We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Putin is nervous… who cares?

Vladimir Putin, the former KGB member who runs Russia as if the Soviet Union was still alive and well, does not like the fact the US is prone to take military action outside its own borders, claiming it is causing a new arms race.

Arms race? With who? China is certainly arming itself but sclerotic Russia? I would love to see some figures for Russian arms procurement over the last ten years to get some insight into the true strength of Russia as a serious military power. The Russian GDP is about $1.7 trillion… i.e. slightly less than Italy… and does anyone really loose much sleep over what the President of Italy thinks?

Still, it seems a bit perverse for a man who seems keen to sell technology to Iran to be complaining about all those things the pesky Yanks are doing which are not in his interests.

76 comments to Putin is nervous… who cares?

  • Nick M

    Perry,

    Are you a bit Brahms? Just thinking that on the basis of your typos.

    You can’t compare military capability on GDP exactly. In countries with low wages a little goes a lot further.

    It also appears to me that while the Russian Army and Navy aren’t up to much some of their top-notch aircraft and missiles are very very good. The US/UK still thinks Harpoon is pretty good and the Sov’s (oops, did I call them that?) have SS-N-22 Sunburn. The assorted big Sukhois are pretty hot as well.

    Apparently the Russians have been doing a roaring trade in defence kit recently so that cash-flow (and economies of scale) will help the bear re-sharpen its claws.

    They seem to have concentrated resources on specific programs and systems leaving a very uneven level of capability over the full military spectrum. Much is dreadful but the good stuff seems very good indeed.

    Similarly, the Strategic Rocket Service is as awesome ever.

  • Sunfish, apparently the thread-killer

    Maybe not that many people outside Europe care what Giorgio Napolitano thinks, but then President Napolitano doesn’t have a nuclear arsenal worth mentioning and the ability to shut off the natural gas to much of Europe as part of a genitalia-waving contest.

    Gross domestic product and the fact that much of western civilization was invented in one’s country don’t by themselves translate to influence.

    Sure, one is the elected leader of a civilized nation, and the other is a thug formerly employed by one of the most evil entities in human history, but the thug has the ability to end life as we know it if the decides he wants to die as well.

  • Sunfish, apparently the thread-killer

    Maybe not that many people outside Europe care what Giorgio Napolitano thinks, but then President Napolitano doesn’t have a nuclear arsenal worth mentioning and the ability to shut off the natural gas to much of Europe as part of a genitalia-waving contest.

    Gross domestic product and the fact that much of western civilization was invented in one’s country don’t by themselves translate to influence.

    Sure, one is the elected leader of a civilized nation, and the other is a thug formerly employed by one of the most evil entities in human history, but the thug has the ability to end life as we know it if the decides he wants to die as well.

  • guy herbert

    A lot of people seem to care what the President of Iran (GDP $600-odd Bn) thinks, and unlike Putin he’s a long way from having absolute power in his country and his nuclear arsenal is counted in zeros rather than thousands.

  • Julian Taylor

    Similarly, the Strategic Rocket Service is as awesome ever.

    Which surely justifies Perry’s point exactly. Putin was whining about the stationing of ballistic missile defence resources in Poland and the Czech Republic and using an attack on the USA as a way of masking that. Look at the earlier article in that same paper and it reads, somewhat chillingly like the Soviet rhetoric we became accustomed to in the Cold War, rather than a statement from a 21st Century world leader.

  • Rob

    Wouldn’t a more apt comparison be the Prime Minister of Italy, with the President of Russia, given the powers each has?

    Romani Prodi provides me with more disquiet than Putin does, thanks to his relentless pro-EU rhetoric.

  • Are you a bit Brahms? Just thinking that on the basis of your typos.

    Yes, but only a bit… well, a fair bit.

  • D Anghelone

    …loose much sleep…

    Netspeak (Netlish?) claims another victim.

  • Kevin

    Putin is the knight in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” who kept trash-talking even when he’d lost both arms and both legs. Not only is Russia a pathetic weak sister right now, but its demographic implosion may well wipe it off the map altogether within a few decades. It couldn’t possibly mount a war any more, and most likely even it’s aging nukes are too decayed too work.

    Russia don’t matter, except as a bit of comedy.

  • Nick M

    Kevin,
    A bit of comedy, maybe but a whole load of natural resources.
    Don’t count on those nukes being rusty. The Strategic Rocket Services were the one thing that was ring-fenced as the Soviet Union collapsed. The conscripts could be paid in cabbages (if at all), the fleet could rust and the airforce larger grounded but the SRS was always maintained.

  • Bob Gleason

    That’s $1.72 trillion Russian GDP at Purchasing Power Parity ($12,100 per capita) — meaning that things are really cheap in Russia. At the official exchange rate, Russian GDP was $733 billion in 2006.

    By comparison, Italy had a $1.78 trillion economy at the official exchange rate, and $1.73 trillion at PPP ($29,700 per capita).

    US official exchange rate GDP for 2006 was $13.2 trillion, and $13 trillion at PPP ($43,500 per capita).

  • Russia don’t matter, except as a bit of comedy.

    You can’t deduce military capability from the GDP. The Soviet Union had a still smaller GDP but greater military force. Same with North Korea.

    And it also seems they spend their military budget well – where it matters most – in missiles, offensive and defensive. Not in pensions for veterans, maintenance of unneeded bases and useless contingents in foreign countries. And there is that matter of oil and natural gas.

    Russia is definitely more important and strong than Italy, and probably more than Great Britain too.

  • John Galt

    Don’t dis the Russians. They still can play a potent spoiler role.

    –They still have a highly educated population, including physicists, engineers, computer scientists. They could provide valuable technical assistance to Iran, China, Pakistan, anyone with a checkbook

    –They control significant amounts of natural resources

    –They still (probably) have either functioning nuclear weapons or fissile matierials. What’s to stop them from relasing one to a terrorist group for denaible use against the USA? Putin would love to see us cut down to size.

    –The KGB/GRU is still a tough, ruthless force. If they decided to help train terrorists to attack the USA/Western Europe, we’d probably never hear about it and we would be not have the will to do anything even if we did.

    –Life is cheap there. If they decided to unleash gangsters (or even official assasins) on the West, it would be like turning the wolf on the chickens. Probably the US, and certainly Europe, would not have the stomach to fight back.

    –How much trouble did Afghanistan cause as a failed State? How much worse would Russia be as a failed state?

  • That’s $1.72 trillion Russian GDP

    Russian statistics are notoriously unreliable. It could be in fact much greater. A huge proportion of their economy is “black” – i.e. unreported.

