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Russia: The Bad Old Days Return
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November 13, 2008: The November 8 submarine accident off the Pacific coast occurred once before, in the 1990s, when a submarine that had been refurbished, had the fire extinguisher system go off in a compartment because shipyard workers had rewired a control panel incorrectly. This sort of sloppiness is all too common, and Russians have long ago learned to live (or die) with it. Things are changing, however, as more and more Russian manufacturers adopt higher international standards for quality control. Otherwise, Russian exports could not compete. Even the military manufacturing industries are slowly moving in this direction. Meanwhile, Russians have this inferiority complex which is often expressed by aggressive behavior. It's nothing new. During the communist period, the bad behavior was hidden by a façade of communist revolutionary rhetoric. But now we're back to where we were a century ago, when the czar was in charge. Go read some of old newspaper stories from back in the day, and you'll find that the Russians are picking up where they left off. The communists came and went, but Russian paranoia and threats prevail.

November 11, 2008:  Off the coast of Somalia, a Russian  and  British frigates cooperated to drive away pirates who were trying to capture a Danish merchant ship. Both warships sent an armed helicopter to the scene, once they received the distress call from the Danish ship.

November 9, 2008: In Chechnya, someone attacked a police station, killing one policeman and wounding two others.

November 8, 2008: Off the Pacific coast, 20 people died when the fire extinguishing system was accidentally set off in the forward compartment of a new Akula II submarine undergoing sea trials. A sailor who survived the incident later admitted he had set off the fire extinguishing system. This process removes most of the oxygen in the compartment, and sailors are trained to reach for breathing masks when this happens. But most of the people in the compartment were civilian shipyard workers and technicians. In addition to the dead (most of them civilians), 21 people were injured.

November 6, 2008: In another paranoid outburst, the government said it was sending five brigades (60 launchers) of Iskander ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad (on the Polish border) to neutralize the American anti-missile system being built there (to protect Europe from Iranian missiles.) Russia insists the anti-missile system is actually there to neutralize Russian missiles that might be used against Europe. Or something like that.

Another terrorist bomb went off in North Ossetia, killing eleven people in a market. A female suicide bomber was involved. No one took responsibility for the attack.

November 5, 2008:  A small bomb (about three pounds of dynamite) went off on railroad tracks on the outskirts of Moscow. There were no injuries and no one took responsibility.

November 4, 2008: In Georgia, the head of the armed forces was replaced, as part of reforms to make the military more effective. Georgia believes that Russia may invade again, and new military leadership is needed to improve Georgian defenses. Russia now defends its invasion of Georgia with the "Rwanda Defense." This doctrine was developed by the UN to justify invading another nation to halt atrocities against civilians. About a hundred civilians died when Georgian troops moved into their province of South Ossetia, which the Russians now say qualifies as genocide, and justifies an invasion of Georgia.

November 1, 2008:  Russia has offered to mediate the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan (both parts of the former Soviet Union). In the early 1990s, Armenia went to war with Azerbaijan to annex an Armenian majority district (Nagorno-Karabakh) that was separated from Armenia by a strip of Azerbaijan territory (populated largely by Azeris). Although Azerbaijan is larger than Armenia, and has oil, the Armenians are better fighters, and the conflict festers, despite a 1994 ceasefire.

October 30, 2008: The Russian president has removed the head of  the south Caucasus province of Ingushetia (which is adjacent to Chechnya). Both provinces are run by corrupt officials, who stay in power by catering to their cronies, and Russia, and screwing everyone else. Russia will tolerate this, as long as the local guy keeps things under control. Murat Zyazikov was not doing that, and is now the former boss of Ingushetia. He was given a new job in Moscow, just in case he is needed again in the future.

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razputin       11/14/2008 10:27:46 AM
Of course the russians are paranoid... How can you not be paranoid when you have a mojor invasion every now and then which results in significant portions of the population being wiped out??? it's good when there are natural barriers to an invasion, which Russia never had.. otherwise you end up building up defenses and security buffers... For US saying that Russia is paranoid is like having a house on the hill and saying those in the valley are just paranoid and have an inferiority complex about getting flooded...
 
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afrc       11/15/2008 2:18:44 AM

Of course the russians are paranoid... How can you not be paranoid when you have a mojor invasion every now and then which results in significant portions of the population being wiped out??? it's good when there are natural barriers to an invasion, which Russia never had.. otherwise you end up building up defenses and security buffers... For US saying that Russia is paranoid is like having a house on the hill and saying those in the valley are just paranoid and have an inferiority complex about getting flooded...

