July 12, 2018
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
Hard Left and Pseudo-Right Have Post-Communist Russia In Their Crosshairs
(Do We Really Need NATO Now? Really?)
Sometimes I can sit through Fox’s Laura Ingraham—sometimes; but I’m not enamored of her manner and demeanor, or many times, of what she says when it comes to foreign relations. Yes, she has been compared to President Trump in her mannerism and rather boisterous way of speaking…but the president’s way of talking comes across, at least to me, as more genuine and direct and, well, logical.
Last night, like virtually all the Neocon pundits and commentators on Fox (Tucker Carlson being the near sole exception), Ms. Laura was back on the “Russia Card” again. There she was parroting the Neocon narrative about Russia as if her very life depended on it—that is, the narrative of those Neocons who have left the dwindling and increasingly insane Never Trump band and who have jumped on the Donald Trump bandwagon and now surround him and attempt to shape his foreign policy to their liking. While they now defend the president—and some like John Bolton have piled aboard his administrative ship—they still continue to blame Russia, and especially that evil genius, Vladimir Putin—the “new Hitler” to quote John McCain’s fanatical former foreign policy advisor Max Boot (who is so Never Trump that he has resigned from the GOP and says he hopes the Dems will win this November)—for almost everything that has gone wrong and is going wrong in the world today (well, some acute observers—Carlson, for instance—are beginning to understand that China is and will be a much greater problem than post-Communist Russia could ever hope to be).
I have pointed out before—just this year in five MY CORNER columns, alone [go check them out]—that it is both utterly fascinating AND very concerning to watch how the establishment conservatives, the Neoconservatives who dominate Fox, National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, most of the so-called conservative think tanks, and most of the Republican Party leadership—how they very conveniently agree with the Democrats and the hard Left that “Russia is the enemy and Putin is the reincarnated Adolf Hitler.”
Yes, they come at that conclusion from what appears to be diametrically opposite reasoning, but, with close examination is revealed to be uncannily much the same.
And that—that fact—should scare the bejesus out of any self-respecting, independently-thinking so-called “conservative.”
Prior to 1990 the Democrats and the hard Left fell all over themselves in defending in many ways what was then SOVIET Russia…let’s face it, for much of the 20th century the hard left in the US had a passionate love affair with those commissars in Moscow. Yes, it was off-again, then on-again. The Soviets has tried to achieve a dream, they had failed, but their intentions were “right.” And, yes, at times the ruthless praxis of those commissars came in for criticism from the American Left. Many on the Left—those future Neocons—were turned off by Moscow’s “authoritarianism” and, especially, its apparent post-war persecution of mainly Russian Jewish Leftists (those particular Leftists weren’t so much anti-Marxist, mind you; but rather wanted to give Marxism a slightly more “human” and democratic face).
When it came to dealing with the Reds, it was the Democratic Party and the American Left that urged insistently for détente and peaceful coexistence. Not that reaching some sort of modicum of stability was wrong—and even Republicans like Nixon and Reagan understood that a broader strategy of true anti-Communism, that is, eventual victory over it, included non-proliferation and nuclear treaties, plus “talking to our enemies.”
But after 1991, all of that changed, and changed radically. And with the advent of President Vladimir Putin, the changes were even more dramatic.
Right now the American hard Left and the near totality of the Democratic Party violently oppose Russia and its president. Their main stated reason is that the Russians somehow “interfered in our elections”: it’s the same trotted-out and rickety old reasoning that won’t stand serious examination. And that, somehow, they were responsible for the election of that Putin-stooge Donald Trump (right now with a Trump-Putin summit occurring soon, a true blue Leftist should be shuddering and muttering expletives about the “death of democracy” and the “rise of dictatorship” in America). Of course, this represents a sea change from their views prior to 1990.
But, now look at the dominant Neoconservative view of Russia: while those Neocons who have jumped on the Donald Trump ship of state to serve THEIR own interests downplay any real effect that the Russkies and the “new Hitler” would have had back in the 2016 elections, they are just as hard on Russia as their Kabuki dance ideological partners on the hard Left.
