Time for another readalong, where we take you on a pulse-pounding line-by-line journey through the twisted mind of a Russophile psychopath. This time its Alfred Kokh, former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin and the author of the upcoming book A Crate of Vodka: An Insider View On The 20 Years That Shaped Modern Russia, writing in the Christian Science Monitor. His words verbatim in ordinary print, our commentary following in boldface.
It’s a truism that stable and friendly relations between two countries require each to look at a situation from the other’s point of view. The recent tussle between Russia and the West over Georgia is a stark reminder of how the United States has fundamentally never understood Russia’s point of view. The conventional view is that Russia in recent years has been pushing away from the West. But the reverse is more accurate. The Russia-Georgia conflict is a consequence of the West’s “pushing away” of Russia.
He’s right, of course, about it being necessary “to look at a situation from the other’s point of view.” But what he fails to acknowledge is that nobodyin mainstream Russian media is allowed to look at anything from America’s point of view. America routinely publishes the drivel of lunatics like this, but there is zero reciprocity in Russia. Just this past week, we reported on how Professor Boris Sokolov was fired for daring to raise America’s viewpoints on the Georgia crisis. To suggest that America can make better relations with Russia by one-sidedly considering Russian interests is such nonsense that it could only come from one of Boris Yeltsin’s flunkies. Let’s not forget that Yeltsin is utterly despised by the people of Russia and personally responsible for putting Vladimir Putin in power. The West is “pushing away” Russia in exactly the same way Russia “pushed away” Nazi Germany. Was that a bad thing? Is this ape suggesting Russia should have done more to “understand” Nazi motivations? Those with weak stomachs, turn away now. It gets much, much worse as it goes on. You have been warned.
Russia needed a good friend to stand by her side the past 15 years, to counsel her on becoming an open, democratic country tightly bound to the West. Russia thought it had found a friend in America. Unfortunately, despite the desire of Russia’s newly formed leadership to move closer to the West, to be integrated to Western institutions, there was no move to meet Russia partway. All issues of integration were talked away during the many years of negotiations, and all questions of economic aid ended up as miserly loans from the World Bank.
To put it mildly, he’s a shameless liar. To suggest that after 70 years of unrelenting anti-American hatred the people of the USA should simply accept that Russians has magically changed their minds and become “friendly” is insulting nonsense. Boris Yeltsin himself warned about the danger of backsliding, and backsliding is exactly what we saw occur, fully enabled by a senile, drunken, dottering Yeltsin himself. The idea that if only America had given Russia more money and more sweet words of friendship and allowed Eastern Europe to remain vulnerable to Russian attack the Russian people would never have turned to the KGB is abject nonsense, so ludicrous that only a Russia could come up with it. Despite that, the USA still went out of its way to bring Russia into the G-7 and cooperate on every imaginable front, including a massive reduction in the nuclear arms race.
Having worked in Boris Yeltsin’s government as a deputy prime minister, I know how the West tried to persuade Russia to take on the entire foreign debt of the former USSR. Russia agreed to take this very difficult step in the hope that the West would appreciate its sacrifice and begin seeing the world through its eyes. Unfortunately that did not happen. Yeltsin’s government ended up with almost no allies or supporters in Russia. He was perceived as a puppet of the West, his policies dictated by the US. It should come as no surprise, then, that Vladimir Putin came to power as he did in 1999.
What this malignant rat bastard doesn’t tell you, dear reader, when he invokes the name of Boris Yeltsin is that despite his alleged liberalism he played a key rolein helping the Kremlin seize control of Russia’s last independent national TV network, NTV, shortly after Putin rose the presidency. There’s nothing the least bit wrong with expecting Russia, the imperialist exploiter of the USSR, to take responsibility for that exploitation — yet even today, Russia has not atoned for the atrocities it committed in other nations, like the Katyn forest massacre for instance.
Now, the West considers Prime Minister Putin a foe of democracy. But he was the first to support America after 9/11, and he provided substantial help in organizing operations in Afghanistan. Putin made simple requests in return: membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), dropping visa entry requirements to European Union (EU) countries, and significant cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). All this was promised to him and none of it happened.
