Why Russia is no friend of America


(Originally posted on AT)

G. Murphy Donovan argued earlier this year on AT that Russia is such a great partner of the United States that it could be admitted to NATO. To back his assertion up, he provided a number of “reasons”, including Harley Davidson motorbikes, Russian women and such.

One of the commenters, Dean from Ohio, dubbed this

“This is the nuttiest assertion I have ever read on AT. The Russians have never been a free people, and have no conception of it. Their polity has been tyranny for 980 years of the last 1,000. (…) Russia and China are strategic adversaries.”

Donovan argues that Russia, with a balanced budget, very low public debt, and huge reserves of oil and natural gas, is a rich uncle the US could use. Does he really want the US to be dependent on Russia for loans and fossil fuels? Isn’t America already exposed as it is beholden to the OPEC cartel and to China and Japan? He wants the US to be dependent on Russia for both money and fossil fuels?

(The US wouldn’t need to borrow money nor import oil from anyone if it radically reduced domestic federal spending and opened its vast fossil fuel reserves to drillers, but that’s another story.)

The Russian economy is a colossus with feet of clay; it is more dependent on revenue from oil and NG than it was during the 1990s or than the Soviet economy was during the Cold War. Ditto the Russian federal budget, which is based on the assumption that oil costs no less than 60 USD per barrel.

Donovan has suggested that female Russians should be admitted to the West visa-free and duty-free. Apparently, he hasn’t heard that the Kremlin uses Russian ladies as spies-seducers. (Western men, beware.) Anna Kushchenko (Chapman) is the best known example.

While praising Russian women, he has slandered their American and Western European counterparts:

“Most female athletes in Europe and America look like East German weightlifters or Madeline Albright.  Russian girls, on the other hand, have changed the viewing habits of millions worldwide.”

Perhaps he has never seen Katie Hoff, Natalie Coughlin or Janet Evans. Nor has he seen any of the beauties presented every year during Miss USA competitions. Another American beauty queen, Alexandria Mills, is the current Miss World. And besides them, there are legions of other beautiful women in the US. If Donovan hasn’t seen them, that means he hasn’t looked for them.

Why would he slander is female compatriots is a mystery.

Of course, which country has beautiful women is irrelevant to foreign policy. Donovan argues that because the US and Russia have pretty much “cornered the megaton market”, a „nuclear-near-monopoly” should be created by admitting Russia into NATO.  Problem is that, as has been documented on AT mutiple times, Russia is an opponent, not ally, of the US, and is actively working to harm the US in many ways. This is because Russia’s current rulers, most of whom are KGB thugs like Vladimir Putin and Sergei Ivanov, believe that whatever is bad for the US is good for Russia.

It has been selling weapons (including missiles, fighterplanes, SAMs and Kalashnikov rifles) to America’s enemies, including Iran, Venezuela, and Syria, and shielding them (as well as North Korea) from serious UNSC sanctions. It has been selling tons of weapons to Communist China, the biggest threat the US is facing right now. It still backs the regimes of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, thus maintaining anti-American outposts in the USA’s backyard. A real friend doesn’t behave like that. And its own defense doctrine presents NATO as Russia’s principal enemy.

Donovan asserts that “grand ideas like capitalism and democracy (of a sort) are thriving in Russia — in Western Europe, not so much.” This is utter gibberish. Russia’s current economic system is statist, government-directed pseudocapitalism similar to that maintained by European countries. Important economic decisions are made by Putin himself, not by entrepreneurs. Privately-owned corporations are forced to operate under vast, unclear, selectively-enforced regulations and a biased, corrupt judiciary. State-owned corporations are managed directly by Putin himself, and by meddling with them, he has worsened their financial situation. Gazprom, for example, has a 50 bn debt, equal to one year’s turnover of that company. Most of the managers of state-owned enterprises are Putin’s cronies and their sons, as reported by Boris Nemtsov.

