Friday, May 05, 2006

bad russia

De facto vice president, old-man-shooter Dick "Darth" Cheney dinged Russia for not being democratic enough -- an understatement but for once, Cheney is right, if you will.

The de facto Bush Administration wants Russia to act more like a democracy, but Putin's Russia bears some resemblence to Bushista America. Maybe Russia could invade a country to pre-empt a potential threat to Russian security as a way of acting like a democracy? (Does destroying Chechnya count? Or not, because it is part of Russia?) Otherwise, Russia already has the election-fixing thing down pat, and are pretty good at torture and secret prisons and detentions without trial and spying on their own people.

Anyway, I guess Bush was wrong when he gazed into Putin's eyes and looked at his soul. Clearly, something was lost in translation from KGB Spymaster Russian to Texas Bullying Fratboy English, and the Russian word for "Slavic autocratic nationalistic thug" got misstranslated as "Slavic good old boy that is more or less democratic, at least democratic enough for us to buddy up to".

Anyway, the idea that the G8 Summit in St Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) could become a debacle if Russia doesn't take some steps soon is silly. It is already guaranteed to be a debacle. It is utterly absurd that Russia was admitted to the G8 in the first place It wasn't yet a democracy, and it sure as hell didn't qualify in terms of being one of the biggest economies in the world -- heck, Spain has a bigger economy than Russia. The Clinton Administration was wrong to push for Yeltsin's admission to the club.

And second, these annual meetings are increasingly irrelevant anyway. It's just a giant photo-op with some hot air emanating from the mouths of leaders, and increasing numbers of leaders from other countries being invited to hang out on the periphery as a way of demonstrating that the US and the other rich countries (and Russia) care about the developing world -- when in fact, they really don't, as long as the oil and gas keep flowing to us, and the poor people don't.

Don't expect Putin to do anything positive in response to Cheney's calls for them to lighten up on NGOs and opposition parties. He'll probably throw a few more people in the slammer, just to remind the Russian people that he is the one they need to pay attention to and please, not Dick Cheney or any other American.

2 Comments:

Anonymous JATaylor said...

True, many of Cheney's criticisms are valid, but the timing of his speech is curious. Currently the US needs Russia's help to impose sanctions on Iran. Since Russia is a key barrier, the Cheney's speech is likely to damage relations at a time we need Russia most.

Also, Mr. Cheney's remarks look a bit hypocritical given his silence about at his stop in the illiberal autocracy of Kazakhstan. The major priority of the visit will be to negotiate an important pipeline deal...odd how these things mute criticism.

11:10 AM  
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2:59 PM  

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