Russia: Fighting the Last War

I have not watched much of the idiot box these last few years; Jeopardy and Big Bang Theory being the occasional exception. And certainly, a glimpse of The View has not have changed that. The fewer Bukleyan witticisms or hoser ridicules concerning the show, the better. They would only be perceived as misogyny by a PC mad world. However, the froth of inanity does occasionally rise to public consciousness as exampled by a recent rant.

In responding to recent McCarthyite insinuations that Donald Trump and his cabinet effectively elected acquired power through the machinations of Russian spy agencies at the behest of Vladimir Putin, and with the encouragement of Donald Trump by which Trump is thereby quid pro quo indebted to Putin’s Russians: Joy Behar pompously pontificated.

I mean, do we have to wait until the hammer and sickle is on the American flag before we stand up to this guy?[1]

It is not the intention to rebut the wild accusations of treason. Such attempts by foreign powers to interfere in the democratic elections of others tend to backfire, as demonstrated by Barack Obama’s flagrant attempt during the Brexit plebescite, or in the less transparent efforts of his administration in the last Israeli election, or in JFK’s games in the 1962/3 elections against John Diefenbaker in favor of Lester Pearson. A proud and independent populace tend to react in kneejerk fashion against such interference. All three personas or issues performed better than would have otherwise been the case.

I think that the title of Joy Behar’s aborted talk show Say Anything! pretty much sums her approach to opining; of claims which are unfiltered by intelligence, prudence, intellectual and moral integrity, common sense, facts, etc.

But the point of bemusement was her description of the Russian flag.

russian-flag

Ms. Behar would need to spend a full pregnancy playing Where’s Waldo to find a hammer or a sickle in that spaghetti of colored bars.

Should they ever attempt a remake of All in the Family (and considering the times, that is not a far-out proposition), Joy Behar would be my nominee as Edith. She is such a natural!

♦                    ♦                    ♦

But Behar merely exhibits a dafter manifestation of this perception among too many Americans, even Westerners. Vladimir Putin, despite his past connection with the KGB, represents not a resurrection of Communist ideology, but an updated reincarnation of Tsarism. And rather than a new Cold War in the offing, the geopolitical world is looking like 19th century European power politics on a global scale.

The arrogant prejudices of many in the West scorn those promoted images of Putin riding topless on horseback, having lack of any historical and cultural illiteracy of Russia’s past, even going back to the Scythians; the barbarians to the barbarians. They view Putin’s popular autocratic rule as if something new and unusual to Russian society and culture, a singular achievement by Putin to wrest Russia from the inevitable path to liberal democracy and the end of history.

But one cannot overlay a sociopolitical system over a society whose underlying cultural idioms are alien and not conducive to that system. While Western-style democracies have been attempted by Muslim nations, a full-blown representation would threaten Islam, which continues to have, and in increasing passion, a hold on those populaces. While forms of democracy and market economies exist in Muslim countries, they shall prove to be unstable, ephemeral, and vulnerable to “relapse.” Nor is it plausible for the extreme individualism which permeates American culture, along with other cultural idioms of its heritage, to be conducive to the communalism of socialism.

Close State ties with the Russian Orthodox Church with the inevitable denigration of other streams of Christianity and religions in general implicit in Established Churches; the exploitation of traditional cultural themes to fill the void, left when Communism fell in fact and as well as an idea, in order to proffer a coherent and unifying principle for the nation; a ruthless pursuit of nationalist self-interest in order to restore Russian standing and respect in the world; these are artifacts of an idea older than its seventy year interlude with a “blind alley, far away from the mainstream of civilization.”

It would be more prudent and profitable for Westerners to recognize these new and objective realities as they actually are and respond appropriately, rather than attempt to retrofit the modern Russia into some fabulist Iron Curtain/Cold War mold and flay away under that delusional paradigm.

