home. ”

        Actually it is my business, because I live in Russia and my family are Russian citizens. I’ll criticize any government I want.

        “American foreign policy seeks to prevent Russia ever becoming a competitor, and that’s why America always tries to target the business of the few companies that Russia has that present a completion to American companies. ”

        LOL, right. Like? The sanctions were due to Putin’s conscious actions, and the only companies that are remotely competitive and fall under sanctions are ones like Rosneft, which BTW had numerous joint projects with Exxon-Mobil and Chevron up until recently. Some of their projects may still be ongoing.

        By this point you’re not even trying to debate.

        You’re just whiny and crying about Americans like a pathetic angsty teenager. I wouldn’t even be surprised to learn that you live in the US.

        At this point we can pretty much dismiss you as a troubled child who can’t construct a coherent argument.

    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      And what you call therapeutic debates is what normal people call moral principles. Morality often requires one to stand up against the actions of their government.

      Reply
      1. Godzilla Pitbull

        You guys are like Jehova’s Witnesses preaching crap to people who do not want to listen to you. Although Jehova’s Witnesses probably have a better morality record than you for the most part.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Well the problem is that many Russians actually already agree with this and have for years.

        Again, the way Russia has been going for about 25 years ISN’T working. That means it’s time to try something new. Many Russians already agree with this, but now few are brave enough to admit it publicly with the government crackdowns on dissent and intimidation from sponsored groups like anti-Maidan.

      3. Shalcker

        Moral principles are far from being universal, and are quite flexible all around the world. Just paint your opponent as “enemy” and suddenly multitude of things that would be usually immoral become perfectly acceptable.

        That’s not necessarily a bad thing too.

        And there are debates in Russia; but once “oppressed East Ukrainian civilians are shelled by Nazi-loving Kiev” is set as truth it is clearly immoral to not help them by any means necessary.

        Being moral does not automatically means being against any and all actions of government.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “”oppressed East Ukrainian civilians are shelled by Nazi-loving Kiev” is set as truth it is clearly immoral to not help them by any means necessary. ”

        But it’s not objectively true so no- it’s not moral because it’s based on lies.

        I’m sorry but your post-modernism doesn’t fly in the real world.

      5. Godzilla Pitbull

        The last 25 years, Russia was obediently sucking up to the West for the most part. The results of sucking up to the West, being an obedient resource appendage, trading your stuff for fancy paper from Washington or Frankfurt, requiring fancy papers from abroad to develop, that all has not been working.

        You have a way out?

      6. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Unfortunately Godzilla, it seems you can only conceive of two possible relationships between the West and Russia- Either menacing smaller countries and threatening the world with war and nuclear annihilation, or “sucking up to the West,” bending over, etc.

        Do you think this is how Germany, the UK, Sweden, France, etc. see their relationship with the US? France and Germany had a major beef with the US over Iraq, and the Bush administration acted like total douchebags over it while the Germans and French simply went about their business and held the moral high ground. They still worked with the US on other projects, but they didn’t support the war in Iraq. And keep in mind Germany actually has US bases on its soil.

        As I said before, you’re living in a world that has long since passed, with a very prison-like mentality.

        Look if you want to build empires and fight with rivals, there’s a much better way you can do that personally. There’s these computer games like Victoria II or Europa Universalis IV if you want to go back further.

        But this whole geopolitical “grand chessboard” shit just isn’t how the modern world works.

      7. Godzilla Pitbull

        Who cares about German opinion on Iraq war? America invaded Iraq anyway, so nobody relevant does. Russia is not Germany with American bases, and American cock up her arse. Modern World to me is: “America is the exploiter, and only the strong can stand up to it. The World would be a better place without America. America is evil, and the World will rejoice when you people are gone.”

        By the way, I’m not Russian.

      8. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yup. Who cares about what other countries think or do? Every country that doesn’t do what Russia likes must have an “American cock up its ass.”

