Home  |   Jihad Watch  |   Horowitz  |   Archive  |   Columnists  |     DHFC  |  Store  |   Contact  |   Links  |   Search Friday, September 19, 2014
FrontPageMag Article
Write Comment View Comments Printable Article Email Article
Font:
Russia Chooses Chains By: Ralph Peters
New York Post | Tuesday, March 04, 2008


RUSSIAN paranoia is im measurable, with malice toward all and charity toward none. And outgoing President Vladimir Putin has been an exemplary Russian, his suspicions of the West intensified by his vocation as a secret policeman.

We'll have to see if presidential-election "victor" Dimitri Medvedev shocks his sponsor by becoming his own man, or just plays the czarina to Putin's Rasputin.

The most striking aspect of Russia's phony election last weekend wasn't that it was so ham-handedly rigged, but that Putin, Medvedev & Co. weren't the least bit ashamed of the blatant rigging. It was a time-trip back to the Soviet heyday that Putin misses so.

The only positive thing about the no-real-choice vote is that today's Kremlin crowd had the restraint to hold down the we-love-Medvedev tally to 70 percent, rather than the 95 percent-plus demanded by the old USSR's gerontocrats.

The truth? Russian citizens are content to be led like sheep. As long as there's a bit more fodder in the trough than there was yesterday, Russians won't protest against being herded around: Their primary characteristic over the centuries has been the determination to avoid responsibility.

It's incomprehensible to us, but most Russians want a good-but-strong czar to make their choices for them. (Oh, and they'd rather not work too hard, thanks.)

I almost wrote that Russia isn't a banana republic - despite its execution of journalists, the imprisonment of political opponents, state theft of property, the Kremlin's sponsorship of domestic terrorism (Stalin's stage-managed murder of Sergei Kirov comes to mind) and belligerence toward its neighbors.

But I would've been wrong - not only because Russia isn't a republic of any sort, but because Putin's Russia is headed for exactly the fate that's gutted so many developing countries: the crash after the boom.

Despite the toxic purring of its spokesmen abroad, the Russian Federation isn't diversifying its industrial base, overhauling its decrepit education system or building the human and material infrastructure to guarantee it a future beyond energy revenues.

Russia's going through the same it'll-never-end boom cycle that left one Latin American state after another with a handful of super-rich citizens, a glut of show-off architecture, hollow militaries in shiny boots and economies that disintegrated when the one-trick pony died.

Despite the glitz on display in the heart of Moscow, Russia remains a tragically underdeveloped country. It's Bolivia with Bentleys.

Will President Medvedev change anything after he takes office? Will he disappoint Putin and prove himself more than a puppet?

We can't say. Human beings can surprise the devil out of us all. But, given that Medvedev's ties to Putin go back decades to a murky past in St. Petersburg, an outburst of optimism may not be warranted.

The saddest thing of all is that the civilized world wants to embrace Russia as a constructive partner. But Russians just don't, won't and can't get it. To Ivan on the street, life's a zero-sum game, with everybody else determined to steal his sausages.

That characteristic, above all others, keeps Russia in the underdeveloped category.

Well, I've had my say. But, for all my decades of studying Russia and countless visits to that authority-addicted land, I never suffered under the Kremlin's tyranny, never sat in an East-Bloc prison and never endured up-close-and-personal secret-police brutality.

So it's useful to listen to someone who did: Vaclav Havel, one of the very few truly great men of our time, small in physical stature but so great of heart he forced the Russian bear back into its fouled cage.

I had the honor of meeting Havel last week at NATO headquarters, where this lifelong advocate of nonviolent resistance stressed the vital nature of the military alliance.

Havel - the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic - is a very old 71, a frail survivor of cancer and years in Communist cells. But he's as passionate as ever about freedom. The climax of his speech to NATO's military and civilian leaders was a stark warning about Russia:

"A dictatorship of a fairly new type is coming into existence to the east of the area under NATO protection. All basic human and civic freedoms are gradually and quietly being suppressed under the banner of the aggrieved ideology that everybody is doing Russia wrong or that they are all covert enemies.

"The system of formal democracy and one-party rule familiar to us from Communist times is being revived. The secret police is becoming all-powerful. The nation's enormous wealth is passing into the hands of the powerful or their friends . . .

"Everything that is free and has major influence is destroyed in subtle ways . . . Troublesome people disappear or are mysteriously murdered. Political murders and even major terrorist operations are never properly investigated.

"An enormous nation inhabiting enormous territory is lapsing into apathy and adapting to the status quo. It is accepting the propaganda-fed cult of the leader, that is sometimes reminiscent of the cult of Stalin . . .

"Russia is once more losing its awareness of where it begins and where it ends . . . as if it still thought that what once belonged to it will do so for all time."

Havel summed up: "I believe none of us has the right to remain silent and pretend . . . that we can't see these things. Politeness and falsehoods have never yet preserved the peace."

Moscow never got its own Havel. It just got pseudo-Soviets in better-tailored suits. Welcome to the new, old Russia.


Ralph Peters is a New York Post Opinion columnist and the author of "Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."


We have implemented a new commenting system. To use it you must login/register with disqus. Registering is simple and can be done while posting this comment itself. Please contact gzenone [at] horowitzfreedomcenter.org if you have any difficulties.
blog comments powered by Disqus




Home | Blog | Horowitz | Archives | Columnists | Search | Store | Links | CSPC | Contact | Advertise with Us | Privacy Policy

Copyright©2007 FrontPageMagazine.com