Monday, October 05, 2015

Putin's half-learned half loaf

Looking beyond all the caterwauling over Putin's latest, moderately harmful interference in Syria, I think we can see a method in places like Georgia and Ukraine:  Putin will go for the half loaf and not try to take the whole thing.


It's always tricky to guess someone else's psyche, but I think he thinks he learned the lesson of the Soviet Union as he watched it crash around him in the 80s and 90s, which is to extend but don't overextend. And there is a modest truth to that lesson, one that American neocons have never learned. Future Russian historians will look fondly at his retaking of Crimea while ignoring the methods used.

For the rest of the world, this is useful to keep in mind as we try to figure out what he's doing. There's no grand plan for Russian dominance in the Middle East, he's just trying to hold onto his very last proxy. Unless you're Syrian, the damage Putin is causing right now is limited.

While future Russian historians might applaud Crimea, they won't applaud Putin's inability to learn anything else from the fall of the USSR. Russia has neither political nor economic stability and has done nothing to diversify itself from being an oil commodities exporter in the last 20 years. That's on Putin and it will greatly affect Russian ability to be one of the global powers of the future.



47 comments:

Russell Seitz said...

How does being a Washington Post reader responding to a critique of Putin make one a 'conservative "?

John said...

Please, Brian, supply any previous examples of your sincere concern for the people of Russia that are completely independent of the standard American swipe at the Soviet/Russian leader at the time.

In the last seventy years the US, along with it allies, has tried not so secretly, to destroy the Soviet Union and having succeeded in that, then Russia. There is a connection between that effort and Russia's allegedly narrow economy. (Or are you taking the position that US foreign policy can have no effects, like the similar positions from "conservatives" on advertising, unlimited secret money in elections and human CO2 emission?)

The US attitude, as accurately portrayed here, is that of the doctor who puts a tourniquet on a patient's limb for an extended period, then publicly demeans, degrades and excoriates the patient for developing gangrene. (Ditto Cuba, Venezuela, etc.)

The "methods used" in the Crimea were what, exactly? Ninety per cent vote for return to Russia? If that is suspicious to you, I suggest you divert your criticism and analysis of long-term results to the US of its own election of 2000.

Putin is doing no more than would Obama if a coalition of Russia and Central American countries had set loose the equivalent of ISIS in Mexico as a result of killing ~10% of Mexico's population and turning ~20% of the survivors into refugees.

John Puma

Barton Paul Levenson said...

JP, your buddy Stalin was not completely free of innocent blood, and nor were his successors, including former KGB officer V. Putin. The US has all kinds of problems, but to assume from that, that its traditional enemy is the good guy, is all kinds of stupid. Great powers tend to be dangerously amoral, period.

Everett F Sargent said...

From the WABAC circa 1953 and 1975 ...

Looking beyond all the caterwauling over America's latest, moderately harmful interference in Asia, I think we can see a method in places like Korea and Vietnam: America will go for the half loaf and not try to take the whole thing.

From the WABAC circa whenever ...

Looking beyond all the caterwauling over America's latest, moderately harmful interference in the Middle East, I think we can see a method in places like Afghanistan and Iraq: America will go for the half loaf and not try to take the whole thing.

From the WABAC circa 1776 to TBD ...

Looking beyond all the caterwauling over America's latest, moderately harmful non-interference in Africa, I think we can see a method in places like Sudan and the whole effin' continent: America will go for the no loaf and not try to take the whole thing.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, China is now the Walmart of Planet Earth.

Everett F Sargent said...

"Putin is a terrible model - and of course American conservatives adore him."

Exactly.

Back when Dubya was POTUS I thought that Stalin would have been a better POTUS and back when Raygun was POTUS I thought that Chairman Mao would have been a better POTUS.

Slick Willie and Osama ain't got no ballZ, what wez kneed is a real manly POTUS, like Tea Party with Trump, virile and full of ... seed.

We're old. we're white, we're men and we're trash.

Brian said...

John, are you going to deny the method used in Crimea was an invasion of a democratic nation? That democracy was even more flawed than many others, but was still better than Putin's Russia. If you read what I've written about Crimea here at RR you'll see my mixed feeling about it because it was only the whim of another dictator in 1954 that made it part of Ukraine. Basically the right outcome through the wrong method.

And that snap election last year was very dubious. As was the US election in 2000.

Fernando Leanme said...

It's hard to tell if Ukraine is a democracy when the King of Chocolate came to power via a coup de etat. I used to live in Russia, and I think I understand how they think.: Russia is defending itself.

As for Russian "interference" in Syria, I believe it was invited to participate by the Assad government. This means Russian actions may interfere with Oabama's rather stupid and useless interference in Syrian affairs, but it has the backing of a very powerful faction in the civil war.