Both the hard Left AND the dominant Republican/movement conservative views come together on what they infelicitously call “human rights,” and “the new Hitler’s” failure to implement the kind of simply wonderful and superb liberal democracy and full-fledged equality that we now are experiencing—I would actually say “suffering from”—here in the good ole’ US of A. You see, Russia just had national elections back in the Spring and “the new Hitler” received around 70% plus of the vote. And, even in the Democratic/NAACP-dominated Chicago projects or in the “socialist republic of Silicon Valley” that sort of vote total is, well, just something to dream about. How dare he!
Yet, as I have pointed out previously in MY CORNER, there were over 1,000 independent poll watchers who certified that the elections in Russia were fair…and without doubt much fairer than any recent election in Chicago, or Philadelphia, or California (where thousands of illegals reportedly voted).
But even that is not the major point of contention and anger that actually unites the hard Left and the pseudo-Right (and Ms. Laura) in their frenzied Russophobia. The actual reasons go deeper and they have much to do with the following facts:
1) Since he began his tenure President Putin has moved Russia to the traditional Right, socially, culturally AND religiously; he has roundly disavowed and condemned the seven decades of Soviet Communism AND disowned the Leftist ideology that spawned it, and returned to traditional Russian nationalist views;
2) During his presidency Putin has overturned the near complete control of the infamous “Russian oligarchs” who had a virtual stranglehold over the Russian economy and who were ineluctably conjoined at the hip with international corporate interests on Wall Street and centered in Brussels and Geneva—many of those oligarchs fled the country, some to Israel (as many were Jewish): and, of course, their dispossession has resulted in the usual and hackneyed cries of alarm that Putin is “anti-semitic” (and given the genealogical provenance of many Neocons from the “Jewish Pale of Settlement” in Tsarist Russia that factor is of extreme importance—they have never forgiven Russian Christians and fear a recrudescence of Russian nationalism that they identify with anti-semitism);
3) It follows, then, that Russia is charting its own independent economic course, to “make Russia great again,” but NOT like did the Communists, but actually going back pre-Communist, pre-1918, to recover its national heritage, and this new nationalism and populism is something that BOTH the American hard Left and the pseudo (Neocon) Right hate and fear;
4) Then, there is the almost totally spurious accusation that Russia is still a powerfully “aggressive” nation that threatens its neighbors and “has invaded Crimea, Georgia (not the Southern state!), and Ukraine.” These accusations, to put it mildly, are bogus… I have covered them in earlier MY CORNERs and in some longer published articles, also. Crimea was never a part of Ukraine until 1954 when a drunken Nikita Khrushchev decided one night to “give” it to that part of Russia that was then the Ukrainian SSR. Its population and history are hugely Russian, and it voted overwhelmingly in a fair plebiscite to rejoin Russia; it is that simple. The civil war in Ukraine dates back to the fact that it was under Obama that our state department authorized (and armed) a covert action to OVERTHROW a legitimately elected a pro-Russian president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and replace him with a globalist toady—and don’t forget millions of Ukrainians are actually Russians and Russian language speakers. Conflict came in the far east of the country when the new, Obama-installed government began to crack down on the use of the Russian language and circumscribe the rights of its Russian citizens. Finally, as to Georgia, again, it was America that encouraged that country to invade areas controlled by Russia in the Caucasus—the Russians struck back hard, and the Georgians lost. They shouldn’t have listened to the globalists in the US state department.
5) And finally, Putin’s Russia has forcefully re-asserted the role and importance of very traditional Christianity—over 28,000 new churches have been opened in the country since 1991 and Putin has personally helped open and dedicate several on the sites once occupied by Communist structures (that have been demolished). Even more—and this is really a No-No here in the enlightened US of A, Putin and the overwhelming majority of Russians, old AND young, staunchly favor the one-man and one-woman, family, annealed by the inheritance of traditional Orthodox Christianity; there is no same sex marriage in Russia, it is illegal. And this has meant that in Russia the LGBTQ movement has not found favor all—On the contrary, indeed, it is now illegal to proselytize for recruits in Russian schools, and public demonstrations by the LGBTQ community in Russia are severely limited. As a result you have such valiant champions of “conservatism” as John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Nikki Haley, etc. ad nauseum, complaining about Russia’s “human rights” record.