Donovan furthermore wrote, “Today, America has more in common with Russia than it does with many nations in Europe.” Unless he meant Eastern European countries, with which the US indeed has little in common, he’s wrong.

America is a libertarian democracy which guarantees individual liberties to a greater degree than any country in the world. Russia is an authoritarian thugocracy run by Vladimir Putin, with every civil liberty listed by the Russian constitution only tolerated by him to the extend it doesn’t inhibit him from ruling the country. Dissenters are jailed (like Boris Nemtsov) or assassinated (like Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko). The US is a federal republic where most prerogatives are reserved to the states and the people, and they have the means to defend their rights in federal courts. Russia is a federation only on paper; most of its federal subjects (oblasts, federal cities and krais) are ruled directly from the Kremlin, and Putin meddles with Russian republics. In some, though (e.g. Chechnya and Ingushetia), neither the Russian law nor the Russian government rule.

In the US, all people are equal regardless of ethnic origin or religion. In Russia, the Kremlin-backed Nashi thugs are persecuting ethnic minorities under the “Russia for Russians” slogan.

In the US, the people are the superiors of the government, which is subservient to them. The Tea Party movement has shown this by engineering the biggest GOP House election victory in many decades. As Ronald Reagan said,”We are a nation that has a government, not the other way around.”

In Russia, the government is the superior of the people and owns them. It can order them to do anything and confiscate anything from them.

The US was founded on the basis of, and because of, the belief that all humans are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that governments should be derived only from the consent of the people. America has always been a Democratic Republic, whereas for all of its history except the 1990s, Russia has been an authoritarian or totalitarian state, whether under the Tsars, the Bolsheviks, or now under Putin.

Say what you want to say about America’s Western European partners, but most of them still believe in the same ideals Americans believe in: democracy, human rights, and political pluralism.

That does not mean that Russia can never be America’s friend or even ally. During the War of 1812, Russia helped mediate the Treaty of Ghent, which ended that war. During the Civil War, as Oliver W. Holmes wrote, “Russia was America’s friend even when the world was our enemy”, and refused to recognize the Confederacy while Britain and France planned to recognize it as an independent state. During WW2, the US and the Soviet Union were allies (albeit only for pragmatic reasons). And Russia was quite friendly towards the US during the 1990s, albeit chiefly because it was weak.

Nonetheless, a Russia governed by men like Putin and Ivanov, with an anti-American foreign policy, cannot be a partner, let alone an ally, of the US. If, and only if, the Putin regime collapses someday and is replaced by a pro-American government, a Russo-American alliance can be formed. 

G. Murphy Donovan recently argued on AT that Russia is such a great partner of the United States that it could be admitted to NATO. To back his assertion up, he provided a number of “reasons”, including Harley Davidson motorbikes, Russian women and such.

One of the commenters, Dean from Ohio, dubbed this

This is the nuttiest assertion I have ever read on AT. The Russians have never been a free people, and have no conception of it. Their polity has been tyranny for 980 years of the last 1,000. (…) Russia and China are strategic adversaries.”

 

Donovan argues that Russia, with a balanced budget, very low public debt, and huge reserves of oil and natural gas, is a rich uncle the US could use. Does he really want the US to be dependent on Russia for loans and fossil fuels? Isn’t America already exposed as it is beholden to the OPEC cartel and to China and Japan? He wants the US to be dependent on Russia for both money and fossil fuels?

 

(The US wouldn’t need to borrow money nor import oil from anyone if it radically reduced domestic federal spending and opened its vast fossil fuel reserves to drillers, but that’s another story.)

 

The Russian economy is a colossus with feet of clay; it is more dependent on revenue from oil and NG than it was during the 1990s or than the Soviet economy was during the Cold War. Ditto the Russian federal budget, which is based on the assumption that oil costs no less than 60 USD per barrel.