Finally, since I'm Cuban and spent years in Venezuela, I'd like to add he's wrong. I don't like to plug my writing, but if you are interested in Venezuela and Cuba I suggest you look up "letter to Daniel" by Fernando

Barton Paul Levenson said...

FL: It's hard to tell if Ukraine is a democracy when the King of Chocolate came to power via a coup de etat. I used to live in Russia, and I think I understand how they think.: Russia is defending itself.

BPL: How come it always "defends itself" by taking over other peoples' territory?

I love when "anti-Communists" like FL lean over backward to excuse KGB Prince Putin.

Entropic man said...

Bitter experience has taught the ex-USSR that they are surrounded by enemies. In the 20th century alone they have been invaded twice by Germany, fought a naval war with Japan and a Cold War with NATO.

In 1990 the nearest NATO aircraft were in West Germany. Now there are NATO aircraft on their Western border, patrolling the Baltic States.

I can understand why Russia might be nervous.

Entropic man said...

Perhaps an analogy.

Texas has seceded from the United States and rejoined Mexico. The Russians are flying defensive patrols in case of a US attempt to annex the state a second time.

How would you Americans feel about it?

snarkrates said...

Ouch! I find myself agreeing with Fernando (at least partially) for once. The Yanukovych government was a kleptocracy, but it was a quasi-democratically elected and legitimate government. By all means, no one would have been happier to see Yanukovych hang than me, but only at the end of a legal process.

And I am afraid there is no legitimate government in Syria but that of the butcher Assad. As bad as he is, there is a reason why he is where he is--the alternatives are worse, at least for some values of worse.

I am not a fan of either Yanukovych, Assad or Putin. I am a fan of legitimacy and of understanding a country/region before you mess with it.

EliRabett said...

Bitter experience has taught countries bordering Russia that Russia is their enemy. True this works both ways, but people only see it one way.

Supernaut said...

Whatever you may think of him, I think Putin (a) more or less knows what he's doing (defend first and foremost russian interests, which is why he is very popular at home) and (b) is in for the long-haul.

Tom said...

No Time For Sergeants, I admire your fortitude in your self description, but if it is as inaccurate as your description of others, perhaps there's hope for your male, pale and stale condition.

You write, "Back when Dubya was POTUS I thought that Stalin would have been a better POTUS and back when Raygun was POTUS I thought that Chairman Mao would have been a better POTUS.

Slick Willie and Osama ain't got no ballZ, what wez kneed is a real manly POTUS, like Tea Party with Trump, virile and full of ... seed.

We're old. we're white, we're men and we're trash."

So you prefer mass murderers to bunglers. You're entitled to your own opinion. I'm entitled to despise that opinion.

I won't waste time on Trump--by February people will be comparing him to Herman Cain. And Cain will look good by the comparison.

Kevin O'Neill said...

"Texas has seceded from the United States and rejoined Mexico. The Russians are flying defensive patrols in case of a US attempt to annex the state a second time."

Hopefully we'd just build a bigger better border fence to keep the Texans out.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Completely off topic, but does anybody know why virtually the only globally visualized OCO-2 data around comes from WUWT?

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/10/04/finally-visualized-oco2-satellite-data-showing-global-carbon-dioxide-concentrations/

Somebody seems to be asleep at the switch.

Brian said...

Supernaut - Putin's a disaster for Russia as soon as the oil isn't worth getting out of the ground any more. Zero diversification has occurred in the near-generation he's been in power. The future Russia isn't going to forget that even if they'll like having the Crimea back.

And then there's the lack of political stability. I remain hopeful that a pluralist/democratic system works better and therefore catches on as it has in most of Eastern Europe. When it catches on in Russia, they'll not forgive Putin for restraining it.

John said...

British journalist Patrick Cockburn makes the case that we should welcome Russia's entry into the Syrian war. Check it out here. Elsewhere, Patrick Cockburn has written that if the US really wants to defeat ISIS, the US ought to work with the regional powers who are actually fighting ISIS, such as Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria. Iran and Hezbollah are Shia, while Syria is secular.

Everett F Sargent said...

"So you prefer mass murderers to bunglers."

I s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o prefer mass murderers than those who infer that I prefer mass murderers.

Oh wait, forgot those bunglers.

I s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o prefer mass murderers to bunglers like Dubya and Raygun.

Oh wait, that doesn't work either.

I s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o prefer mass murderers that I just got back from butchering and slaughtering about the countryside.

That's s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o really what I meant to say.

In fact, I s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o wanted you to construct your very own strawman to knock down.

But here let me help you with the formula ...

