Friday, November 14, 2008

Hero or Villain?

The recent spirited discussion about Russia has died down for a bit, so it’s time to turn up the heat and stir the pot to get the argument going again.

Russia bad. Georgia good. Right?

Also: Israel good.

However, the news article below throws that kind of simplistic moral calculus into a cocked hat.

Israel supplied the UAVs that were used by Georgia to good effect during the recent war in South Ossetia. The Russians took notice, and would like some of these snazzy planes for their own use. Since they can’t make them, they’re going to buy them… from Israel. According to RIA Novosti:

Russia to buy pilotless aircraft from Israel over 3 years — MP

MOSCOW, November 13 (RIA Novosti) — The Russian General Staff has decided to buy unmanned planes from Israel over the next two to three years, a lawmaker in the lower house’s defense committee said Thursday.

Mikhail Musatov quoted General Staff chief Nikolai Makarov as saying: “The General Staff has decided that while we don’t have such drones, over the next two to three years, we will buy them from Israel.”

Musatov said the unmanned reconnaissance planes at issue were those used by Georgia during August offensive on its breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

“These are unmanned reconnaissance planes, which had performed well in Georgia. They were used by Georgia at that time,” he said.

Numerous flights by reconnaissance drones over South Ossetia were reported by Russian peacekeepers before Georgia launched its military offensive against the region on August 8.

Earlier reports said Georgia had acquired a total of 40 drones, worth around $2 million each, from Israel between 2006 and 2008.

Our Israeli correspondent Abu Elvis, who sent us the tip about this story, notes that the German version of the article mentions radio equipment as well:
- - - - - - - - -
Außerdem könne Russland Fernmeldemittel und Funkgeräte im Ausland kaufen, die in Russland nicht gebaut werden, sagte Mussatow. Ihm zufolge gibt es in Russland nur ein Werk, das militärische Funkstationen baut. Doch die ausländische Ausrüstung sei preiswerter als die heimischen Produkte.

Abu Elvis summarizes the German for us:

It says that they don’t have facilities to produce modern communication equipment and that it would be cheaper to buy than to produce.

So who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy in all this sausage-making?

Israel is, as usual, an equal-opportunity weapons vendor. It looks to its own security first, and if a weapons sale doesn’t threaten its security — and selling to Russia or Georgia is no danger to the Jewish state — then the deal can be cut.

It’s time to grow up and look at the world the way it really is. The USSR is gone. Russia is not the same thing as the USSR, because it does not aspire to be a global hegemon. That was what made the USSR different: international Communism had declared its explicit intention to take over the entire world.

The same as Islam, funnily enough.

That’s why it was necessary to mobilize all our resources against the USSR. But Russia is just another less-than-perfect nation. It’s a danger to some countries — citizens of the Baltic republics can be forgiven for being a little nervous right now — but not to others. Israel and the United States are not threatened by Russia, but they were threatened by the USSR.

The governments of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and China are more brutal and despotic than that of Russia, yet we have no problem doing business with them. Russia threatens its neighbors no more than the Chinese threaten Vietnam or Taiwan.

So who’s the good guy? To paraphrase Dave Mason: there’s no good guys, there’s no bad guys, there’s only you and me and we just disagree.

Russia is a country looking after its own interests. Israel is a country looking after its own interests.

If only we could look after our own interests instead of aspiring to remake the world in our own image.

21 comments:

Afonso Henriques said...

"So who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy in all this sausage-making?"

(Rose Revolution) Georgia was the bad guy.

"Russia is a country looking after its own interests. Israel is a country looking after its own interests."

Georgia (sponsored by America) was a country looking after its own little anti Russian empire in the Caucasus.

"Russia threatens its neighbors no more than the Chinese threaten Vietnam or Taiwan."

Great parallel between Taiwan and (Eastern) Ukraine.

"If only we could look after our own interests instead of aspiring to remake the world in our own image."
And remaking you in the image of the world...

Western Initiatives said...

Russia good. Georgia bad. Right? Right.

Also: Israel bad. Right!

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

So, for a little perspective, guess who just took another step toward making himself President for Life. No, not Medvedev. The Duma has voted to extend the president's term from 4 to 6 years and now there's talk of Medvedev possibly stepping down next spring, with Putin to replace him for potentially another 12 years. It wouldn't be a great leap to see more constitutional amendments in that period.

