Streetwise Professor

September 23, 2010

He Could Be Me

Filed under: Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 7:27 pm

Or I could be him.  Or something.

I mean that Dmitry Sidorov, who has a new blog titled The Putin State Chronicles at Forbes, is a kindred spirit.  His posts could be ripped from the pixels of SWP, or vice versa.  They provide some great examples of the natural/mafia state in action.

I especially liked “Washington is Delusional About Russia.”  I strongly suggest you read the whole thing, so I’ll limit myself to one relatively short quote:

Recently, Strobe Talbott, the former Clinton administration point man on Russia, and believed to be a shadow adviser to Hillary Clinton and president Obama, explained that Russia should be forgiven for its mistakes. He divided the Russian analysts into those who love the Great Russian culture and the Russia haters.

I have despised Strobe Talbott since 1992.  (Actually before, dating back to his days as editor and Washington Bureau Chief at Time.)  He was consistently wrong then, and I’m sure he is to this day, so it is disturbing that he’s a “shadow advisor.”  (He was sort of a Thomas Friedman before Thomas Friedman.  The almost perfect distillation of East Coast liberal conventional wisdom: conventional, and wrong.)

This dualism between those who admire Great Russian culture (presumably high culture) and Russia haters is so typical of Talbott.  It is utter BS.  Indeed, people like me consider it one of the great tragedies that a nation and a culture that has produced such transcendence, has record of some great achievements, and is blessed with so many intelligent and sincere people, has been so long cursed with dysfunctional political systems.  Indeed, these systems have been dysfunctional on their good days.  On far too many other days, they’ve been far worse than that.  People like Talbott–and far too many commentors here–who can’t distinguish between Russia (and Russian) haters and people who despise a corrupt and cursed while holding no animus towards the Russian people do no favors to those they purport to admire and support.   Indeed, this attitude actually seems to be far more insulting to Russians; it’s as if they’re not capable of anything better than Putinism.

I wonder if Talbott, or others who toss about the epithet “Russophobe” think that Dmitry Sidorov is a Russophobe.  What, is he a self-loathing Russian?  Is it just possible that he’s actually a patriotic Russian who is distressed at what Putinism has wrought?

Regardless what he is, he’s worth reading.  I will, regularly.

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  1. Craig;

    I think that you probably want to go back several centuries, around the time that Russia was cursed with the “French” disease, and track their social contract theorists and compare them to their contemporaries.

    My sense is that people like Locke, Hobbes, Hume, and even Rousseau accepted and the idea that a social contract could be a fulcrum to lift a society out of a morass of double dealing. I see no such counterparts in Russian literature to this vision.

    Comment by michael webster — September 23, 2010 @ 8:41 pm

  2. Well, there are plenty of self-hating Americans, or those ludicrous “anti-Zionist” Jews, why not Russians? Besides, this guy’s cookie cutter writing makes him sound like a bot. I feel like I know what he’s gonna say next before he says it. You’re a much better writer, professor.

    Comment by So? — September 23, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

  3. My guess is that the people who love Russia are the ones who hate the Russian government so much. So, Talbott is just talking about one group of people. Those of us who have been to Russia or have read much of the great literature or listened to the great music or watched the great ballet (and I’m not using the term great lightly—it is truly great literature, music, and dance) are the ones who despise the way the common people are and almost always have been treated. ??????? ???????.

    Comment by David Hoopes — September 24, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  4. “Those of us who have been to Russia or have read much of the great literature or listened to the great music or watched the great ballet (and I’m not using the term great lightly—it is truly great literature, music, and dance) are the ones who despise the way the common people are and almost always have been treated.”

    Indeed, what hath Putin wrought. These common folk are not dying as fast and are having more kids than they were prior to Putin. Indeed, so many of ’em enjoy travel to the West that restaurant menus from Stockholm to Istanbul are printed in Russian.

    And these are establishments unlikely to be catering to multibazillionaires.

    And these Russian travellers return home too, with no FSB agents holding guns to their heads. Imagine!

    Comment by rkka — September 24, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  5. Those of us who have been to Russia or have read much of the great literature or listened to the great music or watched the great ballet (and I’m not using the term great lightly—it is truly great literature, music, and dance) are the ones who despise the way the common people are and almost always have been treated.

    So, 77% of Russians are actually closet Russophobes, amirite?

