As if the memorial to the Victims of Communism wasn’t bad enough. Communists in Ukraine and Russia have decided to enter the battle over memory. In response to the Victims of Communism groundbreaking last week, Leonid Grach from the Ukrainian Communist Party has proposed “establishing a museum commemorating victims of U.S. imperialism.” “American imperialism, from the extermination of native Americans to war crimes in Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq,” Grach added, “has caused substantially more deaths than the ‘orange forces,’ along with their masters over the ocean, blame Communism for.” Grach also asserted that the the Victims of Communism Memorial would certainly please the U.S.’s “vassal” Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, whose government has sought to have the 1932-33 Ukrainian Famine declared a genocide.
Grach’s hasn’t been the only response to the Victims of Communism Memorial. Russian Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov called President Bush “a symbol of state terror” and the memorial “attempt to distract the attention of world opinion from the bloody evils of American imperialism as a whole.” That wasn’t all. Zyuganov also claimed former President George H. W. Bush was responsible for the shock therapy economic policies of the 1990s, which according to Zyuganov, “10 million people, 9 million of them ethnic Russians.”
Nothing like burnt out Communists to push the limits of absurdity. I’m sure all the massacred Native Americans will rest well knowing that they have Grach and Zyuganov fighting to preserve their memory.
Thanks to Wally Shedd for alerting me of the article.
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By Sean — 5 years ago
The passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 last December sent US-Russia relations into a dramatic tailspin. To many, the law and its subsequent list would finally demonstrate that the world’s preeminent democracy had enough of Putin and his gang. Forget all about the “reset.” Enough with the US divorcing its “interests from values” in dealing with Russia. Putin, of course, wasn’t going to take the Magnitsky Law in silence. In addition to its usual charges of hypocrisy, Moscow responded by banning US adoptions of Russian orphans, a callous and misdirected act that left many wondering who exactly Putin intended to punish. Nevertheless, thanks to William Browder’s crusade and whatever he did to cajole Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) to get them to “listen,” US-Russia relations are at a nadir. (I hope that one day an enterprising journalist will uncover exactly how Mr. Browder got so much pull with McCain and McGovern.) For years, pundits have proclaimed that US and Russia were steeped in a “new Cold War.” The Magnitsky Law is now a pivotal symptom in this diagnosis. Yes, four years after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented her plastic “peregruzka” (sic) button to Sergei Lavrov, the reset now looks in rewind.
Maybe the reset is dead, maybe it’s not. Either way, we’ve witnessed this shuckin’ and jivin’ before. Rather than choreographing a new routine, the US and Russia seem satisfied with rerunning the same old minstrel. The US points its crooked finger at declares “Villain!” at Russia for its poor human rights record. Affronted, Russia cries “Pecksniffery!” followed by a laundry list of equitably egregious offenses. But really, it’s all a game. This is how the big geopolitical boys play in the sandbox. It’s what David Kramer and Lilia Shevtsova call the “Let’s Pretend” game. This is where the West feigns caring about human rights to bolster its own sanctimonious image, but could really care less. For the West, and for the US in particular, human rights are a weapon, like a rhetorical Sword of Damocles, and when economic interests dictate, a casus beli against the baneful. Russia, thanks to the orientialist discourse, is forever cast as devil, a dark mirror against the occidential mirror of light. It plays its part well, even when it’s sincerely revolting against its subaltern status. Given this dance, is anyone surprised that the Magnitsky Law entered with a diplomatic bang, but the Magnitsky List resounded with a pitiful whimper? Every drama needs its rising action, climax, and falling action. When it comes to the US and Russia, however, the denouement is eternally postponed.
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By Sean — 10 years ago
Does Vladimir Putin have a soul? He doesn’t if you ask Hillary Clinton. In a campaign stump in New Hampshire, Clinton pondered the existence of Putin’s soul as a means to crack at George Bush’s foreign policy. She said:
“Bush really premised so much of our foreign policy on his personal relationships with leaders, and I just don’t think that’s the way a great country engages in diplomacy. . . . This is the president that looked in the soul of Putin, and I could have told him, he was a KGB agent. By definition he doesn’t have a soul. I mean, this is a waste of time, right? This is nonsense, but this is the world we’re living in right now.”
The comment drew laughs and applause from a Democratic crowd always eager to hear jabs at the Prez they love to hate. Forget for a moment that Clinton’s beating up on lame duck Bush only shows how desperate she is. She has nothing to offer but Bush-lite (though I’m positive that all Obama has to offer is Clinton-lite. That’s only two short degrees from Bush by my count.) But the inanity of American democracy is not the issue here.
