Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wishing Upon a Czar

Thanks to Fausta for bringing it to our attention that Time magazine has named Vladimir Putin their “Man of the Year”.

When I looked at the story on Time’s website, I thought at first it must be some kind of satire, like the Onion version of the “Man of the Year”.

Putin as a cadaverFirst there’s the photo of Vlad looking like an ineptly-sculpted dummy at Madame Tussaud’s. Or is he auditioning for the part of the corpse in an Agatha Christie production? In any case, his cadaverous appearance makes it look like he was propped up in a chair in the funeral parlor for family viewing night.

Then there’s the title of the story: “A Tsar is Born”. Great gag! Wish I’d thought of that one.

And the prose in the story itself — surely this is deadpan satire at its finest…?

No one is born with a stare like Vladimir Putin’s. The Russian President’s pale blue eyes are so cool, so devoid of emotion that the stare must have begun as an affect, the gesture of someone who understood that power might be achieved by the suppression of ordinary needs, like blinking. The affect is now seamless, which makes talking to the Russian President not just exhausting but often chilling. It’s a gaze that says, I’m in charge.

There’s something about an American opinion magazine that loves a Russian despot. ’Twas ever thus.

When you arrive at the dacha’s faux-neoclassical gate, you have to leave your car and hop into one of the Kremlin’s vehicles that slowly wind their way through a silent forest of snow-tipped firs. Aides warn you not to stray, lest you tempt the snipers positioned in the shadows around the compound…
- - - - - - - - -
Vladimir Putin gives a first impression of contained power: he is compact and moves stiffly but efficiently. He is fit, thanks to years spent honing his black-belt judo skills and, these days, early-morning swims of an hour or more… The successor to the boozy and ultimately tragic Boris Yeltsin, Putin is temperate, sipping his wine only when the protocol of toasts and greetings requires it; mostly he just twirls the Montrachet in his glass. He eats little, though he twitchily picks the crusts off the bread rolls on his plate.

Whatever happened to the suave, jazz-loving, sportscar-driving men of the world featured in Time puff-pieces during the Soviet years?

Now we have to settle for steely-eyed twitchy KGB veterans. Well, as long as they’re Russian autocrats, we still love ’em.

Here’s how the AP summarizes Vlad the Twitchy’s moment in the media sun:

The nod went to the Russian leader because of Putin’s “extraordinary feat of leadership in taking a country that was in chaos and bringing it stability,” said Richard Stengel, Time’s managing editor.

Ah, stability. The perennial favorite of the diplomat class. Was James Baker on the selection committee at Time?

As Fausta points out, Cuba is nice and stable. So is North Korea. How come Fidel and Kim Jong-il were left standing at the church door?

Putin probably makes the trains run on time, too. Was Mussolini “Man of the Year” in 1923?


Mystery Meat said...

Mussolini never made it. The first designee was in 1927 (Charles Lindbergh). But, Putin is in good company, with Hitler in 1938 and Stalin in 1939.

addamstaft said...

OK, I’m slow. This comment is about Fjordman’s post: “Is Ethnicity Irrelevant in the USA?” These three minorities are very different. You almost have to feel sorry for Blacks. Liberals have tricked them out of a bright future. Also feel sorry for Latinos, second class non-citizens (illegal aliens = criminals). If they succeed in becoming citizens, they will destroy the culture they seek, as you say. Perhaps the future of America is Asian.
This post fits well with your post “Another American Century or Another American Civil War”. In that post you urge Americans to go back to their earlier beliefs. I think it is interesting that the same could be said for Europe, though you are non-religious. Why don’t you go back to Christianity? That’s a trick question. No one can effectively become a Christian for cultural reasons. As you have said, Jesus’ disciples now live mainly in China, Africa, and South America. To be a disciple of Jesus one must put Jesus above one’s country, culture, even family and life itself. I am sad to see Europe and American lose their faith, but delighted for the new Christians elsewhere.
Speaking of Christianity, Greek culture and Christianity are often considered the foundations of Western civilization; I’d like to see you compare the relative contributions of Christianity and Greek culture to Western civilization. Perhaps you already have. Here’s an interesting (and controversial) comparison regarding the soul:
Perhaps China will eventually become Christian enough to defend the world from the errors of Islam.

eatyourbeans said...

