Monday, August 18, 2008

More McCain Plagiarism?

Did John McCain copy the content of his "Christmas" ad from a story in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's novel The Gulag Archipelago?

Only John knows for sure, I guess, but it sure smells fishy to me.



Beyond the idea that McCain has trouble keeping stories straight are his blustery comments concerning Russia. When are we as a people going to accept responsibility for what we do as a people. WE CREATED THIS MONSTER! As I have posted recently, we could have taken a different tack and been more of a friendly nation to Russia when it was down, but nnnnnoooooooo, we had to fuck with them and now that they are awake and angry(and more powerful), we shake our ineffectual finger at them while pretending we can actually do something to put them back into the bottle.

This leads me to a recurring thought I've had in my head lately(no they aren't voices)and that is maybe we should have backed away slowly from NATO after the Soviet Union imploded. NATO was formed as a result of the creation of the Soviet Union, no? Once the Soviet Union is no longer why have the alliance. Our first President had many good ideas about such things, but I realize much of a country's governmental force is on autopilot and it is tough to kill off programs, bureaus, taxes, etc. when they become anachronistic.

I almost lost it(my cookies, my mind, my cool)when I actually witnessed our Fucker in Charge speechify that Russia should be ashamed of itself for bullying another sovereign nation. And I thought about that for a second and had to ask myself, "Did he really say that?", "Is he that fucking stupid?". That has to be the heighth of hypocrisy(Iraq anybody?). I don't think I have ever in my life seen hypocrisy to that degree; nothing even coming anywhere close to that comment. And this is the face we provide the rest of the world.

And now McCain wants to talk tough to Russia; kinda show them who is boss. Did it ever occur to anyone in charge that maybe if we had been nicer and more helpful, Russia might have stuck with their democratic reforms longer? That if we were to have given them a helping hand when their economy tanked instead of picking off their buffer states, that maybe they wouldn't have cared whether these buffer states ruled themselves democratically or not.

I believe trade is the path to world peace. I believe if we trade with everybody on an equal and fair basis, countries can learn to live with each other. But one side(the Reps) talk free trade but find ways to upset our traders and the other side (the Dems)want to put so many conditions(conditions their factions(voters) hold near and dear)which protect our trading side at the expense of our partner's; it makes me wonder if anyone really wants world peace. Maybe we just aren't capable as a species.

G said...

I've been tossing these comments around in my mind a bit, trying to figure out a way to write it in a way that won't be misunderstood as disrespectful or condescending. I'm having trouble with it (it's late and I'm tired), so I'll just say it. But I really don't intend it to read that way.

Your thoughts about this Georgia situation being something US policy created are misguided. I know that it is a view that some of the "talking heads" are hanging onto, but it's wrong. The idea that being a friendlier partner could have prevented any of this requires the assumption (an incorrect one) that the mindset in the former Soviet republics is similar to our own. It is not.

When dealing with Russia (and the other former Soviet nations) it needs to be understood that while the collapse of the Soviet Union was a tremendous victory for freedom, it was only the republic that died. The Soviet mindset never changed. It has been alive and well to the present day.

Now, I'm not generalizing to say that every citizen of a former Soviet republic thinks the same way. But there is one general attitude that permeates the entire society, from the highest levels of government down to the nameless cogs in the nations' machinery... exercising power and authority over others (including forced submission, when it will achieve a desired result). That is what this invasion of Georgia and the subsequent rhetoric from Russia is all about... a demonstration of Russia's military power and the reminder to Georgia (and the others) that THEY are the ones in charge.

The Russian government (again, and the other former Soviet states) isn't much different than it was in Soviet days. Their version of democracy has only put a different face on it... and added obnoxious wealth accumulation as a secondary goal. It would be easy to try to blame Putin for the whole thing, but with that attitude remaining at every level of government, it was inevitable. The only real question was WHEN it would happen (and I guess, where...). It could just as well have occurred in Ukraine at the time of the "Orange Revolution," and came much closer to realization at that time than most people recognize.