  • mike d

    China is the coming nut that must be cracked.

    russia is on a superpower sabbatical these days despite a modern nuke/biowar arsenal, but also retains nearly limitless human and natural resources.

    putin is a classic KGB spook, but he will not last forever, and russia, like the usa will always…always…be governed by self-interest.

    putin is currently happy to ride the wave of global america bashing, all the while selling modern mil-tech to iran who pass it to terrorists in iraq and elsewhere to use against american and allied targets.

    but he sees the china threat looming as large or larger than we see it here in the usa.

    in the next 25-30 years i see a three-nation anti-china
    bloc of the usa-russia-india, backed by japan & australia, and whatever might be left of the UK and free Europe after the coming islamo-terror tidal wave washes over it in the next 10-15 years.

    the Islamic nations will make a third bloc, and they’ll be very hard to deal with. i think they figure its easier at this point to fight and defeat the west, before taking on china.

    africa and south america will be along for the history, but wont write much of it. its going to be the bloc of english-speaking west, along with russia and india aligned against china and the islamic bloc, which will be fighting the west but not china.

    but when and if the west is defeated or bio-nuked into decades of chaos by islamic terror, enough jihadis will still exist to take the fight to china. china however, may not hesitate to nuke the entire middle east except for the oil fields once the west has collapsed as a serious threat.

    a chinese national who listens to rock music and owns a beer bar with his lawyer/activist-wife is just as much kuffar to a jihadi as George Bush is.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Jacob makes a good point. I’d distrust any official stats on Russian wealth. A huge chunk of their economy is off the books.

    Come to think of it, Russia and Italy have a lot in common!

  • Answer: Because he has nukes.

  • Just think “Turkey Legs,” GWB’s pet name for Putin, anytime you think of him or hear from him.

    Russia still has thousands of ICBM’s and we’re proposing to put exactly eight (8) ABM launchers in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    I think Putin is miscalculating how much he has to pander to older Russian voters, because the younger voters know better and they are a larger bloc of the electorate.

    And as for Russian arms deals to foreign nations, it’s strictly business. Every one of those deals comes with an exclusively Russian service contract; the client states can only get their parts and technical support from Russian sources.

  • jb

    People are going to have to start saying France instead of Italy soon. For my company and other major multinationals that friends of mine work at here in Moscow Russian sales overtook Italy last year. We certainly regard Russia now as a bigger market, and one that is still growing strongly, unlike Italy.

    We all know the French are still capable of causing problems.

  • North Dakota Sucks

    Russia still has thousands of ICBM’s and we’re proposing to put exactly eight (8) ABM launchers in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    I really wonder how many would actually get off the ground if the key was turned. I’d be amazed if it was even 1 in 10. I used to be “in the business” about 15 years ago. Most people have no idea how much damn maintenance and tender loving care a ballistic missile needs to remain operational. The frigging things are like a temperamental girlfriend (more likely to go off in your face than take you to the heavens). If I was forced to chose between standing 500 yards from the launch site of a Russian ICBM or within 500 yards of the intended target, I’d chose the target.

  • jdubious

    well, 1 in 10 makes it about fifty that get off the ground. assume half of those are destroyed (by as-yet-imaginary ABM systems,) and that 1 in 10 of the remainder get through the rest of the way.
    what are your two favorite european capitals? or, say, LA or NY?

    i tale NDS’ point about the maintenance, but the answer to his first question – how many would get off the ground — is “enough.”

    at least to get the butcher’s bill into as-yet-uncharted territory, possibly.

  • TheRussian

    The issues raised in Putin’s speech are not bullying, but they are an example of how 90% of the population of the globe view American policy.

    American policy – is similar to that of Roman Empire in the beginning of it’s end. America had the ability to solve the worlds problems in the 15 years since the fall of Soviet regime. What did America do? Create more problems like international terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan. Now, at a time, when the world understands that America is unable lead the world into a better future, Americans should not be so in love with themselves and there governments policy.
    From this point of view Putin’s speech is a “friends advice” to the American elite.

  • Nikolay

    Guys, you are talking about national leaders.
    Critisize but do not insult. Insulting national leader (of whatever kind) insults the nation itself.
    As about the subject – I do not agree with the point at all, but this does not matter.

    What I want to ask – is this what you call democracy? The one who has more power (GDP, oil etc.) is always right and no one should listen to weaker or less wealthy nations?

  • Eugene

    Just to add couple of comments here. I see that most of you have quite “simple” understanding of global economy and politics. You are just barking but the elephant is continue to go forward; mister wolf knows whom to eat, but his mouth is too small… -)))

    You will see drastic changes in global situation in 3-5 years and it will be inevitable for you. You are wining now, not VVP. Be ready to meet a new, strong, independent Russia!-))

    By the way, US have huge debt and it owes it mainly to China…

  • Midwesterner

    Nikolay, insulting our own leaders is a long and honored tradition in the US.

    Regarding democracy. Yes, democracy is about survival of the (politically) strongest. That is one big reason why I so vigorously oppose it. Spreading democracy is a travesty that I abhor, and it is being perpetrated in the name of our nation. We are a constitutional republic, not a democratic republic, and our loss of understanding of the difference between them is what is destroying our nation.

    Eugene, add Japan to that. And, personally, I think a new strong independent Russia is a good thing. It is a weak Russia with weapons that is frightening. You will find that most people on this site desire for Russian a strong free economy and our fault with Putin is that we believe he is (unintentionally?) sabotaging it. Growing a free and internally competetive economy is a difficult and sometimes painful process. But nations that succeed will always be the strongest. Always.

    Most nations, be they targets or spectators, would prefer that aggressors bought, not burnt their opponants. Launching nukes is a really bad thing. As you point out, China is buying the US on some scale. Maybe one day, Russia will too. We have no-one but our own political choices to blame. We are bringing this on ourselves.

  • Critisize but do not insult. Insulting national leader (of whatever kind) insults the nation itself.

    Wrong. It is a rare political leader indeed who I will give any respect whatsoever. I insult Tony Blair all the time, so what makes you think I give a damn about insulting a thug like Vladimir Putin?

    To hear that a Russian of all people could still think that a political leader (and a god damn ex-KGB man, no less) is the embodiment of Russian society is actually both depressing and frankly tragic. Is your collectivist understanding of reality truly so deep that you are insulted by criticism of a power mad kleptocrat who poses far more of a threat to YOU than me? How on earth can you allow even one iota of your self-worth to be conflated with the Russian state?

    I know many Russians and have no problem at all with them, because I judge them as individuals based on their beliefs and consequent actions, not as a member of a blanket collective called “Russians”, because “Russian” (unlike, say “communist” or “muslim”) is not a set of beliefs, it is just an ethnicity.

    I despise Vladimir Putin not because he is Russia personified (he isn’t) but because he is an authoritarian thug, just as I do not hate Tony Blair because he is British, I hate him because of his actions and beliefs. Do you think I would be insulted if you said nasty things about Tony Blair just because I am also British? That would simply make no sense at all.

    The nation-state of Britain (and Russia) is just a political structure not some mystic meta-person (a delusion much loved by communists and fascists alike), so why should I be emotionally invested in it? I have some emotional attachment to aspects of ‘Englishness’, but that is just the emergent property we call ‘society’ and society is NOT the same thing as the state.