“Considers”? Did he really use that word? Maybe it was an error in translation. Notice how he changes the subject immediately, and says nothing about Putin’s policy in regard to democracy, instead preferring to discuss foreign policy? That’s classic Sovietspeak. Don’t forget: This man was raised under communism. Has Russia agreed to drop visa entry requirements for EU citizens? No. In fact, Russia still requires its own citizens to carry domestic passports. Has it even tried seriously to qualify for WTO membership? No. Instead, it’s repeatedly said it doesn’t care about the WTO. Cooperation with NATO? Would Russian forces have been willing to join NATO in driving Russian forces out of NATO friend Georgia? This man speaks as if he were deep into his second bottle of cheap vodka.
Let’s imagine for a moment that Russia had been integrated into the West. Then the corruption of the Russian judicial system and its susceptibility to administrative pressure would be balanced by European judicial institutions and the imperfections of its electoral system would be muted by European legislation and the European parliament. The government’s economic policies would be in accord with the norms of the EU and WTO and Russia’s military independence would be constrained by NATO rules. The human rights situation in Russia would be very different.
He’s insane! He’s suggesting that Russia has sought and been denied EU membership. That’s simply a lie. Russia has never shown the least bit of interest in allowing the EU superstructure to dictate Russian judicial conduct. To suggest otherwise is the statement of a neo-Soviet madman.
The West would only win in this scenario. Instead, it has surrounded Russia with missiles and radar stations and accumulated conventional weapons in close proximity to its borders. It would be naive to expect Russia to make concessions such as ratifying the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty under these conditions. Opinion polls show that promoting pro-Western policies in Russia today without an equivalent response from the West would be political suicide for Russian leaders. Neither the military establishment nor citizens would support such concessions.
Political suicide? Is this ape really suggesting that if the people of Russia get good and mad about something, they are more than capable of driving Vladimir Putin from office? If so, what is the basis for such a claim? When has such a thing ever happened? Like lemmings, the people of Russia have blithely allowed Putin to strip them of every aspect of civic authority, so that now he stands as an unassailable dictator with no credible organized opposition of any kind. Is he really so oblivious to the basic security concerns of the Eastern European countries whom Russia has brutalized for so many decades? Don’t they have any right to protect themselves? Are they supposed to just take Russia’s word that it means them no harm? If so, why doesn’t Russia have to take NATO’s word on the same score?
The situation in Georgia is a global embarrassment, a tale of contradictions. And, the reaction from Russians and Americans is, simply put, ironic. Russian leaders were crying crocodile tears over the genocide of Ossetians, and voicing outrage over the shelling of Tskhinvali. But they had done the very same thing in Chechnya just a few years ago. The American administration is no better, attacking Iraq for bogus reasons, destroying an entire nation, inciting further religious terrorism, and killing tens of thousands of civilians. To understand Russia’s actions in Georgia, the West must first understand that Russia does not see herself as the losing side that must be punished for the cold war. Second, there is a dangerous historic precedent: In 1919, the Entente forced Germany to sign the humiliating Treaty of Versailles. Historians suggest that the repercussions of that Treaty led to World War II. Had the Allies looked at the situation from the German point of view, history may have taken a better course.
So let’s see now. If Germany “didn’t see itself as the losing side” in World War II, does that mean Russia would then have no right to punish Germany as it did? Is this man suggesting — no, threatening — that Russia will become a new Nazi Germany if it isn’t given what it wants in Eastern Europe, including the sacrifice of places like Georgia and Ukraine? Should Russia have “looked at the situation from Hitler’s point of view” when the Nazi forces invaded, and surrendered and given heed to German “concerns”? We’re truly through the looking glass now, listening to the inane babbling of a neo-Soviet thug who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him on the ass.
Perhaps the conflict in the Caucasus will at least force the West to talk to Russia about real integration – WTO membership, for example. For if Russia continues to be “pushed away” – left alone with its anxieties and the anxieties of its leaders – relations will definitely sour. Do not forget how many nuclear warheads Russia has and how many Russians want to save the country’s honor.
Iraq? Please, refresh our recollection, sir. Was the government of Georgia condemned by numerous UN resolutions for gross human rights abuses? We don’t remember that occurring, nor do we recall Russia asking for an international force to move into Georgia, or even telling anyone it was going to happen. This is the kind of “history” that Russian children are being tought in school these days, the same “history” that the author himself learned when he was in school. Truly terrifying stuff.
“Force”? Is that ANOTHER threat? What exactly is he saying will happen if Russia isn’t given WTO membership, something it says it doesn’t even care about? Will that mean Russian tanks rolling into the Ukraine? And is the only “sensible” course of action to give Russia what it wants, as Chamberlain did for Hitler?