Streetwise Professor

January 27, 2009

Well Said

Filed under: Commodities,Economics,Energy,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 11:02 pm

Putin speaks the Davos urp-fest tomorrow, and has a lot to feel chastened about since his previous, boastful appearance–not that he will.  This quote hits the nail on the head, though:

“Putin will attempt to paint Russia as a willing player looking to deepen its integration into the global economy and eager to attract global investors,” said  James Beadle, chief investment strategist at Pilgrim Asset Management in Moscow. “Sadly, Russia has berated and abused many of its global partners, and now that the stakes have balanced, few will trust this new, benign rhetoric.”

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Anybody who buys what Putin is selling is a fool.  But very early on in the history of this blog, and many times since, I’ve expressed amazement at the credulity of western investors when it comes to Russia, and their belief that they’re special and will avoid becoming just another statistic.  We’ll see if Putin can succeed, yet again, playing Lucy with the football, with western investors reprising their role as Charlie Brown.  Beadle thinks not.  I’m not so sure.

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26 Comments »

  1. Count me in as the biggest “fool.”

    Putin is the best thing to happen to Russia post-1991. He understands that Russia, a country which came out of 70 years of a planned economy and 9 years of anarchy, must proceed to a controlled and stable manner. Say what you will about his “bed-side manner” the results speak for themselves.

    I look forward to listening to him and hearing his take on the global monetary crisis.

    Comment by Timothy Post — January 28, 2009 @ 8:17 am

  2. Putin and Bin Laden are like Peas & Carrots.

    Anthony Julius, writing on the Guardian’s “Comment is Free” blog:

    As President Obama contemplates his foreign policy inheritance, it is likely that he will ponder most deeply two topics – the continuing threat posed by al-Qaida, and Russia, or what has become known as the war on terror and what was once known as the cold war. What he is unlikely to do, however, is to identify any connection between the two threats. But that would be unfortunate, not least because the men who lead them, notwithstanding the many differences between them, have identical perspectives on one specific issue.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/23/russia-alqaida-putin-bin-laden

    Comment by Woldemar Pushkin — January 28, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  3. Why is Russia friends with pariahs? After all, it’s obvious that it’s not for the sake of economic or political advantage. Turns out that it’s – to spite the rest of the world. To pique the West and the USA. Russia’s allies – Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-Il, Ortega, Fidel… Speaking in the language of contemporary youth, the personages are clearly «otmorozki» [a word that’s quite impossible to translate, it contains the same linguistic element as “frostbite”, suggesting inhuman, cold-hearted sociopaths–Trans.]

    Someone of the independent political scientists noted: the ultimate transformation of Russia into a besieged fortress just might allow Putin to hold on in power for another few years more. But this — is pyrrhic politics, transforming Russia itself into a pariah country.

    Comment by Michael Gorbach — January 28, 2009 @ 10:55 am

  4. Yep, pretty much any nutjob can land a piece in CiF from time to time, Voldemort.

    Comment by Da Russophile — January 28, 2009 @ 11:23 am

  5. Timothy–Get a Room!

    I agree the results do speak for themselves.

    Controlled? Stable? A mania for control–granted. An illusion of stability.

    An overcentralized government (a national tradition, alas) that undermines civil society and property rights, and which engages in various unnecessary foreign adventures, will do nothing to move Russia beyond its Soviet and Tsarist past. Indeed, although stripped of the excesses, the current policies seem hell bent on repeating many of the same mistakes that felled the USSR, and the Russian Empire before that. Indeed, there is a positive nostalgia for that past.

    Keep leading the cheers, Timothy.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 28, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

  6. Timothy Post and Anatoly Karlin

    Russian officials have tried to communicate this VERY thin story with, even though their actions on the ground have told the contrary. But after this, at least I have become convinced that the black and white men from the seventies driving around in Ladas loaded with skopalamin and taperecorders still exists.

