The Soft Line versus the Hard Line, or, 7% ABV

I was just unfriended on Facebook by an actual friend and comrade, and a person for whom I have boundless respect. Apparently, I said too many bad things in electronic print about their chosen candidate for president, Dr. Jill Stein of the US Green Party.

In point of fact, I wrote to them on Facebook just yesterday that I would rather vote for them or just about anybody else in the world than for someone who had no qualms about flying to Moscow to celebrate RT’s birthday and sitting at the same table with Vladimir Putin.

Similarly, Dr. Stein had no qualms about saying that Russia had once “owned” Ukraine, so, like, what’s the big deal about grabbing Crimea and messing with Donbass?

Pro-Putinism of the Steinerian or Trumpian variety should be a make-or-break issue if you call yourself a democrat, a leftist, a left-liberal, an anti-imperialist, an anti-fascist, a progressive, pro-labor, pro-human rights, a pacifist, a democratic socialist, a socialist, a communist, a liberal, a republican or (in fact) a conservative.

On the merits of his now very long stint in office, Putin should appeal only to extreme right-wingers, dyed-in-the-wool fascists, neo-Nazis, racists, and massively deluded fundamentalist Christians (because Putin isn’t actually spearheading a worldwide revival of “conservative Christian values”; he is just using the Church and the churchly to advance his own personal and political ends), as well as members of various organized criminal groups around the world, who probably can’t help admiring how a “party of crooks and thieves” have taken over an entire country, the world’s largest, and started running it like the mob runs a chunk of turf on the Jersey shore.

Oh yes, and Bashar Assad loves Putin. And Silvio Berlusconi does, too.

So this is a US presidential election in which all the choices are very bad? Then please, at least don’t imagine one of the candidates has qualities she really doesn’t have, and please don’t whitewash or blatantly ignore her glaring deficiencies.

Being “soft” on Putin is a damning quality, because it means (as has become clear from Dr. Stein’s limp, weasel-worded response to the open letter written by the brave, exiled Russian environmentalists Yevgeniya Chirikova and Nadezhda Kutepova) you feel no solidarity with the thousands, hundreds of thousands, and maybe even millions of Russians who have either fought back against Putin’s seventeen years of tyranny or suffered very badly from it.

It also means you have funny ideas about “effective leadership,” as Trump seems to have. Just as Trump is probably no great shakes at “business,” his idol Putin is actually a crummy politician when it comes to implementing any of the things held dear by the sort of people, who occupy most of the known political spectrum, I listed above. In fact, he is slowly leading his country to economic, social, moral, environmental, industrial, aesthetic, and ideological ruin.

In the US, where the ruthlessly effective Russian leader hasn't established an authoritarian pollocracy yet, his ratings don't look so great. Image courtesy of NBC News
In the US, where the ruthlessly effective Russian leader has not established an authoritarian pollocracy yet, his ratings don’t look so great. Image courtesy of NBC News

Or it means you have funny ideas about “world peace” and “imperialism.” Meaning, you think only the US, NATO, and EU are imperialists, while Russia, China, the other BRICS countries, and more or less the rest of the world are, mysteriously and without having done much of anything to merit the merit badge, “anti-imperialists.”

I am going to go out on a limb and say (without arguing the point further here) that while Russia has the most going for it in terms of natural and human resources, it is the BRICS country least likely to succeed because of its ruinous, criminal governance. I have more confidence that South Africa and India will turn things around than I do Russia will.

And China has lots of “negatives,” as they say about the candidates these days, but despite them I never get the sense the country is run by haughty criminal lunatics. Or maybe the Chinese Communist Party are haughty and corrupt sometimes, but they seem to have a plan of sorts and are capable of rational thought and acting collectively (and dictatorially) to advance rational interests, whether or not those rational interests are ones their own people or the people of Hong Kong or Taiwan or we ourselves would approve.

When a candidate is soft on Putin, it doesn’t mean she or he is unqualified to lead the US military-industrial complex or “advance our country’s interests” by attacking countries no one asked us to attack.

