Poking the bear

27 March 2018–

Doc Chaos, despite his sinister nom de guerre, maintains a wide circle of friends, of both sexes, of all hues, faiths, nationalities and political inclinations. Mind, I can’t bare my soul to all of ’em: western self-styled  ‘progressives’ and a certain stripe of devout Muslim, in particular, tend not merely to think in slogans, but to construct their very identity from them. So when you question their slogans – which they mistake for arguments, or even simple facts – they interpret it as a personal attack. So I don’t push their buttons, I just nod and smile. They don’t need to know everything that’s on our minds. What’s important to us is what’s on their minds. (More in a later post about ‘thinking in slogans’, a topic of crucial import just now.)

So it may not surprise you that I have contacts within the world’s deadliest purveyor of state-sponsored terror, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. That’s right, NATO, the fig-leaf alliance behind which America wages endless, pointless, brutal, futile wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria & Ukraine. You know Doc is no commie peacenik. So when I start spouting anti-war lingo like that, pay close attention.

One of my NATO contacts, a senior civilian Pentagon employee based in Europe, recently asked his friends about the 18 March 2018 election results in Russia. To western globalists’ dismay, Vladimir Putin won a stupefying free, fair majority of three-quarters of the plus-70 percent turnout. My contact posed the questions, ‘What do Russians say about Western Europe, NATO and the U.S.?  Do any of their criticisms make sense, or is it the absence of a free press that warps prevalent views?’

Somebody else replied before I had a chance to, and my friend forwarded his comments. The respondent (says my NATO contact) had some kind of midlife crisis and decided, in late middle age, to learn Russian. (My contact suspects a secret love interest). When this fellow replied, he was actually in Moscow, studying Russian at a language institute. I forward his comments verbatim. I know something about this topic, but I couldn’t have said it better myself:

“Dear ——-,

Those are serious questions. I spent a couple days just thinking about them. My Russian isn’t great yet and I have only a small circle of contacts. So I ‘reached out’ to some knowledgeable people and asked some questions that I had not asked before, in so many words. Then I started to write, between homework assignments & class.

Because I had to explain not just my answers, but how I had arrived at them, the reply snowballed to eight, size-12 font, typewritten pages before it dawned on me: you would probably appreciate a quick-n-dirty preliminary reply, to tide you over, while I put the finishing touches on ‘War & Peace.’

1] I was surprised how united Russians are, across party lines, in their mistrust & loathing of NATO. They view the alliance as international window-dressing for US designs; an aggressive, expansionist force that poses a deliberate threat to Russian sovereignty and perhaps its territorial integrity. I had naively assumed that since 1 in 4 Russians voted for somebody other than Putin, that 1 in 4 would have a somewhat favorable view of NATO & the West. But I had to be reminded that Putin’s most numerous opponents are communists, who are even more hardline anti-NATO than Putin voters are.

Absence of a free press doesn’t explain this. There are some ‘liberal’ journals here. They’re not as robust as pro-government ones, but that just may because they have fewer readers. More important: Every Muscovite has a smart phone, there’s wi-fi everywhere including buses & Metro, and very critical reporting by the BBC, VOA and RFE/RL Russian language services is at everyone’s fingertips. They aren’t blocked.

2] Some Russian criticism of NATO, Europe & the US makes sense, at least to me, because I had similar concerns, myself, for years.

I enjoyed Obama’s, uh, ‘striking’ penchant for drones. I also enjoyed his refusal to back down when the drone strikes were challenged by what I call the ‘Al-Jazeera Front’ – hysterical talking heads portraying the collateral damage as worse than Dresden.

But I thought he & Hillary were crazy to use the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ as a pretext to topple governments and start endless wars in Syria and Libya. It was especially annoying after having had to listen, for a decade, to supposedly peace-loving, anti-Iraq War Democrats chanting ‘No blood for oil!’, ‘Bush lied, people died!’ and ‘Regime change begins at home.’

Among Arabs, there’s more grassroots support for Sharia than there is for democracy.  Obama et al. should have known that what looked like ‘Spring’ to them would be hijacked by Islamic militants. Russians find our Libya & Syria adventures even crazier than I do, and often point to them as evidence of reckless American bloodthirstiness.

In Ukraine, it appeared to me that Obama, Kerry, Merkel & Sikorski had zero idea what they were stumbling into when they backed Maydan. They somehow convinced themselves Putin wouldn’t react to a Maydan takeover. To me, it seemed Putin had no choice: The Maydan leaders would surely have renounced the leases on Russian naval bases in Crimea. They would have neutralized, maybe even tried to seize Russia’s Black Sea fleet, and certainly its port facilities. In that light, the West’s support for Maydan could be portrayed as an act of war.

Interestingly, some of the Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine are National Bolshevik party activists. Yet Putin has banned the NatBols from participating in Russian elections.

3] Where I part ways with Russians, regarding such issues, is when it comes to intent. I think even educated Russians greatly underestimate US & European policymakers’ capacity for idealistic self-delusion. This leads Western politicians & diplomats to miscalculate and to stumble into dangerous situations without realizing how different nations and peoples, with different interests and priorities, are likely to interpret their motives. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

We expect a certain idealism in our elected officials. But we also expect it to be tempered by pragmatic advice from professionals. I sense that that isn’t happening, at least not enough. Our diplomats and other elements of the West’s foreign-policy pseudo-intelligentsia seem not to grasp the difference between slogans and platitudes about ‘democracy,’ on the one hand; and on the other, critical thinking about how, when or even whether to promote it, in any given scenario.

In particular, it seems to me that the quest for ‘democracy’ in places like Ukraine, the Baltic states & Belarus should take a back seat to their usefulness as buffer states. Russian uneasiness about having NATO forces right on their borders should probably be taken seriously, instead of being dismissed as ‘paranoid.’ Again: The road to hell is paved with good intentions … Hope this helps. It may take me a few days to finish my opus. Sincerely, ——-“

‘[T]he West’s foreign-policy pseudo-intelligentsia’ !  … ‘slogans and platitudes’ !  This is awesome. I can’t wait to read the long version!

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