    Comment by Voldemar Puschnik — January 28, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

  7. You know, Timothy Post, your stupidity is one thing and could be forgiven, but, your disingenuousness is what makes me find you so loathsome. I noticed looking at your pathetic blog a link you posted with the comments you made at Oleg Kozlovsky’s, a sincere Russian human rights activist’s and a person that has been arrest by the Putin regime no less, blog, where you tried to spin this allegation about La Russophobe, in your words:

    “To be insulted by the La Russophobe blog (quite possibly a Jamestown Foundation project) is a compliment in my book.”

    http://olegkozlovsky.wordpress.com/2009/01/20/two-new-victims-of-political-murders-in-russia/

    You use the old Soviet KGB disinformation ploy of trying to assign nefarious associations and motives to dissenting individuals and organizations. Other than malicious conjecture you have no reason to affiliate LR with the Jamestown Foundation and you know it. You shown up at Robert Amsterdam’s blog and I’m sure in time you’ll try to smear him as a CIA funded. You’ve played that disingenuous game with me here by suggesting that I am hiding something because I post using a first name which is ludicrous given that the internet is a forum for public discussion. And, no, most people that post on the internet are under no obligation to add anything more than the identity that they select. My full name, occupation, and location are none of your damn business and you can smarmily infer whatever you like.

    Your blog reveals a trolling gadfly flitting from site to site sniffing out anyone that is consistently critical of Putin’s Russia. You have absolutely no credibility and no empathy for Russians who have been systematically losing their freedoms the past 8 years which makes you an embarassment as an American there. You have no sense of what a moral midget you are in comparison to Oleg Kozlovsky. He’s risking his life for basic freedoms while you sniff out venture money to fund a golf course on your third Russian adventure.

    A few days ago you were leaving for good. Why not keep your promises.

    Comment by penny — January 28, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

  8. Timothy’s post is hilarious! He must be trying to keep someone happy so he doesn’t get booted out of Krasnodar. Why anyone would want to live in a dump like that is beyond me. Now that oil prices have collapsed, his main man Putin won’t be able to pay off the public. I predict that within five years Russians will get as fed up with him and his cronies as Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan did with their dictators. I wonder what they’ll call the next Russian revolution…

    Comment by Dave — January 28, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  9. Foreigners do business in roosha at their own peril.

    And, now it seems, even rooshans do business in roosha at their own peril.

    Under Putin’s “great leadership,” Gazprom, which is owned 50.002% by the rooshan government, with the other part being publicly owned, just lost over $2 billion in revenues due to Pudding’s gas war.

    Good advice posted above – Timothy, hilarious post, but get a room.

    Krasnodar – well, I was there quite a few years ago. Nice, temperate climate, near the sea. They could do something with the place, but I didn’t think it was actually a dump. They did have some sort of a military base that it was a sin to even mention – or think about.

    Comment by elmer — January 28, 2009 @ 10:47 pm

  10. The irony which many of you seem to be missing is that Putin’s approach to economics, “Stakeholder Capitalism,” is much more progressive and balanced than the Anglo-American market fundamentalist “Shareholder Capitalism” favored specifically, by The Professor.

    It was this neo-classical “market fundamentalist” approach which was favored by many Western advisers in the 1990’s in Russia and by Alan Greenspan and regulators in the 2000’s in America. I believe that the results do speak for themselves. If the Professor sees the need to support what is now seen as a potentially flawed ideology by the majority of economists worldwide that is his choice. I would not expect someone who has invested his career in one ideology to suddenly throw up his hands and say it was all for naught. It is, therefore, no surprise that The Professor and others of you believe that Putin is a threat to your ideology. That’s logical.

    I suggest that you guys check-out the book by Amy Chua (Yale Law School Professor) called “World on Fire.” Ms. Chua argues that free markets and Democracy are not two sides to the same coin but rather, while both systems are desirable in the medium to long-term, they need to be implemented in a measured and cautious manner. This is exactly what Mr. Putin has done in Russia during the past 9 years. First a stable prosperous economy built with the proceeds of the oil revenues and then an open civil society (I try to stay away from the term Democracy because it’s a bit loaded).

    Mr. Putin’s philosophy is much closer to that of Western European Social Democrats. In fact, some some even made persuasive arguments that Putin’s approach mirrors in many ways Charles de Gaulle’s dirigism approach after World War II.

    Surprisingly, I suspect that the end goal of a European style civil society that so many of us want for Russia is pretty close to Putin’s goal for Russia himself. The primary difference is the means by which and the pace at which Russia gets there. It comes down to a matter of priorities.

