Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

An Open Letter to Unca’ Vlad

Posted by Gerald on July 24, 2007

Vladimir Putin – a man whose view of the world is so refreshingly different from anyone else’s that he ought to consider psychiatric help – has characterized Britain’s attitude toward Russia in the recent row over the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi (for murder) as a remnant of a colonial mindset.

First, Vlad, you don’t get to slam someone for having a colonial mindset unless you used to be colonized yourself – it is just bad form.*  Nigeria can say that to Britain during a Commonwealth meeting, but you don’t get to.  Lets remember that Russia was an empire while Britain took colonies everywhere and that the Soviet Union was a superpower while it lost them.  You are also constantly talking about the great power of Russia today.  You do not get to use the rhetoric of a third world state – you haven’t earned it.

Second, the British might have had an empire fifty years ago but you are acting like you’ve got one now.  Cyber attacks on Estonia, blatant interference in the elections of former Soviet Republics, Chechnya, all of this is called… what is the word?  Oh, yeah – imperialism!  While playing dick-swinging imperialist games to such an extent that you are scaring the Poles and Czechs into allowing Dubya to build his missile boondoggle on their soil you do not get to chide Britain for putting some pressure on you to cough up a murder suspect.  After all in Britain – unlike in your country or mine – Lugovoi isn’t in danger of being disappeared or executed by the state. 

 This is just a case of the imperialist calling the kettle colonial.

Where the hell is Edward Said when I need him?

*By the way, we here in the US don’t get to do that either.  Our episode of being a colonized people is a) way too caught up in our being colonial oppressors at the same time, b) beyond the statute of limitations for such complaints, and c) rendered ridiculous by our actions towards, oh the list is too long, since then.  It would be like when white people complain about being victims of racism and when men complain about being victims of gender oppression.  It is kind of whiny and pathetic given the historical context.

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Posted in Britain, international relations, news, rant, Russia | 3 Comments »

A Disturbing Echo

Posted by Gerald on July 20, 2007

During the reign of Tsar Nicholas I, a Russian education minister named Sergei Uvarov enunciated a program of “autocracy, Orthodoxy, and nationalism.”  Education was to indoctrinate a total loyalty to Mother Russia as embodied in the traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church and the absolute authority of the Tsar.

It seems like Vladimir Putin has similar ideas.

Posted in History, news, Russia | Leave a Comment »

A Chill in the Air

Posted by Gerald on July 15, 2007

So in the most recent move by Putin to remind everyone that Russia has a really big … missile stockpile, the Russian government has announced the suspension of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty that limited and allowed for the monitoring and regulation of conventional weapons between the Urals and the Atlantic. 

This is another victim of the administration’s plan for a missile “shield.”  Blind obstinacy and paranoia continues to swell on both sides of the Atlantic.

Posted in international relations, missile shield, Russia | Leave a Comment »

Will the Senate Shield Us from the Shield?

Posted by Gerald on July 5, 2007

Looks like Congress might cut the funds for the missile “shield.”  Read about it here.

You’ve got to love this.  This thing is supposed to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic.  Neither country has actually agreed yet.  It is supposed to protect Europe.  Neither the EU or NATO have endorsed the plan.  It is meant to protect us all from Iran.  Iran doesn’t have any nuclear weapons yet and doesn’t have any ICBMs.  The administration wants funding to start putting the system in place in the two countries that haven’t agreed to let us put it there.  This whole thing has the Russians threatening to move missiles and troops up toward Eastern Europe.

Here is the really funny part: the system hasn’t been successfully tested yet (it has been UNSUCCESSFULLY tested several times.)

So Dubya wants money to deploy a system that doesn’t work, in countries that haven’t agreed to host it, to protect countries that don’t want it, against an enemy that hasn’t threatened them, in spite of threats from a possible enemy who has.

“Well, there he goes again.”

Posted in America, Bush administration, Congress, Diplomacy, European Union, international relations, Iran, missile shield, news, opinion, politics, Russia, Senate | 1 Comment »

The Tinkling of Rattled Sabres

Posted by Gerald on July 4, 2007

The Russians are threatening to move missiles closer to the EU as part of the re-targeting Putin had threatened earlier in retaliation for the U.S. missile “shield” (laugh, choke, snort).

Guess he didn’t like the lobster…

Posted in Bush administration, European Union, international relations, missile shield, news, opinion, Russia, United States | Leave a Comment »

No Deal For Kosovo

Posted by Gerald on June 22, 2007

In a move just about everyone saw coming, Russia and Serbia have rejected the UN’s latest plan to resolve the status of Kosovo.