        Aaaaand that’s why people hate you. You may not be Russian(which is funny actually), but you’v certainly assimilated the true vatnik ideology, complete with non-stop homoerotic imagery.

        You say only the strong can stand up to America, but you bet on a dying horse.

        People like you have nothing to offer the world. Last time folks like you had any influence, the Soviet Union, Britain, and the US teamed up to put them down.

      9. Jim Kovpak Post author

        In any case, the world clearly prefers America to Russia. Many countries exploit, as does Russia to the extent that it can.

        But then again, since there’s no objective reality or morality how could America or even exploitation be “evil,” right?

        Oops.

      10. Godzilla Pitbull

        That’s where you are mistaken. The World does not prefer America, the World would be better off without it, and everyone is aware of it. America is bad for Europe, bad for Russia, bad for China, bad for the Arabs, bad for everyone, and everyone hates America. America offers the World nothing of value, nothing that the World doesn’t have, and nothing that the World cannot make. America bullies most of the World into submission by various means, and whoever stands up to her is a hero.

      11. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Apparently you aren’t really aware of how the world really works.

        I’m sorry to say but you have the mentality of an angsty teenager and the ideology to boot. I know because I had the same ideology back when I was an angsty teenager living life on the internet instead of in the real world.

        The good news is, however, that this won’t necessarily bar you from getting the title of “political analyst” on RT.

      12. Godzilla Pitbull

        Who said there is no objective morality? The fact Russians used your own stupid device against you should not make you angry. They have more ropes to hang you on. So does the rest of the World.

      13. Jim Kovpak Post author

        What do you mean “your,” moron? I’m not a representative or supporter of the US government. One doesn’t have to be to point out that it is far more functional and better to its citizens than the Russian government.

      14. Godzilla Pitbull

        Moral relativism is very popular in US universities, it permeates into culture. It’s yours…

  3. Shalcker

    >”Again, the way Russia has been going for about 25 years ISN’T working. That means it’s time to try something new. Many Russians already agree with this..”
    …And because of that support anti-West stance. Because last 25 years were mostly filled “West appeasement”, and that is seen as something that clearly didn’t work as intended. Time to try something new.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “and that is seen as something that clearly didn’t work as intended. ”

      Actually look at the improvement of Russian living standards during that time, roughly up to 2013, and you’ll see that it was working.

      Where it broke down is when Putin decided to have another term and crack down harder on the opposition. That told investors that things were not going to get better in Russia.

      Reply
      1. Shalcker

        Wait, you just said “the way Russia has been going for about 25 years ISN’T working”… and now you immediately deny it and say it was actually working except for that last part, a year or two at most?

        Then you should have said “what happened in last year clearly isn’t working”; it’s a bit too early to claim it with any certainty though.

        Even then you can turn it around as “West can’t be seen as good role model because what Russia does now is actually following on worst Western flaws – ignoring international law, supporting anti-government rebel factions, and so on; and that is hurting Russian image! Got to follow our own path instead!”

        And investors look where they can make money; return of carry-traders is inevitable like phases of the Moon.

    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      This also ignores the fact that Russians had no ability to “try something new,” unlike Americans who flocked to the Democrats in 2006 and 2008, for example.

      Reply
      1. Shalcker

        It’s is arguable that Democrats and Republicans are a distinction without difference in many ways, not an actual choice of “something new”.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        In a systemic way, perhaps, but the competition and opposition we see even in the US two-party system is real, as 2013’s government shut down showed, among many other examples.

        Also, people’s voting habits are taken as a sign of what policies the population accepts or rejects.

      3. Godzilla Pitbull

        Americans have a choice between Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. The Russians at least have a genuine opposition that stands up to the Russian regime, and gets featured all the time in American press. I don’t even know of genuine American opposition that would oppose the governing regime there.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Also once again you show how ignorant you are of the internal workings of a country that factors so heavily into your political theories. That’s a bad sign.