    Regarding all your ad hominem attacks on me, I remain transparent and a bit amused that you all feel the need to attack me personally. I guess that comes with the territory when one challenges dearly held conventional wisdom. I’m a big boy and can handle it.

    By the way, Krasnodar is a wonderful region of Russia. In many ways it is like California during the 1960’s. We have tourism, agriculture, a border region with mixed ethnic groups, the Azov and Black Sea resorts, some amazing Winter skiing in the mountains, and excellent future prospects. Of course things could be better.

    The roads along the Black Sea suck (i.e. dangerous and too small for the quantity of vehicles)! There’s not enough international flights in and out of KRR airport. The electrical grid needs some serious updating to keep up with the demand. I wish there was more emphasis on high-speed rail infrastructure to Sochi, Novorossiysk, and Anapa. The speed of the DSL internet really sucks. It’s like 756K which is slowing down innovation. The managerial approach is still fairly command and control which is hard for me being an MBA educated in the 1990’s to adapt to easily. Actaully, the proper managerial approach is central to the question of Putinism. I have come to believe that Russians over the age of 30 do want a strong hand to lead them.

    Bottom-line guys. Take your little pots shots at me if you feel the need to vent your inner rage but just know, I’m a regular guy with family roots here in Russia. I have no connection to any government organizations. I am working with a local Krasnodar group to develop a country club community here in Krasnodar. Is that so bad? We are bringing an American concept with an American golf architect, and land planner, and golf management company to work with local construction firms and workers to build something which we hope will be pretty cool. Our goal is to create a community where families can spend time enjoying one another’s company, to make a profit, and to create some new attractive jobs. Check out the Cliff Communities for an analog.

    This is about discussing, arguing, and sometimes bickering at one another about Russia. So, Professor, what are your opinions about Amy Chua.

    Comment by Timothy Post — January 29, 2009 @ 5:12 am

  11. More on Russians and Their Beloved Stalin
    Strongman management
    ” I have come to believe that Russians over the age of 30 do want a strong hand to lead them.”

    Russia is a rather xenophobic nation, to put it very mildly, and Georgians (of whom Stalin was one) are especially unpopular now. But even that doesn’t prevent many Russians from loving their most terrible tyrant.

    ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire i Russia ?

    http://globetrotter.berkeley.edu/people4/Chua/chua-con5.html

    Chua states that she is a “big fan of trying to promote markets and democracy globally,” but that it should be accompanied by attempts to “redistribute the wealth, whether it’s property title and giving poor people property, land reform …. Redistributive mechanisms are tough to have if you have so much corruption.”

    Comment by Voldemar Puschnik — January 29, 2009 @ 8:42 am

  12. Stalin…corruption (Voldemar)…roosha (elmer) …(dictators) Dave… KGB (penny). These people are like looping programs, they have to keep going to not crash, arguing with them civilly is nigh impossible Tim.

    PS: “You use the old Soviet KGB disinformation ploy of trying to assign nefarious associations and motives to dissenting individuals and organizations.” – penny

    So exactly how many times have you lot accused those who dare disagree with you as one of a) “KGB”-paid and/or b) doing propaganda to please our “KGB” overlords?

    Pot meet kettle.

    Comment by Da Russophile — January 29, 2009 @ 11:22 am

  13. Russia is a normal country with a booming non-hydrocarbons economy underpinned
    by a well-educated and secular workforce. The Putin administration has affirmed democratic values, worked to improve human rights and pursued Russia’s national interests abroad.

    Comment by Adolf Potemkin — January 29, 2009 @ 12:38 pm

  14. “KGB” overlords, how do you like this ?

    “Raise Tariffs on Communal Services Still Higher!” “Yes, to Higher Prices,” “Yes, to a 12 Hour Work Day!” and “Yes, to Higher Duties on Imported Cars!”
    In sum, the marchers chanted, “We are Ready to Agree to Everything!”

    http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2009/01/window-on-eurasia-being-more-putinist.html

    Now, as the paper noted laconically, all of those detained for participating in this March of Those Ready to Agree are “awaiting trials,” an indication that as difficult as it may be for anyone to believe, in the Russia of today, it is almost as dangerous to be 110 percent for Vladimir Putin as it is to oppose him.

