Masha Lipman Just Gives Up
It’s hard to think of an organization that has proved itself more totally irrelevant to the struggle for human rights and democracy in Russia than the Carnegie Center — or more just plain boring. Try as you may, you will not be able to name a single significant action the Center has taken in Russia to stand up against the rise of the neo-Soviet state or, much more important, simply to directly criticize the appalling behavior of the nation’s citizens as they repeat their neo-Soviet mistakes.
And now, CC’s Masha Lipman, who at least in the past has offered some meaningful academic insights about Russia, has jumped the rails and crashed into Russia’s moutains of despair. In a recent Washington Post column, she sighs and states: “It may sadden Russian liberals, including me, but political rights and civil liberties simply do not matter much in Russia these days.” So, apparently, she thinks the U.S. should stop demanding respect for such concepts in Russia, and she doesn’t have a single critical word to say about the craven cowardice and greed that motivates Russians to adopt this view.
But worse that that, her column is full of hopelessly inane contradictions and dead-end roads that lead nowhere.
She complains about the U.S. presidential candidates that “neither has outlined a policy that would overcome the current confrontations with Moscow and make the world more secure. The big question is how they expect to change Russia’s behavior.”
Yet, she doesn’t say one specific word about what the U.S. should do, instead spewing forth ridiculously empty platitudes like “America should be guided by realistic vision and rational goals, not by Cold War preconceptions and illusions.” That’s hypocrisy truly worthy of Russia’s neo-Soviet regime!
She states that “Russia today simply dismisses the United States as an international authority” while ignoring the fact that the U.S. is an international authority, and ignoring the hypocrisy of Russians who demand that Americans compromise with Russia but are unwilling to compromise with America.
She claims that “the United States does not have sufficient leverage to intimidate Russia into behaving in a way it considers more appropriate or to lure Russia into sharing” without seeming to realize that the U.S. hasn’t even begun to apply leverage to Russia. The U.S. hasn’t booted Russia out of the G-8, hasn’t boycotted the Sochi Olympiad, hasn’t admitted Ukraine or Georgia into NATO, hasn’t flooded Eastern Europe with military hardware, hasn’t embarked upon a massive military buildup designed to overwhelm Russian strategic forces, and hasn’t organized an economic embargo on the Russian economy. Even without doing so, the U.S. has seen the value of the Russian stock market fall by half and the entire international community repudiate Russia for its invasion of Georgia.
For all the world, it appears that Ms. Lipman simply doesn’t have the taste for a fight, and is urging us to avoid one by behaving like Neville Chamberlain. Is she really suggesting that we should recognize Russia’s “security interest” in Georgia to the extent of allowing it to slice of chunks of that country at will, undermining U.S. security interests in the pipelines that flow through the nation from the Caspian reserves? Is she prepared to sacrifice Georgia in the vague hope that Russia will not turn a malignant eye towards the Crimea, and then to Ukraine itself?
She refers to the “overwhelming public support of the war in Georgia” among Russians and notes that “Putin’s approval rating was 88 percent and Medvedev’s 83” asserting that “this is not loyalty driven by fear of repression” without pausing even for a second to mention that it is driven by the chokehold the Kremlin has over the national media, by blind abject ignorance of basic facts throughout the ranks of the common people in Russia.
And then her commentary becomes really quite insane. Just take a look at this sheer nonsense:
The West had a sympathetic constituency inside the Soviet Union: not just the dissidents, a tiny group willing to sacrifice themselves for the freedom of others, but millions of Russians who spent hours listening — through the jamming of radio signals– to broadcasts from the United States, Germany or Britain. Those quiet listeners were not warriors, but they were, in some fundamental way, allies of America as it waged its anti-communist crusade. The decades of terror and repression had left the nation scared and exhausted. People did not physically resist, but they resented the aging Politburo leaders and the communist regime that reduced their lives to endless struggles with lines and shortages and deprived them of individual freedoms and natural pursuits such as entrepreneurship. They might not have said so explicitly, but they, too, wanted communism defeated.
Is she really saying, with a straight face, that a few million silent Russians (maybe 5% of the population), secretly wishing for the USSR to fall is what brought it down? Not Ronald Reagan’s arms race and “evil empire” confrontation? Not the cold war? Is she actually suggesting that if 5% of the people in Putin’s Russia loved and respected America, then his regime would fall (or would never have been erected in the first place?
You have to hand it to Putin. First he broke Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and now for all the world it seems like Ms. Lipman has knuckled under as well. In this light it’s not hard to see how Stalin was able to consolidate his rule and wipe out 20 million citizens.
All that silence comes in mighty hand, no?