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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Russian Foriegn Minister Lashes Out At United States

Link: Russian Foreign Minister Insults United States

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issued a scathing condemnation of the United States during an address to the United Nations on Saturday.  Out of curiosity, I searched through a handful of Russian speeches delivered from the United Nations podium in recent years, and I had trouble finding anything as offensive and disingenuous as Lavrov's remarks on Saturday.  For those of you who missed the address, here is an example: "Military interference has become a norm (for the United States), even despite the dismal outcome of all power operations that the U.S. has carried out in recent years".  Lavrov went on to claim that the United States was unable to change its "Cold War genetic code", and that the U.S. and the European Union were trying to pull Ukraine out of its "organic role as a binding bloc between" east and west.  I think that Minister Lavrov's comments provide a great opportunity to examine Russia's internal and external evolution over the last decade.

Vladimir Putin was first elected President of Russia in 2000 and was re-elected in 2004.  In 2008, Putin was unable to run for a third term because of electoral term limits.  Putin lackey Dmitry Medvedev won the Presidential election in 2008, and in 2011 passed a law extending the Presidential term of office to six years.  Then, in 2012, Putin ran for President again (in a move that many Russians felt was against the spirit of Russia's electoral laws) and currently is enjoying a six-year term in office.  After his second six-year term, he can arrange another "Medvedev" to keep the seat warm.  Heck, Its possible that Putin may end term limits all together.  Who in Russia would oppose him?  Does anyone doubt who will be President of Russia "for life"? 

Since the fall of communism, Russia has been poisoned by the presence of corruption in just about every avenue of civil administration.  Its a unique, organized, very "Russian" type of corruption. 
Transparency International ranks Russia 127th in its 2013 published Corruptions Perception Index.  The problem has really taken off since Putin came to power.  According to Sergei Ivanov, the Kremlin Chief of Staff, the most corrupt spheres in Russia are healthcare, education, social security services, and housing and communal services.  At the government level, however, the top five areas of corruption are government contracts, issues of permits and certificates ("comrade, your driver's license will be processed much quicker with a donation of a few extra Rubles"), law enforcement, land distribution and construction.  Recently it appears that corruption and bribery in Russia have become a business.  At one time, the press targeted corruption and certain high-profile cases outraged the average Russian.  Since Putin has in been in office, though, the outrage has all but disappeared.  According to Wikipedia, corruption under Putin has been "remarkable for its ubiquitous and open merging of the civil service and business, as well as its use of relative, friends and acquaintances to benefit from government expenditure and take over state property".

A quick review of Russian foreign policy and diplomacy leaves me wondering where the commies left of and where the "new Russia" took over.  Why is it that a look behind the curtain of every despot and dictator around the planet usually unveils either Russia, China, or both?  I seem to recall a time in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the United States went through a cathartic admission of our roles in supporting regimes like Pinochet in Chile and Marcos in the Philippines.  How is it that the world (the United Nations to be precise) has not demanded the same "coming clean" from Moscow?  Its fascinating that Russia, after all this time, still supports that ass-boil Assad in Syria, and the failed-state poster child Cuba.  Actually, according to some Democrats, the suffering in Cuba is the fault of the American people for our decision not to economically interact with a repressive, socialist government, but I digress.  While the rest of the world does its best to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons, the Russians could give a damn about international security and openly assist Iran in constructing a nuclear reactor.  By the way, did Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demand that the Russians cease their support of Iran's nuclear ambitions before signing the New Start arms reduction treaty?  Of course not.  As balanced politically as I try to be, I can't help but come to the conclusion that Hillary Clinton was probably the worst Secretary of State in my lifetime, but she sure manages to get a pass.  Always.

One morning Putin woke up and decided that the Black Sea needed to revert back to its "Cold War status" as a Russian Lake, so he invaded Crimea.  In one fell swoop, the Ukrainian Navy, which was born with such negotiated effort between Russia and Ukraine (you may remember the debate regarding "who gets what" from the Soviet Black Sea Squadron), ceased to exist.  Because the leaders of the western nations have been running around perfecting their Neville Chamberlain impressions (what I wouldn't give to see someone show up at an Obama/Merkel news conference wearing a Neville Chamberlain mask and holding up a piece of paper!), now Russia has been emboldened to the point of calling guerrillas and murdering thugs "freedom fighters" and "ethnic Russian patriots".  Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian Army to surreptitiously arm the separatists in Eastern Ukraine and they shot down a civilian airliner, killing everyone on board.  I hold Putin personally responsible for the lives of every victim, which is what our government, and the governments of the western nations should have done.  Instead, we decided that another round of sanctions would be enough justice (a temporary ban on vacations in Miami, and no more Oreos or Haribo products in Moscow for the time being).  The events in Ukraine should have come as no surprise; precursors in Chechnya and Georgia were sufficient warning.

I opened up the book on Putin's Russia because the comments of the Russian Foreign Minister were so offensive.  I realize that the world in which we live feels no hesitation to verbally kick us in the teeth.  Our government tries to respond, in its own, polite, diplomatic way.  Thank goodness that there are enough of us out here in social media, to remind the world of Russia and Putin's crimes.  Lavrov may have succeeded in distracting the international community for a fleeting moment, but the difference between the United States and Russia is that we have a healthy Democracy, and in 2016 we will have the opportunity to elect an Administration that is willing to internationally denounce Putin as the murderer he is, and shine a light on his efforts to lift Hitler's mantle.

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