    Comment by Vidkun Putin — January 29, 2009 @ 10:54 pm

  15. Timothy, come on – rasha an “open civil society”? Not when it comes to government. And it’s not the first time I’ve heard excuses for Putkin – “well, rasha needs a dictatorship in order to develop into a free society, at rasha’s own pace.” Come on, Timothy.

    I applaud your efforts to bring golf to rasha – oligarchs won’t have to travel as far now. And, besides, hey, Ireland built golf courses and had an economic boom. Things may not look so good in Ireland now, but there’s no way to go in rasha except up, as you yourself note.

    Rasha has this absolutely idiotic, and maddening notion that it must rule the world, at any cost. Did the more than $2 billion loss by Gazprom, engineered by Putkin, not sink in, Timothy? You, as an MBA, have got to be absolutely appalled over that little trick.

    Rasha is conducting trade wars with EVERYONE. And it does nothing but hurt the Russian economy. Import cars from Japan? Hell, no, Putkin won’t have that. Cheese ane meat from Ukraine? Hell, no. Wine from Georgia? I’ve said it before – drink Georgian wine, it’s more freedom than is allowed in rasha.

    When it comes to government, rasha is absolutely abysmal.

    In Krasnodar, you happen to be far from the tsar’s court. You’re lucky.

    But I’m glad the oligarchs are building golf courses now. I thought it was hypocritical of them to build churches – noone went, and the churches were built with stolen money.

    I hope that the rashans finally decide to join the rest of the human race – sooner, rather than later.

    Lots of them already have – but they had to vote with their feet, and leave rasha.

    Comment by elmer — January 29, 2009 @ 11:00 pm

  16. Da Russophile, nice try at getting that to stick. You are another Putin lackey gadfly that tries to smear opinions that you don’t like.

    Comment by penny — January 30, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

  17. Timothy–

    Sloganeering is no substitute for serious analysis. Exactly what does “Stakeholder Capitalism” mean, really? It’s just another buzz phrase, meant to connote a fuzzy, warm-hearted contrast to the (alleged) social Darwinism of “shareholder capitalism.” Who are the “stakeholders” referred to? In Russia in particular? The stakeholders appear to be: the silovik, the bureaucracy, the oligarchs, and the members of organized crime (of course there is a considerable overlap among these groups.) It certainly isn’t the average Ivan. To argue that what is happening in reality–rather than in fine sounding phrases coming out of Putin’s mouth when he isn’t threatening to send businessmen to the doctor, or putting them in jail, or expropriating foreign investors, or biting hands proffered in help–is moving Russia towards any semblance of social democracy is delusional. How do you square this alleged move to a social democracy with the increase in income and wealth inequality in Russia? Social democracy is allegedly a leveling movement. Where’s the leveling going on in Russia? (Well, in the crisis, everybody is getting a lot poorer, but you know that’s not what I’m talking about.)

    To have a serious discussion, you need to specify a set of criteria that you believe characterize “stakeholder capitalism” and “European style social democracy.” Then we can look to see how deeds–not words–match up with those criteria.

    I know some very good Russian economists (arguably the best Russian economists, IMHO), and I can say they’d have a very good laugh at your assertion.

    Re Chua, and the gradual progress to democracy and free markets. That’s a statement (at best) about the speed of movement, not the direction. Except for the very early days of the Putin era, it is clear that the trend has been towards less democracy; more government control; and more restrictions on civil society. So, it’s not a matter of slow but steady progress towards democracy, less government control, and a freer society; it’s palpable movement in the exact opposite direction.

    BTW, the whole world is in the dumper economically, “social democracies” as well as “Anglo Saxon free market systems.” Indeed, (a) European economies grew less in the 90s than the US, and (b) the IMF predicts that the US will actually outperform all of these economies through the present crisis. The UK is among the hardest hit, but although it is of course literally Anglo Saxon (tho the Welsh and Scots disagree;-), it long ago descended into a statist malaise. Note recent data that show that the government accounts for 49 pct of the UK economy, and well over 60 percent in some regions. Hardly a free marketeer’s paradise.

    A reasonable implication of your argument is that more dirigiste economies should be less severely affected by the ongoing financial crisis. The evidence does not support that view.

    Re ideology, don’t throw around phrases like “neo-classical” unless you are sure of the definition, and the target of the invective. Yeah, I was trained as a neoclassical economist, and can do those tricks in my sleep. I am something of an apostate, however, as I do a lot of institutional economics which is often at odds with a purely neo-classical approach.