Do you get it now? Are you SO fearful of that new Hitler and what he might now tell his “puppet” to do—maybe start restricting same sex marriage, maybe even question the value of NATO that was set up to oppose world Communism, but, very frankly, has lost its raison d’etre since 1991? Oh, I can hear the gnashing of teeth from both the hard Left Dems and the globalist GOPers! Did you actually say that? I just did.
In any case, I am going to pass on, again, two essays (just the link to the first one) I’ve written on the topic, with more detail and specific references. The first one was recent, back on January 1 of this year. It updates in some respects the much longer piece I published on The Unz Review back on December 29, 2014. Although there have been changes politically since that date, the basic thrust and facts contained in both are still valid, even more so, today.
You may not have the time to read these, or check out the sources. But many of you were not on my mailing list back in 2014. So, you may wish to save these for future reference.
Here is the link to the January 1, 2018 article:
And the longer 2014 research piece, the long and researched essay I wrote, “Examining the Hatred of Vladimir Putin and Russia,” follows:
THE UNZ REVIEW: An Alternative Media Selection
Anyone who has followed the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe and Ukraine knows the very hostile view that the establishment news media and Washington political class have of President Vladimir Putin of Russia and his policies. In the halls of Congress and in the mainstream press—almost every night on Fox News—serious charges are proffered against Russia’s president and his latest outrages. Sanctions and bellicose measures get enacted by the House and Senate overwhelmingly, with only meagre opposition and almost no serious discussion.
The mainstream American media and American political leaders seem intent to present only a one-sided, very negative picture of the Russian leader.
Various allegations are continually and repeatedly expressed.
How do these charges stand up under serious examination? What is their origin? And, what do they say about the current political and cultural environment in America and the West?
The allegations against Putin can be summarized in five major points:
1.Putin is a KGB thug and is surrounded by KGB thugs;
2.Under Putin the Russian Orthodox Church continues to be controlled by KGB types;
3.Putin wants to reassemble the old Soviet Union, and he believes that the break-up of the USSR was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century;
4.Putin is corrupt and has amassed billions of rubles personally skimmed off the top of the weak Russian economy;
5.And he is an anti-democratic authoritarian who persecutes homosexuals, in particular.
The charges against Putin go from disingenuous to the dishonest. The “KGB thug” and the “break-up” of the USSR accusations have been addressed in a variety of well-researched books and in-depth articles. The documentation contradicts these allegations, including some charges that have been made by usually conservative voices. It is extremely curious that such ostensibly conservative publications as , for example, find themselves parroting accusations first made by notorious leftwing publicists and, then, by international gay rights supporters.
On the contrary, various historians and researchers, including Professor Allen C. Lynch (in his excellent study, 2011), Professor Michael Stuermer (in his volume, 2008), M. S. King (in 2014), Reagan ambassador to the USSR Jack Matlock, Reagan Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, former Congressman Ron Paul (his web site, , contains numerous scholarly articles defending Putin), Reagan budget director David Stockman, and conservative writer William Lind—none of these men on the Left—have pointed out that those allegations have been ripped out of context and are largely untenable. Additionally, numerous conservative religious authors have investigated and defended Putin, including Catholic journalists such as Michael Matt in , Dr. E. Michael Jones in , Dr. Joseph Pearce in, and Gary Potter, and writers for conservative Protestant organizations like the . Nevertheless, the charges made against Putin are presented as fact by many Neoconservative “talking heads” on Fox (e.g., Charles Krauthammer) and on talk radio (e.g., Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck), as well as by the Leftist establishment media. Disinformation is clearly at work here, even among some of the strongest voices on the American right.
Professor Lynch reveals in his detailed study that the evidence for the “Putin KGB thug” allegation is very thin and lacks substantial basis. First, Putin was never “head of the KGB,” as some writers mistakenly (and, often, maliciously) assert. That is simply a falsehood. Rather, he served as a mid-level intelligence bureaucrat who sat at a desk in Dresden, East Germany, where he was stationed with his family for several years before returning to Leningrad. His job was to analyze data, and he had no involvement in other activities. [Lynch, pp. 19-21] Contemporary American intelligence reports confirm this fact. Indeed, this was one of the reasons that early on, during 1990 and 1991, Putin was considered a hopeful figure among the generation of younger Russians by American intelligence sources.