  4. Estragon

    This was an interesting post, but there’s an aspect of it that you ignore – namely what Russians say to each other when foreigners aren’t around. I think you will find that they are a lot more self-critical. The need to put up a “unified front” regardless of their actual opinions seems to be strong. And to be fair this is not peculiarly a Russian thing, a lot of people act that way.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Yes, that is very true. The problem is right now you see a lot of the discussion is still steeped in this horrible “geopolitical theory” that you see demonstrated in these comments here. It’s a 19th century theory and that’s where modern Russia is going- back to the 19th.

      Reply
  5. Asehpe

    Shalcker, it’s very simple: you’re denying the obvious responsibility the Russian government has in not having diversified the Russian economy, which continues to be the size of a single US state like California, and where living standards are way below Western levels. Russia has the human capital and natural resources to do way better than this — but Russian government policies have nipped all possibilities of growth in the bud.

    Crank’s and your moral relativism also doesn’t fly, especially because it’s self-contradictory. If you accept any morality, then you can’t criticize anybody, much less the US, since ‘anything is good’ if any country can define morality any way it wants. You can’t both claim that “morality is defined by each country” and accuse the US of immoral political behavior; it’s just self-contradictory (Berkeley Hume already knew that, Kant gave an answer to that… and this is why moral realitivism is not really accepted by practising philosophers today.)

    To accuse America without looking at Russia is like being a 10-year-old who, after being caught with his hands in the cookie jar, whines ‘but Mummy, Johnny did it too!…’ ‘Mummy’ will of course tell you that if you do as Johnny did you deserve to be punished just as much as Johnny, so this is no argument. What’s behind it is the real moral collapse of the Russian people: Russians don’t believe in any morality, Christian or otherwise; they just want the right to be gangsters, just like the US. “If they can steal cookies, so can we!” — and it doesn’t matter if cookie-stealing is evil or not…

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      The main problem with this post-modernist view is that it ignores objective reality. You can tell yourself that there’s no objective truth or there’s only the “perception” of truth only so long before reality comes crashing in.

      That’s what Russia’s leadership has been doing as of late. They’ve shot up their veins full of this outdated geopolitics theory, which is only taken really seriously in Moscow, and they’ve built up an echo chamber around themselves.

      I know I’m going against my own advice here, but it’s a lot like how the Bush administration convinced themselves that Iraq would be a cake-walk. The only difference is that the US had certain institutions and freedoms which allowed society to move on, and eventually cast their vote against those policies even if the overall system remained in place.

      Reply
    2. Shalcker

      I actually looked into it and there were multiple attempts to diversify economy that were largely successful… only oil and gas industry grew at about same pace or better and invited easy and less risky investments so it remained major export good despite all that. You do realise that oil keeping mostly constant percentage through years while GPD doubles means other industries grow as well?

      There was steady technology transfer into Russia with import tariffs on high-tech goods and mandated “localization” percentages that were set to increase as tax benefits provided by them required them to get higher and higher.

      There also was strategy of inviting foreign capital and expertise to keep our economies intertwined while local sources of funding and expertise were marginalized.

      There is no morality in things that countries do; there is only morality in things citizens of country do. And in either US or Russian morality helping weaker party that has non-military targets being shelled seems quite moral.

      Reply
      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Uh yeah, and none of that led to anything significant. Believe me, I know people who work in Skolkovo and other “startup” projects which are micromanaged by the government, for example. What I see there sounds like a lot of government promises without listing the actual results, which is a typical tactic they use.

        Both sides have shelled non military targets in Ukraine. That’s what tends to happen when you use multiple rocket launch systems in urban warfare. The difference is that there have historically been huge movements in America which condemn this action, whereas Russians never seem to care about such shelling in Syria, Libya, or Chechnya.

        And there certainly is morality in what countries do. Would you honestly say that in only considering the countries, there was no moral difference between the Allies and Axis? I should hope not.

      2. Godzilla Pitbull

        The only bad thing Hitler did was attack the USSR. Learn this! There is no Second World War, only the Great Patriotic War, the rest of thing is America’s and Britain’s war, not Russia’s war.

