So far it’s just a short clip . Hopefully, CNN will make the whole interview available. But this clip contains what everyone is talking about. Namely, Putin’s suggestion that the Bush Administration provoked this war to help John McCain. I think Putin made a big PR blunder. His words will be sent through the American spin cycle so fast that I’m sure by tomorrow pundits will be calling for blood.
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By Sean — 9 years ago
President Bush sent a gushing statement to Georgia on the fifth anniversary of the “Rose Revolution.” Bush said in White House press release,
One of the most inspiring chapters in the history of freedom was written by the Georgian people during the Rose Revolution. Thirsting for liberty and armed only with roses in hand, citizens throughout Georgia peacefully staked claim to their God-given right of liberty. These demonstrations proved once again, that when given a choice, people choose to live in freedom.
On this anniversary, Americans honor the brave Georgian citizens who defended freedom, and we renew our commitment to supporting Georgia’s democracy, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. We also look forward to the day when the light of liberty shines on all people throughout the world.
Blech. Under normal circumstances, one could, in fact, one should ignore Bush’s blathering. His days are numbered, he’s the lamest of all lame ducks, and frankly even he’s looking like January 20 can’t come fast enough. But these aren’t normal circumstances. Especially since along with an anniversary greeting came $250 million, the first installment of the $1 billion the US promised to send Georgia as compensation for Saakashvilli’s little war.
The money is to prop up Georgia’s budget as follows:
The USD 250 million grant will fund Georgia’s budget expenditures to cover state pensions, state compensation and state academic stipends – USD 163.3 million; health care costs for people living below the poverty line – USD 26.1 million; allowances to individuals displaced by the conflict in Abkhazia USD 6.1 million; financial support to schools through a voucher system on a per-student basis USD 24.2 million; USD 30.3 million will be allocated for compensation and salaries for government employees of all ministries excluding the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, according to the U.S. embassy.
I love how the Bush Administration snuck school vouchers into the aid. They’ve been trying to shove this code phrase for privatizing public schools down Americans’ throats to no avail. One sure way to force a privatization experiment ship it to a foreign country all nice and wrapped up with aid money.
Now granted, in the big scheme of things, $250 million is chump change to the US coffers. It pisses away $1 billion in Iraq in three days. But considering the recent uproar over holding US automakers responsible for putting themselves on the brink of bankruptcy, shouldn’t there at least be some commotion over sending money to bail out a country that got itself in a mess? Guess not. Apparently claiming your “God-given right of liberty” comes with a few perks and a lot more dollars.Post Views: 56
By Sean — 9 years ago
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been on a whirlwind press junket scold Russia. Here is a clip of her rhetorical spanking at the German Marshall Fund:
Unfortunately, the clip cuts off right when she was going to enlighten us on how Russia of the 1990s became Russia of today. Too bad. Surprisingly what she said was somewhat sound. Rice explained,
After all, the 1990s were, in many ways, a period of real hope and promise for Russia. The totalitarian state was dismantled. The scope of liberty for most Russians expanded significantly in what they could read, in what they could say, in what they could buy and sell, and what associations they could form.
New leaders emerged who sought to steer Russia toward political and economic reform at home, toward integration into the global economy, and toward a responsible international role. All of this is true.But many Russians remember things differently about the 1990s. They remember that decade as a time of license and lawlessness, economic uncertainty and social chaos, a time when criminals and gangsters and robber barons plundered the Russian state and preyed on the weakest in Russian society, a time when many Russians, not just elites and former apparatchiks, but ordinary men and women experienced a sense of dishonor and dislocation that we in the West did not fully appreciate.
I remember that Russia, because I saw it firsthand. I remember old women selling their life’s belongings along the Old Arbat, plates and broken teacups, anything to get by.I remember that Russian soldiers returned home from Eastern Europe and lived in tents because the Russian state was just too weak and too poor to house them properly.
I remember talking to my Russian friends, tolerant, open, progressive people, who felt an acute sense of shame during that decade, not at the loss of the Soviet Union, but at the feeling of not recognizing their own country anymore, the Bolshoi Theater falling apart, pensioners unable to pay their bills, the Russian Olympic team in 1992 parading into the games under a flag that no one had ever seen and receiving gold medals to an anthem that no one had ever heard.
There was a humiliating sense that nothing Russian was good enough anymore.
This does not excuse Russian behavior, but it helps to set a context for it. It helps to explain why many ordinary Russians felt relieved and proud when new leaders emerged at the end of the last decade who sought to reconstitute the Russian state and re-assert its power abroad. An imperfect authority was seen as better than no authority at all.
However, this sober telling was somewhat muted by one of her most key scoldings. Namely, “And our strategic goal now is to make it clear to Russia’s leaders that their choices are putting Russia on a one-way path to self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance.” Isolated? Okay I don’t agree but I can see an argument for it. But irrelevant? If Russia was really irrelevant then all the bad things she lists certainly wouldn’t matter. Clearly, the fact that Madame Secretary is getting her panties in a bunch suggests the opposite. No?
I also can’t help but note that according to her narrative of the 1990s, irrelevancy at home and abroad was part of the reason why Russians embraced the idea that an imperfect authority was better than no authority at all. After all what is more symbolic of irrelevancy than the feeling that “nothing Russian was good enough anymore”?
Condi was not done there. She rushed off for an emergency NATO meeting in Brussels, where she sat down with CBS News for an interview where she harped more on Russia’s “isolation.” You can read a full transcript or watch what CBS has made available on their site:
My only question is if anyone will take her and the Bush Administration’s rhetorical blustering seriously. The US leadership has very little right to wag fingers. Its economy is dragging down the rest of the world, (so much so that the IMF might review the US financial system and one former IMF chief is saying the US needs a $1000 billion to $2000 billion bailout), it has a lame duck President who ducks questions about the economic meltdown for three days, and when he finally speaks up, he provides no specific plan of action, and then scurries back into the Oval Office without answering a single question. The American government might better be served by putting its own house in order first.
Man, January 20, 2009 just can’t come fast enough.Post Views: 49