EDITORIAL: The Cold War, Part II

EDITORIAL

The Cold War, Part II

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The Holy Bible; Proverbs 16:18

In 1964, a Stanley Kubrick film called Dr. Strangelove: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb was nominated for four Academy Awards. It’s a film about how America screws up and allows a rogue general to instigate a global thermonuclear apocalypse. Can you name the Russian counterpart of this film, where the Russians express similar doubts about their government’s ability to manage their nuclear weapons programs? No? We didn’t think so. That’s because there isn’t one. And that, as much as anything else, explains why America beat Russia in the first cold war.

And now, it’s starting all over again.

At the beginning of August, Russian forces crossed the boundary of Georgia’s breakaway province of Ossetia and stormed into Georgia proper, bombing civilian targets in the city of Gori.

At the beginning of September, the United States retaliated by sending an armada of warships into the Black Sea to provide humanitarian aid to Georgia, and disregarding Russian protests.

Russia then replied by scheduling anti-U.S. war games in cooperation with Venezuela. “President” Medvedev stated: “I wonder how they would like it if we sent humanitarian assistance using our navy to countries of the Caribbean that have suffered from the recent hurricanes.”

It’s predictable, then, that NATO will now schedule anti-Russian war games in places like Poland, Estona, Ukraine and Georgia. Russia will retaliate, and soon the two sides will realize that the games might become quite real at a moment’s notice. This will compel them to boost their military capacities, leading to a new arms race.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does. It sounds just like what happened during the latter half of the 20th century. Russians apparently feel that, although they were totally defeated in the first such conflict, leading to the dissolution of the USSR, they may have better luck the second time around.

It’s an odd conclusion for them to come to. The USSR had a population double what Russia has today, larger than America’s, and it had the Warsaw Pact allies for further support. Today, America’s population is twice that of Russia, it’s GDP is 12 times larger and its military budget is 20 times larger (even in bad economic times, the U.S. economy continues to dominate the world while the Russian stock market is in abject freefall). And Russia stands utterly alone in the world while the U.S. is back by the mighty NATO alliance. The USSR had a command economy and a totalitarian political system, so it didn’t matter much when the Politburo decided to take bread out of people’s mouths in order to build tanks and missiles. By doing so, it could match the U.S. jot for jot in miltary expenditures — that is, until it was ultimately bankrupted by the process. But now, even though Putin has undertaken a massive crackdown, there are still gaps in his control over society which will result is widespread social instability if the same crazed policy is pursued again.

As crazy as Russia’s decision seems when viewed in the context of overwhemling American power, it seems even more insane when measured against Russian interests. What, exactly, does Russia feel it has to gain by confronting the United States and reasserting imperial control over the former USSR? Russia already has the largest land mass of any country in the world, and can’t populate it. Russia loses up to 1 million people from its population each year, and yet it is seeking more territory? Is it Russia’s goal to invade and conquer the U.S.? If it successfully did so, what would it then do with it’s “prize”? Wouldn’t it find itself very much in the shoes of Napoleon after he marched into Moscow and then couldn’t remember why he had done so?

Is Russia motivated solely by blind, irrational, bull-headed pride?

Some people, like even Russian Alexander Golts of Yezhedevny Zhurnal, keep trying to convince themselves that, because it would be illogical, Russia can’t possibly provoke a new cold war. Golts, seemingly panicked by the prospect, speaks in ridiculous hyperbole: “There isn’t any possibility of a new Cold War.”

Oh really, Mr. Golts? Then let La Russophobe ask you this:

  • What was the “possibilty” that Nikita Khrushchev would visit the United Nations and, in full few of the world, take off his shoe?
  • What was the “possibility” that Russians, having just seen decades of totalitarian horror in which the KGB murdered millions, would choose a proud KGB spy as their second “president”?
  • What was the “possibility” that Josef Stalin would stab his allies in the back and make a secret deal with Adolf Hitler?
  • What was the “possibility” that Putin would abolish local government, political parties and independent media and the civilized world — to say nothing of the craven people of Russia, — would simply look the other way.
  • What was the “possiblity” that the Kremlin would assassinate Alexander Litvinenko using radioactive toxin?

You simply can’t, in short, make any money betting that Russia won’t do irrational, self-destructive things, no matter how bizarre they may seem when suggested. How quickly Mr. Golts has forgotten the self-imposed implosion of the USSR, and the Tsarist regime before it. How quickly he has forgotten that while Russians bravely defended themselves from Hitler, they turned a blind eye to Stalin’s mass murder of their neighbors, which easily exceeded the brutality of Hitler.

That’s why it was possible for Russia to lash out at the small group of foreigners who are insane enough to call Russia home.  It suddenly revoked a prior agreement to waive testing of expats for leprosy, syphilis and four other diseases when applying for work permits.  The notion that Russia, one of the sickest and most dangerous countries on the planet, would feel the need at any time to test Americans, Germans and Britons for these diseases, much less at time when Russia stands virtually friendless in the world, can only be described as another Khrushchev moment.  Just days ago we republished an editorial from the Boston Globe, one of the world’s most respected newspapers, stating in so many words that Russia’s leaders had lost touch with reality as they promulgated loony conspiracy theories about American spies in Georgia.