Czechmade said...

Sorry, Baron - the quality of the article is on the level of an improvising commentator.

This and that - stitched together to get a pleasant balanced result.

With poetical signature: Oh if we had someone caring for our national interests...like this one.

Or the cranky way "USSR is not RF".
Of course not, but it means nothing in terms of knowledge. You have to define in what way it is working different or same. Lot of work. And then guess the tendencies.

You simply teach the R. how to play you (or any other Westerner) like a piano. Try to find a person from R. with no loyalty problems and spend one week minimum
in discussion digging in matters you have never heard before.

Anonymous said...

Afonso, could you perhaps enlighten me more about the Rose Revolution? In all honesty I had not heard of it until quite recently and I don't know enough about it to have an opinion on it. You can email me at natcat200 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Homophobic Horse said...

OH NOES NOT ANOTHER RUSSIA THREAD

Afonso Henriques said...

"the quality of the article is on the level of an improvising commentator.
This and that - stitched together to get a pleasant balanced result.
(...)
Or the cranky way "USSR is not RF"."

"OH NOES NOT ANOTHER RUSSIA THREAD"

Come on people, face the reality!
This is a pure NEGATION of reality. Nobody is asking you to become Russians, just to look to the facts in an impartial way.
And notice Czechmade's comment in which he criticises Baron for his simplism. The ironical is that Czechmade himself seems incapable of absorbing critically what Baron said in such a simplistic way.

Natalie, I'll adress you today if I can.

Baron Bodissey said...

Czechmade --

I beg to differ. I am not being "played like a piano". You are projecting onto me some of the qualities exhibited by certain commenters here. I'm neither a Russophile nor a Russophobe, and I keep my eyes open.

I'm a pragmatist, and I don't see Russia as a threat to the United States -- nowhere near as dangerous as, say, China.

Where Russia acts against American interests, it should be opposed. Where it would be a useful ally, we should make a deal with it. Trust but verify. Be aware of what Russia's own interests are.

Russia is not a danger to America, it is a danger to Europe -- but why is that our problem right now? We are widely loathed and despised in Europe, and I think it's time Europe figured out for itself how to deal with Russia. We have our own problems.

The USSR threatened us. Russia, in general, does not. This is not rocket science, but many people seem unable to absorb this fact.

Homophobic Horse said...

In one sentence: That we are even having this conversation about Russia just goes to show how evil and incompetent NATO and EU really are.

NATO uses fascist genocidalist's (of the Croation variety to name one), and Mujahideen to achieve it's objectives.

The EU is in the middle of a slow motion genocide project: EUROMED.

Russia on the other hand doesn't want to kill us. Moreover, it has actually just saved South Ossetians from NATO's latest genocide project, this time with Georgian racist fascists.

Overall? Russia is better for our civilisation than NATO and the EU.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Yeah, another Russia thread!

First off, Russia doesn't have 20-40 million ethnic Russians spread over all major cities of Europe, and it doesn't have an expansionist, subversive ideology to peddle. They actually scrapped theirs (Communism), which is an expression of common sense and human dignity.

Thus, any threat Russia poses is an order of magnitude less than that from Islam, possibly two. I'd tend to insert China between Islam (clear and present, to say the least) and Russia.

Actually, I'm living on the breakout route (Denmark) of the Russian fleet in Kaliningrad, should something dramatic come to pass. I don't think it will.

Russia primarily tends to its own interests, and (unlike China) isn't a mass producer of industrial goods to out-compete our industries. They have a clear understanding that sending army and navy to various exotic places is an expensive hobby, thus they refrain, least it should weaken their country.

The Rose Revolution... It was one of those Soros-sponsored projects where the billionarie thought he could promote democracy in a top-down fashion, without the necessary prerequesites of education and culture to enable the common citizen in the situation.

Thus, you get madmen like Saakashvili to steal the election, then engage in a futile battle with Russia in the vain hope that the West would bail out his misadventures. Doing so would have led us into a potentially catastrophic confrontation with Russia, with little potential gain to the West.

We need to stay focused on our real challenges, not divert our attention by stoking fires elsewhere...

Czechmade said...

Baron, I put it more nicely: you teach them how to play you like a piano. In fact it is a flattering formula, since being intelligent you are much more interesting source to improve their propaganda
theoretically.


