Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mad Vlad Bringing Back Cold War Strategy

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There were many features built into the Soviet style of government. Collective farming, purges, famines and anemic productivity to name just a few. But the key to keeping the populace in check was anti-Americanism and the conduit for distributing it was the TASS news agency. The KGB or other agencies would send a report to TASS that would paint the Soviet leadership in a good light and Americans in a bad one.

Unfortunately, many western papers were littered with communist sympathizers and would play the game exactly as the Soviets wanted. Hell, just read what was written by useful idiot Walter Duranty of the NY Times to get an idea how it worked in American papers (and still does in many respects).

It was Soviet policy to blame America for every bad thing in the USSR and it was a winning strategy because the totalitarian regimes could limit information seeping into the republics. A melt-down at Chernobyl could easily have been reported as an American act of sabotage. It was easy to do and they did it with relish.
Unfortunately for the ruling communists, the system that so many sympathizers said would last longer than the American system, it was unsustainable and a coalition of Reagan, Thatcher and to a point Pope John Paul II weakened it to the point of collapse.

So now we pass into the third decade since the Soviet Union imploded and we see not a country led by communism but one led by a hybrid thugocracy made up of former commies and gangsters. The promise of capitalism was never realized due to the inherent paranoid nature of the Russian psyche.

Vladimir Putin had his time in charge of Russia and made things demonstrably worse. He anointed his successor Medvedev while still holding the reins and now wants to make his comeback. So what's his strategy? The same as it was when he was at KGB:
MOSCOW — A nasty spate of anti-Americanism set off by Vladimir V. Putin has grown into waves of attacks aimed at the new American ambassador and Russian opposition leaders, raising questions about the future of U.S.-Russian relations.

The attacks started just before the December parliamentary elections and have intensified as the March 4 presidential vote approaches. Although widely viewed as aimed primarily at a domestic audience, they have grown shriller and more aggressive, provoking debate about whether Russia is deliberately giving a cold shoulder to President Obama’s effort to promote more productive relations.

A main target of the attacks is Michael McFaul, the new ambassador, a longtime democracy advocate and Russia expert who as a top aide to Obama has been an architect of what the White House calls a “reset’’ with Moscow.

The anti-American campaign bears trademark Soviet and KGB thinking, reflecting the mindset of many of the high-level officials appointed by Putin as well as their efforts to protect their power and privileges from the gathering opposition.
Hmm, how's that whole "reset" thing working for you now, Obama?

Putin knows that Russia has lost immense influence and China has made enormous gains because of it. He's knows that a Russia leading the charge against the current superpower and reclaiming the mantle as the nation blunting American imperialism could put Russia in a position it never had before, a strong central government but now one with the ability to exploit newly discovered resources.

Putin doesn't want to "reset" relations, he wants to go back to where they were. With a weakening western Europe coming apart from six-decades of socialism, Putin sees his chance to reclaim the leadership role and reestablish state control over everything. Putin sees McFaul as an enemy as he does every American (except maybe those who still prattle on about how great the Soviet system was) and wants nothing more than to have his old scapegoat back that he can blame everything on. In other wards, he wants Cold War II.

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