MONDAY SEPTEMBER 1 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Words Americans Live by, Which Russians should Learn
(2) Another Original LR Translation: Nemtsov on Georgia
(3) Goble on Stalin’s Poison Pills
(4) Neo-Sovietism in Post-Putin Russia
(5) Russian Military Failure in Georgia
(6) Flirting with Stalin
(7) Moscow Times Readers condemn Vladimir Putin
(8) Exposing Russian Failure at the Olympics
NOTE: The subject of Josef Stalin, the greatest mass-murderer of Russians in history, comes up ever more often these days when discussing neo-Soviet Russia, and to prove it we have not one but two major items in today’s issue exposing the extent of Stalin’s significance in Putin’s Russia. In connection with them, we are delighted to see that our admired friend Paul Goble, whose brilliant work is regularly republished on this blog, had a recent lengthy op-ed column in the Moscow Times. The next step is for his must-read work to regularly appear in much larger forums.
NOTE: The government of Georgia has released an official chronology and itemization of damage done by invading Russian forces in the recent conflict. View it here.
NOTE: It’s Labor Day in the USA, and with a patriotic editorial we salute all the hard working people of the world including those who selflessly contribute their efforts to generate the content for this blog. Because of the holiday, publishing of comments may be delayed somewhat over the holiday weekend.
E pluribus unum -- From the many, one.
Words Americans Live by, Which Russians Should Learn
Time and again over the last two centuries, malignant dictators of every stripe have calculated that Americans will not fight, that they are a soft people used to comfort and will not stand for principle against the determined onslaught of fire and steel.
Each and every time, those dictators have been proved wrong. Each and every time, the United States has seen the dictator into his grave, obliterating his nation and rewriting the history of the world.
In this past century alone, the efforts of the United States have laid low Japan, Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Japan and Germany today are prosperous, happy nations that bear no resemblance to the maniacal dictatorships that challenged the United States and were destroyed by it. And the United States bestrides the world like colossus. Most recently, the United States was able tgo project its awesome military power to the other side globe and crush tyrranical regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan — projection of this kind of military power is something Russia has never accomplished once in its entire history, and cannot even dream of attempting. Little wonder Russia’s autocrats became so nervous about it.
But it now appears that the job in regard to the USSR was not completed. The United States, it now seems foolishly, accepted the surrender of the USSR on highly favorable terms for Russia rather than physically liquidating it’s malignant regime when it had the chance, as had been done in Japan and Germany. Once again, the forces of venal dictatorship, of haughty childish contempt for American values and indeed for the value of individual human life itself, rise beyond a new Iron Curtain. Once again, ignorant gray little men in lonely towers imagine they can bring down the United States with their furious hatred and delusional arrogance. Once again they believe that no nation can stand behind values like freedom and democracy when fire and steel are flying.
Little do they understand the mighty American people and the principles that guide them, which are consistently expressed throughout American history. Let’s remember them now:
A mistake we will all have to pay for
by Boris Nemtsov*
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
Today’s recognition by Medvedev of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is a strategic and long-term mistake, the consequences of which will be felt by practically all of Russia’s citizens.
Paul Goble, writing in the Moscow Times:
A lot of attention was focused on the symbolic importance when Russian forces occupied Gori, the birthplace of Stalin. Few reflected, however, that this conflict, like many others in the post-Soviet states, is the product of what many in business call “poison pills,” arrangements that make it difficult, if not dangerous, for anyone to try to takeover or even change the basic arrangements of another firm.
If the peoples of the region and the international community are to overcome this crisis and the others that are clearly on the horizon in this part of the world, they need to understand the nature and location of the poison pills Stalin inserted in his system and the dangers of swallowing them.
Paul Goble has published an extremely important analysis showing how Boris Yeltsin “laid the foundations for Putinism” and how Vladimir Putin is laying the foundations for something “even worse” — dare we call it “Neo-Sovietism”? Such a policy, of course, portends Russia’s utter implosion, just as occurred in the USSR. Goble warns that many in Russia itself understand the risk that places like Chechnya will now use this precedent to demand enforced separation from Russia, and even relations with places like Serbia have now been damaged.
Boris Yeltsin’s support for the rise of the oligarchs and the latter’s decision to turn to the siloviki in order to protect themselves from any challenge from the people laid the foundations for Vladimir Putin to construct his increasingly authoritarian regime, according to the leader of the liberal Yabloko party. But as depressing as that trend has been, several recen tarticles in the Russian press called attention to the appearance of a new history textbook for Russian school children which argues that Stalin’s terror was justified as “an instrument of development,” a message which suggests Putin has plans for an even more draconian system than the one he oversees now.
The Times of London reports on the shoddy, embarrassing quality of the army Russia sent into Georgia, one which NATO could easily have brushed aside at will if it had chosen to do so — yet another serious error made by the Putin regime in connection with the Georgia conflict.
Pictures of triumphant Russian soldiers sitting on armoured personnel carriers as they were driven through towns in Georgia will be among the lasting images of the seven-day war. But the victory did not tell the whole story, analysts said yesterday.
The ageing vehicles were so lightly armed and so uncomfortable and hot to sit in that the Russian soldiers felt safer perched on top. “At least they could then react quickly if there was an attack,” Colonel Christopher Langton, an expert on Russian armed forces at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, said.
Mass murder is so sexy!
Writing in Prospect magazine Arkady Ostrovsky, Moscow bureau chief of the Economist magazine, tells us about “flirting with Stalin” and the horror of life in neo-Soviet Russia:
“Dear friends! The textbook you are holding in your hands is dedicated to the history of our Motherland… from the end of the Great Patriotic War to our days. We will trace the journey of the Soviet Union from its greatest historical triumph to its tragic disintegration.”
This greeting is addressed to hundreds of thousands of Russian schoolchildren who will in September receive a new history textbook printed by the publishing house Enlightenment and approved by the ministry of education. “The Soviet Union,” the new textbook explains, “was not a democracy, but it was an example for millions of people around the world of the best and fairest society.” Furthermore, over the past 70 years, the USSR, “a gigantic superpower which managed a social revolution and won the most cruel of wars,” effectively put pressure on western countries to give due regard to human rights. In the early part of the 21st century, continues the textbook, the west has been hostile to Russia and pursued a policy of double standards.
Had it not been for Vladimir Putin’s involvement, this book would probably have never seen the light of day. In 2007, Putin, then Russian president, gathered a group of history teachers to talk about his vision of the past. “We can’t allow anyone to impose a sense of guilt on us,” was his message.