Think you're drinking the enemy's kool aid here, Baron B.

A broke and broken Russia was a very bad thing in our "very long war". A great, proud, Orthodox Russia is wonderful news, and it's thanks to Putin. For very different reasons than Time Magazine's, I think he deserves the honor.

Again, from my keyboard to God's eyes, what a morale booster for the movement if Russia were to rescue Serbia from the EU/US/KLA muggers.

Baron Bodissey said...

Eatyourbeans --

You're drinking your own Koolaid.

Read the post again and see if you can get my point. It's about the relexive adulation that the American press has for Russian autocrats. Plus it mocks Putin for being a bit bizarre. I do find him bizarre -- what about those beefcake fishing trip photos, for example?

You won't convince me that he's not an autocrat -- all the evidence points to it, and not just from the MSM.

But this is not about whether he's good for Russia. That's a separate issue, and one I'm not qualified to judge. Perhaps a patriotic autocrat is exactly what Russia requires right now.

davidhamilton said...

Maybe Putin looks funny in the photo 'cause he's been smoking weed. Could it be that he's Vlad the Inhaler?

Henrik R Clausen said...

Well, in these Gore-times where bad conscience is the order of the day, even for breathing out CO2 personally, I guess the chances of seeing someone sporting a Ferrari are pretty slim...

That said, I think Putin is a great choice. He has achieved a lot, including this 'stability', and is still focusing on benefiting one country: Russia. People see that, and he has an approval rating of some 70 %, which is somewhere around the disapproval rating of Bush.

Stability is nothing to snuff at. It's no wonder that Western politicians use exactly that word as an excuse for doing stupid things - it makes them look like they actually considered the problem of stability. But what they are doing is, in reality, appeasement. That just doesn't work as well to excuse what they do.

Putin thinks in term of stability, and he means it. That's also good for the economy, as companies can have confidence that Putin will defend the interests of Russia. In Chechnia, he showed that separatist movements will NOT be tolerated. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. Noone is trying to carve out states from Russia any longer...

We just saw how 7 *billion* dollars are headed towards Palestine. For what? Russia cleverly contributed only a token $ 10 million, in spite of its economy being tops. They preserve their resources. Our governments squanders them.

Russia upholds international law. That is rare and precious. Would we expect EU to do this? Arab-dominated United Nations? USA with all their geopolitical interests and complex interferences east and west?

Putin has suspended political freedom and the free press quite effectively - true. But interestingly he does not dismantle the democratic institutions in Russia, which he could.

I think a lot of the criticism being thrown at Russia serves to divert attention from the serious mistakes made by the Western governments. Kosovo anyone?

The world is not as black/white as it used to, and I think everyone here will agree that Western governments are making many grave mistakes.

I think Putin is a good choice. Interesting & controversial, too.

Cobra said...

Putin is good for Russia and Russians, very, very, very bad for Russia's neighbours.

eatyourbeans said...


Fair enough. But the last sentence in the final paragraph of your reply is where the real story is. And that, I am coming to believe and accept, will be good for our poor old lost and misled West too.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Russia would be no problem for its neighbours if their (well, that's "our") leaders had even half the spine that Putin has.

For the record, I'm not suggesting that trading our liberties for the neo-Russian system would be good. Of course not :)

BTW, it was just found that the Russian Revolution was funded by Imperial Germany. It had nothing to do with "frustrated working class" and all that drivel, and the nascent Soviet Union would have collapsed if it wasn't for extensive economical and practical (propaganda material, guns, ammo) support from Germany.

It's in the latest two issues of Spiegel.

Cobra said...

It was much more than German money regarding the 1917 revolution in Russia.
i do not know what is your intent, but it is misleading at best...

Vasarahammer said...

"But this is not about whether he's good for Russia. That's a separate issue, and one I'm not qualified to judge. Perhaps a patriotic autocrat is exactly what Russia requires right now."