So frankly, being Russian, it’s quite possible that Mr. Golts is slightly loopy too, and has forgotten what country he is in and just what it is capable of.

5 responses to “EDITORIAL: The Cold War, Part II

  1. I can name a Russian counterpart of Stanley Kubricks film, its called “Dead Man’s Letters”( Письма мёртвого человека). And that, as much as anything else, explains why no one really reads your blog…

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS:

    Sir, you are a blackguard and a liar, on two different counts.

    First, the film to which you refer (http://www.moria.co.nz/sf/lettersfrdeadman.htm) is science fiction. Strangelove is not. Your film focuses on life after nuclear horror, while Strangelove focuses on what happened to create the horror, the outrageous mistakes and corruption of the highest levels of authority, including a protracted depiction of the President of the United States. Your film does not even try to blame the Soviet government specifically (it was made in 1986, when Russia was still a communist dictatorship), but rather focusses on the evil of nuclear weapons as an abstract concept, while Strangelove condemns the U.S. government at every level, political and military. Letters has a plot “set in a town after a nuclear war, which was caused by a computer error and the failure of the operator to prevent the missile launch — he noticed the mistake, but choked with coffee and was not able to shout respective commands in time.” In Strangelove it is the American government’s personnel which intentionally starts the war, not a mere technical accident. Moreover, Strangelove is only one of many such films that have been made in English. Letters is one of a kind, and has nothing like the profile in Russia that Strangelove has in the West.

    Second, this blog is read by more than 2,000 people each day on average (yesterday, it was 2,335) and has been visited nearly half a million times since it was established less than three years ago. To date we’ve published over 10,750 comments from our non-readers. Our blog has been cited by the Associated Press, the Washington Post, the New York Review of Books, the Moscow Times and dozens upon dozens of websites including powerhouses like Slate and Little Green Footballs. In short, your statement is utterly dishonest and stunningly ignorant.

    And that (i.e., your shameless ignorance and dishonesty), as much as anything else, explains why Russian men don’t live to see their sixtieth year and why Russia has collapsed three times in the last century — because it has “friends” like you with the intelligence and morals of a baboon.

    But still, we thank you for your comment. As anyone can see, instead of seeking a chance to educate us in a constructive manner and to explore dialogue, you instantly attack us on a personal level, seeking only confrontation in an obvious and desperate attempt to vent your hatred. How ironic, then, that you would criticize us on that basis! Or perhaps pathetic would be a better word.

  2. “DrStranglove” is a fictional apocalyptic comedy, a far cry from science fiction ha? There are numerous Soviet-era books on the subject of nuclear war, someone as intelligent as you should have deduced that in USSR, a country with one of the highest “book readership” rates in the world, the film industry was not as massive. As to the specific details of those books and movies. Well, perhaps Stanley Kubrick knew who is the most likely real aggressor. A fact that has been proven time and time after the “end” of the Cold War, by the fact that a bunch of elitist, arrogant , greedy scumbags continued to strengthen their grip on worlds resources under the guise of “humanitariansim”, “spread of democracy” and “battling islamic terrorirsm’.

    LA RUSSOPHOBE RESPONDS: Trying to change the subject to books will not work, you cretin. If you live in a world where it does, stay in that world to avoid public humiliation. Nor will simply ignoring your lie about our readership.

    Strangelove is highly realistic in every way and stops at the moment of apocalypse beginning. Your film only begins there.

    Is it really so hard for you to simply say “I’m sorry, I was wrong”? If you did, it might give you more influence with us next time. But that won’t go through your rock-like skull, will it.

  3. LOL”USSR” and “book readership” in one sentence…

    have you ever actually READ any of those books you quote here? And I don’t mean the banned ones by the likes of Solzhenitsyn and Bulgakov nor the pre-soviet classics by Dostoyevski and Tolstoy, nor the poets Mayakovski or Pushkin, NOR the S/F stuff(although, admittedly, poetry and S/F did get away with marginally more than the mainstream of “soviet books”)

    If you have read one “Soviet book”, you’ll find it quaint, naive and idealistic, perhaps interesting even. But any more than 3 and you’ll start seeing a pattern of such blatant propaganda that it just boggles the mind!

    that said, it’s always good to see things from the other side’s perspective so I suggest everyone read at least one book from the opposite POV to their own. Just to see how it is :P

  4. Quote: Is it really so hard for you to simply say, “I’m sorry, I was wrong”? …..

    The true Russian patriot never admits that he is wrong. You can pee in his eyes and he says that it is raining.

  5. If you ever come across the book “The Long Walk” it is highly recommended.

    I forget the name of the author, but it is seared into my mind.

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