  • You will see drastic changes in global situation in 3-5 years and it will be inevitable for you. You are wining now, not VVP. Be ready to meet a new, strong, independent Russia!-))

    And when Russian has a truly independent judiciary and (above all) true secure private property rights, it will finally have a good chance of being a place where hard work and entrepreneurship, rather than the ability to buy off the political system, actually lead to wealth and a dynamic sustainable economy.

  • Alex

    Perry, you are judging Putin from purely British prospective of view. From the history Russia always needed a strong and powerful (even authoritarian) leader as otherwise it simply has never worked. The country is very big and very multinational and ruling such country so that everyone is happy is mostly a mission impossible task. I think Peter the Great was the one who’s taken the policy of the carrot and the stick and its given Russia some great political influence at that time.
    Now regardless a weak and undeveloped economy, Russia has got a big political power – oil. You cannot simply compare Italy with Russia placing your comparision on GDP! Its the second largest oil-exporting country in the world and probably the largest in terms of gas.
    And please take into account that dispite the fact that the USSR does not exist any more, Russia is still a very nuclearly powerful state.

  • Midwesterner

    Just one thing, Alex.

    ‘always has’ = ‘always will’ seems to me to be epistemologically flawed. Working from that base, would the changes since the Renaissance have been allowed to happen?

  • Perry, you are judging Putin from purely British prospective of view.

    No, I am judging Putin from a purely Perry de Havilland perspective. I am speaking as me, not as a representative of some assumed collective group meta-context. In fact I am usually judged to be well outside the political mainstream in Britain.

    From the history Russia always needed a strong and powerful (even authoritarian) leader as otherwise it simply has never worked.

    Take a look at those relative GDP per capita figures again (and if you really want to see how weak Russia is, factor out the money it makes from oil). Russia clearly does not work very well at all, and that is because of its long history of authoritarian leaders.

    The country is very big and very multinational and ruling such country so that everyone is happy is mostly a mission impossible task.

    Indeed, it is an empire and should not even exist in its current form, any more than the British empire had any right to exist in occupation of so much of the world.

    Now regardless a weak and undeveloped economy, Russia has got a big political power – oil.

    In order for oil to be a means to serious political power, rather than just something you sell, you have to be able to deny it to people as well as provide it to them (which can indeed work with gas but not oil). If Russia stopped selling its oil to ‘punish’ someone, how would that work exactly? Oil is fungible and so can just be purchased from somewhere else. But refusing to sell to anyone to show how powerful you are would just push up the price other oil produces charge and induce them to ‘open the taps’ to maximise the temporary bonanza (which would make folks in Saudi very happy but not make the state owned Russian oil interests very pleased).

    And please take into account that dispite the fact that the USSR does not exist any more, Russia is still a very nuclearly powerful state

    Which means that no other nation-state is going to attack Russia first, which certainly is a valuable thing for both the Russian state and people of Russia too. But that is really all it means. Can Russia project its military power around the world? No, it cannot because it is all teeth and no tail. I am not saying it is insignificant militarily but it is not a global military power by any stretch of the imagination other than in the strategic nuclear field…

    …and the big trouble with holding up nukes in order to be taken seriously is you cannot actually use them without risking the Gotterdammerung, unlike an aircraft carrier or a highly trained high tech commando team (two things Russia is not very good at deploying). That is why even France and Britain are considerably more effective at projecting military power than Russia (and of course France and Britain also have nukes, ones which are inexpensively serviced and so probably actually work) .

  • Nikolay

    Perry, you tone is still very strong though.

    Anyway, speaking of my “collectivist” mind – it’s not that true. I’ve spent half of my life, travelling with my parents around the globe (my dad had very long business-trips), so I do really know other “non-collectevist” approach. I critisize Putin here a lot. I dislike him. But he is the president, elected by our people (personally I did not vote for him). And no one has proven that elections were totally faked, i.e. he wont be elected without his ability to control mass media etc. So he’s elected by our people and you insult their choice. That’s what I mean. I also laugh a lot on “KGB” related stuff. Yes, Stalin’s KGB was very bad. But at other times they were just guarding national security, like FBI or MI-6. Do you say “ex-FBI thug” or “ex-MI-6 crook”? I guess not. The whole world should definitly change the way it treats modern Russia. We are not “Soviets”, we do like Western way (IMHO), but we want to be treated with respect just like any other country. And we want our interests to be understood and respected too.

  • Yaroslav

    Perry, you know… your thoughts about russia are very shallow. You know us only from discovery films. Have you ever been to Russia? I guess NO. You are quite stupid when you are talking about Russia because you don’t know us very well.

  • Nikolay, I don’t think you understand the point I am making.

    I critisize Putin here a lot. I dislike him. But he is the president, elected by our people (personally I did not vote for him). And no one has proven that elections were totally faked, i.e. he wont be elected without his ability to control mass media etc.

    And Tony Blair, George Bush and Jacques Chirac were also elected. So what? I constantly criticised them and moreover I often insult them because that is what they deserve!

    So he’s elected by our people and you insult their choice. That’s what I mean.

    Yes, I agree, that is exactly what it means. I think people who voted for Putin are fools, just as I have a low opinion of people who voted for Tony Blair and I think people who elected Dave Cameron to be head of Britain’s ‘Conservative’ Party are deluded.

    You did not even vote for Putin, Nikolay, so why take it personally? If you were to state that you think Blair or Bush are fools and call them fuckwits, I will probably agree with you! Just because you are Russian I will not take that as a personal insult on behalf of all of Britain!

    Yes, Stalin’s KGB was very bad. But at other times they were just guarding national security, like FBI or MI-6.

    But ‘guarding national security’ during the Soviet era means he helped maintain a totalitarian communist system with all that involves. It means he was part of the machine which oppressed people like, well, you.

    Do you say “ex-FBI thug” or “ex-MI-6 crook”? I guess not.

    Sometimes I do in fact, but the crucial difference is that the FBI and MI-6 were not helping to maintain a communist totalitarian regime in the USA and UK respectively.

    And we want our interests to be understood and respected too.

    But my point is that the interests of the Russian state are very frequently not your interests! Putin’s interests are his, not yours. I understand the interests of the Russian state but I’ll be damned if I am going to respect them.

    but we want to be treated with respect just like any other country.

    And there you have it… ‘we’. Who is ‘we’? I do not respect any country, if by ‘country’ you mean a nation-state! I am sometimes willing to admire the nature of a society (and a ‘society’ is just an emergent characteristic, not a ‘thing’). I am very willing to respect individuals who are worthy of respect, but nation-states by their very nature are at best a necessary evil and so the one thing they do not deserve is respect.

    In fact I have enormous respect for a great many Russians because there are so many deep structural obstacles in the way of common people trying to make a living that it is a testament to the mental determination and innovative nature of millions of Russian people, individuals, that they manage to build businesses and create wealth in such an environment. I respect a great many people in Russia. I find nothing to respect about the Russian state however and Vladimir Putin can get stuffed.