(1) Queue up some thoughts that never actually occurred
(Stalin and Mao versus Dubya and Raygun).
(2) Queue up some thoughts that actually occurred
(dictator Putin who apparently has some ballZ as shown by him riding a horse with his shirt off versus dictator Osama who's got no ballZ as shown by him at the beach coming out of that very cold water with his shirt off).
(3) Stereotypes of old white male bigoted racist trash (wealth doesn't matter as they are all white trash CRACKERS anyways).

But the only thing that your comment does say that might be even remotely true is about Tea Party with Trump (he's kind of exactly like you, because once he rips his shirt off, eeeeew, we can see that he has no Dick in a Box).

Blogger profile said...

"How would you Americans feel about it?"

About the same as they felt when Cuba was being given missiles to base by Russia.

Of course, hypocrisy isn't going to stop them demanding everyone else do as they say, not do as they do, just like with them putting THEIR missile systems in countries neigbouring Russia and getting REALLY stroppy with Russia not liking this.

Remember, American Exceptionalism means when THEY go ballistic (pun not intended) over a competing superpower doing something they don't like near their borders, it is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT if some other benighted (because they're not American) country gets merely upsed. The latter is a MASSIVE threat to world stability. Which means if everyone bends over, the USA can more easily take advantage of the situation and ensure they're doing fine. Or, in other words, stable and democratic.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Fuck Russia.

Go USA!

cRR Kampen said...

Extremely dangerous development in the country of the czar.
After the deep, very deep indeed, crisis following the demise of the Iron Curtain - how deep this crisis was may be gauged from the over 15 years subtracted of average life expectation.
That is one Great Depression.
Follows the generation that tries to re-instate empire, always just about the worlds gravest danger.

Russian society is militarizing as fast as Hitler's Germany did. Patriottism, read: fascism plain & simple, galore. Kids at school assigned to create cannon's for father's day. Songs written and sung about 'our polite people' with who the military are meant that rolled into Ukraine.

There is a very dark future there.

Only the larger empire, that would be the USA, is still far worse. But somewhat more predictable.

snarkrates said...

cRR Kampen: "There is a very dark future there."

Dude, it's Russia. They're used to it.

Brian said...

BP - to be fair it was a missile defense system in Poland, not a missile attack system. And then we cancelled it.

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sanjeeta kuma said...

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Blogger profile said...

To be FAIR, B, the USA didn't put one in Poland and nothing else.

The USA also put bases in Europe so they'd have forces against Russia. They also paid Saddam to harry the Russians and paid the Taliban in Afghanistan to do the same in Afghanistan.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

BP: They also paid Saddam to harry the Russians and paid the Taliban in Afghanistan to do the same in Afghanistan.

BPL: Because the Russians had fucking INVADED Afghanistan. Did you forget that?

Barton Paul Levenson said...

sanjeeta: he cast a powerful spell on my ex and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm, My ex called me, surprisingly, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me back to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again.

BPL: Love spells coerce that which should be freely given. That's why the Bible bans any human use of magic. It's too much power to give to fallen people. You should be ashamed.

cRR Kampen said...

snarkrates, you are right (cynicism overlay) but the danger I mean is for outside Russia.
There is no real reason to keep expecting Russia to be on the receiving side of some empire's expansion. In the phase Russia is now, it could be the other way round this time. That would go smack, of course, it will be checked, but alas, the human cost of such.

It should be noted that Russia has nil right to chastise empire elsewhere. It is the largest country of the world, so there.

Blogger profile said...

"It should be noted that Russia has nil right to chastise empire elsewhere. It is the largest country of the world, so there."

The UK has no right either, because it had the biggest empire in the modern world.

France has no right, since it has an empire still that extends over more of the globe than any other in history.

The USA has no right, since it interferes and installs puppet regimes over more of the planet than any other in the history of the world.

So there.

China doesn't give a flying fig (apart from a territorial demand based on ancient ancient history, though the province gets almost entire autonomy in the deal) about an empire. Possibly because they think only the Chinese are real people and they already live in all the land they need and wouldn't want to leave their "ancestral home" and live in some benighted wasteland populated by non chinese.

What they do IN their country is widely criticised, and almost all of it justified. But they seem almost devoid of making everyone else dance to their tune, unlike the various European empire powers in the past or the USA now.

It gets to something when even Putin era Russia is less of a dick to the world than the USA, even under the most progressive option available at the time to elect.

Blogger profile said...

"BPL: Because the Russians had fucking INVADED Afghanistan. Did you forget that?"

Nope.

How the hell does it change the FACT that they were funded by the USA?

Fucking idiot.

Brian said...

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Barton Paul Levenson said...

BP: Fucking idiot.

BPL: I take it you were looking in the mirror when you said that?

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Blogger profile said...

"BPL: I take it you were looking in the mirror when you said that?"

