"Backward" Russia may actually have mastered 21st century strategy
Ever since Russia began its Crimean campaign, the Obama Administration has tried to characterize the Russians as incredibly backward in an era of globalization.
A typical quote from Secretary of State John Kerry (on CBS's "Face the Nation", Sunday, March 2nd): "You just don't, in the 21st century, behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext..." Note Kerry's use of the word "behave", as though Russia were a child.
But could it be Vladimir Putin who's demonstrating a superior understanding of the 21st-century world?
You don't do U.S.-style "shock & awe"; you use local gangs and powerbrokers.
I've come across several columns advancing this argument, and here's perhaps the best, from Peter Pomerantsev in FOREIGN POLICY:
"HOW PUTIN is REINVENTING WARFARE: THOUGH SOME DERIDE RUSSIA for BACKWARD THINKING, PUTIN's STRATEGY in UKRAINE BETRAYS a NUANCED UNDERSTANDING of 21st CENTURY GEOPOLITICS"
A key paragraph:
"And the Kremlin's 'non-linear' sensibility is evident as it manipulates Western media and policy discourse. If in the 20th century the Kremlin could only lobby through Soviet sympathizers on the Left, it now uses a contradictory kaleidoscope of messages to build alliances with quite different groups. European Right-nationalists such as Hungary's Jobbik or France's Front National are seduced by the anti-E.U. message; the far-Left are brought in by tales of fighting U.S. hegemony; U.S. religious conservatives are convinced by the Kremlin's stance against homosexuality. The result is an array of voices, all working at Western audiences from different angles, producing a cumulative echo chamber of Kremlin support. Influencers often appear in Western media and policy circles without reference to their Kremlin connections..."
In the same vein: A clip from an interesting article that's entitled: Is Obama wrong on Ukraine?
"Still, one wonders why the Graham--McCain Republicans continue to push a reluctant president to get more militarily involved in Ukraine.
For it is almost an ironclad formula for failure to be led into a faraway war by a president who does not want to fight, and who leads a nation whose people do not want to be involved.
Undeniably, Senators Graham and John McCain speak for a goodly slice of the Beltway elite that believes the Iraq war was the right thing to do and that now wants to confront Russia, overthrow Bashir al-Assad, and bomb Iran if she does not give up uranium enrichment.
Yet, most Americans want no part of this agenda.
Among the winning arguments Obama had in 2012 was that he wanted America to do her nation-building right here at home.
Yet, as the run-up to 2016 nears, Hillary Clinton is not only more hawkish than Obama. She is more hawkish than her potential G.O.P. rivals. Yet, other than Rand Paul, there appears to be no one in the Republican field who does not subscribe to the McCain--Graham line.
No wonder the neo-cons are already piling on the junior Senator from Kentucky."
Another thought on this issue: Maybe Putin is doing what Reagan did for the U.S., he gave the U.S. back it's pride. He stood tall against Soviet Communism [evil empire and all that]. Putin could be doing the same thing for the Russian people by reclaiming what was their land prior to the Soviet collapse . He's standing tall against the U.S. and the E.U.'s "saber rattling", flying Russian fighter jets near U.S. Left Coast line, etc. All very Reaganistic. I can hear in the background the Russian version of the Charlie Daniels song "Only in America", this time around "Only in the Russian Land".
Wed, May 7, 2014 8:44am
That's the irony, Mike.
Women are typically more dovish than men, perhaps because of fears that their sons (or daughters) may one day be sent to battle, despite no draft at this time.
And some women may blindly vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, not even considering the notion that she may be the most hawkish Democrat running.
In fact, the case could be made that Hillary Rodham Clinton - at least at some subliminal level - may feel obligated or forced to mount another U.S. military intervention just to show that she's just as macho as any guy. (Did the late Margaret Thatcher get Britain involved in the Falklands/Malvinas war for a similar reason?)
It's similar to the Republican women - and progressive Democratic women - who all put Ruth Ann Minner into the governor's office just because of her gender, despite all the evidence that she arguably represented the worst of old-time "Delaware Way" politics...
Of course, as usual, the two dominant political parties may give anti-war people NO choice.
As for Putin replicating Reagan, I guess, to some extent. But don't forget Reagan precipitously yanked U.S. Marines from the Beirut barracks after the 1983 bombing... and some Islamists learned the lesson if you inflict enough pain on the Americans, they'll exit quickly. Whether Reagan should've put Marines there in the first place is another question. (I always find it interesting when Reagan's fans conveniently forget that bit of history!)
Wed, May 7, 2014 8:47am
Putin is using techniques that have worked well in the past...he is largely using Hitler's playbook. Putin has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church, built nationalist pride and built his military strength...and (like Hitler) he's using bullies, thugs, and his special forces to create confusion and chaos in Ukraine. Germany had the Third Reich...so what is this? The U.S.S.R. 2.0?
Wed, May 7, 2014 8:52am
Mr. Loudell: Wouldn't Rand Paul be considered more anti-war than Hillary? He's not my personal top choice...but of the current presidential hopefuls doesn't he embrace the ideals of Switzerland more than most?
Wed, May 7, 2014 8:59am
Of course, Mr. Grey.
