Putin The Terrible, at The Economist, a comment by Old Socialist


The opening gambit of this editorial travesty, begins with the depiction of Putin as looming black monster, with red eyes in the shape of fighter jets, on the cover of the utterly staid ‘newspaper’ The Economist. One can only wonder at where anything like editorial standards reside at this newspaper! After all this screeching anti-Putin Hysteria  on the cover, the reader is barraged in rhetoric awash in the cliches of the current political orthodoxy.The Oxbridger Brain Trust’s desperate bid for attention, with that cartoonish cover, have now recovered a fragment of their sang-froid, and managed to conceive this telling question, with the addition of some almost insightful speculation:

What should the West do? Time is on its side. A declining power needs containing until it is eventually overrun by its own contradictions—even as the urge to lash out remains.

What those Brain Trusters now offers looks like what those Old Cold Warriors, like George F. Kennan, who eventually settled upon in terms of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear miscalculation would be the worst kind of all. Hence the talks need to include nuclear-arms control as well as improved military-to-military relations, in the hope that nuclear weapons can be kept separate from other issues, as they were in Soviet times. That will be hard because, as Russia declines, it will see its nuclear arsenal as an enduring advantage.

But this next paragraph is in line with the unslakable bellicosity of Hillary Clinton, and her coterie of Neo-Conservative acolytes:

Another area of dispute will be Russia’s near abroad. Ukraine shows how Mr Putin seeks to destabilise countries as a way to stop them drifting out of Russia’s orbit (see article). America’s next president must declare that, contrary to what Mr Trump has said, if Russia uses such tactics against a NATO member, such as Latvia or Estonia, the alliance will treat it as an attack on them all. Separately the West needs to make it clear that, if Russia engages in large-scale aggression against non-NATO allies, such as Georgia and Ukraine, it reserves the right to arm them.

An alternative view on ‘Russian revanchism’ from July 7, 2016

Headline: The United States and NATO Are Preparing for a Major War With Russia

Sub-headline : Massive military exercises and a troop buildup on NATO’s eastern flank reflect a dangerous new strategy.

For the first time in a quarter-century, the prospect of war—real war, war between the major powers—will be on the agenda of Western leaders when they meet at the NATO Summit in Warsaw, Poland, on July 8 and 9. Dominating the agenda in Warsaw (aside, of course, from the “Brexit” vote in the UK) will be discussion of plans to reinforce NATO’s “eastern flank”—the arc of former Soviet partners stretching from the Baltic states to the Black Sea that are now allied with the West but fear military assault by Moscow. Until recently, the prospect of such an attack was given little credence in strategic circles, but now many in NATO believe a major war is possible and that robust defensive measures are required.

The United States, of course, is deeply involved in these initiatives. Not only will it supply many of the troops for the four multinational battalions, but it is also taking many steps of its own to bolster NATO’s eastern flank. Spending on the Pentagon’s “European Reassurance Initiative” will quadruple, climbing from $789 million in 2016 to $3.4 billion in 2017. Much of this additional funding will go to the deployment, on a rotating basis, of an additional armored-brigade combat team in northern Europe.

As a further indication of US and NATO determination to prepare for a possible war with Russia, the alliance recently conducted the largest war games in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War. Known as Anakonda 2016, the exercise involved some 31,000 troops (about half of them Americans) and thousands of combat vehicles from 24 nations in simulated battle maneuvers across the breadth of Poland. A parallel naval exercise, BALTOPS 16, simulated “high-end maritime warfighting” in the Baltic Sea, including in waters near Kaliningrad, a heavily defended Russian enclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania.


Then comes this utterly specious admonition: Above all the West needs to keep its head. The editors of this publication should have followed their own advice.

Above all the West needs to keep its head. Russian interference in America’s presidential election merits measured retaliation. But the West can withstand such “active measures”. Russia does not pretend to offer the world an attractive ideology or vision. Instead its propaganda aims to discredit and erode universal liberal values by nurturing the idea that the West is just as corrupt as Russia, and that its political system is just as rigged. It wants to create a divided West that has lost faith in its ability to shape the world. In response, the West should be united and firm.

Then comes another astounding assertion: Russian interference in America’s presidential election merits measured retaliation. It is an American Tradition to interfere in the ‘domestic political affairs’ of any nation within the Western Hemisphere, as a defense against foreign interference, within the purview of the American Nation State, since the promulgation of the 1823 Monroe Doctrine: call this hubris! Another monument to American ‘interference’ is the Ukrainian Coup of 2014, another inconvenience to the committee that crafted this ‘editorial’.  What the Russians might have done, is the  construction of the desperate defenders of the political status quo: Obama and his anointed successor Hillary Clinton and their New Cold War, now reaching another denouement. This ‘editorial’ is both execrable and amateurish, which leads me to amend my thought about the Oxbridgers being it’s authors, they have a way of reminding we lesser beings, of our natural intellectual inferiority, by larding their essays with apposite quotation and paraphrase. That rhetorical absence leads this reader to the conclusion that an American must have written this essay. That is composed of flat declarative sentences without a trace of anything resembling verve or style!

Old Socialist


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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