Post-Soviet Goals Without Noble Excuses For Them
“There no longer exists the sharp ideological divide between our two nations.” – President Vladimir Putin, 16 July 2018
This blog is intended to go beyond the rapid and basic post-game analysis being given everywhere in the media to the Trump-Putin Summit in Helsinki today. This is an attempt to look at the broad context within which that event and others connected to it are taking place: the heart and soul of concern in regard to Helsinki 2018 is not so much the day’s events as the nature of the current version of Russia participating in them.
From 1917 to 1991, the justification Russia gave the world for its aggression was its role as the primary agent of Marx and Lenin’s “Worker’s Revolution” addressing the terrible inequities visited upon the working class by the monied class.
The Soviet flag said it all.
The hammer and sickle symbolized the workers, the star pointed to the five continents of the world, and the red backround represented the blood necessary to be shed in every country in the world to bring about that noble Revolution, and the installation of equity among human communities. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” is a creed beautiful, despite being unworkable thus far in human reality.
All that is over.
Russia is no longer the captain-state of a Union championing an ideal.
What is left?
The Russian Flag now represents Russia – merely a nation: one among many.
Why then, does Russia “deserve” a great place in the world, greater perhaps than any other nation, and especially, primacy higher than the champion of democracy, The United States of America: a nation still formed around only a set of unifying ideas and ideals.
Germany accepted the Nazi re-definition of Germany as a rightful aggressor-state for three contrived reasons: (1) need for Lebensraum – land enabling the German people to live comfortably in, and feed their nation; (2) righting of wrongs: certain regions had been allegedly wrongfully taken from Germany, and it deserved them back – especially those humiliations visited upon The Fatherland by the Treaty of Versailles ending World War I; and finally, (3) because Germany came to believe Germans were greater than every other genetic composition in the world. Their genetics allegedly made them the upper species in a Darwinesque view of a world in which the weak are rightfully eaten by the strong.
Their leader, Der Führer, meaning “The Leader” – was considered, and considered himself, a God-sent person intended by Heaven to lead his great-but-unjustly-crushed nation out of the humiliation of their defeat in World War I, and not only back into dignity, but beyond it into global domination.
What did Hitler’s rebuilt Germany do first?
Hitler’s machine killed off its internal opponents.
They then put Germany’s allies and the neighbor states into confusion with confounding actions and consistent breakage of treaties or understandings.
Then they attacked smaller, weaker states and disputed territories.
Czechoslovakia. Poland. The Franco-German Rhineland.
And onward to Poland, France, North Africa, and Russia.
And onward further into the global nightmare of World War II, necessary to stop the tyrannical German state from enslaving the entire world.
What has Putin been doing since coming into power?
He has been running Hitler’s playbook.
Internal enemies have been disappeared, or publicly poisoned with horrific toxins like Dioxin – driving opponents into exile, disability, or death. Then came Crimea. Meddling with American elections was a step straight out of Saddam Hussein’s delusional methods: as a puny weakling, pick on the hugest opponent you can find – then, at the last minute, back away – and thus “show the world” that you were brave enough to face off with the enormous champion. An exercise in pure ego and propaganda production.
Why has Putin been running Hitler’s playbook?
Why must Russians see Russia dominate the world?
Since Russia is no longer a champion of a noble ideal and goal, Russia’s only premises for aggression and expansion of influence are exactly the same three as listed in regard to Germany just above here. Russia must dominate because she is Russia. It is a tautology worse than 1930’s Germany’s, because Germany’s had specific justifying delusions in place. The Russian tautology begins and ends with one idea: Russian greatness makes Russia deserve to be great. There is now no idea of set of them for which Russian stands. She stand for Russia, and Russia’s interests: and that bald agenda is called “greed” and “ambition.”
Name any idea or ideal for which has Vladimir Putin stood.
I cannot think of a single idea or policy or political philosophy Putin has stood forth to champion. He advances the exaltation and power of the nation he commands – and by sheer osmosis, his own greatness as well.