No, I was reading your moronic post, BPL, and thought "Fucking idiot". So I wrote it down.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

BP, if you have any friends left, I take it you don't relate to them through the internet. You are among the most pointlessly hostile people I have ever come across, and it just isn't worth engaging with you, any more than it's worth engaging with Tom.

Get help. If you don't, I predict you're headed for a crack-up not too far in the future.

Entropic man said...

The UK is sending troops to the Baltic states .

This situation is gradually getting worse.

Blogger profile said...

" BP, if you have any friends left, "

I have plenty. If you don't have anything better to berate me with and try to get me to conform to your petty demands, please stop looking on the internet, since there are billions of people who couldn't give a rats' ass for your sensibilities.

Also, nonsequitur much? You leapt from the ridiculous teaching-grandma-to-suck-eggs "Hey, the russians INVADED!!!", which was so obviously irrelevant as to why the USA paid the terrorists it would later want to bomb (but only after they lied to pretend it was Saddam, who wanted to show that the international currency could be the Euro, which would cripple the financial power of the USA, so HAD to be forcibly punished). Then leapt to some dribble about how I must be projecting, which entirely didn't attempt to reconfirm the earlier dribble about invasion's relevancy, and NOW leaping off to "Hey, no-mates! Do what I say or you'll have no mates!!!" which STILL refuses to reconfirm the relevancy of the invasion OR demonstrate any validity to the dribble of "Looking in a mirror?".

You got badly humped with the moronic irrelevance of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and are desperately trying to bury that with the crap that comes out of your head so nobody will notice your metaphorical stain running down your metaphorical legs.

If you have any friends left, they probably only do it because they're in the same religious clique with you and are berated to love you by the pastor. Everyone else who doesn't toe your metaphorical line have either left or were thrown away. You may not miss them as long as you're part of that church, but this would be ANOTHER chain of misery locking you to your cult. You could be just as moral, just as giving, WITHOUT the insanity and hypocrisy of your myths' teachings, hence BETTER OFF AS A PERSON, but you've tied yourself to it by having only fellow cultist friends. Cultivate others, ALLOW them to tell you you're wrong, and accept that there are people out there that will disagree with you, even violently, but that doesn't make them BAD PEOPLE. And then you'll be able to leave all that unnecessary baggage of your faiths' catechisms and keep the bits that are YOU, rather than the grafts of your indoctrinations.

cRR Kampen said...

Chechnia don't exist anymore and the dead don't speak. Don't speak of Chechnia.

"It gets to something when even Putin era Russia is less of a dick to the world than the USA" - saying less of an empire, that would be all. Same dick.

Russell Seitz said...

Let's bring peace to South Asia by sending BP to Afghanistan :

The Talibs will flee into Baluchistan and the Hizb will desert their opium fields to get out of earshot of the man.

Blogger profile said...

Lets confuse the hell out of ISIS by sending Rustle over there to talk to them.

Maybe he coached this line out of cc, since it makes absolutely no sense:

"saying less of an empire, that would be all. Same dick."

Unless it's saying that Putin is the same dick as Obama or something. Which would be ridiculous. Same dick as Ted Nugent? Possibly. Same dick as the GOP hopefuls? More than some, much less than others (e.g. Trump, but not really the worst of them for being in charge of the USA, he at least doesn't look forward to Armageddon as a first-class reserved seat for the afterlife).

cRR Kampen said...

It's not personal, Wow. It's empire. Doesn't matter what dick leads it.

Blogger profile said...

Ah, sorry, the USA are far bigger dicks and have been for 30 years ish than Russia has in the last 50.

See the recent TPP for one example. See China arresting hackers of US systems on the orders of the US Gov (and compare with their acts for the hacking that stole the Airbus quote so that Boeing would win the bid, for example).

Or see the case of Dimitry Slykarov.

At least when the Russians come to get dissidents and spies, they at least ACKNOWLEDGE by hiding their acts that they know they shouldn't be doing it. The USA thinks they have every right. Openly.

See also Gitmo.

Compare Softwood Lumber with Canada and the USA vs internet gambling and the rest of the world. I wonder how well Tuvalu are doing with the WTO's ruling allowing them to ignore US copyright...

Kevin O'Neill said...

As an American I don't have a lot of regard for my fellow citizens; after all, half of them *did* vote for Bush/Cheney in both 2000 and again in 2004 (technically, 47.9% in 2000 and 50.7% in 2004).

But BloggerProfile's admonitions are really rather ironic - given that he evinces a similar level of stupidity/ignorance/insanity as the average American.

Blogger profile said...

"But BloggerProfile's admonitions are really rather ironic - given that he evinces a similar level of stupidity/ignorance/insanity as the average American. "

Sorry, outside your bubble, you need evidenced claims to appear sane.

Please try again.

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