Streetwise Professor

December 29, 2011

We Are So Inside His Head

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:54 am

Putin is utterly Pavlovian about the United States.  He nurses intense bitterness about the outcome of the Cold War, and the collapse of his beloved USSR.  As a loyal KGB man, he internalized anti-Americanism.

Which is why Hillary Clinton’s criticism of the Duma elections rankled Putin so much.  Enraged him, actually.  It triggered his Pavlovian reactions, because of the source (the US) and his paranoia about a US-directed and funded color revolution.

It is against that background that one should interpret the Russian government’s rather amusing foray into the human rights forum.  The government released a report similar to the US State Department’s annual review of human rights around the world.  It is a 99.99 percent pure sample of whataboutism:

The 90-page Russian report slams EU nations, Canada and Georgia, but reserves its longest section of 20 pages for what it says are violations by the United States. The report does not cover Asia, Africa or the Middle East, other than a five-page section criticizing the NATO operation in Libya.

Moscow laments the ongoing operation of the “notorious” prison in Guantanamo Bay, where terrorism suspects have been held since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and criticizes President Barack Obama for “legalizing indefinite and extrajudicial custody and the return of court martials [sic: it’s courts martial].”

The report accuses the U.S. of prying into citizens’ personal lives and violating the rights of Muslim Americans in the fight against terrorism. It also points to errors made by American courts.

“Judicial errors are the Achilles heel of American justice as concerns capital punishment,” the report argues. It notes the roughly 130 people sentenced to death in the past 30 years who were later cleared of the charges, some after they were executed.

The Foreign Ministry also struck back at international criticism of Russia’s recent parliamentary election, which independent observers said involved widespread fraud. Outrage over the vote set off a spate of protests led by citizens unhappy with Vladimir Putin’s rule.

The report accuses the U.S. of blocking independent candidates from elections and criticizes the practice of allowing governors to nominate senators when a Senate seat is vacated, as when Obama became president. It refers to the conviction this year of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was accused of trying to auction off Obama’s Senate seat.

I find the Blago reference incredibly amusing.  Blago would fit in perfectly in Russia.  In so many ways.  (Even the “vich” ending of his name fits.  Yes, he’s of Serbian extraction, but Russians paternalistically think of Serbs as kindred souls for whom they once waged a disastrous war and for whom they continue to risk confrontation.)

Another interesting tidbit in the report: Russia criticizes growing xenophobia in the EU.  More distilled whataboutism coming from as it does from an extremely xenophobic nation and government.

Insofar as the specifics are concerned, the compilers of the report could do all of their research just by reading myriad open sources from newspapers to blogs.  And I’m sure they did.  So it’s not telling us–or the world–anything we didn’t know, or which we don’t discuss, debate and at times agonize over on a nearly continuous basis.

No, this report says far more about Putin’s Russia than it does about the US, or the EU, or any of the other countries studied in the report (notably Russian betes noir Georgia and the Baltic states).  It betrays obsession.  It reveals defensiveness.  It makes plain the continued reliance of the Russian government on Soviet tropes.

In brief, it is like an advertisement for coming attractions from Putin II.

It will be also very revealing to see who in the US echoes what’s in the report.

One last Russia note.  There’s a lot of discussion of the meaning of Surkov’s apparent demotion.  To me the main meaning is that this matter has sparked so much discussion.  Just as the human rights report is redolent of Soviet era “but in the US they lynch negroes” whataboutism, the scrutiny of the meaning of Surkov is a harbinger of the return of Kremlinology.  All illustrating yet again that you can take the boy out of the USSR (kicking and screaming, in Putin’s case) but you can’t take the USSR out of the boy.

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19 Comments »

  1. Who’s this ‘we’ inside Putin’s head, Kemosabe?

    Comment by Mr. X — December 29, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

  2. Mr. X. The US, obviously from the context as the article. Definitely not you. You’re inside Putin’s . . . well, I’ll leave it to everybody’s imagination.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 29, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  3. Professor,

    I consider anyone who would compare hundreds of thousands of liberty-loving American citizens and tens of thousands of Ron Paul-supporting Iowans to the genocidal Khmer Rouge as either a ridiculously over the top Establishment toadie, to the point of self-parody, or very sick in the head. You don’t realize this, but I do pray for your immortal soul. Anyone who would suggest that RP supporters are terrorists or potential totalitarians is implying that they ought to be locked up. Trouble is, I’m afraid if Big Sis did get to that point for all your toadying she’d throw you in the FEMA camp with the gold and silver dealers and other undesirables. Perhaps only a good TSA groping or the disappearance of your retirement accounts MF Global style would wake you up.