In our nation, there is a growing trend toward the idea that "If we could just talk more, help more, do more... then x y & z could be averted." But it stems from a naive belief that all other nations are like we are "deep down inside," that their thought processes, goals, etc. are similar to our own. But the cold, hard truth is that we can't relate to their way of thinking at all. (On a side note, this exact naivete is one of the most disturbing things I see in Barack Obama)

Sure, Joe Citizen has many similarities throughout the globe: going to work, getting married, having kids, trying to make ends meet. But when we allow our foreign policy to be dictated by assumptions that other nations will think and behave as we would, then we will quickly find ourselves on dangerous ground.

Sorry for the long post. I wanted to be reasonably thorough.


G, my friend, I believe it is you who are misguided. I realize the Russians as a people prefer security over freedom. I realize the Russians are going gaga over a leader like Putin, a leader who hasn't much of a democratic bone in his body, but has brought optimism back to the country. As long as the average Russian citizen has food on their plate and nary an enemy at the gate they get a warm fuzzy feeling in the pits of their stomachs. Throughout Russian history invasion over land has always been the biggest fear of the Russian people. Their borders are long and easily accessed(unlike our fortunate situation of having two large oceans as a buffer). And because of this and the feelings of power the Russians have now that they are back from the brink, the Russian citizenry are feeling better now than they have since before the fall of the Soviet system. This does not change the fact when the chips were down for them we as a supposed "friend" shat upon them by using nefarious means to chip away their "near abroad". This is not a way to foment peace and understanding.

As far as the ex-Soviet satellites you could not be more wrong. Do you really think many in the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and the rest would like the strong arm of reconstituted Russian running roughshod over them. The Georgians cannot stand the Russians. The Eastern Ukrainians have an affinity for Russia, but Western Ukraine doesn't. So to say as a blanket statement that the countries which used to call the Russian leader "sir" want that system back; well you would be mistaken. The proof is in how many are now EU states.

What this has set up for us is the situation where we need the Russians more than they need us. We need the Russians to side with us against Iran. We need their vote in the UN Security Council. We need to make sure they do not sell advanced anti-aircraft armaments(the Russian S-300 system to be exact)to Iran. We need the Russians to keep stalling on the Iranian Bushehr nuclear reactor. We need the Russians to not meddle in the Syrian-Israeli peace talks. These are things the Russians hold over our heads while we bluster on about how the Russians are bullies.

So in conclusion, if we had kept to our word a little better, and acted as a mentor while Russia was going through her growing pains, maybe, just maybe we wouldn't be in the jam we are now in, the vast majorityas a result of our own doing. Would it have worked totally; maybe not, but I would have liked to have had the chance to see.

G said...

I thought my comments were clear, but I guess I was wrong. Where did I say anything about the former Soviet republics wanting anything to do with a reconstituted USSR or anything of the kind? Quite the contrary.

I was talking of the mindset that permeates society, which hasn't changed much. The major difference is the former republics are now extremely nationalistic (for the most part). But the power & authority mindset is alive and well, just within their own sovereign nations now.

Where exactly have you come up with your view of the attitudes of Russian citizens? From your comments, I'm guessing that you've never spoken with one (or at least none who have lived there in the past decade).


"When dealing with Russia (and the other former Soviet nations) it needs to be understood that while the collapse of the Soviet Union was a tremendous victory for freedom, it was only the republic that died. The Soviet mindset never changed. It has been alive and well to the present day."

"The Russian government (again, and the other former Soviet states) isn't much different than it was in Soviet days."

Both of these quotes include former Soviet states. I guess I was reading you wrong, my bad. Not very clear to my limited intellect.

Many of the former Soviet states may be extremely nationalistic, but not so much that they didn't join the EU. A country joining the EU has to jump through many hoops, hoops that are dictated by others. They seem to be pretty willing. I chalk it up to anything anti-Russian and the chance to join the rest of the world.

So are you telling me the average Russian isn't thrilled with the direction the country is taking or are you saying security isn't the overriding concern of the average Dmitri?

G said...

I'm sorry that I wasn't more clear. My reference to the "Soviet mindset" was only intended to mean the exercise of power and authority over others that I mentioned. Now that I read it again, I can see how using the term "Soviet" could be misunderstood. So "my bad" as well.

From my experience (which mostly comes from the perspective in Ukraine), the former Soviet republics seeking to join the EU do so for exactly two reasons: economic prosperity and protection from Russia. The economic aspect is understandable, but generally not what it's cracked up to be. Hungary, Romania, and Poland have had some serious struggles with the transition. Nevertheless, the required "westernization" of the infrastructure for EU membership is enormously better. Just as an anecdotal example, several years ago I was in a van with friends crossing the border from Hungary to Ukraine. While waiting in line, every single person had the same thought... "I better use the toilet here, because I definitely don't want to use the ones on the other side."