Unless his advisers (and intelligence briefings) completely altered his thinking, one would think - of all the potential major party Presidential contenders - Rand Paul would be the most resistant to U.S. military intervention.
Yet, don't forget the anti-communist-Nixon-goes-to-China analogy. Just as Hillary Clinton might become the superhawk just to disprove stereotypes about women, might not RP feel obligated to show that he's not an absolutist against a U.S. military "adventure"?
Of course, if you're conspiratorial, might not the U.S. military-industrial complex take out an isolationist Paul?
But to return to the original subject of this post, is any U.S. Presidential contender (and his/her advisers) prepared to think outside the box, and out-Putin Putin?
Wed, May 7, 2014 9:11am
Reagan said that Beirut was one of the biggest mistakes of his presidential career, and saddest day of his life. He also said that he never should have forbidden the Marines at that barracks to carry loaded weapons (yes they were unloaded) due to an agreement with Beirut. The Marines were there in a peace-keeping role and forced to obey the mandated rules-of-engagement.
He effectively had a Marine base that was unlocked/unloaded...similar to policies still mandated to our troops in the Middle East.
What all of you put together well, is that the real war is within the Beltway... The Battle of the Beltway.....
Inside that circle the reality is far different from what "normal" America experiences. Just the hyped-up number of Pentagon personnel living in such a small geographical area, then augmented by both Fairfax and Arlington being the think-tank capitals of the world, just the average man on they street you meet, whether in Starbucks, Safeway, or standing at the street crossing, has a much higher chance of being bellicose than anywhere else in the world! After all... duh, that's their job.
That has to wear upon a person. Striking up a conversation with a stranger who insists we need to take great action against the Russian dictator and send our ICBM across the water makes one a little less open and requires much more fortitude than normally required to just argue the point that we don't really know what is going on and perhaps should wait one day... "But by then it could all be over" we get told... So the general atmosphere within the beltway, is different.
Mike doesn't understand McCain and Graham. Yet in this context, their motives are very simple. If they can't rail at the Russians, what else do they have? Immigration reform? Yeah, both are actually big advocates for that, but that doesn't play well in either's home territory. Banging on Russia's door makes them look tough back home.
The rest of the world does not have those blinders. Like it or not, due to natural gas, Putin's Russia is now an integral part of Europe. It actually should be part of NATO, for its needs are similar to that of Europ's in general... It needs markets as do we all.
Germany and France fortunately have a much clearer view towards Russia than appears inside our own Beltway.
Hillary needs support from the power structures and she is working on achieving them one by one. She has courted Wall Street; she is courting the Pentagon bureaucrats. One should not call her dumb for doing so. She, more than any other future candidate, knows the frustration of how hard it is to move forward with an agenda, no matter how strongly the people supported you, if you don't have the support running the machinations in Washington fully behind you. One simply has to remember the logjams of 93-95 to recognized the "why" behind her moves today....
Though that is sad in a way because it detracts from the altruism with which most of us feel in our hearts towards our own country, it does demand respect and it certainly does show she is very clever and very far thinking....
So tying this whole thread together, is the battle within the Beltway... Understanding that is where the global battles really do take place. Most, outside the camera's eye, is to understand our entire world as we now know it.
Washington is one messed-up place... But as Julius well showed, you can be loved by "the people" beyond all redemption; yet in the end, it means nothing without the support of those at your side within arm's reach of your physical presence...
Mike from Delaware
Wed, May 7, 2014 1:45pm
Kavips said: "Mike doesn't understand McCain and Graham. Yet in this context, their motives are very simple. If they can't rail at the Russians, what else do they have? Immigration reform? Yeah, both are actually big advocates for that, but that doesn't play well in either's home territory. Banging on Russia's door makes them look tough back home."
You think they're just talk?? They are Neo-cons of the Bush Jr. vintage. Those folks would have no problem getting the U.S. into another pointless war.
Do not think we should ignore, or not take these folks seriously.
Wed, May 7, 2014 6:48pm
From a historical standpoint, this entire thing with Russia and Ukraine is actually a perpetual game of musical chairs.
At this time, I believe the chairs are rotating towards a new Czarist era. No predictions on how soon that will take shape, but I'm sure that's the direction it's going.
Thu, May 8, 2014 9:49am
Jay. I would be doubtful of your take, but our differences could probably be settled by clarifying what each of us mean by Czarist...
The Russian people never faired as well as they do today. That would make it very difficult to get them to go along with going backwards again to where all their productivity went to the supreme leader....
Which is why one must almost mock the ancient US policy of painting Putin as a total dictator... We have old, dumb, out of touch people (duh, can you help me open us this here email) making decisions based on what the world was like 50 years ago...
Hello, people... There are these things called computers.... Use them!
Thu, May 8, 2014 9:53am
Mike, in your reference to Lindsey Graham and John McCain... We used to have a similar person. Lyndon LaRouche. Who if given power would have been more dangerous than either of these two. We didn't give him power. But, that didn't stop him from yapping his mouth...
Lindsey Graham and John McCain are nothing but two Pomeranians... Their women like them so men put up with them, even though for crying out loud, they wish they could kick them out the door for all their yipping .....
Thu, May 8, 2014 12:38pm
...It sure would be great to kick Lindsey and "Maverick" McCain out the door ;)
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