After the fall of Communism during the administration of Boris Yeltsin, he very briefly served at Yeltsin’s request as head of the FSB intelligence service. But the FSB is not the KGB.
Lynch treats in some detail the question of Putin’s supposed continued subservience to KGB ideology, with particular reference to the events surrounding the abortive Communist coup by the old hands at the KGB in August 1991. Putin, by that time, had resigned his position in the KGB and was serving as deputy mayor to pro-American Leningrad mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, one of the fiercest critics of the KGB and the old Soviet system. It was Putin who organized the local Leningrad militia to the attempted KGB coup and protect Mayor Sobchak and the forces of democratic reform:
Putin played a key role in saving Leningrad for the democrats. The coup, which lasted but three days, was carried out on August 19. That same day Mayor Sobchak arrived on a flight from Moscow. The Leningrad KGB, which supported the coup, planned to arrest Sobchak immediately upon landing. Putin got word of the plan and took decisive and preemptive action: He organized a handful of loyal troops and met Sobchak at the airport, driving the car right up to the plane’s exit ramp. The KGB turned back, not wishing to risk an open confrontation with Sobchak’s armed entourage [led by Putin].” [Lynch, p. 34]
This signal failure in Russia’s second city doomed the attempted KGB coup and assured the final collapse of the Soviet system and eventual transition of Russia away from Communism. It was Vladimir Putin, then, who was largely responsible for and preventing the return of Communism in Russia. It is very hard to see how a secret supporter of the KGB would take such action, if he were actually favoring the return of Communism.
As Professor Lynch recounts:
Putin accepted the irreversibility of the Soviet Union’s collapse and came to terms with the market and private property as the proper foundations of the Russian economy. [Lynch, p.28]
It is true that Putin lamented the break-up of the old Soviet Union, but not because he regretted the disappearance of the Soviets, but, rather, because of the numerous and intimate economic, linguistic, social, and cultural connections that interrelated most of the fifteen constituent republics of the old USSR. His comments on the topic were very clear, but have been selectively taken out of context by the Putin haters. [See the book-length interview with Putin, with comments from other Russian leaders, , New York, 2000, pp. 165-190]
Much like the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian empire after World War I, which left significant ethnic minorities cut off from their historic former homelands — for example, millions of Austro-German Sudetens in Czechoslovakia, Hungarian Transylvanians in Romania, etc. — and a number of economically non-viable states in the Balkans, the dissolution of the Soviet Union created the same situation in Eastern Europe. The present intractable crisis in Ukraine is a clear example of what can happen and has happened as a result. It was this situation that Putin rightly lamented; it was this break-up that he foresaw correctly as a tragedy.
The much-criticized—by the American press—secession of Crimea from Ukraine and its subsequent re-union with Russia clearly illustrates this. What too many so-called “experts” in America fail to understand (or, if they do, skillfully omit in their reports) is that Crimea was an integral part of Russia for hundreds of years until Communist Nikita Khrushchev sliced it off from Russia and gave it to Ukraine in 1954, despite the fact that 60% of its population is ethnically Russian and its culture and language completely Russian. [See the Wikipedia article, “Crimea”]
Moreover, the Ukrainian “oblasts,” or provinces, of Lugansk and Donetsk, have a similar history and ethno-cultural make-up. They were arbitrarily added to the Ukrainian socialist republic in the 1920s after the Communist revolution, despite being historically part of Mother Russia for centuries.
Interestingly, at the same time Putin made the “break-up” of the Soviet Russia comment, he visited Poland to denounce and condemn the Communist massacre and crimes in the Katyn Forest at the beginning of World War II, as well as the horrid Soviet gulags. On more than one occasion, especially at the meetings of the international Valdai Discussion Forum in 2013 and 2014, he has harshly condemned in the strongest terms Communism and the atrocious crimes committed by Communists. In so doing, he made extensive reference to Russia’s Christian heritage (also criticizing same sex marriage, abortion, and homosexuality as being “opposed to the most sacred values of our traditions”).