  • Paul Marks

    That the K.G.B. man Mr Putin was elected President of Russia does not give him the right to steal companies and toss their owners in labour camps – nor does it give him the right to murder opponents.

    Chevez of Venezuela was elected and so was (as is often pointed out) that National Socialist party in Germany.

    Perhaps the people of Russia were misled (after all Putin has a defacto monopoly on the media) or perhaps most of them are just no good – I do not know. But I do know that 51% (or 60%) do not have the right to violate the fundemental liberties of 49% (or 40%). I do not support the divine right of the mob.

    As for Russia always being a Hell hole – this reminds me of the old saying “first they kick your face in and then they say you were always ugly”.

    Even centuries ago what about (for example) the “free peasants of the north”? Indeed what about the jury trials before the First World War when even open enemies of the Czar just worked out of court?

    Have a look at the photographs of the poltitical prisoners in exile of the old Russia – they look well fed and well dressed (as well fed and well dressed as people were in Britain at the time).

    Old Russia had its faults (very many of them) but it was a complex and great civilization – not just a Hell hole.

    Even after the Soviets (with all the tens of millions of people they murdered), there was still the Yeltsin time.

    “Under Boris the drunk there was chaos” – yes there was, partly caused by his allowing the various Republics of the C.I.S. (as well as Russia itself) to print lots of money and create a boom-bust cycle and a banking collapse.

    But there was also a free press (not just a couple of small pro free enterprise newspapers critical of Putin that one can only really get in Moscow – papers that are allowed to publish to deceieve the West) there were also radio and television stations with different points of view.

    There was also trial by jury (real trial by jury – not the system that exists under Putin, where the result of the trial is decided in advance), and a move to end conscription.

    Talking of conscription – why does the “anti American militarism” Putin need a vast conscript army?

    The Americans do not have conscription – are wages so much higher in Russia that not enough people would choose to join the Russian army?

    American soldiers have to fight in places like Iraq – yet their army manages to get enough people to join it voluntarily. Why not the Russian army?

    Is it anything to do with the Russian conscipts who have been murdered by other soldiers? Or the beatings – and the mutilations. Remember the man who had to have both his legs and his private parts amputated? He is not an isolated case.

    True Americans must face such things from the enemy in Iraq – but Russians must face it without ever meeting the enemy (their true enemy are those in more powerful positions at home).

    The latest example is the young conscripts who have been forced to become male prostitutes – other soldiers make them prostitute themselves to anyone who wishes to use them (and keep the money for themselves – with a cut going to those who control prostitution in these areas).

    President Putin boasted of having broken the back of organized crime. But it is an open secret that what he has really has done is to break rivals to politically connected criminal groups. Today most big organized crime groups are directly connected to ex and current K.G.B.- F.S.B. people and (through them) to the government itself.

    Organized crime controls prostitution in the big cities of Russia – including (in fact, especially) St Petersburg where the conscripts were prostituted. Think about that.

  • Yaroslav. Really? So then you are saying the Russian judiciary is not deeply influenced by the Kremlin? Are you saying a vocal political opponent of Putin is just as likely to get a fair trial as one of his supporters? Are you saying that property rights are well respected in Russia and that companies do not just get taken over by the state? Like, say, Yukos? And are you saying contract law in Russia is strong and well enforced?

    Am I really wrong about all those things? If so, please explain.

  • Perry,

    That is why even France and Britain are considerably more effective at projecting military power than Russia

    Only if the US provides the transport.
    In fact Britain and France are quite powerless.

    I am not saying it is insignificant militarily but it is not a global military power by any stretch of the imagination other than in the strategic nuclear field…

    Which is what matters today. The Foreign Legion isn’t very useful nowadays.
    Russia can stir up a lot of trouble around the globe, by training, arming and financing guerillas. They did it for decades, they could do it again. (There is no danger of Italy engaging in external subversion).

    About Putin, who is not only an ex KGB man (that wouldn’t be so bad) but also a current day murderer: he not only won two popular elections in Russia, he is also immensely popular NOW – which makes him dangerous; you can hate him all you wish, but not dismiss him.

  • Only if the US provides the transport.
    In fact Britain and France are quite powerless.

    Nonsense. Both the UK and France can project brigade sized units with their own assets, though in truth it is deploying effective battalion sized ones which are really what is needed most of the time (usually to Africa).

    you can hate him all you wish, but not dismiss him.

    Fair point.

  • Nikolay

    Perry,

    OK. We’ve found root of our different points of view. :)

    Paul,

    Maybe you do not know, how those companies were created. You should know more about new russian capitalists. All their companies were stolen (bought from the state for state’s money). The problem is that most of modern russian capitalists should be convicted for economical crimes, not just Khodorkovsky. And during Yeltsin’s times we’ve had severe problems with our economy. And now I can feel positive effect personally (I do understand that it’s due to high oil prices, but not everyone here does).

    As about conscription.

    Yes, things are exactly the way you describe. State does not want to pay enough for people to go to army on their own will. So what about it? We’ve never declared any military actions outside our country for last 15 years. We do not need big army and we are slowly moving towards professional army. And we still do need army to keep Chechnya part of Russia. BTW: American soldiers “have” to fight in Iraq because their president forced them to. That’s the only reason.

    Maybe you should reread Putin’s words. He did not threaten anyone. He just openly showed unfairness of modern world. That’s all.

  • (usually to Africa).

    Yeah, Britain and France can project their power against Africans….especially if not North Africans… because that’s where the threat is, and the intervention is mostly needed…
    So Britain and France have about as much ability to project power abroad as … maybe the Italians? or the Cubans ?

  • Sunfish

    But he is the president, elected by our people (personally I did not vote for him). And no one has proven that elections were totally faked, i.e. he wont be elected without his ability to control mass media etc. So he’s elected by our people and you insult their choice

    And I refer to my own president as an ignorant prick lacking the brains God gave the common raccoon, on a regular basis. BFD. Politicians don’t deserve any special respect. When God put the inner light into each of us, he didn’t give Bush, Blair, Chirac, Schroeder, and Putin an extra helping. They, all of them, are no more than any other human being with the egomania, pathological desire to be loved (or feared) by strangers, and the utter lack of morals common to their breed.

    But your president is still a murderous thug. If the Russian voters chose poorly, then they chose poorly. The fact that you might be offended by my saying so does not change the truth of the statement. If you’re really hurt by out observation that Putin is both brutal and corrupt, if you really want to buy a seat on that bus, please yourself.

    BTW: American soldiers “have” to fight in Iraq because their president forced them to. That’s the only reason.

    That’s right. The Congress (who are all popularly-elected and are independent of the President, and who have the actual power to declare war) authorized an invasion and the President ordered the military to do their thing. In our system of government, the military does not have political power of its own, and takes orders in all matters from the elected civilian leadership. You can laugh and mock if you want, but we’ve been doing it that way for over two centuries, successfully, with our elections always happening on schedule and peaceful transfers of power after each one, even during wartime.