As for protection from Russia, everyone in the region KNOWS that Russia is aggressive and dangerous, and that the only real defense is to have a partnership like NATO or the EU. Georgia is a perfect example. Russia can basically do whatever they want, and they know that nobody can do anything about it. Really, they could probably do the same thing in Ukraine if they wanted to. But right now they are probably counting on a more pro-Russia government in Ukraine in the coming years. In fact, Ukraine is pretty evenly split on the EU and NATO issues, with the opposition entirely made up of those who want closer integration with Russia.

As for the average "Dmitri," his main concern is putting food on the table. Russia and the rest of the former Soviet states are incredibly polarized economically. There is the VERY wealthy class, and the poor. Until the past few years, there was no middle class. These days the middle class is growing in the big cities like Moscow, St. Pete, Kiev, etc. But when you get outside those cities, it is still very poor... small towns and villages where running water and indoor toilets are the exception rather than the rule, etc. It has become much worse over the past year as inflation has gone through the roof (prices for most items having at least doubled over the past year, but with wages remaining pretty stagnant).

I've met very few people who hold a positive view of the current direction, but that's partially cultural. Complaining is a national pastime. Part of the problem is the mindset that it is the government's job to make sure you're taken care of (another Soviet holdover). So if I can't afford as much food as I could last year, it's the government's fault, so we need a new government.

G said...

That's all kind of off-track. Back to my original point. The situation in Georgia has absolutely nothing to do with anything the US or Europe has done. It is pure Russian machismo at work. Show your domination over a mostly inconsequential neighbor in order to strike fear into everyone else... hopefully gaining an advantage in negotiations, etc. because of that fear. In this case, it backfired a little bit with Poland almost immediately agreeing to the US missile defense system on their soil. But I'm sure you noticed the further threat (the Russian general mentioning that the nuclear option is on the table) after the treaty was signed. It's pure intimidation.

coreydbarbarian said...

just thought i'd share this. it seemed relevant.
putin's thoughts

G said...

Yes, let's listen to the INVADER tell us who is at fault.

The Russian government is still holding onto the claim that there was ethnic cleansing happening. But reports from a number of sources that have gone into Georgia indicate that Russia's claims are absolutely false. The simple fact remains that these provinces (regardless of the citizenship of the residents) were a part of the sovereign nation of Georgia... and Russia crossed the border and launched an attack.

This link should be of interest:

Son of ex-Georgian president says Kremlin brutality never changes


Except for the error in the article you linked to,g,(Putin has morphed TO Prime Minister FROM President)I agree with it's main points. It also kinda backs up my point that the Russian people hold security of sovereignty on a higher plain than individual freedom. One thing I didn't do very well in my previous posts in this thread was include the word democracy along with freedom. And the time frame I was really focusing in on as far as our culpability in creating the new Russian Bear was with the Yeltsin administration. Once Putin took over the die was cast. As it stands now even our containment policy has failed and we have one more tough piece of meat on our plate(dessert is so very far off).

Lastly, this "situation" is one more bit of evidence the current placeholder in the White House has done nothing but harm as we waste away in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving a window of opportunity for any nation who wants to take advantage of our binding daliances.

G said...


I think I might just be getting confused on terminology. When you say "security," I think "defense of the borders against aggressors." When it comes to aggression, I put it in the category of "lust for more power" rather than "security." And while I would agree, somewhat, with your statement, it would only apply to the government. To be honest, I don't think the average "Dmitri" cares about whether Georgia is independent or a part of Russia, or even feels the slightest bit of concern over the defense of Russia's borders. It seems to be pretty well expected that if any of Russia's neighbors actually made an aggressive move into their territory, the response would be swift, brutal, and devastating.

It also sounds a bit confusing when you say the current administration has done nothing but harm, but also that "the die was cast" when Putin came into power (which was before Bush was elected). That would place the blame primarily on the shoulders of the Clinton administration.

I would still disagree that our policy had anything to do with it, whether it be Bush, Clinton, or anyone else.