    One tenet of the institutional approach is to avoid a pitfall which, alas, all to many of the “majority of economists” don’t–the Nirvana fallacy. The poor performance of a market does not imply that there is some real world government policy or regulation would do better. Both markets and governments can “fail.” The question is, as a comparative matter, which does better in a particular instance, or across a variety of instances. From that perspective, the ongoing financial crisis is not the QED you apparently think it is.

    In that regard, I agree that Greenspan is largely to blame, but definitely not for the reason you suggest (i.e., a blase attitude to regulation.) Monetary policy under his chairmanship of the Fed was dangerously lax–something that Milton Friedman pointed out, and which ardent free market Austrian economists (a definite minority in the economics profession) predicted would lead to severe economic dislocation. That monetary policy, when combined with various tax and regulatory policies that favored real estate investment, is, in my view, the singlemost important factor behind the financial crisis. So, perhaps ironically (from your perspective) the most ardently libertarian, free market fringe of the economics profession arguably have the most plausible explanation of the crisis.

    Re your assertion that my criticism of Putinism betrays a “fear” that Putin’s construction of a social paradise on the steppes will discredit my “ideology”–you mistake confidence for fear. That is, I am highly confident that his approach will fail. As I’ve written before, Putin has constructed an economic purgatory that looks good only in comparison to the hells of Soviet times and post-Soviet chaos. The possibility of escape from that purgatory is minimal as long as Putinism, or anything remotely similar, reigns.

    Re the personal attacks, I don’t particularly like them, but I have to say to do put a pretty big target on your backside with your constant PDA for Putin. Moreover, although I believe your statement that you are not connected with any government, folks know that operating in Russia, especially for an American, is impossible without the blessing of the government. You definitely have skin in the game, Timothy, and that you are in an inherently difficult position: that leads people to question your objectivity, and some to doubt your sincerity. Especially those who know the rough and dirty way the game is played over there. As for me, I don’t care one way or another–as I’ve written before, I prefer to match argument with argument; analysis with analysis; fact with fact. But, objectively speaking, (a) your self-description of your professional circumstances and (b) the way Russia works, its dirigisme, if you will, (to put it VERY euphemistically) means that it’s quite understandable that people deeply discount your boosterism. Especially when a good deal of it is so contrary to virtually all information emanating from anywhere but the Russian government and its running dogs (e.g., Schroder.)

    Re Krasnodar, never been there, but I have heard from a variety of folks who have (including Russians) that it’s pretty nice–for Russia. Which reminds me (yet again) of the old joke about the farm boy whose mama told him to say something nice to his date.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 30, 2009 @ 8:10 pm

  18. “Da Russophile, nice try at getting that to stick. You are another Putin lackey gadfly that tries to smear opinions that you don’t like.”

    Thanks for the compliment penny you. :)

    “Gadfly” is a term for people who upset the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions, or just being an irritant.

    The term “gadfly” (Gk. muopa)[1] was used by Plato in the Apology[2] to describe Socrates’ relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse. The Bible also references the gadfly in terms of political influence; The Book of Jeremiah (46:20, Darby Bible) states “Egypt is a very fair heifer; the gad-fly cometh, it cometh from the north.” The term has been used to describe many politicians and social commentators; in modern Hebrew, which knows many more idioms than those used by Jeremiah, gadfly is “mekhapes pagam” literally “fault searcher”.

    During his defense when on trial for his life, Socrates, according to Plato’s writings, pointed out that dissent, like the tiny (relative to the size of a horse) gadfly, was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating could be very high. “If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me,” because his role was that of a gadfly, “to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth.”

    In modern and local politics, gadfly is a term used to describe someone who persistently challenges people in positions of power, the status quo or a popular position.[3] The word may be uttered in a pejorative sense, while at the same time be accepted as a description of honorable work or civic duty.[4]

    And with that noted I will now do my best to avoid replying to trolls.

    @SWP,

    Re-personal attacks in relation to Timothy.

    1. Officials and businesspeople couldn’t care less what he writes on the Internet about topics as general as Russia or even the city of Krasnodar. Their selfish interests are quite a lot narrower.