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Thanks for exposing yourself as a Nazi, showing the kind of scum that flock to Putin’s banner these days.

        From here on out, your comments will not make it past moderation. Have fun being the edgy loner at your high school.

  6. Shalcker

    >”Uh yeah, and none of that led to anything significant. Believe me, I know people who work in Skolkovo and other “startup” projects which are micromanaged by the government, for example. What I see there sounds like a lot of government promises without listing the actual results, which is a typical tactic they use.”

    That’s because “startup culture” requires a lot of other things that were missing, involves a lot of failures even when they are present, and Skolkovo idea was mostly wishful thinking by Medvedev – with many high-tech factories that were indeed built not finding markets for their products, and technologies acquired not finding much practical use. Non-Skolkovo industry projects (mostly involving various tax breaks for Western companies to localize production) seem to be a lot more successful.

    >”The difference is that there have historically been huge movements in America which condemn this action, whereas Russians never seem to care about such shelling in Syria, Libya, or Chechnya.”
    That’s factually not true; there were prominent “human rights” people defending Chechens during both Chechen wars, and Russian UN envoys condemned shelling in both Syria and Libya – even when it involved supposedly “allied” Syrian government forces.
    Your perception of “care” seems to be skewed by actually participating in those protest movements in America.

    >”And there certainly is morality in what countries do. Would you honestly say that in only considering the countries, there was no moral difference between the Allies and Axis? I should hope not.”
    If you think that way then it is certainly moral to intervene when your neighbour performs clearly self-destructive acts and shits on previous agreements, as it happened in Ukraine.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      You know you keep making all these vague claims without providing any evidence. Meanwhile the rest of the world including Putin and Medvedev don’t seem to have noticed this successful attempt to diversify the economy, because both expressed regrets about not doing this last December. Maybe you should make some phone calls and remind them how successful their alleged diversification.

      “If you think that way then it is certainly moral to intervene when your neighbour performs clearly self-destructive acts and shits on previous agreements, as it happened in Ukraine.”

      No, it clearly isn’t. More child-logic here. Russia was supporting a corrupt government in that country. Moreover I don’t know which agreements you claim they supposedly shit on(because Yanukovych himself basically did just that), but you don’t solve that by shitting on your own agreements.

      Once again, the concept of morality flies over the head of a Kremlin apologist.

      Reply
      1. Shalcker

        They failed to diversify in a sense that they failed to displace oil and gas as major export contributor. There _were_ attempts made to diversify and successful projects, but their success has lower contribution overall then success of new oil and gas ventures that also grown. It’s ongoing process that is far from being over.

        If Russia supporting one corrupt government is amoral then US/EU supporting other corrupt government is amoral as well; then there is no moral side in this conflict and “might makes right” – because conflict has to be resolved and inaction is not an attractive option when situation is progressing from bad to worse. In that case claiming moral superiority here is silly, and morality plays no part in decisions here.

        On other hand, if supporting whatever government is not amoral by itself, then forcing other side to stick to their agreements is a moral thing to do. Which is exactly what Russia did – tried to force new “government” to abide by February agreements signed by EU foreign ministers. The fact that Yanukovich fled did not invalidate them one bit.
        Then there was the fact that Russian loan offer was still standing even after “regime change” – it wasn’t tied to Yanukovich at all. They could apply to next tranche for another 3 billions $ anytime and keep their gas discounts and other agreements intact. They didn’t.
        That basically proven new Ukrainian government as one that is unable to negotiate.
        And once negotiations are out force remains the only solution.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Made “attempts.” Right. You see none of those attempts ever go anywhere because they consist of gifting positions and new startups to friends and family of the power circle, and then of course everyone down the chain skims off his or her cut. This is how business works in Russia. If it didn’t, it would be a very different country today.

        “Which is exactly what Russia did – tried to force new “government” to abide by February agreements signed by EU foreign ministers. The fact that Yanukovich fled did not invalidate them one bit. ”

        Nope, sorry that’s a fantasy. Russia did not sign that agreement and was against it.