    Or are you just projecting?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 24, 2010 @ 6:42 pm

  6. I’ve had a look through his blog.

    Second, arms assembly in Russia will ensure the Kremlin a continuous supply of advanced military technology to its armed forces. Given the totally unacceptable behavior of Moscow leading to the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, and the Kremlin’s aggressive posture towards the former Soviet countries, this is by far one of the worst decisions the West has come up with since the 1960s.

    Typical Russophobe hack, of whom there’re a dime a dozen. Obviously not following.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 24, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  7. Funny how the great Russian culture produced absolutely nothing of value in the last 25 years.

    Comment by So? — September 24, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

  8. Why not?

    The Dozor and Metro 2033 series. Lots of great films in the past 5 years.

    Culture is rarely recognized as such early on.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — September 24, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

  9. S.O.,

    helping a demonstrably aggressive authoritarian regime in militarization projects is very obviously a bad thing. That’s called common sense, not phobia of any kind.

    Comment by Ivan — September 25, 2010 @ 1:19 am

  10. Not really following some of this. Perhaps I was unclear. I think Talbott’s point that there are two types of people is wrong. Talbot suggests that you either love Russia or you don’t. My point is that you can love a lot about Russia and still believe that Putin is not good for Russia (and not good is an understatement).

    Comment by David Hoopes — September 25, 2010 @ 1:59 am

  11. Well Sublime retard,

    The IFFC report did list around 20 years worth of increasingly aggressive and illegal behavior on the part of the Russians with a massive increase in provocations against the Georgians in the last 2 years before the war.

    Of course a moronic Putinist/Marxist Russophile (sort of like being a pedophile really, after all look at Putin…) hack like yourself is incapable of reading anything let alone reading the full report.

    I suggest you try it, the report lists every single one of Russia’s actions in 2008 as illegal, and demolishes every single one of Russia’s arguments that attempted to justify its actions.

    And if you don’t think that Russia has an aggressive and imperialistic attitude towards former soviet republics, you are a complete idiot.

    Though we already knew that, given your infantile infatuation with the mass murdering ideology so beloved by left wing morons such as yourself.

    Comment by Andrew — September 25, 2010 @ 3:08 am

  12. So?, we cannot expect geniuses to be born every 10 or 25 years, in Russia or elsewhere. Russia was fortunate to be the motherland of the great writers and composers- maybe it’s just too much luck for this our country.

    Comment by a.russian — September 25, 2010 @ 3:13 am

  13. At “a.Russian” some great writers and composers were from Russia indeed.

    However the vast overwhelming majority were not.

    Unless you think Handel, Beethoven, Schubert, Motzart, Mendelssohn, and countless French, English, Scottish, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese composers and authors were actually Russian.

    Have a look here and see, the majority of writers recognised as 20th century greats are definitely not Russian.

    Comment by Andrew — September 25, 2010 @ 6:53 am

  14. Georgia made her own mess by electing that utter nutter in the early 90s. So suck it up.

    Comment by So? — September 25, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

  15. Andrew,

    None is greater than Solzhinitsyn. After all, he proved that Stalin personally murdered 100 million people. Only true geniuses win Nobel prizes in literature.

    Comment by So? — September 25, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

  16. Andrew, I did not mean that the majority of great writers or composers are russians. I enjoy reading Proust in french, for example- but I am happy to read Tolstoy in my native language. That’s pretty much all the luck the russians have.

    Comment by a.russian — September 26, 2010 @ 1:32 am

  17. Fair enough A.Russian.

    I thought you were doing the Putinist/Communist trick of claiming that only Russia produces greats.

    It does, but not really any more or less than other countries.

    As I have said before, the great pity about Russia is that it has the potential to be a great (and by that I mean good, not simply strong) country, but always falls into the trap of its past, ie Imperialism, racism, corruption, and autocracy.

    @So? Yes, but Solzhenitsyn also pointed out that Lenin would have been just as bad, if not worse. He demolished the entire Communist system by proving that the system was evil, not just one or two people. Thats what made him great.

    Of course, the problem is that most Russians these days (look at Sublime Oblivion” simply accuse him of lying. They don’t like the message so they denounce the messenger.

    Comment by Andrew — September 26, 2010 @ 4:09 am

  18. The argument about Russian artistic greatness is somewhat tangential (I know I fueled the fire). Even if there is little to be said about Russia’s artistic and literary contributions to the world (which I don’t think is true) I think Putin is doing a poor job looking out for the average Russian citizen (an understatement).

    Comment by David Hoopes — September 27, 2010 @ 10:47 am

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