    2. This “virtually all information emanating from anywhere but the Russian government and its running dogs” (read: Anglo-Saxon media) ignores the reality of systematic bias against Russia due to editorial control, commercial concerns and political influence in that “information”. This is covered extensively in my and many other blogs.

    PS: Just an example I recently stumbled across. A few months ago a Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/3074454/Russia-to-ban-Simpsons-and-South-Park.html) wrote:

    Russia to ban Simpsons and South Park
    The Kremlin was accused of a return to Soviet-style indoctrination after Russia moved to ban American cartoons like The Simpsons and replace them with programmes teaching children to be patriotic.

    Today, that channel (http://www.2x2tv.ru/program) continues showing South Park (and Simpsons, Futurama, Mission Hill (whatever that is)…

    These examples can be multiplied literally thousands of times. Which is why serious Russia-watchers take most things written about it in the Western media with a pinch of salt.

    3. I find it hypocritical of you to condemn and complain so much about the dude who showed up a while ago and questions your motives and associations, but striving to explain away the uncouth and somewhat childish “debating” manner of the likes of Vidkun, elmer and penny. Still it’s your site and a minor point.

    Comment by Da Russophile — January 31, 2009 @ 6:11 am

  19. Investors Say Nyet to Putin’s Ruble After ‘Absurd’ Davos Speech – Bloomberg

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aN2J7GEHTNrM&refer=home

    Moscow has not only used its resources and eco­nomic prowess to exert its influence in the former Soviet states of Eurasia. Russia’s neo-corporatist state[5] is also pursuing an anti-American agenda and challenging the existing global economic system. It seeks control or influence of sectors that are of par­amount importance to American and European security, such as special materials like platinum, titanium, and other rare metals; defense technolo­gies, such as the European aircraft manufacturer EADS; and energy resources and infrastructure, such as U.S. Getty, Spain’s Repsol, Germany’s Ruhr­gas, refineries, and a slew of companies in Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and elsewhere. Russia seeks to establish platforms from which it can more easily conduct industrial and classic espionage, money laundering, and other covert activities, and increase political dependency through corruption. Moscow is also seeking influ­ence in the developing world, as well as challenging the independence and security of Europe, including major powers like Germany and Italy, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, in which the United States has national security interests.

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/RussiaandEurasia/bg2235.cfm

    The Kremlin has made clear that it intends to diminish America’s standing as a world leader by promoting a “multipolar” world, and using its mili­tary, economic, and “soft” power to re-establish Rus­sia as America’s near-peer competitor. The lower energy profits accruing to Moscow from the current global economic downturn can play a role in miti­gating Russia’s anti-status quo foreign policy, and slow down the growth and modernization of its armed forces. But the U.S. should not rely on these developments. The U.S. should develop compre­hensive policies to handle Russia’s economic power projection that is aimed at undermining American allies, power, and security interests, employing a mix of commercial, national security, intelligence, and diplomatic means.

    Ariel Cohen, Ph.D.,

    Comment by Nyet Putinophil — January 31, 2009 @ 10:16 pm

  20. Investors Say Nyet to Putin’s Ruble After ‘Absurd’ Davos Speech – Bloomberg

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aN2J7GEHTNrM&refer=home

    Moscow has not only used its resources and eco­nomic prowess to exert its influence in the former Soviet states of Eurasia. Russia’s neo-corporatist state[5] is also pursuing an anti-American agenda and challenging the existing global economic system. It seeks control or influence of sectors that are of par­amount importance to American and European security, such as special materials like platinum, titanium, and other rare metals; defense technolo­gies, such as the European aircraft manufacturer EADS; and energy resources and infrastructure, such as U.S. Getty, Spain’s Repsol, Germany’s Ruhr­gas, refineries, and a slew of companies in Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and elsewhere. Russia seeks to establish platforms from which it can more easily conduct industrial and classic espionage, money laundering, and other covert activities, and increase political dependency through corruption. Moscow is also seeking influ­ence in the developing world, as well as challenging the independence and security of Europe, including major powers like Germany and Italy, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, in which the United States has national security interests.

    http://www.heritage.org/Research/RussiaandEurasia/bg2235.cfm

    The Kremlin has made clear that it intends to diminish America’s standing as a world leader by promoting a “multipolar” world, and using its mili­tary, economic, and “soft” power to re-establish Rus­sia as America’s near-peer competitor. The lower energy profits accruing to Moscow from the current global economic downturn can play a role in miti­gating Russia’s anti-status quo foreign policy, and slow down the growth and modernization of its armed forces. But the U.S. should not rely on these developments. The U.S. should develop compre­hensive policies to handle Russia’s economic power projection that is aimed at undermining American allies, power, and security interests, employing a mix of commercial, national security, intelligence, and diplomatic means.