  • Yeah, Britain and France can project their power against Africans….especially if not North Africans… because that’s where the threat is, and the intervention is mostly needed…

    Threat to who? British and French interests amenable to military action have tended to be in Africa. UK and France maintain their military forces as an adjunct to UK and French interests.

    So Britain and France have about as much ability to project power abroad as … maybe the Italians? or the Cubans ?

    And the brigade group that was going to intervene in Kosovo? Remember that? Transported and supplied by UK assets. UK armoured division In Iraq? Supplied (mostly) by UK assets, shipped to Gulf in UK ships.

  • Eugene

    “because “Russian” (unlike, say “communist” or “muslim”) is not a set of beliefs, it is just an ethnicity”

    Eee, come on. I see you are sputtering now. Be careful! You may choke, Mr. mason…-))

    “Russian” IS a set of beliefs, and this set of beliefs is coming back now, after more then 90 years of disaster. This set of beliefs and very old culture, strong roots and outstanding history makes us different. Very different. That’s why you do not like us, Russians…-)))

    “I have some emotional attachment to aspects of ‘Englishness’, but that is just the emergent property we call ‘society’ and society is NOT the same thing as the state”

    And you would like us to be like you: lost orientation, seeking identification, trying to destroy fundaments of others because you do not have your own. Russia was and is society+religion+state and this is the source of its power. Even do not try to break it. This is in our genes.

    You need additional education to understand this -))).

  • Eugene

    I see that now my comments are checked carefully -))) You do not like them, a? -))

  • Eugene

    “And when Russian has a truly independent judiciary and (above all) true secure private property rights, it will finally have a good chance of being a place where hard work and entrepreneurship, rather than the ability to buy off the political system, actually lead to wealth and a dynamic sustainable economy.”

    Do you think UK and US are? I think no. You batten on others (especially resources). Free ride is over, have you noticed?

    “Indeed, it is an empire and should not even exist in its current form, any more than the British Empire had any right to exist in occupation of so much of the world.”

    British Empire and current global set-up are same things. Now it’s really over. And others like Russia, China, India will have their portion of the pie.

    “But ‘guarding national security’ during the Soviet era means he helped maintain a totalitarian communist system with all that involves. It means he was part of the machine which oppressed people like, well, you.”

    US and UK are more totalitarian then Russia now. You can listen/read your media, you can see all these police stuff around (even in your toilet…), and you have brain-washers everywhere. This is US and UK. Please look into your pants first…ïŠ)

    “Sometimes I do in fact, but the crucial difference is that the FBI and MI-6 were not helping to maintain a communist totalitarian regime in the USA and UK respectively.”

    O, really? Unnnbeleivable ! -))) Of course, not communistic, but “a flock of sheep”-stic.

    “In fact I have enormous respect for a great many Russians because there are so many deep structural obstacles in the way of common people trying to make a living that it is a testament to the mental determination and innovative nature of millions of Russian people, individuals, that they manage to build businesses and create wealth in such an environment. I respect a great many people in Russia. I find nothing to respect about the Russian state however and Vladimir Putin can get stuffed.”

    BUSINESS is a main concern for you. That is why you will not be able to understand what is happening in Russia. We have never been individual businessmen only. We always have been a community, society, big group (at least Slav part of Russia).

    “Yaroslav. Really? So then you are saying the Russian judiciary is not deeply influenced by the Kremlin? Are you saying a vocal political opponent of Putin is just as likely to get a fair trial as one of his supporters? Are you saying that property rights are well respected in Russia and that companies do not just get taken over by the state? Like, say, Yukos? And are you saying contract law in Russia is strong and well enforced?
    Am I really wrong about all those things? If so, please explain.”

    Do you know who own Yukos? Do you think we need BP or others in Russia to sit on our wealth? NO. We will manage whom to sell and how to sell and whom to allow being our partners. That’s why these processes are happening in Russia now and that’s why many “unhappy” are trying to create so bad image of Russia now.

  • Eugene

    One of my comments has not been posted. Unfortunately, site owners allows many things to Perry de Havilland and do not allow to say same sort of stuff to us. Equal rights? -)))

    I see a stream of insults from some people here and I understand why. But this will change soon.

    You are simply afraid of loosing your dominance and dolce vita. But this is inevitable… And if US will try with Iran like with Iraq, whole EU will cry first, then US…

  • Alex

    Take a look at those relative GDP per capita figures again (and if you really want to see how weak Russia is, factor out the money it makes from oil). Russia clearly does not work very well at all, and that is because of its long history of authoritarian leaders.

    Agreed. Russia is surviving now on natural resources where as other industries are now doing particularly well

    In order for oil to be a means to serious political power, rather than just something you sell, you have to be able to deny it to people as well as provide it to them (which can indeed work with gas but not oil). If Russia stopped selling its oil to ‘punish’ someone, how would that work exactly? Oil is fungible and so can just be purchased from somewhere else. But refusing to sell to anyone to show how powerful you are would just push up the price other oil produces charge and induce them to ‘open the taps’ to maximise the temporary bonanza (which would make folks in Saudi very happy but not make the state owned Russian oil interests very pleased).

    Well, take a look at Georgia or Ukraine or Beloruss – its a clear example of how natural resources like gas can put a political pressure on the government.
    I do not think that Saudi are gonna be happy if Russia stops exporting oil (its not gonna happen anyway as the budget is very much tired up to the oil exports) as in this case it means disbalance/disruptions and logistical nightmare. By the way, do u really think that G.W.Bush deployed the USA forces in Iraq to liberate it? Its all about oil, power and money at the end, itsn’t it?

    Ref nukes, believe you me Russia can deploy them very-very quickly. Even more quicker than you can imagine.

  • Russia was and is society+religion+state and this is the source of its power.

    Actually it is the source of Russian weakness and if millions of Russians think like you, then it will remain the source of Russian weakness.

    “Russian” IS a set of beliefs, and this set of beliefs is coming back now

    Ah, now I understand. You are a ‘blood and soil ‘ ethnic national socialist and there is most likely a waste of time pointing out why you are wrong on pretty much every point you make. Ethnic nationalism is just another form of irrational religion.

  • Alex

    Perry, looks like you are one of those people who can never be satisfied with any politician. As Russians are saying “We all are clever when arguing about football and politics.”

  • Eugene

    Hi Perry, why are you then? What’s your beliefs? -)) I mentioned (guessed) one already but it was not published here… -)

  • “Russian” IS a set of beliefs, and this set of beliefs is coming back now, after more then 90 years of disaster. This set of beliefs and very old culture, strong roots and outstanding history makes us different.

    When I read shit like Eugene writes then I am sooooooo happy we (Latvia) escaped from Bear and join NATO. Every year being inside EU makes us less and less dependending on trade with Russia. Russia is not a set of beliefs, it is a set of graveyards which is bad for neighbors but even worse for unfortunate Russians.