Putin’s remarks at the , in front of representatives from most European countries, deserve extensive quoting. Here is some of what he said:
Another serious challenge to Russia’s identity is linked to events taking place in the world. Here there are both foreign policy and moral aspects. We can see how many of the Euro-Atlantic countries are actually rejecting their historic roots, including the Christian values that constitute the very basis of Western civilisation. They are denying moral principles and all traditional identities: national, cultural, religious and even sexual. They are implementing policies that equate large families with same-sex partnerships, belief in God with the belief in Satan. The excesses of political correctness have reached the point where people are seriously talking about registering political parties whose aim is to promote paedophilia. People in many European countries are embarrassed or afraid to talk about their religious affiliations. Holidays are abolished or even called something different; their essence is hidden away, as is their moral foundation. And people are aggressively trying to export this model all over the world. I am convinced that this opens a direct path to degradation and primitivism, resulting in a profound demographic and moral crisis. What else but the loss of the ability to self-reproduce could act as the greatest testimony of the moral crisis facing a human society? Today almost all developed nations are no longer able to reproduce themselves, even with the help of unlawful migration. Without the values embedded in Christianity, without the standards of morality that have taken shape over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity. We consider it natural and right to defend these values. One must respect every minority’s right to be different, but the rights of the majority must not be put into question.
And Putin gained firm support and endorsement from that inveterate and most intransigent anti-Communist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Before his death in 2008, Solzhenitsyn praised Putin and stated that he believed Putin’s personal acceptance of Christian faith to be genuine. American ambassador William Burns visited Solzhenitsyn (April 2008) shortly prior to his death and quoted him as stating that under Putin, the nation was rediscovering what it was to be Russian and Christian. [See article at, Thursday, December 2, 2010] The great Russian anti-Communist also gave a long 2007 interview with the German magazine, , . So, then, if the Putin-haters are correct, did Putin fool the great Solzhenitsyn who was by far the greatest and most intransigent anti-Communist of the 20 century? Not likely.
About the personal corruption charge Lynch offers substantial detail and discusses how it got going, basically spread by Putin’s liberal opponents. To those who suggest that Putin stood to make a fortune off his political choices, Lynch (and others) offers substantial documentation to the contrary:
Putin was not corrupt, at least in the conventional, venal sense. His modest and frankly unfashionable attire bespoke a seeming indifference to personal luxury. While as deputy mayor. He had acquired the use of the summer dacha of the former East German Consulate and even installed a sauna unit there, but when the house burned down in the summer of 1996, his $5,000 life’s savings burned with it. To have accumulated only $5,000 in five years as deputy mayor of Russia’s second-largest city and largest port, when hundreds of less well-placed Russians were enriching themselves on government pickings, implies something other than pecuniary motives behind Putin’s activities (….) In sum, Putin was honest, certainly by Russian standards. He lived simply and worked diligently. Accused by a foe…of having purchased a million dollar villa in France, Putin sued for slander and won his case in court a year later. [Lynch, pp. 33, 35]
Some of the hostility towards Putin emerged when he became interim president of the Russian Federation after Boris Yeltsin stepped down in December, 1999. Putin had established himself as a loyal and forthright political leader since serving as deputy mayor for the pro-democratic Mayor Sobchak. He had also served Yeltsin faithfully.
But Putin was no Yeltsin. While initially following the Yeltsin pro-American and pro-Western lead in foreign policy, Putin was also aware that Russia was undergoing a radical transition from a decrepit and collapsed Communist state to the recovery of some of its older traditions, including a mushrooming, vibrant return to traditional Russian Orthodoxy, a faith which he has publicly and personally embraced. [See various confirming reports, including Charles Glover, “Putin and the Monk,” January 25, 2013, and . During the days of oppressive Communist rule, the Russian Orthodox Church, at least the official leadership, was subservient to Marxism, with many of its leaders at least mouthing Communist ideas, if not serving as agents. The former Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Alexei (who died in 2008), had been criticized as a collaborator with the Communist regime. However, the so-called “intelligence proof” that suddenly “appeared” in Estonia stating that he was a secret KGB agent has been placed in very serious doubt (see Wikipedia, “Patriarch Alexei” article). Apparently, the “documents” were most likely fabricated and not genuine. Indeed, as the in its biography of him relates, Alexei was "the first patriarch in Soviet history to be chosen without government pressure; candidates were nominated from the floor, and the election was conducted by secret ballot.” Not only that, after the fall of Communism, Alexei publicly denounced Communist crimes and called for the freedom of Christianity in Russia. It became something of a moot point when Alexei died in 2008; his replacement as head of the Russian church was Archbishop Kirill, someone who is known for his staunch opposition to Marxism and his defense of historic Christianity and traditional morality.
