epic example of the art of propaganda. An essay by Jackson Diehl in the
Washington Post, in which he falls all over himself to gush admiration for the
way Vladimir Putin has outmaneuvered the West in both Ukraine and in Syria “catching
the Obama Administration flat-footed.”
Diehl is joined by the entire panoply of right wing fools who gave us “weapons of
mass destruction” in Iraq, then proclaimed that we were actually there to spread democracy… and then shouted “squirrel!” to
point elsewhere when that frenzied
exercise in Nation Building didn’t work out so good. Now take this screech by Charles Krauthammer: Putin's Gambit, Obama's Puzzlement: in which he writes, “Kerry and Obama are
serially surprised because they cannot fathom the hard men in the Kremlin.”
And yes, I spoke of this a little while back, citing the declaration by Forbes Magazine that Vladimir Putin is the "most powerful person in the world." Actually read the Forbes drivel! But the flood of such ravings, from Diehl and others, proves that it is now a central right-wing catechism, meant to confirm that "Barack Obama is a wimp." And therefore, by contagion, so are all democrats.
And hence, for all their sins -- having not one single example of good governance outcomes to point to, across the last two Republican administrations -- they get to sneer "at least we admire guys who are strong!"
see what their facts might be. The West advised the Ukrainian
government to grant some autonomy to the Donbass region, where ethnic Russians
mostly live and would prefer separation. But that separation is now prevented. (For now.)
And even if the Donbass does eventually go to
Moscow, like the Crimea, as the locals clearly want?
nibble-backs are signs of failure,
not strength. Moscow is desperate to put a positive spin on the biggest loss from the Russian sphere of
influence since Peter the Great – absolute loss of the Ukraine, which will
never, ever, ever again allow a Muscovite puppet to hold power in Kiev.
is the big story, the huge story. The only part of the story with major
geopolitical repercussions and long term effects.
the ability of Vladimir-idolators to ignore huge defeats, while touting their
hero’s tactical-retreat “victories,” is simply stunning.
To be clear - and repeating the point so that it can rise above the Fox/Forbes fantasy - the Russians themselves are not as stupid as
Fox commentators. They do not ignore the devastating setback in Ukraine.
They deem it to have been a hugely aggressive and successful assault on Russian
interests by Barack Obama. They view Obama as anything but the wimp he is
portrayed in right wing American press. They see him as the most aggressive and successful opponent they have faced, since Reagan.
Or, as described on Slate by Fred Kaplan: “The portrayal of
Vladimir Putin as a grand chess master, shrewdly rebuilding the Russian empire
through strength and wiles, is laughable. Syria is just one of two countries
outside the former Soviet Union where Russia has a military base (the other
being Vietnam, and its naval facility there, at Cam Ranh Bay, has shrunk
considerably). His annexation of Crimea has proved a financial drain. His
incursion into eastern Ukraine (where many ethnic Russians would welcome
re-absorption into the Motherland) has stalled after a thin slice was taken at
the cost of 3,000 soldiers. His plan for a Eurasian Economic Union, to counter
the influence of the west’s European Union, has failed to materialize. His
energy deal with China, designed to counter the west’s sanctions against
Russian companies, has collapsed.”
I might add
that no one seems to be talking about the elephant in the room… and I guarantee
you heard about it here, first. But
watch. Just watch as Vladimir Putin gradually and glacially proceeds with his
already-done deal to sell China something thy want and that declining Russia cannot keep.
== What’s the deal in Syria? ==
pull back from that scenario that seems like sci-fi (for now)... and return to today’s
headlines. Although Kaplan is more lucid than Krauthammer or Diehl, he still
misses the very tight limitations on Putin’s goals in Syria. Seriously? You’ve
putting - or Putin’g – us on,
in Syria are clearly aimed at bolstering the Assad regime’s hold on the coastal
region where the dictator’s Alawite sect is centered and where Moscow has its
only Mediterranean naval base. Moreover
this has been a long time coming. Mr. Assad has spent years prepping the
Lataika-Tartus coast and its mountain approaches to serve as a redoubt, a refuge for
when his hold on Damascus becomes untenable. That coastal mini-state might be
held, with Russian help, especially now that the Allawites have engaged in half
a decade of ethnic cleansing, though only by surrendering most of the rest of Syria,
leaving the West to deal with the Islamic State mess.