[1] Joy Behar, The View, ABC, December 11, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U177Ql7qLIo&feature=youtu.be&t=22; also http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/12/12/behar_do_we_have_to_wait_until_trump_puts_hammer_and_sickle_on_the_american_flag_before_we_stand_up.html
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The State of American Establishment Opinion

The problem with subjectivist (“subjectivity is truth, truth is subjectivity”) or existentialist (“I create my own reality”) truth is that the world’s real actors always miss your cues.

The narcissistic, parochial insanity that is the ideologically gated community of the American Versailles, whose heartland stretches from Boston to Washington, never ceases to astonish and amuse. Or its sycophantic audacity. The ignorance, stupidity, folly, mendacity and all-round mediocrity of its Ivy League elite has become downright dangerous in foreign policy. And it behooves my country to quickly pursue an independent trade, economic, political and military policy before our all too integrated ties with this unhinged behemoth takes us down with it.

According to a self-proclaimed expert on Russian affairs, writing in the venerable Washington Post, Russia is not living in the reality-based community. To whatever extent that that is true; one of this columnist’s immediate example drips with supreme irony.

On almost any other issue you can think of, Russian views differ radically from the consensus here in America. Russians have extremely different opinions about the conflict in Syria, viewing the war in that unlucky country not as a brave struggle for freedom but as a chaotic war of all against all. They have different views about the war in Libya, where they see the overthrow of Gaddafi not as a new beginning but as the start of chaos and disorder.

I must confess to deep envy for not emanating from a family that could put me through Harvard or the connections that would have me groomed to write for Salon, The National Interest, Forbes, The Atlantic Monthly or the Washington Post, even before I finished post-graduate studies. But laying aside such personal pique, might not these media outlets, these major opinion makers be more circumspect as to whom they wish to represent them? Or do they share in this lad’s wide perceptual variance from objective and actual reality, otherwise known as insanity?

Two days after this ridiculing of Russian perspectives on Syria and Libya, the U.S. State Department issues this travel warning as it shutters its embassy.

The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country. In addition to the threat of crime, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya. Extremist groups in Libya have made several specific threats this year against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya. Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks, or death. U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately.

Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country and attacks by armed groups can occur in many different areas; hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. Armed clashes have occurred in the areas near Tripoli International Airport, Airport Road, and Swani Road. Checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli, and at times inside the capital. Closures or threats of closures of international airports occur regularly, whether for maintenance, labor, or security-related incidents. Along with airports, seaports and roads can close with little or no warning. U.S. citizens should closely monitor news and check with airlines to try to travel out of Libya as quickly and safely as possible.

The status of the country’s interim government remains uncertain. The newly elected Council of Representatives is scheduled to convene by August 4, but political jockeying continues over where and when to seat the parliament. Heavy clashes between rival factions erupted in May 2014 in Benghazi and other eastern cities. In Tripoli, armed groups have contested territory near Tripoli International Airport since July 13, rendering the airport non-operational. State security institutions lack basic capabilities to prevent conflict, and there remains a possibility of further escalation.

U.S. citizens should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens traveling to or remaining in Libya, despite this Travel Warning, should use caution and limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, and maintain security awareness at all times.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Libya enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

You should make plans to depart as soon as possible. Travelers should check with their airlines prior to their planned travel to verify the flight schedule. Flight cancellations occur frequently. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Libya are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Land port closures occur frequently.

The warning is actually not that significantly different from the one issued on May 27, 2014. Of course, if any American networks had covered the recent Libyan conflagration in as great detail and insight as well as Aljazeera had, (which reminded me of American reportage on the Viet Nam War); such continued deceits and self-deceits that Libya was on a new beginning to a Westernized liberalism democracy would have been disabused from the beginning. As much as Muammar Gaddafi was unhinged himself, the country was peaceable. The autocracy was not too oppressive or murderous. Why rock the boat? Has no one amongst the Washington Establishment watched and absorbed the lesson of Woody Allen’s “Bananas” (1971)?

Who really is not living in the reality-based community?