    Comment by Mr. X — December 29, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

  4. If Putin gets voted out, he gets voted out. How’s that sucking up to the Putin in the same way you worship Ben Bernanke, and regard anyone who wants to end the Fed as morally equivalent to folks who dragged millions out into the jungle to be shot?

    Comment by Mr. X — December 29, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  5. And by rejecting the ‘we’ the U.S., I reject that the Demintern, the NED and the NRI, McCain, Graham ‘shut up you don’t get no lawyer’ et al represent my country or the values it was founded upon.

    When Alex Rodriguez-alny starts agitating against Dylan voting machines alleged fraud, saying they’re rigged, and becomes the darling of all Russian and Chinese media, backed by the ‘Free Texastan’ or some similar Russian or Chinese backed foundation, with an Alfa or MGU fellowship, I dare say then we could call it even to the massive U.S. taxpayer support for Mr. Navalny.

    As it is, RT, Alex Jones are so in your head it’s not even funny. Even a teensy bit of tit for tat for the years of taxpayer funded anti-Russian (not just anti-Kremlin) propaganda drives you up the wall. Well say hello to whoever set up your meeting with Nemtsov. Whichever State Dept. twit did that is not my countryman.

    Comment by Mr. X — December 29, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  6. In fact Professor, I’m praying you don’t end up like Gerald Celente who was robbed with at best the failure of fail safes by your buddies at the CME and at worst some of them serving as accomplices for the JPM banksters who know exactly where the two billion went.

    Take your money out before the Natural State takes it away.

    Peace out.

    Comment by Mr. X — December 29, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  7. Ah, monomania! Seriously the US bashing is not just being inside someones head, but also an example of Russia’s ideological failure. Under Lenin and Stalin, there was a genuine belief that Bolshevism was the future – Khrushchev’s comment “we will bury you” really referred to the supposed superiority of the command economy’s productivity vis a vis the escalating crises that were supposed to destroy capitalism. Me too ism in the later Soviet period was a way of dealing with objective failure, a form of denial, needed to keep the ideological structure in place. In the Putin era, me too ism supports what? Great Russian nationalism as a cloak for theft? I guess this has kind of devolved into a nihilism designed to support the Gebist takeover of the reins of power(old term, the new one escapes me). “No one has it better – so why do you complain citizen?” might be their refrain.

    Issues as regards Ron Paul are beyond my knowledge, though as a general rule Congress has always had a number of cranks, some smart and eloquent. others as dumb as a turnip. This is particularly true in the House. I would be interested to see whether Ron Paul ever voted against a significant interest within his own constituency. LBJ famously remarked after Senator (later Justice) Paul Douglas viciously attacked the Oil depletion allowance to the great applause of liberals, that the good senator never voted against the Dairy farmers in southern Indiana, but somehow this fact escaped the editorial boards of the New York Times and the Washington Post. Is Ron Paul that ideologically pure? I suppose it is possible.

    At the moment, whether Ron Paul is a loony or not is an irrelevancy. Ron Paul is being made to look like one, and furthermore is being used to paint all Republicans as loonies. Furthermore he is being used to build up the “horse race” aspect of the campaign – one can’t get good ratings for a contest if the outcome is known. The 24 hour news channels need endless conflict and drama to fill their time slots. This is the media at work, and the more we ignore this fact the more effective it is.

    As regards to the crimes of the US, should they exist as described, that does not in anyway justify crimes anywhere else, nor do ad hominem attacks against Putin’s critics weaken the arguments made, as long as these arguments are based on facts. We are in Putin’s head, in so far as he can only justify himself and his state by criticizing others. what is positive about Putin’s government, what is the goal?

    Comment by Sotos — December 29, 2011 @ 4:33 pm

  8. Richard Fernandez, one of the honorable PJM contributors (in fact the guy who’d I’d argue made PJM a site worth reading in the first place) sums it up here very well:

    http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/comment/189292/

    To the extent that someone like SWP expresses sheer fanatical loathing or utter contempt for Ron Paul and his supporters, is the extent to which he arrogantly believes he’s part and parcel of the Establishment Paul’s supporters want to upset. That they gropers will never come for him, or that his account will never end up like those at MF Global, that he’ll never wake up one morning to that bank holiday Joe Biden was talking about in front of Corzine. Nope, as Upton Sinclair said, it can’t happen here.

    SWP and Leo Linbeck the Third are in some ways polar opposites. Both roughly the same age, both Houstonians who’ve apparently made a bit of money. But I would argue L3 is SWP’s good twin, while SWP is the evil twin, the one who merely pretends to be a conservative but is terrified of upsetting The Man.

    End of thread for me.