The bedrock of United States foreign policy toward the Soviet Union was always that the USSR could only be relied upon for one thing: to act in its own self-interest. That interest used to exist under the masque of devotion to disseminate an allegedly health-giving political philosophy across the world.
Now – things are the same, absent the masque.
There is no morality but loyalty to Rodyna (pronounced róe-dee-na “Motherland”).
PRIDE COMETH BEFORE GETTING THY REAR KICKED
One of Sun Tzu’s precepts of successful warfare was to avoid underestimating your enemy. President Donald Trump seems to have committed that very basic error in regard to Vladimir Putin. The world can only hope he learns from the experience, as did some of his predecessors.
The meeting 16 July 2018 between Trump and Putin seemed a horrific mismatch.
It was like watching a schoolyard bully facing a hardened gangbanger.
Let’s be clear: Vladimir Putin was a KGB officer.
The K.G. freakin’ B.
To our knowledge, Donald Trump has never personally killed, nor ordered the murder of another human being. He is facing in Putin a man with a trail of dead bodies behind him –and those are only the ones we know about. If we could get access to Putin’s action record as a KGB officer, I am sure we would see a long list of people dead by his personal doing.
Trump needs to understand who he is facing in Putin, now and forward.
What every Bully needs is to face an unfearing citizen, willing to fight.
Bullies are, historically, incapable of a fair fight. They run for cover.
Khruschev learned the hard way what it means to face a man who can’t be bullied. Jack Kennedy was, frankly, smarter and tougher than Khruschev. Far tougher, far more willing to brave the risks of a nuclear fight than Russia had deceived itself into believing.
Russia made the mistake of believing its own propaganda. They saw the American President Kennedy as Playboy-in-Chief of a nation of self-focused weaklings incapable of facing hardship for a greater cause. Post-Stalin Russia and the survivors of “The Great Patriotic War” in which 25 million Russians died defeating the Nazi invasion of their country, had created an inner mythology out of their nightmarish winter warfare: only Russians really understood the meaning of sacrifice and hardship.
The real Jack Kennedy they faced was a man who survived in World War II having his patrol boat sawn in half in the middle of the night by a Japanese destroyer, and carrying so many of his wounded crewmen to safety on a nearby island, he permanently injured his back. The Jack Kennedy who surmounted debilitating and exhausting Addison’s Disease, and excruciating surgery, writing a national best-seller while recovering –and continuing to work on his political career despite horrific pain and great personal sorrows like the loss of his brother Joe, his sister Kick, and the lobotomizing of his disturbed sister Rosemary. No lightweight – a man tested by pain and battle. No mere playboy for Khruschev to kick around.
President Trump needs to stand close to Putin, tower over him, and call him an obviously over-bragging leader of a mostly 3rd-world nation trying to be great in all the wrong ways. President Reagan said it well: ‘The West in not perfect: but we have never had to build a wall to keep our citizens inside.” The West is great because of freedom, not because we Dioxin-poison everyone who disagrees with us. That is the way of cowards who know they have no ideas of real value to offer.” Then walk away. Just walk away.
Vladimir Putin is the Adolf Hitler of a 2nd-rate Russia wanting desperately to return to the days of Yuri Gagarin and the pre-Cuban Missile Crisis presence Mother Russia was around the world, causing all nations to tremble. They long for that gravitas, even as Islamist fundamentalists long for the era of the caliphs and the expansions into Iberia and North Africa and everywhere Muslim armies marched and conquered. (They too, could not make their case for their ideas, so they too, used violence in place of cogent reason.)
Two US Presidents deeply dented Russia’s self-image into emotional and mental derangement:
President Kennedy faced-down Nikita Khruschev, a Soviet leader whose eldest son was older than the American President; and later, President Reagan spent the USSR into national economic collapse with his Star Wars missile shield program, his arms build up, and his space-race advancements. So – The Soviet “Bully” was faced-down in a real fight, and slinked away; and then, was openly given a beat-down in the schoolyard so to speak: the whole world watched the USSR forced to admit, in the words of their former Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev “The system we have been advancing for the last seventy years does not work.”