A mess that
might be resolved by exactly such a partition of Syria! If the Europeans (who
want to slow the flow of refugees) and Turkey, which wants an end to the mess,
next door, make a deal with the Kurds to consolidate to the east, moving some Kurd populations away from the
Turkish border… and Turkey establishes a Sunni safe zone in Aleppo and Iran
fires the worst Hezbollites so that a Shiite zone near Lebanon and around Damascus…. Oh but
we’re back to sci fi scenarios, again.
Sorry. It just makes more sense.
Though in fact, even my wildest arm-wavings are more realistic than the dismal, diametrically-opposite-to-true stuff
you get from Fox.
Speaking to the UN, President Xi said
that China plans to set up a United Nations
permanent peacekeeping force of 8,000 troops and would provide $100 million to
the African Union to create an immediate response unit capable of responding to
emergencies. In addition to the peacekeeping pledge, Mr. Xi promised a $1
billion donation to the United Nations for a “peace and development fund.”
This article explains many details and some
background. Of course, they are also learning a lot about the logistics of
moving lots of troops far and fast….
== Visions of Democracy ==
Turning to pop-historical culture... I am pleased to see this comic called Democracy, telling the difficult, tragic and triumphant tale of Athens and its experiment with moving away from pyramids of inherited privilege, toward (partially) respecting the rights and ingenuity of a new kind of being called “citizen.”
These rebuttals matter to me, after my own eviscerations of the “300” series came online. I ripped Frank Miller’s grotesquely evil paean to Spartan “virtues” in an article that showed how vastly more effective the Athenians were in every field of life, including war. But above all, how deceitful Miller and his colleagues were in their trumped up propaganda against democratic values.
There I called for a movie about the Athenian admiral Themistocles, who succeeded in every way that Leonidas failed... so imagine my mixed feelings when Director Zack Snyder delivered that very story! Only warped by Miller’s uniquely anti-truth and anti-democratic sentimentality. This, too, I dissected.
But have a look at the new comic. I think you’ll enjoy the refreshing chance to actually see the real story, and how vastly more dramatic and compelling history is… than lies..
== Political manias ==
In the Guardian, an article by one Sam Thielman proves that insipid political mania is ecumenical. While today’s entire American right wing appears to have gone loco, there certainly are substantial islands of left-wing mania, as well.
The article on white supremacists is actually very interesting, portraying a neo-Nazi polemicist -- right-wing sci fi author Harold Covington, whose attempts at promulgating incitement novels – fomenting white power revolution – were cited by the Charlseton church shooter, Dylann Roof. As happened in the last century, when Timothy McVeigh cited “The Turner Diaries,” it is only by association with lunatic murderers that such execrably-written trash ever gets attention beyond a small circle of the mentally ill. A process that Norman Spinrad brilliantly satirized in his novel, The Iron Dream.
So why am I aiming some of my own ire toward Mr. Thielman, if I agree with almost everything he says about such tripe-spinners? Well, the following should give you a hint:
“Covington, the latest in a long line of rightwing sci-fi writers…” and “American science fiction has long had a rightward tilt, from the contemporary strain of small-press sci-fi Tea Party fantasias swarming the Hugo Awards nominations all the way back to libertarian deity Ayn Rand.”
Alas, this author knows very little of the field. No genre of literature ever did more to question ancient prejudices and pave the mental path for progress than Science Fiction. Let tho be a lesson, then. You can agree with one thing a person says… while also avowing that he/she is -- in other ways -- an ignoramus.