It just means they’re hopelessly stupid. TRR

_________

abama-craft-beerApropos the article below. Pobrecitos! Thank God no one in Russia has been trying to tarnish the image of the US or its less-than-effective president. That would be so uncool. Image of the label for Abama craft beer, produced by a microbrewery in Putin’s hometown of Petersburg, courtesy of Comrade EO

Putin Talks of Attempt to Recreate “Evil Empire” Image in US Elections
Olga Nadykto and Polina Khimshiashvili
RBC
September 17, 2016

Using the topic of Russia and the Russian president in the US presidential campaign is an attempt to manipulate public opinion within the country, said Vladimir Putin. According to him it is an attempt to “recreate the image of an evil empire.”

Speaking to journalists at the end of the CIS summit in Bishkek, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the use of Russian topics in the US election campaign.

Putin expressed the hope that the “use of Russia and the Russian president” in the US election campaign was “was also due to Russia’s growing influence and significance.”

“But I think it is mainly due to attempts to manipulate public opinion within the country. We are witnessing an attempt to recreate the image of the so-called evil empire and scare the average citizen. It is quite sad. It is a fairly crude attempt and counterproductive,” said the Russian president [sic].

Replying to a question about which of the candidates he supported in the US presidential elections, Putin said he had “nothing new” to say.

“We support anyone in any country who wants to work towards neighborly relations and partnerships with us,” he stressed.

“We are sympathetic to those who speak out publicly about the need to build relations with Russia on an equal basis and see a lot of sense in this for their country,” Putin concluded.

Earlier, on the NBC program Commander-in-Chief Forum, Donald Trump, the US Republican Party presidential candidate, said of the Russian president, “If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him.”

Trump also predicted he would have “very, very good relations” with Putin if he became president.

Trump’s statement was criticized by US President Barack Obama, who supports the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Clinton herself had earlier accused the Russian secret services in the attacks on the Democratic Party’s servers. She has also commented on an article in the Washington Post, claiming that Russia was possibly planning to disrupt the US elections. She said it was a serious threat that had to be eliminated quickly.

Translated by the Russian Reader

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Yevgeniya Chirikova and Nadezhda Kutepova: Open Letter to Dr. Jill Stein

Yevgenia Chirikova
Yevgenia Chirikova

Yevgeniya Chirikova
Facebook
September 6, 2016

Open Letter to Dr. Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party Candidate for President of the United States

Dear Dr. Stein,

We are writing to you in the spirit of green values and principles, which include fighting for a sustainable future, defending the environment and human rights, and engaging in international solidarity. We are also writing to you as eco-activists, women and mothers.

In November of this year, you will face an important challenge which will have an impact all over the world, even far from the US. As Russian eco-activists, we are following the US presidential election with curiosity and fear. Curiosity for your democratic system and fear for the impact that the result of this election could have on our lives and the lives of our children.

As environmentalists and human rights defenders, we often support Green candidates all over the world when they run in local, national or continental elections. However, we are asking ourselves if we can support your candidacy for the Presidency of the United States of America. We have carefully read your program and your website, and we have to admit that we are deeply shocked by the position you expressed during your visit to Moscow and your meeting with Mr. Vladimir Putin.

During the last few years, the Russian authorities have continued the destruction of the rich and unique Russian environment. The Kremlin is heavily contributing to global climate change and the destruction of global biodiversity by overexploiting Russian natural resources and promoting unsafe nuclear energy. The corruption and anti-democratic behavior of the current Russian government have also led to negative impacts on Russia’s unique forests and natural heritage. Russian eco-activists and human rights defenders are also facing an increasingly repressive system which was constructed under Putin’s regime. The list of the victims of this system is unfortunately becoming longer and longer. Russian environmentalist Yevgeny Vitishko spent 22 months in prison for a non-violent action. Journalist Mikhail Beketov was violently attacked in 2008, suffered serious injuries, and died in 2013. Our personal cases are also symbolic: because of our activism, and in order to protect our children, we were both forced to leave Russia and to seek political asylum in the European Union.