As Russian religious scholar Professor John Garrard exhaustively demonstrates in his excellent study, (2008), from 1991 onwards the Russian Orthodox Church began a necessary purification, with older collaborators and Communist agents gradually stepping down or being removed. Today the Russian Orthodox Church is, by far, the most conservative, traditional and anti-Communist religious body in the world. It has gone so far as to canonize dozens of martyrs killed by the Communists and celebrate the Romanov tsar and his family who were brutally murdered by the Reds in 1918. Significantly, since 1991 over 26,000 new Christian churches have opened in Russia, and the fact that Christianity is being reborn in Russia has not gone unnoticed among some Christian writers in the America and Europe, although generally ignored by the secular press. [There are numerous articles and reports chronicling this amazing rebirth, e.g., , , October 22, 2014; see also, “Faith Rising in the East, Setting in the West,” January 29, 2014, Such a phenomena is not some Communist plot, but represents a genuine desire on the part of the Russian people to rediscover their religious roots, ironically just as a majority of American now seem to embrace same sex marriage, abortion, and the worst extremes of immorality and the rejection of traditional Christianity.
In support of his goals Putin has championed Russian laws that: (1) have practically outlawed abortion in Russia (no abortions after the 12 week, and before that time in limited cases, and also the end of financial support for abortions, reversing a previous Soviet policy); (2) clamp down on homosexuality and homosexual propaganda---absolutely no homosexual propaganda in Russian schools, no public displays of homosexuality, with legal penalties imposed for violating these laws; (3) strongly support traditional marriage, especially religious marriage, with financial aid to married couples having more than two children; (4) have established compulsory religious instruction in all Russian schools (including instruction in different Christian confessions, in different regions of the country); (4) implement a policy instituting chaplaincy in Russian military regiments (and religious institutions now assist in helping military families); (5) have made religious holidays now official Russian state holidays; (6) have instituted a nationwide program of rebuilding churches that were destroyed by the Communists (the most notable being the historic Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow); and (7) officially support the Russian film industry in producing conservative religious and patriotic movies—interestingly, the most popular film in Russia in 2009 was the movie “Admiral,” a very favorable biopic of the leader of the White Russian counter-revolutionary, Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak, who was executed by the Communists in 1920. The film was by the Russian cultural ministry. Can we imagine the American NEH doing anything similar in the current United States? [See reports, , January 23, 2013; , October 26, 2011, August 1, 2013; Scott Rose, , June 30, 2013; see also Garrard on some of these actions]
Putin has formed a close association with Russian Orthodoxy, as Russian rulers typically have across centuries. He is smart to do so, as Russia has experienced somewhat of a spiritual revival…. Orthodoxy is widely and understandably seen as the spiritual remedy to the cavernous spiritual vacuum left by over 70 disastrous, often murderous years of Bolshevism. Resurgent religious traditionalism has fueled Russia’s new law against sexual orientation proselytism to minors and its new anti-abortion law. Both laws also respond to Russia’s demographic struggle with plunging birth rates and monstrously high abortion rates that date to Soviet rule. Some American religious conservatives have looked to Russian religious leaders as allies in international cooperation on pro-family causes.
As the largest nation in the world, with historic connections to the rest of Europe, but also to Asia, Putin understood as well that Russia, despite the Communist interlude, was still a major power to be reckoned with. A reawakened Russian conservative nationalism and a return to the traditional Orthodox Christian faith did not, he initially hoped, predetermine an eventual clash with the European Union nor with the United States.
Indeed, after the 9/11 attack on the “twin towers” in New York, Putin’s Russia was the first nation to offer its full support to and its cooperation with American intelligence agencies to combat terrorism and bring the culprits to justice. Having combated Chechen Islamic terrorism in the Caucasus region, Russia had experience dealing with Islamic extremism. [Lynch, pp. 100-105; Stuermer, pp. 5-6]
Nevertheless, Bush administration Neoconservatives basically kicked Russia in the teeth. With their zealous belief in liberal democracy and global equality, to be on offending nations if need be as Allan Bloom once boasted, they condescendingly refused Russian collaboration. As leading Neocon publicist and “talking head,” Charles Krauthammer, expressed it, “we now live in a unipolar world in which there is only ONE superpower, and that is the United States.”