The problem with Russia is not Putin, but the fact that reliance on a strong leader makes Russia unstable in the long run. And because of this inherent instability Russia will remain a significant danger to its neighbors.

Overall, despite the one-sided media and autocratic measures, Putin is genuinely popular among Russians and would probably win in a free election. The only semi-serious opposition he has are the Communists and they would not be much better than him. In fact, they would be even worse.

In all honesty, Yelzin would probably have lost his last presidential election, if we had not had the support of the oligarchs who had robbed most of Russia's national wealth. Without the oligarchs' support Gennadi Zhyuganov would have become president.

Putin has stripped disloyal oligarch from their assets or driven them in exile. Those who are left are completely loyal to Putin and dependent on him. He maintains control of the media and the security forces and continues to bully the remaining opposition.

However, Russia today is considerably more free and affluent than in the Soviet days. The problems that remain are corruption, autocracy and demographic decline.

Henrik R Clausen said...

"It was much more than German money regarding the 1917 revolution in Russia."

Possibly. These things are usually hopelessly complicated...

"I do not know what is your intent, but it is misleading at best..."

I dunno what's misleading about it. I just quoted Spiegel for stating that Lenin and the early Bolchevics were on Imperialist Germany's payroll to instigate the revolution.

This also delegitimizes the modern Communist party, that their founder was not some idealistic workers heroes, but a paid agent for a foreign country meaning to damage Russia.

Actually, I don't mean to lead anyone anywhere on this. I just find it bloody intersting :)

Cobra said...

Please do a search on the following subjects (at least) to see that the German impulse was relatively minor...

Warburgs and Jacob Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb & Co.

Leon Trotsky (Lev Bronstein)-the Red Army chief

Yakov Sverdlov (Solomon)-the Bolshevik party executive secretary and head of the soviet government

Grigori Zinoviev (Radomyslsky)-head of Comintern(central agency for the spread of the "revolution" in foreign countries)

Maxim Litvinov (Wallach)-foreign afair commisar

Lev Kamenev (Rosenfeld)

Paul said...

Speaking of bloody interesting, write-ups like this one on Putin, along with the engaging comments, is what makes this blog a worthwhile read.

Loved that comment about Putin smoking weed before the photo shoot.

Whenever news clips show Putin together with American officials, I get the impression Putin must think Americans are complete idiots. It's usually looks like Putin is doing all he can to, either keep from bursting out laughing in the American's faces, or he's pinching himself to keep from saying what he really thinks about American diplomatic and policy IQ.

I not happy about these observations, mind you.

Flanders Fields said...

It is a shame that the leader of the formerly communist nation is more deserving of praise than many of our American leaders. It doesn't feel right that I actually agree with the tone of a Time article.

I do wonder why Time and the rest of our media missed their chance to tell about another leader who was most proud to be the youngest American ever to address the politiburo of the Supreme Soviet. Talbott's old friend, Clinton, from that time period (Viet Nam, while both ostensibly attended Oxford)certainly would have told him about it. Clinton would have been in his element during those days, but I never heard a mention of it while he was running or in office.

Now, if we only had politicians whom we could trust to attend to AMERICAN vital interests, and a free and unbeholden press to report on important and vital matters, then WE might be able to regain some pride in OUR country.

Henrik R Clausen said...

Cobra, I'm quoting brand new research here - 'new' as in "published last week".

New archives have been opened, researchers have been digging in and connecting the dots of money transfers, printed matter, guns & people. The conclusions are new, turning upside down that Germany's involvment was benign.

Der Spiegel (which is no Sun rag) is on record with many details and two clear conclusions:

- Without German support, the Russian Revolution, in particular the Bolchevik part, would not have taken place.

- Without German support through 1918, the Bolchevik regime would have collapsed.

Now I have only a write-up from a Danish newspaper, not the two Spiegel articles, but the details presented look solid. I'll want to read more about it when possible.

And, I think it's time to bury Lenin properly.

PRCalDude said...

I'll say this for him, he seems to actually love his country and its people. You don't see him flooding it with millions of illegal immigrants (at least not on purpose) and denigrating the heritage of Russians.

eatyourbeans said...