 

Donovan has suggested that female Russians should be admitted to the West visa-free and duty-free. Apparently, he hasn’t heard that the Kremlin uses Russian ladies as spies-seducers. (Western men, beware.) Anna Kushchenko (Chapman) is the best known example.

 

While praising Russian women, he has slandered their American and Western European counterparts:

 

Most female athletes in Europe and America look like East German weightlifters or Madeline Albright.  Russian girls, on the other hand, have changed the viewing habits of millions worldwide.”

 

Perhaps he has never seen Katie Hoff, Natalie Coughlin or Janet Evans. Nor has he seen any of the beauties presented every year during Miss USA competitions. Another American beauty queen, Alexandria Mills, is the current Miss World. And besides them, there are legions of other beautiful women in the US. If Donovan hasn’t seen them, that means he hasn’t looked for them.

 

Why would he slander is female compatriots is a mystery.

 

Of course, which country has beautiful women is irrelevant to foreign policy. Donovan argues that because the US and Russia have pretty much “cornered the megaton market”, a „nuclear-near-monopoly” should be created by admitting Russia into NATO.  Problem is that, as has been documented on AT mutiple times, Russia is an opponent, not ally, of the US, and is actively working to harm the US in many ways. This is because Russia’s current rulers, most of whom are KGB thugs like Vladimir Putin and Sergei Ivanov, believe that whatever is bad for the US is good for Russia.

 

It has been selling weapons (including missiles, fighterplanes, SAMs and Kalashnikov rifles) to America’s enemies, including Iran, Venezuela, and Syria, and shielding them (as well as North Korea) from serious UNSC sanctions. It has been selling tons of weapons to Communist China, the biggest threat the US is facing right now. It still backs the regimes of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, thus maintaining anti-American outposts in the USA’s backyard. A real friend doesn’t behave like that. And its own defense doctrine presents NATO as Russia’s principal enemy.

 

Donovan asserts that “grand ideas like capitalism and democracy (of a sort) are thriving in Russia — in Western Europe, not so much.” This is utter gibberish. Russia’s current economic system is statist, government-directed pseudocapitalism similar to that maintained by European countries. Important economic decisions are made by Putin himself, not by entrepreneurs. Privately-owned corporations are forced to operate under vast, unclear, selectively-enforced regulations and a biased, corrupt judiciary. State-owned corporations are managed directly by Putin himself, and by meddling with them, he has worsened their financial situation. Gazprom, for example, has a 50 bn debt, equal to one year’s turnover of that company. Most of the managers of state-owned enterprises are Putin’s cronies and their sons, as reported by Boris Nemtsov.

 

Donovan furthermore wrote, “Today, America has more in common with Russia than it does with many nations in Europe.” Unless he meant Eastern European countries, with which the US indeed has little in common, he’s wrong.

 

America is a libertarian democracy which guarantees individual liberties to a greater degree than any country in the world. Russia is an authoritarian thugocracy run by Vladimir Putin, with every civil liberty listed by the Russian constitution only tolerated by him to the extend it doesn’t inhibit him from ruling the country. Dissenters are jailed (like Boris Nemtsov) or assassinated (like Anna Politkovskaya and Alexander Litvinenko). The US is a federal republic where most prerogatives are reserved to the states and the people, and they have the means to defend their rights in federal courts. Russia is a federation only on paper; most of its federal subjects (oblasts, federal cities and krais) are ruled directly from the Kremlin, and Putin meddles with Russian republics. In some, though (e.g. Chechnya and Ingushetia), neither the Russian law nor the Russian government rule.

 

In the US, all people are equal regardless of ethnic origin or religion. In Russia, the Kremlin-backed Nashi thugs are persecuting ethnic minorities under the “Russia for Russians” slogan.

 

In the US, the people are the superiors of the government, which is subservient to them. The Tea Party movement has shown this by engineering the biggest GOP House election victory in many decades. As Ronald Reagan said,”We are a nation that has a government, not the other way around.”