The Neoconservative condescension towards Russia, first after 9/11, then with the threatened placement of missiles in Poland, pushing NATO to the very borders of Russia, and finally following the bungled American diplomatic escapade in Georgia in 2008, cemented a conviction among Russians and by Vladimir Putin that the desired partnership with America was unrealizable, at least for the time being. [See Lynch, ch. 6, generally, for a thorough discussion of Russian foreign policy; Stuermer, pp. 196-199]
The desire for Russia to become a “collaborative partner” in any kind of situation resembling international parity was just not acceptable to American Neocons. Whereas Yeltsin had been welcomed in Washington as “America’s poodle,” willing to do America’s bidding, Putin believed that the largest nation in the world, which had thrown off the Communist yoke, merited a larger role. His desire was for a real partnership. But aggressive attempts spearheaded by the United States to incorporate formerly integral parts of Russia—areas that were and continue to be considered within the Russian “sphere of influence,” even if independent—into NATO, largely dashed Russian hopes for partnership with the West. [Stuermer, pp. 191-196] In 1996 the late George Kennan cautioned the American foreign policy establishment that expansion of NATO into those areas “was a strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” Kennan warned against a foreign policy that was “utopian in its expectation, legalistic in its concept … moralistic … and self-righteous.” [Robert Sidelsky, , April 23, 2014, ] Henry Kissinger echoed this warning on November 12, 2014, calling in the American response to Russia “.”
Perhaps it is no coincidence that many of the present-day Neocon publicists descend from immigrant Jewish Labour Zionists and inhabitants of the Russian “pale of settlement,” who experienced tsarist pogroms in the late 19 century and who later formed the vanguard of Marxist efforts to overthrow the tsar and establish a socialist state? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s mammoth study, (still untranslated into English, although a French edition exists: , Fayard, 2002), offers fascinating detail on this process. The Socialist internationalism manifested by those revolutionaries found its incarnation in Leon Trotsky, murdered at Stalin’s orders in Mexico in 1940. Despite the supposed migration of the Neocons towards the political Right in the 1970s and 1980s, the globalist and “democratic” legacy of Trotsky remains a not-so-distant lodestar for many zealous partisans.
At times this paternal reverence continues to break forth, in unlikely sources. On , a few years back, Neoconservative writer Stephen Schwartz wrote:
To my last breath, I will defend Trotsky who alone and pursued from country to country and finally laid low in his own blood in a hideously hot house in Mexico City, said no to Soviet coddling to Hitlerism, to the Moscow purges, and to the betrayal of the Spanish Republic, and who had the capacity to admit that he had been wrong about the imposition of a single-party state as well as about the fate of the Jewish people. To my last breath, and without apology. Let the neofascists and Stalinists in their second childhood make of it what they will.” [See Professor Paul Gottfried's commentary on, April 17, 2007]
For the American Neocons, the emergence of a nationalist, Christian, and undemocratic Russia is perhaps too reminiscent of the “bad old days.” And despite very different circumstances, a non-conforming Russian state demanding any form of parity with the world’s “only remaining superpower” is out of the question.
On the contrary, Boris Yeltsin was a Neocon favorite. Yeltsin’s tenure as president seemed not only to echo a second-rate “America’s poodle” status, his handling of the Russian economy proved disastrous for the average Russian, but lucrative for a handful of Russian oligarchs, who in turn were connected to American business interests. Wikipedia (article on Boris Yeltsin) sums up his actions in this way:
In 1995, as Yeltsin struggled to finance Russia’s growing foreign debt and gain support from the Russian business elite for his bid in the early-1996 presidential elections, the Russian president prepared for a new wave of privatization offering stock shares in some of Russia’s most valuable state enterprises in exchange for bank loans. The program was promoted as a way of simultaneously speeding up privatization and ensuring the government a much-needed infusion of cash for its operating needs.