    I have news for Eugene, most other Russians (like one I am married to) do not believe that bullshit. Putin Playground is just another fucked up country like all the rest, just a bit more so. We in Latvia have higher standard of living even though we have no oil because government not at centre of whole economy like in Russia. We are MUCH more freedom than Russia because we are not thinking fascistical crap like Latvia is a “set of beliefs”. You should be angry at Putin not angry at outsiders who see the truth.

  • Eugene

    Hi Janis, at least, my comments made you expressing you your true thoughts -)))

    I’m glad you are happy being in Latvia. I’m also not Russian, I live in Ukraine. I have Latvian colleagues and friends and know what is happening in your country. It’s not without problems, big problems…

    I just have a bit different poit of view on things that were discussed here. EU does not need you, NATO does not need you, durind USSA you (Latvia) had same purpose of existence like you have now with EU and NATO – guess what purpose? -))

    What economy you are talking about? What do you have in Latvia? Of cause, freedom is a good argument. Freedom for whom? Dous your husbend feel good? Or he has your surname?-))

  • I believe that individual liberty is what matters, not collectives and political institutions only have legitimacy if they serve to help secure individual liberty.

    I believe society is just the emergent characteristic produced by interactions that are not directed by the state and that the nature of civil society is far more important that the ‘interests’ of any mere nation-state. I also believe that the state has far greater power to destroy civil society than it does to strengthen it.

    I believe that most people who enter politics do so from a psychological need to use the force of the state to control others… and for that reason I believe anyone who is a politician anywhere in the world should be viewed with suspicion and distrust because the state is at best never more than a necessary evil (and for that reason, the power of the state should always be tightly limited).

    I believe no government can lead the people of any country to prosperity and it is a huge mistake to even try. The best a government can do can is not get in the way of private people generating wealth.

    Does that answer your question?

    Oh and Eugene, I often scream about what is wrong in the UK and USA on this blog but law courts in both those countries really are independent.

  • Eugene

    Perry, ok, I understand. And do not agree.

    You expressed you attitude, but do you have a solution to what you do not like? Anarchy? Utopian communism? Anything else?

    And I do not beleive into your “independent” court as we can see what US+Eu did with Miloshevich and Saddam. I can dig much more examples.

    Moreover, Russians and Ukrainians and others from former USSR also would like “generate wealth”. Generate having same right like US or UK and EU have. But it’s clear now that without state interruption and such horrors like mr. VVP, we cannot have our piece of pie..-))

    You just would like us to supply you resources and wait for better destiny from “liberal” countries like US and UK -)

  • EU does not need you

    Incorrect. Bigger markets for goods and services, that is what EU is all about and suits us very good.

    NATO does not need you, durind USSA you (Latvia) had same purpose of existence like you have now with EU and NATO – guess what purpose? -))

    Purpose of NATO was to contain Soviets and now to contain Russia inside its borders. That also suits us very very good.

  • And I do not beleive into your “independent” court as we can see what US+Eu did with Miloshevich and Saddam.

    These psychopathic tyrants got exactly what they deserved. But I was not talking about international courts, I was talking about national ones.

    I can dig much more examples.

    Please do.

    You just would like us to supply you resources and wait for better destiny from “liberal” countries like US and UK -)

    Real wealth is not about resources, it is about creating networks of economic interests (which is why it is SO important not to allow the state to try and direct an economy and is why the capitalist world is vastly more wealthy than more tightly controlled countries).

    It is often the case that nations that base their economy on extracting resources rarely develop properly, either economically or politically. If resources were what mattered most when it comes to generating wealth, how do you explain how so many countries with hardly any natural natural resources are so much wealthier than (say) Russia or Saudi Arabia or Argentina, which are overflowing with resources? Do you think Japan or Switzerland or the Netherlands hugely wealthier than all the countries I just listed because of resources?

  • Alex

    Purpose of NATO was to contain Soviets and now to contain Russia inside its borders. That also suits us very very good.

    Incorrect!
    Initially maybe it was the case, but now…
    In accordance with the Treaty, the fundamental role of NATO is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means. NATO is playing an increasingly important role in crisis management and peacekeeping.

    Now, speaking about Latvia…Do not fuck around with Russia. Remember Ventspils lessons? Once used to be the biggest oil-exporting port…Still all you guys (Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania) hugely depend on Russia and it will be the case at least for some time.

    Last but not least you are not saying (I hope) that Nazies brought your country freedom like those clowns from Estonia said having taken down the Soviet Soldiers monuments. Cretins…

  • Alex

    These psychopathic tyrants got exactly what they deserved. But I was not talking about international courts, I was talking about national ones.

    But the point is that their trials were not fair.
    However, I agree with you that UK judiciary is very-very efficient. Not sure about the US though, there has been a number of ridiculous cases there and now men in the USA are afraid to look at women (particularly at work) or else will be prosecuted on the ground of sexual harassment. Ludicrous….

  • Now, speaking about Latvia…Do not fuck8 around with Russia

    Most of us do not want to fuck around with Russia, Alex, most of us do not want to do ANYTHING with Russia. That is why we want to move more and more business to EU because it is not possible to do business with Russian company without going business with Russian state. Russia is not a normal place and does not understand how economy really is working, so best to leave it to get along by itself. Maybe you do not realise but 80%(Link) of Latvian trade is now with the EU!

  • Janis, I am curious, what is the prevailing attitude in Latvia to the legacy of WW2?

  • However, I agree with you that UK judiciary is very-very efficient.

    I am not really talking about efficiency though, but rather independence from the political leadership of the country.

    Not sure about the US though, there has been a number of ridiculous cases there and now men in the USA are afraid to look at women (particularly at work) or else will be prosecuted on the ground of sexual harassment. Ludicrous….

    Yes, completely ludicrous. But I was not saying “the US and UK do not have a lot of really stupid laws”, because they do. I was saying that the enforcement of these laws is quite independent of political interference and that is not true in Russia.

  • Alex

    Janis,

    Following your link –
    Since the Russian financial crisis of 1997, Latvia has shifted its commercial links so that it is less dependent on trade with Russia, although Russian gas supplies remain essential. Latvia’s biggest trade partners include Germany, Lithuania, Sweden and Estonia. 80% of its trade is with EU.

    Mostly you guys trade locally with other neighbours!

    Perry,

    Absolutely I agree that Russia has some political interference in laws and courts when it comes down to political power and money.

    In case of Yukos, Mr Putin decided to become the Almighty God and prosecute an “honest businessman” Mr Khodorkovsky to teach others a very good lesson – do not fuck with politics. Money is money, power is power and do not mix them up – that was the sign.

    Ref UK
    This is out of any doubts that neither Police nor any other enforcement agency is influenced by a political power. I think this is the main reason why wealthy Russians like Britain – security and political stability.

  • Perry, opinions vary of course (because Latvia is not a set of beliefs :-)) but most think the soviets and nazis were both unwelcome occupying armies. From frying pan to fire?

    Alex, yes I know about Russian gas, which is why last year I join political group to encourage EU to increase use of nuclear power for electricalness.

    I would be better for everyone, especially Russians not just Latvians, if Russian companies and Russian government were not such closeness but until that is so, EU is our future and Russia is just our past.