The issue is Putin’s soul. For a genealogy of its nature we have to begin not with Bush, but with Putin himself. In October 1999, Putin speaking on Ukraine’s desire to become chummy with NATO made a collective assessment of not only his soul, but of the entire CIS. “Both Ukraine and Russia, as well as many other CIS countries, are in the process of soul-searching, seeking to clarify their positions in the world,” he told reporters. “To do so, one should not look only to the West or only to the East. Above all, one should look inside one’s own country to see what its people want and expect.” (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/10/99). Putin didn’t have a clue where to find his or Russia’s soul and decided that it would be best to look everywhere.
The Western media also seemed to think that Putin was missing a soul. More specifically he lacked the gregarious Russian soul that so personified Boris Yeltsin. In the Daily Mail on January 1, 2000, Owen Matthews wrote “Whatever his failings, Yeltsin is loaded with that indefinable Russian quality, dusham (soul) whereas Putin is as colourless as a winter evening in Moscow.” While Matthews thought Putin’s soul, if he indeed had one, to be colorless, Itar-Tass thought that its nature was best found in Putin’s love for animals. In a report titled “Putin Bares Soul on Animal Rights in Letter to Brigitte Bardot,” Putin was said to have told the French actress, “[Animals] live alongside with us on our planet, on our land and their fate depends on us to a large degree. That is why people must always behave in a humane way both towards other people and towards animals” (Itar-Tass, 1/5/2000). By February 2000, Putin’s soul went beyond a warmness for animals and began showing its political side. The Financial Times‘ John Thornhill declared that the approaching Presidential elections signaled that “the battle for Vladimir Putin’s political soul was intensifying” (FT, 2/8/2000). Putin won that battle but not without the help of some “dead souls” reported the Moscow Times (9/9/2000).
The exact nature of Putin’s soul came under more focus after his electoral victory. In an editorial in the Sunday Times, historian Robert Service appeared to have looked into Putin’s soul and found “the words “order” and “power” engraved on [it]” (Sunday Times, 10/22/2000). The London Times suggested that this true nature of Putin’s soul was being shrouded that the soft, sweet, but firm imagine of him emerging from his cult of personality. The “Putin cult” painted him as neither zoophiliac nor power imprinted figure but as a a dedicated “church goer and guardian of Russia’s soul” (2/10/2001).
The most talked about definition of Putin’s soul, however, came in June 2001 when George Bush peered into Putin’s soul at their first meeting at Brdo, Slovenia. In his now infamous statement on Putin’s soul, Bush said, “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.” He then added, “I wouldn’t have invited him to my ranch if I didn’t trust him.”
Bush’s playing soul doctor has been lambasted ever since. The NY Times’ Thomas Friedman called Bush and Putin “soul brothers” (6/29/2001). Contra Bush, the Washington Post argued that Putin’s service in the KGB “calls the quality-of-soul claim into some doubt” (6/27/2001). A few days latter, the WP again questioned the real nature Putin’s soul. “We’re still hoping to get that glimpse of Mr. Putin’s soul that President Bush talked about last month,” wrote the Post’s editors (7/5/2001). Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez however bucked the emerging conventional wisdom. In talks with Putin, Chavez expressed gratitude to the Russian President “for the generosity of his soul.” This is probably one of the only times Bush and Chavez would see eye to eye on something (Itar-Tass, 10/22/2001).
Bush’s assessment of Putin stuck and he continued to be excoriated for it in the press. It appeared that every time Putin did something the West didn’t like, the press reminded its readers of Bush “looking into his soul.” By 2004, if the Christian Science Monitor’s Daniel Schorr is to be believed, the day Bush blandished Putin’s soul was “a dim memory.” Now Putin was “an authoritarian ruler [who] sees his regime trembling on the brink of destabilization and is running scared” (9/17/2004). Was this the return of the repressed KGB soul? A new kinda running scared soul? Where is St. Peter when you need him?
For most commentators, Putin’s increasing grip on the Russian body politic made his soul merely a facsimile of a Soviet dictator. Since the Soviets were all godless communists, there is no way that Putin possessed a soul. At least not one worthy of divine appreciation. This of course is despite the fact that Putin considers himself a devout Orthodox Christian. Eastern perversion of Christianity doesn’t make the cut among America’s Protestants. Their soul has no middle ground. It’s nature is either of good or of evil. The soul of a chekist is always dyed black. It’s even in their eyes. As John McCain said, “I looked into his eyes and saw three letters: a K, a G and a B.”
With Clinton the search for Putin’s soul continues.Post Views: 353