By this logic Belgians should be even more paranoid - Germans went through Belgium every time they wanted to kick French butt :)
In any case, Russia has the right to be paranoid when there are real reasons to be paranoid. When reasons are imaginary - it's time for some happy pills. And it looks like the reasons are mostly imaginary since they get paranoid about 10 ABM interceptors that supposed to stop an armada of hundreds of Russian missiles... and NATO is disarming according to agreements and has allowed number of forces even with new countries.
 
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CJH       11/15/2008 10:32:57 AM
It's time to reprint Solzhenitsyn. Memories can be short.
 
Communists murdered over 100 million innocents in the 20th century. Russian Communists did a lot more than their share. Maybe we in the West have dropped the ball by not reminding the world. Perhaps we made a mistake by not at least considering a world-wide outlawing of Communism.
 
Solzhenitsyn estimated in his Gulag work that at a minimum 20 million innocent people were murdered between the onset of the revolution and June 22, 1941.
 
Perhaps the world has forgotten about how over a million Ukranian peasants were starved to death in the 20s as a result of government policy (And how the people of the US sent food over to Russia then).
 
What we have here looks like a classic case of convenient memory.
 
Do the Russian people really want to relive that?
 
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CJH       11/15/2008 10:38:04 AM

Of course the russians are paranoid... How can you not be paranoid when you have a mojor invasion every now and then which results in significant portions of the population being wiped out??? it's good when there are natural barriers to an invasion, which Russia never had.. otherwise you end up building up defenses and security buffers... For US saying that Russia is paranoid is like having a house on the hill and saying those in the valley are just paranoid and have an inferiority complex about getting flooded...


Have not the Russians invaded Brandenburg? Have not Russian armies marched in Paris? Have not the Russians taken territory from others in Central Asia? Have not the Russians unjustly invaded Georgia?
The British burned our Capitol. Should not we be paranoid towards them as well?
 
 
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CJH       11/15/2008 10:42:22 AM

Of course the russians are paranoid... How can you not be paranoid when you have a mojor invasion every now and then which results in significant portions of the population being wiped out??? it's good when there are natural barriers to an invasion, which Russia never had.. otherwise you end up building up defenses and security buffers... For US saying that Russia is paranoid is like having a house on the hill and saying those in the valley are just paranoid and have an inferiority complex about getting flooded...

The US is vulnerable to invasion through its many waterways. Should not we be paranoid over that?
We have many ethnic groups. Should not we be touchy over that?
 
The US does not have a single ethnic tradition as Russia does. Should Russian be more sensitive to that?
 
We have many Russians here. Perhaps we should have the FBI watch them closely and maybe round them all up if Putin makes trouble.

 
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afrc       11/15/2008 11:30:23 AM

It's time to reprint Solzhenitsyn. Memories can be short.

 

Communists murdered over 100 million innocents in the 20th century. Russian Communists did a lot more than their share. Maybe we in the West have dropped the ball by not reminding the world. Perhaps we made a mistake by not at least considering a world-wide outlawing of Communism.

 

Solzhenitsyn estimated in his Gulag work that at a minimum 20 million innocent people were murdered between the onset of the revolution and June 22, 1941.

 

Perhaps the world has forgotten about how over a million Ukranian peasants were starved to death in the 20s as a result of government policy (And how the people of the US sent food over to Russia then).

 

What we have here looks like a classic case of convenient memory.

 

Do the Russian people really want to relive that?

Let's be fair... modern Russia has nothing to do with communism. It strives to be an authoritarian state with semi-controlled capitalist economy. I think they like Chinese model, only without communist overtone - most people are a bit sick of it even if some old folks feel nostalgic. Russians primarily like strong hand in power, rather than communism ideals. BTW Solzhenitsyn is Russian nationalist and he saw authoritarian communist regime only as a destroyer of Russian people. He has plenty of anti-West sentiment too because he sees West as competitor of Russia. People get the leaders they deserve and Russians seemed to like Putin and his policies, even if we cannot understand this love.  

 
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CJH       11/15/2008 1:08:53 PM




It's time to reprint Solzhenitsyn. Memories can be short.



 



Communists murdered over 100 million innocents in the 20th century. Russian Communists did a lot more than their share. Maybe we in the West have dropped the ball by not reminding the world. Perhaps we made a mistake by not at least considering a world-wide outlawing of Communism.



 



Solzhenitsyn estimated in his Gulag work that at a minimum 20 million innocent people were murdered between the onset of the revolution and June 22, 1941.



 



Perhaps the world has forgotten about how over a million Ukranian peasants were starved to death in the 20s as a result of government policy (And how the people of the US sent food over to Russia then).



 



What we have here looks like a classic case of convenient memory.



 



Do the Russian people really want to relive that?