  • Alex

    This is not only Latvia which depends on Russian gas. 40% of all gas supplied in Europe has a Russian origin.

  • Robert

    For the life of me, I don’t understand why Russia, China, and the U.S. can’t reach fraternal agreement on just how to effectively deal with the increasing encroachment of radical Islamists, for nothing would brighten me more than to see a move toward genuine rapprochement between our countries on this and other international matters. This talk of “My Sparrow is more effective than your Sukhoi” is petty and vindictive: The idea that Russia today is a ‘pathetic weak sister,’ is the product of the foolhardy and ill-informed. Doubtless, the poster of that inanity has never understood the lessons of Barbarossa. I’ve been listening to the same arguments for more than fifty years, and have grown painfully weary of them. Nevertheless I still hold hope that our three nations will somehow one day revive the collective spirit of 1941, in that we might coalesce long enough to firmly and effectively recognize the greatest threat facing our world today.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

  • This is not only Latvia which depends on Russian gas. 40% of all gas supplied in Europe has a Russian origin.

    Which is why I (and many others) have been arguing that nuclear power is most sensible solution, freeing us all from two main threats we face.

    Nevertheless I still hold hope that our three nations will somehow one day revive the collective spirit of 1941, in that we might coalesce long enough to firmly and effectively recognize the greatest threat facing our world today.

    The Spirit of 1941? Some of us also remember the Spirit of June 1940.

  • Robert

    Indeed, “the Spirit of June 1940.” I fully understand your implication, and feel for the Finns, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians who were among the first to fall prey to the Bear. American and Soviet adventurism aside, I think it absolutely essential to contemporary world security that the superpowers–no, all free-thinking nations–overlook past differences and transgressions in pursuit of taming radical Islamists.

  • Sunfish

    Robert:

    American and Soviet adventurism aside, I think it absolutely essential to contemporary world security that the superpowers–no, all free-thinking nations–overlook past differences and transgressions in pursuit of taming radical Islamists.

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is a damn shortsighted approach. My country spend three decades following that notion and propping up anyone who claimed to not be communist, and somewhere in there, someone decided that meant that Saudi Arabia (the nation where global Salafist jihad was essentially invented, remember?) was an ally.

    Friends are friends. I don’t see a major problem between us and the UK, Australia, Canada, Israel, Norway, Holland, or Poland, or various others, any time soon.

    Enemies may not always be enemies. I’m not sure what to call Russia at the moment. I grew up with 10,000 nuclear warheads aimed at my country by a country which worshipped a dead embalmed murdered in a glass coffin. Said country is now ruled by a guy with all of the violent immorality of his predecessors in office, but without the ideological veneer.

    Eugene:

    One of my comments has not been posted. Unfortunately, site owners allows many things to Perry de Havilland and do not allow to say same sort of stuff to us. Equal rights? -)))

    You have all of the same rights as any of us. You can negotiate your own contract for an internet connection, download your own linux install, buy your own box, and have your own blog with your own Smite Control system. It’s just like sending junk mail: nothing stopping you, but you can buy your own stamps.

  • Alex

    Friends are friends. I don’t see a major problem between us and the UK, Australia, Canada, Israel, Norway, Holland, or Poland, or various others, any time soon.

    In politics there are no friends – if you want a friend, buy yourself a dog…nor should be any enemies if the government is smart enough…In ideal world there should be support, colleboration, tolerance and understanding between the states.

  • Alex

    Janis,

    As far as I know from the Baltic states only Lithuania is exporting electricity. I don’t think that such small country like Latvia will have its own nuclear power…There are also problems with radiactive waste even if a nuclear station is erected…

  • In politics there are no friends

    Indeed, but I suspect Sunfish is also talking about cultural affinity and when it comes to societies, there are indeed ‘friends’ (at least in the broadest sense of the word). Most people in the UK (when push comes to shove) will side with (firstly) other anglosphere countries over countries dominated by cultures with more alien values. This is not a ‘political’ calculation, it is a preference for people with similar values and it does indeed approximate ‘friendship’ (though that is not an analogue that should be taken too far).

    And there are indeed knock on political implications of that very widespread notion. It is why the anti-Americanism in Britain today due to antipathy to the current US administration will be transitory where as when antipathy to the Soviets Russians and the Nazis Germans occurs, it takes far longer to blow over.

    In admittedly simplistic terms, neighbours are neighbours but family is family.

  • Sunfish

    In politics there are no friends – if you want a friend, buy yourself a dog…

    There’s more to the world than politics. Politics is a way to have paved streets and cops and firefighters show up when we call 911. It’s nothing more than that.

    However, there are several centuries of shared history and shared values between my country and the other ones I’ve named. For example, yes, we fought a shooting war to separate ourselves from England. However, we did so in order to remain English: All we were demanding (at the beginning) was the political voice and the freedoms retained by the English who had actually remained in England. This also explains our relationship with Australia (probably the best ally we have, they even show up for wars that England sits out!) and Canada. From the others I’ve named we’ve had substantial immigration. While the children of the immigrants tended to be emphatically American first, they’ve still maintained ties to family back home.

    nor should be any enemies if the government is smart enough…

    That’s a pretty big ‘if.’

    In ideal world there should be support, colleboration, tolerance and understanding between the states.

    In an ideal world I shouldn’t have to have a license to distill my own whiskey. In an ideal world I should be able to go to the dentist without it hurting. In an ideal world Vladimir Putin shouldn’t shut off the gas supply to Europe to prove that he’s a badass. In an ideal world he shouldn’t be facilitating the development of nuclear weapons by the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. In an ideal world his predecessors shouldn’t have armed Saddam Hussein. In an ideal world Poland and Czechoslovakia and East Germany shouldn’t have been occupied by Soviet troops. In an ideal world the USSR shouldn’t have invaded Afghanistan. In an ideal world the FSB (or KGB) shouldn’t murder dissidents, and especially not on the soil of foreign sovereign nations.

    Should I go on?

  • Eugene

    http://poetrus.by.ru/201/201s-21.htm#3 – read it if you can -))

    Should I go on?

    In an ideal world US will destroy USSA in 1945-1950 right after Hirosima. They did not as we also got nukes and then “big nuke” by Sakharov…

    “You have all of the same rights as any of us.”

    We have quite many “blogs” in russian (like http://www.inosmi.ru, http://www.inopress.ru) and you can join and try to talk there… -)) I bet you will not.

    “In an ideal world I shouldn’t have to have a license to distill my own whiskey. In an ideal world I should be able to go to the dentist without it hurting…”

    - I feel a very strong smell of “brain-washing” powder of CNN, BBC and other propaganda mashines belonging to a small, very small group -))) We will never be friends, true fair partners or have similar points of view until we have equal rights and freedom to act in every sphere (business, politics, religion etc.). Now UK and US tries to keep its dominance and fatten such countries like Latvia and Poland. Soon Latvia might have cruise missiles on its terrtory… good luck!!!

