SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 21 CONTENTS
(1) EDITORIAL: Neo-Soviet Russia, Unhinged
(2) EDITORIAL: Bitter Medicine for Little Volodya Putin
(3) Russia Defiles 9/11
(4) Exposing the Iran Fallacy
(5) Putin’s China Blunder
(6) The End of Borrowing in Russia
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Neo-Soviet Russia, Unhinged
Russia’s crazed unilateral escalation of the new cold war continues apace. One might have thought that a civilized country would refrain from taking such provocative actions at least until its stock market had stopped collapsing, but then the world now begins to see that Russia is not, in fact, a civilized country. Look what Russia has done in just the past few days:
First, Russia announced a massive new escalation
in its military budget. The United States, of course, and its NATO allies will respond in kind, and a new arms race will be born.
Then, ignoring the concerted opinion of the entire civilized world, Russia inked formal treaties
of mutual defense with the breakaway Georgian regions of Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia’s neighbors in Asia
strongly condemned the move, as did all the Western democracies. America and her NATO allies can now do likewise in regard to Russia’s breakaway regions, Ingushetia and Chechnya, just for instance.
Still not content, Russia initiated another frenzied drive towards seizing the fossil fuels
of the Arctic region. A whole new facet of cold war arms racing will thus be born in the frozen north.
As if that were not enough, Russia threatened to instigate a second Cuban missile crisis
. Is the U.S. now free to install a space program in Kazakhstan? It appears so.
And finally, Russia sent nuclear bombers into the Carribean
. Naturally, the U.S. and its NATO allies will now feel themselves free to circulate their own nuclear bombers in places like Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltics.
All in just one week! Russia took all these actions in an utterly unilateral manner, without the support of even one other major nation of the world and flouting the clear opposition of most.
Bitter Medicine for Little Volodya Putin
It must have been rather galling for Vladimir Putin to watch the amazing vitality of the U.S. stock market displayed on Thursday, as it recouped the lion’s share of the 500-point loss it sustained the prior day to close the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 11,000. It was the market’s greatest triumph in six years. After all, Russia’s market has been taking similar point-value hits in recent weeks, yet the RTI average has only been worth, at its peak, one fifth the point value of the DJIA, meaning that the percentage impact on the Russian market has been immeasurably greater.
So while the American market kept right on trading even as major American firms like Lehman and Lynch collapsed and AIG teetered on the brink, the Russian market was shut down. It’s been out of action now more a day and a half, with the Russian government apparently feeling that simply ordering folks not to trade is a wonderful way to show the market’s rock-solid stability. And indeed – lo and behold! – with trading banned outright the RJI has not lost a single kopeck! This gives new meaning to the term “Potemkin Village” and echoes back to the very worst days of the USSR. The Kremlin’s next “plan” is to simply spend Russia’s savings to buy stocks and artifically inflate their value, in the hopes of being able to reopen its Potemkin market and continue the ridiculous charade. Meanwhile healthcare, air safety, and countless other crucial national problems will go wholly ignored, just as in Soviet times.
It was not supposed to be like this, of course.
The Other Russia translates a shocking bit of journalism from the Russian press. Russia is defiling the sacred memory of the 9/11 tragedy with sick, perverted propaganda on state-controlled television. How would Russians like it if America returned the favor with similar broadcasts about Beslan and Dubrovka? Here again is yet another heroic Russian willing to stand up for truth and sanity, risking all to do so. These are the Russians we adore, the country’s last, best hope.
An Open Order
“Zero: an investigation into 9/11,” a film by Italian journalist Giulietta Chiesa and his French colleague Thierry Meyssan, went practically unnoticed in the world. Its authors openly complained about this as they spoke on Channel One, hinting at machinations by America’s intelligence agencies. In Russia, on the other hand, the film was shown on TV on Friday evening, during prime-time – on the “Private Screening” program, which gave it an audience of many millions. In and of itself, this proves that the Cold War is in full swing, at least on Russian television. Mr. Chiesa laments that “the level of democracy in the world is very low. And with every year, it becomes lower and lower.” And that’s why the Italian departed for Russia in search of genuine democracy.
The Jerusulam Post exposes the fallacy of Western thinking on the Russia-Iran axis:
After Russia invaded Georgia last month, one of the West’s principal excuses for inaction was the need for Russian assistance in halting Iran’s nuclear program. “It’s Iran, it’s the UN,” explained Angela Stent, who until 2006 was the US National Intelligence Council’s top Russia officer, to The New York Times. “There are any number of issues over which they [the Russians] can be less cooperative than they’ve been.”
Actually, it is hard to imagine how Russia could be less cooperative on Iran. It has used its Security Council veto both to delay every sanction resolution for months, and then, whenever it sensed that the West might act outside the UN if Russia’s obstructionism continued, to weaken the resolutions to the point where they caused Iran no real pain. Consequently, the sanctions have failed to alter Iran’s behavior.
Posted in iran, russia
Tagged iran, russia
The International Herald Tribune reports on Vladmir Putin’s cosmically stupid China blunder:
Russia’s military success against Georgia is having repercussions that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his stand-in president, Dmitri Medvedev, surely do not welcome. Simply put, Putin has alienated China and other countries that share his interest in countering U.S. power.
The Asian Development Bank, in which China plays a leading role, has extended a $40 million loan at the lowest possible rate to Georgia. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization – which includes China, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan as well as Russia – refused to countenance Russia’s recognition of two breakaway regions of Georgia. The rebuff of Putin is all the more striking because – at least from Putin’s perspective – the central purpose of this group was to form an eastern counterweight to NATO.
China and the Central Asian states may share the Kremlin’s resentment of American dominance in the world, but they are not so eager to construct a multipolar world that they will act against their national interests.
Posted in china, russia
Tagged china, russia
The Moscow Times reports that the stock market collapse means the end of borrowing in Vladimir Putin’s Russia:
Russia’s slumping stock market and the financial crisis will make it more difficult for some of the country’s largest companies to raise international syndicated loans before the end of 2008, banking sources said Wednesday. The Russian stock market suffered its biggest decline in at least a decade Wednesday, and trading on the MICEX and RTS was suspended. These developments, along with the Lehman Brothers collapse and the Georgian conflict, have rocked already negative sentiment in the Russian loan market.
“I’m petrified. We’re forced to lend into a market where very little domestic lending is done and international lenders are the lenders of last resort. Russian companies are funded by international lenders, which have no excess liquidity to offer,” a head of loan syndications said.