Thursday, September 22, 2005

Neocon View of the World

Neocons believe that they have "the one true answer." As such, any different "answer" is demonized. It always comes down to right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, FDR vs. Hitler.

I notice this type of thinking more and more. For example, Peter Baker and Susan Glasser have published Kremlin Rising, a book about Vladamir Putin's Russia. It clearly puts Russia in the "them" category.

Mark Ames of the Russian publication Exile discusses the book:

[Baker and Glassers' tone took] a gradual turn towards the darkly foreboding right in step with the Bush Administration's decision to re-evaluate their friendship with Putin -- which is to say, sometime after the arrest of pro-American oil oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Baker and Glasser returned to Washington and quickly reworked their articles into a book, Kremlin Rising, that was released this past summer. And it is this book which may, like little else produced in the past five years, condemn Russia to pariah status for the remainder of Putin's political career, and perhaps beyond.

Is painting Russia in a dark light really helpful? Can we apply our standards, which have faults of their own, to Russia?

Mark discusses the complete background of the "heros" in Kremlin Rising, which shows that they are far from heros. He summarizes by saying:

Put in its proper context, in the aftermath of the crackdown on Yukos and the generally hostile atmosphere towards the remaining oligarchs, Remchukov's quote [about Russians living in fear ] takes on an entirely different meaning than in the half-filled context offered by Baker-Glasser, who, it should be added, must have known these details [about the oligarchs]. So what is Remchukov's fear? This isn't about poets and dissidents fearful for their lives like in the 30s; this is about one clan of savage thieves afraid that their loot might be stolen by another clan of thieves, sort of like in the '90s.

These situations are rarely so black and white. The oligarchs make Enron look like very small potatoes.

We also see there is a long history to the misguided story line in Kremlin Rising:

Before the 1998 collapse, Baker-Glasser's predecessors at the Post's Moscow bureau, Fred Hiatt (now the Opinion Page Editor) and David Hoffman (who wrote Oligarchs, a whitewash of the Yeltsin-era oligarch class) pushed the neo-liberal Party Line about a Russia transforming for the better, led by courageous "free-market liberals" like Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar. After the collapse, when it was painfully clear that these people had engineered the largest plundering of a nation in modern history -- indeed, Chubais even bragged to Kommersant after the collapse, "My ikh kinuli," or "We ripped them off," "them" meaning the West -- the antithetical frame was abandoned, and everyone who had collaborated in setting it up did their best to cover their tracks.

The point is that neocon thinking lives outside the tight knit world of the neocons themselves. You need to watch for it. When someone tells you that a world leader is the next Hitler or Stalin, be skeptical, lock up your children, and check your wallet.

I highly recommend you read the entire article from Mark Aimes here.


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