Let's be fair... modern Russia has nothing to do with communism. It strives to be an authoritarian state with semi-controlled capitalist economy. I think they like Chinese model, only without communist overtone - most people are a bit sick of it even if some old folks feel nostalgic. Russians primarily like strong hand in power, rather than communism ideals. BTW Solzhenitsyn is Russian nationalist and he saw authoritarian communist regime only as a destroyer of Russian people. He has plenty of anti-West sentiment too because he sees West as competitor of Russia. People get the leaders they deserve and Russians seemed to like Putin and his policies, even if we cannot understand this love.  




What does threatening Poland, invading Georgia, manipulating Belarus, etc have to do with any kind of legitimate nationalism? A lot of us here in the US are nationalists but we don't necessarily want to invaded Cuba, Mexico or Canada (Actually Canada invades us on an on-going basis which you would know if you drive I-75 or I-95).
 
Russian bullying has very little to do with love of country.
 
Sozhenitsyn's "anti-West" ideas as far as I knew them are hardly different from, say, John Hagee's criticisms of the West.
 
Someone editorialized about how Solzhenitsyn's anti-West speech at Harvard was noteworthy. I couldn't help but reply that the only differences between Solzhenitsyn's criticisms in an actual speech at Harvard and what Pastor Hagee would have said is that no one in his right mind at Harvard would ever consider having Hagee there and that Hagee would have been more emphatic in those condemnations.
 
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afrc       11/15/2008 4:53:55 PM
What does threatening Poland, invading Georgia, manipulating Belarus, etc have to do with any kind of legitimate nationalism? A lot of us here in the US are nationalists but we don't necessarily want to invaded Cuba, Mexico or Canada (Actually Canada invades us on an on-going basis which you would know if you drive I-75 or I-95).
 
Same with China and Taiwan. China feels that Taiwan historically belongs to China. It has nothing to do with communism ideology and everything to do with nationalism. Russian Empire used to include Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Baltic States and Finland in the West. I think that Russia still thinks of those areas as their sphere of influence, buffer zone or whatever they want to call it. There is also pana-Slavic sentiment among some Russians - all Slavs are brothers and should unite... under Russia of course. This is particularly aimed at Belarus and Ukraine and any movement toward West by these countries is seen by some as "betrayal" in the family. I would call this nationalism. What would you call it?
 
Now some other actions by Russia are more about border security paranoia. They always see enemies everywhere and they don't like having West-oriented states on the borders. They will act to create buffer zones - Ossetia and Abkhazia create a zone around Georgia. The region was always volatile and Russians have been fighting there on and off for centuries trying to pacify it. I assume they would like to have Georgia as a pro-Russian state, but they don't feel as strong about it as they feel about Belarus and Ukraine (which also hold Crimea that did belong to Russia from the start and was given to Ukraine in the recent time). I do not see anything communist about war in Georgia - that was simply put a nationalistic competition between two countries.
   
 
 
Russian bullying has very little to do with love of country.
 
Nationalism Russian-style is not only about love of the country, but also about hate of the enemies. You have to choose sides (between Russia and West) and if you are not with them then you are against them. Sometimes Russia plays nice with West, because they think that West only behaves that way because it is being ordered by USA and if they drive them apart then West will become pro-Russian because Russia is clearly right about everything and Europe sees it, just afraid to admit it because of USA. There is also a prevalent oppinion that US actively fights Russia using proxy states - Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, etc. I cannot say this about all Russians, but this opinion is pretty common.  
 
 
Sozhenitsyn's "anti-West" ideas as far as I knew them are hardly different from, say, John Hagee's criticisms of the West.
 
Someone editorialized about how Solzhenitsyn's anti-West speech at Harvard was noteworthy. I couldn't help but reply that the only differences between Solzhenitsyn's criticisms in an actual speech at Harvard and what Pastor Hagee would have said is that no one in his right mind at Harvard would ever consider having Hagee there and that Hagee would have been more emphatic in those condemnations.
 
I give you that. I am not going to say that Solzhenitsin hates West. He just thinks that West is going the wrong way and Russia has its own spiritual mission in history. He is also a russofile and assigns certain priority to Russian race and its spirituality. This is the difference - Hagee criticises West from within, as part of it. Solzhenitsyn critisises West from outside. I don't think he sees Russia as part of the West and he does not call for them to stay together and find common path. I got the feeling that he wanted for Russia to look for another way... separate from West. Of course this will drive West and Russia further apart and will create conflicts of interest due to geopolitical proximity, even if he did not mean to do it. I just want to point out that using Solzhenitsyn to condemn current Russia's actions is illogical.  
 
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CJH       11/15/2008 5:01:29 PM
Strange. Peter the Great wanted Russia westernized. Now, Russia is apart from the West. If Russia isn't West then what is it? It is not East either.
 
To me, Russia is easternmost Europe.
 
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CJH       11/15/2008 5:22:43 PM
I hope you don't mind if I am sceptical about Russia not repeating its Communist experiences.
 
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