 Read the details here.

Posted in European Union, international relations, Kosovo, news, Russia, United Nations | Leave a Comment »

Moves against the IMF

Posted by Gerald on June 11, 2007

Vladimir Putin is calling for a reorganization of the international financial system.  Like Hugo Chávez’s call for the creation of a “Banco del Sur” I think this has to be seen as being primarily motivated by a desire to lessen American economic influence.

Whether either of these proposals can or will work is a different question.

Posted in Diplomacy, International, opinion, politics, Russia, South America | 2 Comments »

Azerbaijan!?!

Posted by Gerald on June 9, 2007

From “The Economist”

In the WTF category we have Vladimir Putin’s suggestion at the G8 Summit to position a joint US-Russian anti-missile installation in Azerbaijan.

Posted in Diplomacy, International, politics, Russia | Leave a Comment »

Everything Old is New Again – Update

Posted by Gerald on June 5, 2007

Yesterday, Putin threatened to target Europe with Russian missiles in response to the missile “shield.”

Posted in Diplomacy, International, politics, Russia | Leave a Comment »

Everything Old is New Again

Posted by Gerald on June 4, 2007

My theory is that the next big “unexpected” crisis that is going to slap us up alongside our collective heads is going to come from our good buddies in Russia.

It isn’t like this is coming out of nowhere.

The post-Soviet Russian governments have been riddled with corruption and are carrying a real legacy of Soviet-era paranoia and inefficiency.  Many scholars of political revolution argue that denied expectations are more likely to lead to revolution than out and out oppression.  A lot of Russians do not see that the end of the Soviet Union has brought them much except even less security and a decline of national prestige.  Nationalist politicians, some sincerely and some opportunistically, have blamed outside forces, especially the United States, for many of these problems.  The rise of Russian nationalism has had a number of side-effects, not the least of which has been the severe limitations placed on foreign NGOs working inside Russia.

Add to this the situation with NATO.  The Soviets always saw NATO as an anti-Soviet alliance… mostly because it was an anti-Soviet alliance.  Neither Yeltsin or Putin have been real happy with the expansion of NATO membership since 1990.  Many Russians still see NATO as a predominantly anti-Russian entity.  There is no getting around the fact that many of the eastern European states that have joined NATO have done so to help protect themselves from a resurgence of Russian power.  NATO has engaged in military operations against a Russian ally, Serbia, and in Afghanistan, close to Russia’s borders.  It takes even less institutional paranoia than was demonstrated during the Kursk incident to see a pattern here.

Now we’ve got two looming issues.  The first is that ridiculous missile-defense boondoggle that leaders of both parties have been trying to ram down everyone’s throats since Reagan.  Outside of costing money that could be providing health-care to Americans and helping with the ongoing deterioration of our relationships with Germany and France, this thing has been bugging the Russians from day one.

To even begin deploying this thing we had to let a major treaty from the era of detenté, the ABM Treaty, lapse.  The Russians wanted the treaty renewed.  We refused.  It really doesn’t take a doctorate in studying the Russians to anticipate that they were going to see this as provocative, did it Doctor, I mean Secretary Rice?

This thing is supposed to be deployed in eastern Europe.  We tell the Russians it is intended to protect our friends (most of whom do not want it) from Iranian missiles.  Iran has no missiles capable of hitting western Europe.  Russia still has lots of missiles.  If we are the Russians, what are we more likely to believe, that this is a “shield” intended to protect against missiles that don’t exist, or that it is really intended to protect against the missiles that do exist.

The second issue is Kosovo.  The Russians have been pals with the Serbs for a long time.  They are both Slavic-speaking and Orthodox Christian.  The Russians were the protectors of the fledgling Kingdom of Serbia in the 19th century.  They fought a little conflict called World War I to protect Serbia from Austria-Hungary.  The nationalist press in Russia and Serbia usethe terms “Big Brothers” and “Little Brothers” to refer to one another’s countries.  The US and NATO have been moving toward a solution to the Kosovo situation that the Serbs will not accept.  Russia is backing the Serbs.

All of this is why Russia launched a test of a new class of ICBMs last week.  Vladimir Putin used the terms “imperialism and diktat” to describe the US policies in eastern Europe.  They have rejected a draft UN proposal for Kosovo and have hinted that they are prepared to use their veto on the Security Council to block these plans.

So, is everybody ready for Cold War 2.0?

Posted in Diplomacy, International, opinion, politics, Russia | 2 Comments »