The flags say it all.
The flag of the Soviet Union was a statement of ideology.
The flag Russia adopted in 1991 after the erasure of the USSR, is a replay of what was supposedly the first “national” flag of Russia from 1668, and the flag used by the Russian “Tsar” (King), minus the royal insignia in the center.
Russia is now a “great” nation with a “great” leader – seeking to enfranchise itself with the “greatness” it “deserves” because of its “greatness.” If Putin could get away with it, I believe he would put his face in the center of the current Russian flag.
Aryan Supremacy was the fundamental belief that drove the German armies across the world.
The Aryans had a leader with an ego larger than the world could feed, a sense of entitled destiny.
Vladimir Putin is a bully who needs to be faced down in private, and told by the American President who physically towers over him: “You are a short thug running an impoverished and failing 3rd world nation behind a thin 1st world mask. The only thing ‘1st world’ about Russia is its nuclear weaponry: and barely. I am a man who has created personal wealth and earned social prestige unimaginable by you, and I represent a nation that out-earns, out thinks, and outdoes you and yours in everything. Do not further test us, or I will do a Kennedy-Khruschev dance on your head in public that will take you out of power.” Then, walk out, smile for the cameras, and say, “We had a great meeting: it went exactly as the United States of America wanted.” And let Putin in public seem like a mighty genius. Putin needs that.
Like Kim Jung Il, Putin’s main concern is remaining President Putin.
Make that branch creak underneath him: he will not risk his power and privileges for ideals.
He is not a champion of ideals.
RECOGNIZING THE SEARCH FOR GREATNESS IN DISGUISE
The terrorists who flew the jets into the World Trade Center did not do so for God: they longed to see their people and their nations be great again. Religion merely served as the fuel and the excuse to be aggressors. What the militant Islamists want is for Islam to be exalted and Westernism to be humbled by their efforts in a way that shows Allah is “for” them, and their domination of the world. They will settle for nothing that puts Islam in other than the chair of human governmental and philosophical primacy – which naturally would mean, Arab supremacy.
Russia wants to be great again.
Its leader and people are heading down the old, wrong road that leads again to public humiliation after passing through misery and murder of millions. Hopefully, Russians will at SOME point – LEARN the lessons of history, like the Islamists who are trying to make Islam great by killing everyone who doesn’t accept their regressionist and repressionist agenda.
Like Khruschev with Kennedy in 1963, perhaps Putin will be awakened at some point. by something that does not go his way, and untie the knots of war he has been tightening. Even “Devil Anse” Hatfield came to understand there was no point to his multigenerational feud with the McCoy clan, and unilaterally declared cessation of hostilities from his side. Former Soviet Premiere Mikhail Gorbachev had the courage to look at the system he inherited and say aloud, “This is not working. We need ‘perestroika‘ (reconstruction).” He turned his nation from defending a failed system to exploring a renovated and adjusted one.
Perhaps President Trump will be sobered and opened to better advice by being humiliated this way in the open. Perhaps, in the days to come, he will stare into the White House hallway mirror in the residence and say to the reflection, “You got creamed in Helsinki. Time for Round Two – and it’s going to go differently the rest of the match.”
Jack Kennedy was seen by many in the world as a kind of Donald Trump figure in 1961. A rich, spoiled kid who got everything handed to him, for whom life had been far too easy. They got Kennedy wrong in 1961. We can hope, some of what we are thinking of President Trump today, if not wrong, is at least within reach of remedy. President Kennedy learned from his first experience with Khruschev, and never made the same mistakes again.
Nothing in the world of boxing teaches you to “keep your left up” like getting hit by the other guy’s right hook, and finding yourself staring at the ceiling lights.
Bruce L. Cohen
16 July 2018