    Comment by Mr. X — December 29, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

  9. Richard Fernandez, one of the honorable PJM contributors (in fact the guy who’d I’d argue made PJM a site worth reading in the first place) sums it up here very well:

    http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/comment/189292/

    To the extent that someone like SWP expresses sheer fanatical loathing or utter contempt for Ron Paul and his supporters, is the extent to which he arrogantly believes he’s part and parcel of the Establishment Paul’s supporters want to upset. That the [sic] TSA gropers will never come for him on the highway. That his account will never end up like those at MF Global. That he’ll never wake up one morning to that bank holiday [with the ATM reading zero] Joe Biden was talking about in front of Corzine. Nope, as Upton Sinclair said, it can’t happen here.

    SWP and Leo Linbeck the Third are in some ways polar opposites. Both roughly the same age, both Houstonians who’ve apparently made a bit of money. But I would argue L3 is SWP’s good twin, while SWP is the evil twin, the one who merely pretends to be a conservative but is terrified of upsetting The Man.

    End of thread for me. Please feel free to delete the duplicate comment, and may God have mercy on the United States of America and everyone commenting here more worried about the Putin than their own back yard.

    Comment by Mr. X — December 29, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

  10. Mr. X: “End of thread.” Promises, promises. Don’t let the door hit you.

    Your fantasizing about who I am and what I believe says a lot more about you than about me.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 29, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

  11. And yet the US still has the DP, while Russia doesn’t since 1996.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 29, 2011 @ 6:27 pm

  12. A decade ago, the Kremlin rejected a political track in favor of the “shithouse” strategy .

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/murder-and-torture-are-the-price-of-peace-in-chechnya-419864.html

    Sublim -Stalinist and Mr. X in the US they lynch negroes” whataboutism, : – Vladislav Yuryevich Surkov -Aslambek Andarbekovich Dudaev; Chechen: Dudi Andarbeki kant Aslambek) Inside the head of the funny Putin -mafia supporter Mr.X and Sublim moron . Not even his loony mentor Alex Jones can rant like Mr.X and sublim moron That’s the trouble. Russia Today is clearly serving the interests of those who promote the ideas that animate the burgeoning Patriot movement. The channel gets rave reviews on Patriot websites, including Jones’ Prison Planet Forum. “This is what mainstream news should be like,” one forum poster declared on May 7 — ironically overlooking that his ideal media outlet is heavily subsidized by and very likely beholden to a government. “Russia Today,” he said, “gets many kudos from me.”

    The story should be a surprise for naive Westerners. As a KGB agent, Vladimir Putin doesn’t have any morale, nor good one neither a bad one. He’s completely immoral.
    It’s strange to watch as American politicians, as Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama, have tried to appeal to the Putin’s sense of right and wrong. He lacks this sense. All current KGB (FSB) agents in Russia — and one can’t be ex-KGB agent, because KGB wasn’t not an entity or Intelligence Service — it was a way of life, so one can’t be more ex-KGB agent than can be ex-gay.
    Putin is absolutely corrupted person.

    Comment by Anders — December 29, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

  13. S/O. Tell that to Magnitsky.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 29, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

  14. SWP. Whataboutism.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 29, 2011 @ 11:47 pm

  15. 13. Russia has de facto DP – there is a directive that allows FSB to kill “enemies of the state”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8802732/Leaked-document-reveals-plans-to-eliminate-Russias-enemies-overseas.html

    And 16. is not whataboutism. It was you who compared US and RF in relation to the DP.

    Comment by TM — December 30, 2011 @ 12:53 am

  16. Professor,

    given that Hillary Clinton managed to start a fire on a Russian nuclear submarine and crash and burn down a Su-24 bomber on a single day, you would be rankled, too. The modest Russian military budget won’t be able to withstand that level of sabotage by Hillary and all the kickbacks at the same time, so Hillary must be stopped.

    Comment by Ivan — December 30, 2011 @ 2:22 am

  17. Self-defeating personality disorder Subim moron . Your “ Californian shithouse ” strategy is interesting .

    Death Penalty in Russia

    http://larussophobe.wordpress.com/putinmurders/

    Comment by Anders — December 30, 2011 @ 8:21 am

  18. If my memory serves me correctly, there was a period of time after World War II in the forties when Soviet Union did not have the death penalty. Right at the height of Stalin’s rule.

    Which perfectly illustrates a very simple point: having or not having death penalty on the books does not per se mean squat as far as the human rights are concerned.

    Comment by LL — December 30, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

  19. Well said LL, but you don’t really expect an amoral person like Sublime Oblivion to understand do you?

    Comment by Andrew — December 31, 2011 @ 2:03 am

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