 

In Russia, the government is the superior of the people and owns them. It can order them to do anything and confiscate anything from them.

 

The US was founded on the basis of, and because of, the belief that all humans are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that governments should be derived only from the consent of the people. America has always been a Democratic Republic, whereas for all of its history except the 1990s, Russia has been an authoritarian or totalitarian state, whether under the Tsars, the Bolsheviks, or now under Putin.

 

Say what you want to say about America’s Western European partners, but most of them still believe in the same ideals Americans believe in: democracy, human rights, and political pluralism.

 

That does not mean that Russia can never be America’s friend or even ally. During the War of 1812, Russia helped mediate the Treaty of Ghent, which ended that war. During the Civil War, as Oliver W. Holmes wrote, “Russia was America’s friend even when the world was our enemy”, and refused to recognize the Confederacy while Britain and France planned to recognize it as an independent state. During WW2, the US and the Soviet Union were allies (albeit only for pragmatic reasons). And Russia was quite friendly towards the US during the 1990s, albeit chiefly because it was weak.

 

Nonetheless, a Russia governed by men like Putin and Ivanov, with an anti-American foreign policy, cannot be a partner, let alone an ally, of the US. If, and only if, the Putin regime collapses someday and is replaced by a pro-American government, a Russo-American alliance can be formed.

And by the way, this is the truth about Putinist Russia (also posted on AT):

Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir Putin, spoke out aggressively the day after the Domodedovo disaster.  He called for imposing severe new limits on jury trial rights, so that now only those accused of capital crimes will be tried by their peers. 
As if to emphasize his point, the judge who tried businessman and opposition political leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky almost simultaneously announced that Khodorkovsky had just been convicted again, again without a jury, of the same alleged tax evasion crimes that he had already served many years in prison for.  Double jeopardy? Another frivolous Western innovation for which Russia has no use.

Russia’s leadership is, in other words, just as in Soviet times unable to respond to failure with any means other than repression.  The USSR’s inability to acknowledge fault and reform brought it to ruin.  Now, history is repeating itself.

(…)  Studies show Russia becoming more corrupt, less economically competitive and progressive, and far more violent and undemocratic.  Race riots recently swept through Moscow, and it was clear the virulent nationalism that has been Putin’s bedrock ideology was fanning their flames.
 

Putin now hires and fires governors and mayors at will.  He owns and operates all the national television broadcasters, he executes journalists who do not toe his line, and he jails anyone, like Khodorkovsky, who stands even the slightest chance of challenging him politically. Slowly but surely, he is abolishing civil rights throughout the criminal justice system, and using any sign of disorder as an excuse for further and more draconian crackdowns.
Yet for all that, Putin is vulnerable just as were his Soviet ancestors, because his misguided policies undermine economic and political stability.  Yet Putin has found himself with the great good fortune of Barack Obama’s election as president.  Obama does not care at all how bad things get in Russia, how badly American values are trampled or how American national security is undermined. He cares only about gathering propaganda opportunities, like his sham nuclear treaty with Russia, and is willing to sacrifice all to that god — especially now that his domestic policy agenda is unraveling like a cheap suit.”

 
It’s ridiculous to claim that Russia shares the same values as the US, or that it can be a partner of the US, or that it should be admitted to NATO.

One thought on “Why Russia is no friend of America”

  1. Man I just read some of your comments on high speed rail and you’re like the most impudent liar ever.
    Really, 100 million passengers for 26 years of TGV operation? 4 million per year on average?
    It’s something like 55 million per year!
    TGV has long past the billion passenger mark in France.
    Something else : do you realize what 8% of all travel by bus or train actually means? I don’t think so!
    Take the RER for instance : that’s 500,000 trips PER DAY ; not bad for a region of 11 million inhabitants..
    All in all, there are several BILLION trips done per year in France by rail or metro.
    You’d better learn a few facts before bragging the so called “reason foundation” propaganda.

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