August 14, 2008

Perhaps I”€™m missing something big in the “€œmovement conservative”€™ accounts about what we should be doing to the Russians for their invasion of Georgia. But so far all I”€™ve encountered is more of the usual neocon blather. For informational purposes: this military action took place after the Georgians had tried to keep their pro-Russian province of South Ossetia from seceding. Although the military clash that occurred earlier in the week has given way to a ceasefire, the neocon media are still yapping about the need for measures against the Russians. One predictable loudmouth, Ralph Peters, has complained about Americans “€œwimping out”€ after Russia had gone “€œrogue.”€ For Peters “€œthis invasion recalls Hitler’s march into Czechoslovakia to protect ethnic Germans.”€ Is there anything else that an undesired military action by a country that a particular neocon happens not to like causes him to reflect upon during his moment of anger than “€œHitler’s march into Czechoslovakia”€ or the preceding Munich agreement? This morning the New York Post became even less subtle when it ran banner headlines about Vlad’s “€œNazi atrocities.”€ For neocons it is always 1938, that is, when they”€™re not groping for the other evil precedents afforded by Kaiser Bill, Jeff Davis, or the ancient Spartans.
By now of course there’s lots of railing against the Russian Bear, starting with the perpetually unctuous Rich Lowry, thanking McCain for standing up for democracy against Putin. We”€™ve also heard from, among a legion of other critics, the New York Post editorial page-hacks and more recently, Max Boot and veteran journalist John O”€™ Sullivan, who couldn”€™t resist sneering from his privileged “€œAnglosphere”€ at “€œRussian kleptocracy.”€
The problem here is that none of these enraged democracy-boosters has any idea about what should be done to keep Russia from trying to regain a sliver of its lost influence in the Caucuses. The best that I”€™ve seen from the usual suspects is the call for punishing Russia’s abuse of a neighboring territory (which in this case belonged to Russia up until about 18 years ago) by opposing Russia’s bid to host the Olympics in eight years. Second place here should go to Max Boot’s suggestion that we designate Ukraine and Azerbaijan as “€œmajor non-NATO allies,”€ a term that would yield no military commitment but would indicate our provisional seal of approval for these regions.

Facts that should be noted here are that the US under Bush has become Georgia’s major foreign ally, that our government has strongly suggested bringing Georgia into NATO, thereby ringing Russia with what can only be seen as an unfriendly alliance system, and that at least some South Ossetians, many of whom are ethnic or assimilated Russians, support Russia against Georgia. Having heard Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes conversing on FOX news earlier this summer about what was going on in Russia, I was struck by the stupidity of their comments about “€œhow we were trying to help Russia to choose democracy, but Putin chose Russian nationalism instead.”€ The most damning evidence cited in this stream-of-consciousness session was that “€œPutin’s complaining about our missiles and the fact that we want to extend NATO to Russia’s neighbors.”€ I too would be screaming if I were the Russian leader and ex-president, and particularly after I had heard “€œFOX’s news contributors all.”€

Getting real for a moment, it seems that Putin and his handpicked successor enjoy genuine popular support in their country”€”and for good reasons. They”€™ve turned around the seemingly hopeless economic situation that their post-Communist predecessor Boris Yeltsin left them; and since 2000 (if I can trust the charts provided by the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce), Russia’s present leaders have cut unemployment almost by half and increased the gross national product fourfold. Even if some of the wealth produced in this time period came out of natural gas sales rather than industrial growth, the turn-around in so many economic categories (including the reduction of the national debt to less than a third of what it was in 2000) suggests that Putin and his friends are running something more solid than a kleptocracy.

If “€œmovement conservatives,”€ or whatever these high-paid dabblers call themselves, are bored this late summer and would like to do a bit of missionizing, allow me to suggest a new activity for them. Why don”€™t our global missionaries tell Canadians, Germans, Frenchmen Spaniards, and leaders of the other “€œdemocracies”€ to decriminalize hate speech and to stop throwing people into jail or threatening them with jail sentences for making, or being accused of making, politically incorrect remarks? The democracy boosters might also want to tell the German police to get tougher with “€œantifascist”€ and Muslim toughs who are taking over their cities. With due respect to the 1938ers, the real threat in Central Europe today is coming not from German or Austrian nationalists but from the anti-national Left and from Muslim immigrants. Perhaps we would be able to get our media “€œconservatives”€ to notice this more often, if their snouts were not so deeply embedded in the neocon feeding trough. Europe today does not face a “€œfascist”€ threat but an “€œantifascist”€ danger making way for a hostile Muslim takeover. This seems to me a far more troublesome thing than whether the New York Post’s “€œevil Vlad”€ is trying to reestablish a Russian beachhead in the Caucuses, with lots of local cooperation. That, I would argue, is none of our collective business. The other matter, which is closer to home in the Euro-American heartland, certainly is.       


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