There is no need to be russophile or russophobe. And there is also no need to stress it in a way PC parlance would like it to do.

The magnitude of the problem how to follow the Russian mind is an indirect proof they are not European. You all are the proof.

A government i.e. Kremlin (not "Russia" or "Russians") which successfully subjugated its own population cannot have a sound relationship
to anybody else. Grasp it. A powergame being successful in a sad way at home gets projected abroad anticipating more "successes".

You can meet Russians in Prague who are already refugees disgusted how it is right now gone wrong in R. living here without asking for asylum as legal foreigners.

Henrik:

"Thus, any threat Russia poses is an order of magnitude less than that from Islam, possibly two. I'd tend to insert China between Islam (clear and present, to say the least) and Russia."

Yes, but what do you do when they try to orchestrate each other to their imagined advantage? Or just use an unexpected opportunity? They are both patient players.

You will be taken by surprize totally helpless.

Czechmade said...

Because the Westerner cannot grasp it at distance, it works on his mind as a "magic". Some kafkaesque love - attraction for the mysterious object.

Then the intellectual urge to say something which is wrong.

Some traditional Latvian Russians might give you the clue. They dispise the Russian immigrants from Soviet era and are much more accepted/respected by the Latvians...find such guys, they could help you.

Or some Russian Jews in Israel?

Homophobic Horse said...

"Yes, but what do you do when they try to orchestrate each other to their imagined advantage? Or just use an unexpected opportunity? They are both patient players. "

None of this stuff is false. The choice between being cold wet and hungry or dead. Right now NATO, the EU, are engaging in genocide.

Baron Bodissey said...

Czechmade --

I could concede every single one of your points, and yet Russia is still no threat to the United States. Russia is a threat to those who are closest to its borders, and those countries (with the exception of China) are not accustomed to defending themselves against Russia — for the last 63 years that has been the job of the despised cowboy, the good ol’ gun-totin’ swaggerin’ Uncle Sam.

I propose to end this situation.

No more American blood and treasure expended in defense of Europe, unless it is in America’s interests! What could be simpler?

No more bases in Germany to fatten the local economy and give Antifa protesters someplace to march in front of.

No more bombing of Serbia. No more interventions in the Balkans.

Europeans are big boys now. They can figure out their own solutions to the Russian problem.

I repeat my sole point: RUSSIA IS NOT A THREAT TO THE USA.

It may be the baddest meanest despotism on the planet, a wretched hive of scum and villainy, and a mortal danger to Czechia, Latvia, Georgia, and Finland. But it is not a problem for the United States. So why should Americans be the ones to solve it?

And why is this so difficult for people to comprehend?

christian soldier said...

And- where did Israel get the technology to make them...HMM?
Friend or Foe....?!

BTW-glad the 7th Army is easing out of 'defending' Europe!
C-CS

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

Some traditional Latvian Russians might give you the clue. They dispise the Russian immigrants from Soviet era and are much more accepted/respected by the Latvians...find such guys, they could help you.

Indeed, such as the the Old Believers are well integrated and tend to be upstanding members of the community. Interestingly, the soviet era pribaltika immigrants are pretty much despised in Russia proper as well (for no longer being "real" Russians, nigh traitors as it were).

Still, there is some truth in what the the Baron says (not unlike like Pat Buchanan on this subject). Still, if Russia is hellbent on selling advanced weapons technology to renegade states regardless of the consequences, should that notbe a factor?

If there is a mistake to be found the comments above it is not unneccesarily calling China a threat? They have the capabilty to be a peer competitor, but why must that translate automatically to "threat" (compared to Russia which still maintains hundreds of nuclear warheads aimed at the US and Europe?)

Baron Bodissey said...

Fellow Peacekeeper --

You are quite right, but that’s what I mean when I support opposing Russia when it acts against America’s interests. If it (this is a made up example) sold suitcase nukes to North Korea, that is a threat to American interests, and should be dealt with accordingly.

But our response to Russia’s actions — attempting to base a NATO fleet in the Crimea — is so friggin’ stupid that it defies credulity.

As for China — the Chinese are more dangerous because they are much better at the game than the Russians. They almost never overplay their hand — you’d never catch them objecting to a Dutch art show on behalf of Muslims. And they are very, very successful. They had Bill Clinton on a leash that was (presumably) attached to a little ring on his you-know-what.