    Ariel Cohen, Ph.D.,

    Comment by Igor — January 31, 2009 @ 10:18 pm

  21. If this were another blog, we would see from “Da Russophile” what is seen on many other blogs and forums from rooskie sovoks – swearing and cussing beyond belief. As it is, “Da Russophile” is limited to resorting to a cliche – “childish debating” – in order to characterize comments that he doesn’t like.

    Ah, yes, and there’s the old whine – “systematic bias against Russia.”

    Da Russophile, a very long time ago, a Frenchman wrote about Russia. He noted the overwhelming desire of Russians to be liked – but the actions of Russians that make them very unlikeable.

    Facts are stubborn things. There is no “systematic bias against Russia.” Europe, the US, and other countries have tried to engage Russia in every way possible. And what does Russia do? Well, it does things that make it susceptible to criticism, based on the FACTS.

    Would you like some cheese with that Russian whine of yours?

    Comment by elmer — January 31, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

  22. @elmer,

    If this were another blog, we would see from “Da Russophile”… I wonder exactly how how many logical fallacies that contains.

    rooskie sovoks

    old whine

    Europe, the US, and other countries have tried to engage Russia in every way possible. – “truthiness” is not necessarily equivalent to truth.

    Would you like some cheese with that Russian whine of yours?

    So all in all I really do think my characterization of you as a childish “debater” is pretty accurate.

    Comment by Da Russophile — February 1, 2009 @ 12:57 am

  23. @elmer

    You do have a point, Russian wines do kind of suck, at least historically. However I did buy a bottle of 2007 Chateua Tamagne Cabernet at Metro tonight for 140 Rubles. My wife said I was nuts to try a Russian red but it’s from a new joint venture between a French group and a vineyard up north of Anapa. I am curious to see if the French expertise combined with some great natural conditions along the coast near where the Black Sea meets the Azov Sea will produce something exciting. Not holding my breath but ya never know.

    Thank goodness the Russian tastes in wine have evolved dramatically from the old days when if a wine didn’t taste like a wine cooler it was regarded as bad. Now it’s possible to buy some great bottles from all over the world, albeit at pretty steep prices. By the way, the Metro hypermarket here in Krasnodar is the best place to buy good wines cheaply. Lots of new choices from California and Australia. You can pick-up some great bottles for around $15 bucks.

    Robert Parker may not be coming for a visit any time soon but things are getting better slowly. Now if only I could find a way to buy a bottle of Mt. Gay rum so I could “build” myself a real Summer Mountie (i.e. Mt. Gay, tonic, and wedge of lime and a packed glass of ice).

    Comment by Timothy Post — February 1, 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  24. Although I understand very little of the intricacies of Russian politics, I find you guyz conversation very interesting.

    Comment by Surya — February 1, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

  25. Surya–1. Glad to hear. 2. To be a New Jerseyite, it’s “youz guyz”;-)

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — February 1, 2009 @ 10:25 pm

  26. From the article “How Should I Treat Russians”? It also applies with respect to Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Czechs, Poles, Slovaks, Romanians, and all the other countries and nationalities who fell under sovok domination, and “dared” to obtain their independence from Moccow. And in the case of Estonia, “dared” to “insult” Russia by moving – not re-moving – a sovok era monument.

    There are even jokes going around the Internet: When a Russian loves Russia, he is considered a patriot. When a Ukrainian loves Ukraine, he is an incorrigible nationalist. If the Russian president talks to his American counterpart, he is developing a relationship. When the Ukrainian president does the same, they are plotting against Russia. If a Russian speaks the Russian language, he is just a Russian. When a Ukrainian speaks the Ukrainian language, then again he is a spiteful nationalist. And so it goes on.

    http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/op_ed/34912

    Comment by elmer — February 5, 2009 @ 9:12 am

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