Ed Mahmoud said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ed Mahmoud said...

The former KGB man doesn't seem to have much regard for democracy. I have a funny feeling anyone who rose to the top in the old Soviet Union has much use for religion, so anyone with ideas about Putin restoring the glory of the Russian Orthodox Church- I don't think so.

And his mission to ensure Iran gets nuclear weapons by shielding them from sanctions, and selling them uranium and equipment, while maybe smart in the short term, if hatred of the United States is his prime motivator, runs some serious risks in the long run.

Cincinnatus said...

Not the first Putin. There was Ras-putin.

History Snark said...

Forgive my ignorance, but how is it news that Russia supported the Russian Revolution? Sending a troublemaker into a country with which you are at war seems to be a pretty obvious ploy. And that fact has been known since 1917.

As for Putin, I said when the USSR collapsed that Russia would have trouble. After all, by my estimate, since "Russia" came into existence in the 9th or 10th century, I've only heard of a few months of democracy, at least until the late 1980s.

Not exactly a solid base, and I also opined that very few Russians would know real democracy if it kicked them in the butt.

Homophobic Horse said...

A day dream of mine - A military confrontation between EU and Russia

2010 March 2: Russia sends forces into Serbia to guarantee Serbian sovereignty

2010 March 5: EU sends the "European Rapid Reaction Force"

2010 March 8: EU loses the war in what is described as "a first round knock out"

2010 March 15: EU analysts identify the cause of the defeat in the lack of manpower for the EU rapid reaction force owing to the low regard EU citizens have towards the EU. It is said that "European citizens will not fight for something they don't love". EU analysts decide European citizens must be made to love the EU

2010 April 2: EU cult begins in earnest following the seizure of the press. The first concentration camps are set up GoV readers and the like.

Henrik R Clausen said...

"Forgive my ignorance, but how is it news that Russia supported the Russian Revolution?"

The news is that Russia didn't. It was a completely foreign affair. I had thought until now that some real public support was behind Lenin and the Bolcheviks in the early days. There wasn't, and that's news.

While Imperial Germany went down the drain fast, the disaster happening to Russia took a different course after this. One positive side effect is that the Russians can now blame some foreign power for the disasters, bury Lening properly, and move on.

Apart from being interesting I think it's good news also, that Communism wasn't a self-imposed disaster.

Ypp said...

What you guys are missing is the difference between the ideology and the form of the government. As far as I understand, all complaints are about the "tyranical" nature of Putin's Russia. But Putin himself is not a tyrant, he is just a modern man. Even Stalin wasn't a tyrant, he signed all decisions together with other members of Politbeurau. Stalin was a comunist, like Clinton, and Putin is a capitalist, like Bush. What makes them seem similar in western eyes is the real wish of the Russian people to have a tsar. Americans prefer to think that there are some "bad guys" who oppress good peoples. But that is not true, at least not with Russians. Russians try to make a tsar of every governer, be he a communist or capitalist or an alien from Mars.

And finally, are we here standing for "egalite, fraternite, liberte" or for West against jihad?

Sodra Djavul said...

Baron, could you at some point post a thread about the upcoming Presidential primary?

I'm terribly confused at the moment. I don't like any of the Democratic candidates. On the Republican side, Tancredo is bowing out, Thompson never got there, Giuliani seems a bit canned and too attached to urban values, and Huckabee is far too soft on terrorism. In fact, I just went over to Ron Paul's site, someone I initially dismissed as a nut, and I must admit that on the issues he's starting to make a lot of sense. I'm not sure I'm ready to vote for him yet, but my opinion of him is growing.

I'd like to get input from other GoV readers.

- Sodra

Henrik R Clausen said...

Crap. After praising Putin, he comes out with "Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam" :(

MeThinks I'll praise Santa Claus next time instead...

Henrik R Clausen said...

Spencer has something to say about the presidential candidates:

I think he'll vote for Santa, too...

History Snark said...

Doh! I really need to proofread more carefully, especially when I'm tired. What I meant to write was "How is it news that *Germany* supported the Russian Revolution?"