As opposed to George Bush, who is in thrall to the Saudis.

But the main thing I object to in all this is that discussion about Russia is framed almost exclusively in absolute moral terms. The Russians are bad. You don’t see the same yardstick applied to the Chinese, or the South Africans, or the Libyans.

It’s a hangover from the Cold War, and it seems utterly detached from reality to me.

Félicie said...

Here is my somewhat facetious prediction about what will happen in the next 4 years. Obama will approach Iran and yria with an offer of peaceful cooperation. This will greatly irritate Russia, because they will lose their trump card in thei confrontation with the U.S. To spite the U.S. and to retain their foothold in the Middle East, they will initiate a rapprochement with Israel (also for the reasons of technological cooperation, just as this article suggests). Israel will agree, because they want a strong ally, and the U.S., under the leadership of Obama, will no longer have any use for them. So in 4 years time, we will see a new configuration: The U.S. with the Arab countries, and Russia supporting Israel. Ha. Israel was already once a friend of the Soviet Union - at the very beginning, when it was formed.

Czechmade said...

Baron, you are right describing the step one. America was overengaged for decades and dispised for everything.
In the shadow of US more visible engagements the French, Germans, Swiss, Icelanders (Russian gov. money saving Russian black money in Iceland NOW!) Austrians, Russians could do nasty jobs without any notable critique or opposition. But changing the policy suddenly (sort of feeling insulted and betrayed love affair?) would have disasterous consequences as well. Step one is very logical, but what about chain reactions? These are definitely a threat to you.

You withdraw your forces from Germany and South Korea to some extent unknown in fact.

The Europeans cancelled their military programs stressing their peaceful nature just selling weapons everywhere, relying cunningly on US. Changing this mindset is necessary but would not happen overnight.

The Russians being bad is a lesser problem to the problem of not being free...and they are traditionally confortable with trading freedom for power. You can call it pride but it is a slavery. I can love or admire a Russian xy, but he has no influence on his political class.

On a mini scale you can study the same behaviour: We had a Czech hospital in Basra and people protested against it, when we decided to leave people gathered and protested against our closing the hospital.

So say loudly you withdraw and see the reaction. It can be very interesting. By declaring so you can for free start changing the climate in many countries. Step two is more sofisticated - work with the transition which can be shaped in thousand different ways!

The problem right now is that it would not be attributed to the rational decision making but to the ideologiacal beauty and stupidity of one Obama who would declare US weak and friend of all. Maybe he starts making a Russian style policy - being unpredictable. Stating each time something different, enjoying the waves running through the world.

Baron Bodissey said...

Czechmade --

I disagree that Russians are less free than Europeans. They may be less free than the Czechs or the Poles, but look what's happening in Belgium and the Netherlands. Russia is a beacon of liberty in comparison.

Czechmade said...

Baron, this point you put in two lines should be worked on in size of a book. I am afraid we would not manage with a single scale of less or more.

1989 I visited a Czech protest songster in Munich (number one in promoting our dignity) proposing to create a science dealing with freedom. It would be called eleutheriology.

An anthology of quotes about freedom would be necessary for a starter.

What you mean - the worst thing is not to be free without knowing that. The Russians are not free and know that. Being not free it is essential to generate a desire to get free. It is then often a matter of a rational judgment what would be the price of getting free. If the price appears too high one turns away from that idea and suffers mental death.

Possibly we gather strength or die slowly.

The Russians know very well they do not have the discipline to maintain their freedom. They cannot run one institution safeguarding their freedom. The Westerners have so much discipline that the freedom gets lost in the process of maintaining the discipline. They create and generate thousands of institutions with the idea of promoting freedom or human rights, but loose the idea of freedom in the process. Whenever the freedom is in contradiction with business they keep silent. The idea of freedom becomes suddenly a cheap one.

The Dutch are unfortunately great businessmen and very disciplined.
In the long term they miss the point.

In your case you get tormented by countless Western ministicks compared to the fewer Russian megasticks.

But the traditional idea of freedom is with us - not with the Russians.

Read the story of Tarkowski and others who left Soviet Russia. They had more troubles integrating in the West than in a Russian camp jail. They missed something we do not provide? They could not receive what we provide? Good examples of not being really European.