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By Sean — 9 years ago
Yeah, yeah, I haven’t been blogging of late, but I hope to return at full throttle soon. In the meantime I couldn’t resist mentioning a story in the NY Times about the US-Russia relations “reset button.” We all now know that the Obama Administration is making some effort to repair relations with Russia. The first sign came with Joe Biden’s “press the reset button” statement in February. Then earlier this week we learned that Obama sent a “secret letter” to Medvedev hoping to enlist Russia in dealing with Iran in exchange for scrapping the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. The Russians received the letter coldly, and you can’t blame them.
Well the Reset Button Doctrine appears to be going ahead though the first problem doesn’t appear to be resetting relations as it is finding the correct Russia word for “reset”. Secretary of State Clinton was in Russia yesterday to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with hopes to warm relations. Now forget that there was little actually “reset” in the meeting, but there was a button. Says the NY Times,
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in greeting Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, presented him with a red plastic button emblazoned with the English word “reset” and the Russian word “peregruzka.”
The gift was a play on Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s call in Munich last month for the two countries to “press the reset button” on their relationship.
“We worked hard to get the right Russian word,” Mrs. Clinton said, handing the button to Mr. Lavrov. “Do you think we got it?”
“You got it wrong,” he replied, explaining that the Americans had come up with the Russian word for overcharged.
What morons. Are you telling me that Clinton’s staff had to “work hard” to find the right word for reset and they still messed it up? Maybe Clinton should be pressing the reset button on her staff. It’s nice to see that the new Administration is continuing the incompetency of the old one.
Photo: Associated Press.Post Views: 690
By Sean — 9 years ago
One reads a lot of weird and fanciful things about Russia. The place is such an enigma to some that attempts to understand it leads one to make all sorts of absurd connections. Take for example, Anthony Julius’ commentary “Dreams of Empire Strike Back” in the Guardian. Julius, whose bio says that he’s a “highly-regarded litigation lawyer specializing in media law and defamation,” poses the rather calumniatory question: “What do Osama bin Laden and Vladimir Putin have in common?” Those who think that the obvious answer is a resounding “nothing” will be surprised to find that Julius believes that the vozhd and the terrorist “have identical perspectives on one specific issue” i.e. the desire to recreate a past empire. He writes:
What is that issue? Bin Laden’s and Putin’s imperialist ambitions are novel because they are driven not by a desire to create something new, but to recapture something that has past. It is now appropriate to consider an additional age of empire, namely the age of attempted restoration.
For Osama bin Laden, it is the Arab-Islamic empire of the mid-seventh century. Bin Laden has romanticised this period in Arab history and sees himself as heir apparent to the earthly caliphate established (briefly) by the warrior prophet Muhammad. When justifying his attacks on western targets, he frequently makes reference to the crusaders and Jews who have thwarted the return of the Arab-Islamic empire.
Putin is also driven by a desire to revive a lost empire, the Soviet Union. In Ukraine and Georgia, Putin has shown that he is not reconciled to its dissolution. He tolerates the independence of the former Soviet states only when such independence is superficial. True acts of independence (such as asserting territorial integrity or attempting to negotiate the terms of an ostensibly commercial contract) are met with forceful demonstrations of Russian strength.
Reading this one might even walk away thinking that Putin is worse than Bin Laden. For while the latter sits in some undisclosed cavernous location along the Afghan-Pakistani border dreaming up “delusional” imperial ambitions, the former’s dreams are “real” backed with a formidable state and its military might. Putin, unlike his Islamist counterpart, is a “master tactician” who deploys the right weapon at the right time. In Ukraine it was the soft power of the economics of gas; in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the silent weapon of doling out Russian passports or using Russian mobile companies to “expand Russian influence in the region.” The August war was merely the cherry on top of Putin’s imperial sundae.
Predictably, in August last year, Putin seized the opportunity to complete his program of expansion. The final stage: the expulsion and murder of elements in the subject population. The burning of ethnic Georgian villages and the forced ejection or murder of their Georgian inhabitants by paramilitary irregulars, armed by Russia, suggests a systematic project of altering the ethnic composition of the regions in Russia’s favour. It defines a moment in which Putin’s imperial dreams became a reality.
I don’t know. Last I checked Russia wasn’t occupying Kiev or Tblisi, unlike say Baghdad and Kabul. Or standing idle as its 51st state turns Gaza into corpse laden rubble for no other discernible reason than to manipulate its election. Or using drones to wage a silent but deadly war in Pakistan. Perhaps the question is not about resurrecting old empires as it is about maintaining the borderless jurisdiction of a current one. Julius’ own dreams of Russian imperial revival have clearly obfuscated the real imperial reality before him.Post Views: 419
By Sean — 10 years ago
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.Post Views: 634