Nadezha Kutepova
Nadezha Kutepova

After your visit to Moscow and your meeting with Vladimir Putin you said that “the world deserve[s] a new commitment to collaborative dialogue between our governments to avert disastrous wars for geopolitical domination, destruction of the climate, and cascading injustices that promote violence and terrorism.” We agree with you. But how can this new “collaborative dialogue” be possible when Mr. Putin has deliberately built a system based on corruption, injustice, falsification of elections, and violation of human rights and international law? How is it possible to have a discussion with Mr. Putin and not mention, not even once, the fate of Russian political prisoners or the attacks against Russian journalists, artists, and environmentalists? Is it fair to speak with him about “geopolitics” and not mention new Russian laws against freedom of speech, restrictions on NGOs and activists or the shameful law that forbids “homosexual propaganda”?

By silencing Putin’s crimes you are silencing our struggle. By shaking his hand and failing to criticize his regime you become his accomplice. By forgetting what international solidarity means you are insulting the Russian environmental movement.

Dr. Stein, you still have several weeks before the election in order to clarify your position on the anti-democratic and anti-environmental elements of Putin’s regime. We sincerely hope that our voices will be heard and that our questions will not go unanswered.

Best regards,
Yevgeniya Chirikova
Nadezhda Kutepova

Yevgeniya Chirikova is a Russian environmental activist who gained renown as one of the leaders of the fight to save the Khimki Forest, outside of Moscow. She currently lives in Estonia. Nadezhda Kutepova, an anti-nuclear activist from the small town of Ozyorsk in the Urals and founder of the NGO Planet of Hopes, was forced to flee the country last year with her four children after being accused on state TV of “espionage.” Photos courtesy of East West Blog and RFE/RL, respectively. NB. This letter was very lightly edited to make it more readable. TRR

Sam Charles Hamad: Trump, The Left, and Russia

The Bronx, February 15, 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader
The Bronx, February 15, 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

Sam Charles Hamad
Facebook
July 29, 2016

Some leftists think that Donald Trump will be better in foreign policy terms than Hillary. They’re right. By their standards, by their principles, Trump will be better.

Trump opposes the war in Afghanistan not because he cares one bit about the lives of Afghans, but rather because he cares nothing about the lives of Afghans. If you can’t understand that difference, you’re already lost.

Trump wants to follow Obama’s lead and work closer with Russia, combined with working closer with Assad in Syria—in fact, in his own words, he wants to let Russia and Iran ‘protect’ Syria from what he calls ‘ISIS’, by which he means all the Syrian rebels. He wants to let Assad, Russia and Iran destroy the rebels and ISIS. That’s his actual policy.

Trump would never have lifted one finger to aid Libyans facing extermination from Gaddafi’s air force, saying that things would be ‘100% better off if Gaddafi was still in charge of Libya’.

Trump would recognise Crimea as Russian territory and lift sanctions on Russia, effectively abandoning Ukrainians to the will of the Vladimir Putin.

All of these things are perfectly in line with the principles of much of The Left. The difference is that they dress up their demented, barbarous, counter-revolutionary and conservative isolationism in progressive garb, such as by conjuring always so very abstractly and incoherently the lives of brown people—the entirely fantastical ‘NATO destruction of Libya’, the idea that the main problem in Syria is non-existent ‘western intervention’, etc., etc. They completely ignore the actualities of the lives of these people and they often tacitly or explicitly support the forces that are actually to blame for the monstrous hardships that these people face.

But they, like Trump, care nothing for the lives of Syrians or Libyans—they too want Russia and Iran to be given free reign to ‘protect’ Syria (this is Jeremy Corbyn’s position and very similar to Bernie Sanders, never mind the barrel bomb pacifist Jill Stein).

The truth is that Trump would be good for the barbaric principles of much of the actually existing Left. His conservative isolationism and his support for Russian imperialism is merely bereft of a phoney humanitarian aspect.

My thanks to Mr. Hamad for his kind permission to reprint this essay here. TRR