        Russia invaded and annexed part of a sovereign country. It has been fueling a war there which could have ended last year were it not for their material support.

        Russia is no less wrong in this matter than the US was for invading Iraq. The only difference being that at least the US government doesn’t treat its own people like shit(cue idiotic whataboutist argument that shows no concept of degree).

  7. Shalcker

    Why exactly do you think president fleeing country invalidates agreement? What principle are you using here other then “might makes right” that you supposedly reject to apply moral values?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “Why exactly do you think president fleeing country invalidates agreement?”

      What were they supposed to do? Sit around and let Yanukovych rule the country in exile? Many of his party members had already fled. He never gave anyone a chance to organize and go home. As eyewitnesses, including the protesters have said- everything just stopped.

      Even then, it doesn’t justify invasion, annexation, and a war. Russia could have used economic means such as cancelling gas discounts, which actually had a justifiable argument.

      Reply
      1. Shalcker

        So, there is no principle here? Everyone is allowed to do whatever is convenient at the moment and void any agreements because “things changed”?
        As example they could follow on agreement and prepare for early elections while keeping him as nominal head of state until then. His defeat was quite assured.

        There is no need for justification. Economic means were (and are) also used. But they have long-term influence while situation in Crimea required immediate attention. There were various options offered and Kiev rejected them all in a situation where they ultimately had no upper hand.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “So, there is no principle here? Everyone is allowed to do whatever is convenient at the moment and void any agreements because “things changed”? ”

        A party to the agreement left instead of staying to see them through. He was removed via legal parliamentary means.

        ” But they have long-term influence while situation in Crimea required immediate attention. ”

        No, actually it didn’t.

        Russia invaded a sovereign state and annexed a part of it. This is wrong.

  8. iggy

    >”Well I’m really glad you brought that up because you see, countries like America, the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, and so on achieved their position today largely because they had massive struggles involving millions of citizens. Through debate and self-criticism, these countries learned to evolve and improve. This process never stops, but as long as people are allowed to speak their mind and participate in politics these struggles will continue and society will improve. Nobody can deny that 21st century America is far freer and functional than 19th century America, for example.
    You mentioned slavery. Obviously Americans condemn slavery and fought their most destructive war to end it. Now there are some Americans who want to suppress the history of slavery because they claim that teaching that history is unpatriotic. Luckily there are plenty of people opposing that incorrect view, which is no longer dominant as it was decades ago. Pointing out America’s flaws is the first step to correcting them. As for Ferguson, the protests you see show why civil society and freedom of speech are so important. Police brutality is a major problem in America today, but as you see people have organized on their own initiative to bring this issue into the spotlight. This is the first step towards change, and luckily that change doesn’t require them to overthrow the American government.
    You mention wars like Iraq and Vietnam. Were you not aware that both wars were opposed by millions of people and radically altered American politics? Failure in Vietnam brought down one administration and the Iraq War totally discredited Bush and his neoconservative ideologues. The next time an American politician tries to float the idea of invading and conquering another country, they will be confronted with Iraq and the horrible legacy of George W. Bush.”

    peak liberalism brah. freeze peach. everything improving because of muh civil society. ferguson being an *example* of that rather than displaying the lengths to which people have had to go to get their voices heard.

    just a side point really, but one that needed to be made :/

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “peak liberalism brah. freeze peach. everything improving because of muh civil society. ferguson being an *example* of that rather than displaying the lengths to which people have had to go to get their voices heard. ”

      But is any of that actually wrong? And is believing in the effectiveness of civil society(let’s just go with the buzzword for the moment) more unrealistic than the idea that the government and bourgeoisie will effect change out of some kind of gradual enlightenment?

      In countries where civil society exists, it’s easy to underestimate it. But where it is stamped out, you can really gain an appreciation for the concept, flawed as it may be sometimes.

      Reply

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