    I see that nobody listens to one another here and everybody has his/her “preÑious” point of view. I think future 10 years will show who was right… -)) Bye-bye, dear opponents.

  • Alex

    Politics is a way to have paved streets and cops and firefighters show up when we call 911. It’s nothing more than that.

    I think politics is quote more than what you have described. In plain English, politics is the process and method of making decisions for groups. Thus government is the end decision-maker for us.

    Hey, look, speak first about invasion of Vietnam or more recent occupation of Iraq by the US troops or so called “the war on terrorism” which turned out to be no more than just a war for oil…I do believe not that in the external politics Mr Putin has taken a wrong course, but perhaps methods he is employing are not very gentle…

  • Nick Vaslov

    Bye-bye, dear opponents.

    Russia is not a rival to the EU or USA, it’s just a problem that has to be managed. China (1.3 billion pop, $10 trillion GDP) is a rival, Russia is not. Economically Russia is ‘just another country’ comparable to France or the UK only because it has nukes. In terms of wealth and population, it’s vastly outnumbered by the people you seem to think Russia (142 million pop, $1.7 trillion GDP) can rival (EU = 486 million pop, $12.8 trillion GDP & USA = 300 million pop, $13 trillion GDP). Russian oil and gas is the only card it can play but the thing about that is the more you play it, the more you lower the political cost in the west to go for nuclear power to negate both the Russian problem and the Muslim problem with one strategic move. In the long run, both are problems whose economic influence have very obvious solutions.

    I think future 10 years will show who was right… -))

    European demographics are not particularly good but Russian demographics are catastrophic. In 10 years Russia will be even weaker in relative terms. Even politically, Russia is becoming more, not less, isolated and if it continues to go down the path back to its old authoritarianism, it will be easier and easier for the vastly richer and more commercially interconnected parts of the world to discount Russia even on a political level. Hell, Russia’s best and brightest people have been leaving Russia in swarms and moving west, which is great for us but not so great for those who stay behind.

  • I think politics is quote more than what you have described. In plain English, politics is the process and method of making decisions for groups. Thus government is the end decision-maker for us.

    Alex, this is where the vast gulf between us becomes apparent. To me what Sunfish says is self-evident and what you say is anathema. “Thus government is the end decision-maker for us” is exactly what we can not accept. I am much more concerned with my interests than the interests of the government and the reason I value independent judiciaries is that I never want to be in the position where what the government wants always trumps what I want (which unfortunately is indeed the case in Russia).

    A government should exist to stand behind us as we secure our individual rights, not to make decisions and them impose them on us. Groups are NOT what matter (there is no such thing as collective rights) and the state is not some mystical meta-person that embodies us, there are ONLY individual rights and methods of mitigating the friction that occurs when several rights bump up against each other (which is why we have courts and cops).

  • Sunfish
    “You have all of the same rights as any of us.”

    We have quite many “blogs” in russian (like http://www.inosmi.ru, http://www.inopress.ru) and you can join and try to talk there… -)) I bet you will not.

    My Russian is barely adequate to order beer, and I don’t have a Cyrillic keyboard, so I must regretfully decline your invitation.

    “In an ideal world I shouldn’t have to have a license to distill my own whiskey. In an ideal world I should be able to go to the dentist without it hurting…”

    - I feel a very strong smell of “brain-washing” powder of CNN, BBC and other propaganda mashines belonging to a small, very small group -)))

    Every small group has its own propaganda machine. And some of those groups aren’t small at all: how many shareholders hath Turner, Fox, Time Warner, General Electric, etc.?

    Admittedly, I may have been brainwashed, but it wasn’t by anybody named here. Not by the television. Not by the public schools (schools operated by local governments, as are most in the US). Not by the BBC, which has so little presence in the US, and even less when I was a child. Not by CNN, which also didn’t exist during my earliest childhood. My family did one thing right, in that the education and acculturation process (which I guess you’ll probably also call brainwashing) were controlled by my parents.

    Fancy that, parents actually controlling the education of children without much government or corporate involvement!

    We will never be friends, true fair partners or have similar points of view until we have equal rights and freedom to act in every sphere (business, politics, religion etc.)

    .

    You can start your own company or your own church if you want. That is, unless Mr. Putin objects, in which I case I recommend that you make a sacrament of counting trees in the East. But nobody can stop you from opening your own eyes and using them to feed your own brain. However, power is little more than influence, and in a decentralizing medium such as this, influence comes from your ability to persuade others through logic and rhetoric. Thus far, it does not appear that you’ve had much success.

    Now UK and US tries to keep its dominance and fatten such countries like Latvia and Poland. Soon Latvia might have cruise missiles on its terrtory… good luck!!!

    If Latvia and Poland wish to prosper and be free, then they’ll be welcome to join the rest of the West in doing so. And if Latvia wants to have cruise missiles on its sovereign soil, then they are (now, no thanks to the no-longer-extant USSR) a sovereign nation and can decide that for themselves according to their own interests.

    I think politics is quote more than what you have described. In plain English, politics is the process and method of making decisions for groups. Thus government is the end decision-maker for us.

    Whatever lifts your skirt, bro’. Governments, at least to me, exist for purely pragmatic reasons, to accomplish those aims which society wants done.

    Let me offer myself as an example: I’m actually a government employee. Specifically, a police officer. The powers that I do exercise, and the laws that I do enforce, are little more than a written and formalized version of a broader social consensus. That’s why murder is good for lengthy prison terms and marijuana possession is punished by only a small fine and unlicensed ownership of weapons is perfectly lawful and legal. That’s what society (that is, the four million people who live in my state) actually wants. If they change their minds, then the laws change too. However, the laws in a free society are nothing more than an expression of the society’s shared values.

    My state isn’t the “libertopia” that I’d like it to be. However, the laws are as they are because that’s what the people actually seem to want. All government does is carry out the will of four million individuals (or 300 million, in the case of the Federal government).

    But the short version is, the state is not any sort of deity. We can argue round and round as to whether there are any such things as gods, but the state certainly isn’t. It’s simply a tool for delivering mail and guarding borders.

    Hey, look, speak first about invasion of Vietnam

    I would love to go on about the invasion of a sovereign nation known as the Republic of Vietnam (commonly known as South Vietnam) by the (communist, Soviet-backed) People’s Republic of Vietnam.

    The US was in the RVN pursuant to a treaty with the country’s legitimate government. Your country’s support of the North’s invasion by providing arms and training was (arguably) an act of war against the RVN.

    or more recent occupation of Iraq by the US troops or so called “the war on terrorism” which turned out to be no more than just a war for oil

    If that were the case, then why is there no oil flowing to us, four years later? And why is there a sovereign government in Iraq that is controlling its own oil, sabotage aside?

    …I do believe not that in the external politics Mr Putin has taken a wrong course, but perhaps methods he is employing are not very gentle…

    Yeah, supporting Iran’s nuclear ambitions and arming Syria and (until 2003) Iraq aren’t “a wrong course,” just “not very gentle.”