However, the deals were effectively giveaways of valuable state assets to a small group of tycoons in finance, industry, energy, telecommunications, and the media who came to be known as “” in the mid-1990s. This was due to the fact that ordinary people sold their vouchers for cash. The vouchers were bought out by a small group of investors. By mid-1996, substantial ownership shares over major firms were acquired at very low prices by a handful of people. , who controlled major stakes in several banks and the national media, emerged as one of Yeltsin’s most prominent backers. Along with Berezovsky, , ,, , , , , and a few years later , were habitually mentioned in the media as Russia’s oligarchs.
On his assumption of the presidency and his election to a full first term, Putin resolved to end this economic domination by “the oligarchs,” but in so doing, he antagonized their internationalist capitalist partners in the West on Wall Street and in Bruxelles.
During his first term, Putin proved himself to be a clever and resourceful politician. He organized a powerful political base, his United Russia political party, and, like most successful political leaders, was able to parlay his economic successes and a favorable conclusion to the Chechen civil war into a strong base of support across the Russian Federation. Criticized by some domestic opponents for not following punctiliously all the hallmark benchmarks of Western-style “democracy,” Putin insisted that the difficult path to Russian democracy was different than that so often pushed (and imposed) by the United States around the world. Nevertheless, the average Russian citizen experienced more real liberties and more economic freedom than at any time in Russia’s long history, and the credit for that must be Putin’s. [Lynch, pp. 69-74; Stuermer, pp. 199-200]
The continuing charges that Putin is corrupt and has surrounded himself with ex-KGBers have as their origin, not surprisingly, leftist and liberal domestic opponents of the Russian president in Russia, as Lynch, Paul Craig Roberts, M. S. King, and others have shown. In fact, most of Putin’s advisors lack serious earlier Communist/KGB involvement. The charges, nevertheless, have been picked up by the Murdoch media and Neocon press. Just as they had lauded Yeltsin, they quickly turned on the nationalist Putin, who quickly became in the Western press a “KGB thug,” “corrupt,” and desirous of “restoring the old Soviet Union.
One of the major, if indirect, Russian domestic sources for the corruption charges came via a prolific Russian politician, the late Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov, identified as a “new liberal,” was a longtime opponent of Vladimir Putin and a favorite of John McCain and various “mainstream conservatives.” [See, , January 6, 2011] Over the years he penned a number of election broadsides and pamphlets, charging Putin with everything from feathering his own “nest” with “billions of rubles,” to election fraud. [See Nemtsov, , 2010] In each case, his allegations lacked the kind of sources to make them creditable. It is as if Al Gore were to have written a pamphlet about George W. Bush in the 2000 election: it and its content would immediately be highly suspect.
That some supposedly conservative American publications and news sources could give these accusations credence just demonstrates the power of the liberal/left media and the international anti-Russian homosexual lobby who have tried desperately to propagate such ideas.
Although the Nemtsov origin for the constant media barrage has been important, in recent months the nature of the Western opposition to Putin and Russia has been radically transformed. While Nemtsov’s canards certainly have found their way into the Western press, since Russia’s legal prohibitions (in early 2013) against homosexual propaganda (especially directed towards underage children) and its forthright defense of the Christian institution of marriage, the vigorous opposition to Putin has assumed a “moral” dimension, symbolized best, perhaps, by Obama’s appointment of several over-the-hill, openly homosexual athletes to head the United States delegation to the Sochi Olympics in early 2014.
Such an action demonstrated both the fundamental rejection by the American leadership (and Western European leaders) of Russia’s affirmation of traditional marriage and traditional Christianity, while illustrating the formal apostasy by the West from its own traditional Christian moorings.
Enter Russian-American journalist and author Masha Gessen. Numerous references to Gessen began to appear in recent years, and soon she was appearing as “the Russian authority” on several of the Sunday morning news programs and as a guest on the Establishment’s special programs dealing with Russia and Ukraine. Repeatedly, she is identified as “the noted expert and author on Russia and Vladimir Putin.” Her 2012 volume, , has been cited on PBS and on such programs as “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” as critical to understanding Russia and its president. She is the most widely-quoted writer on Russia and Putin now in the West.
But just who is Masha Gessen? She is identified by the Wikipedia (not known for its right wing bias) as a Jewish lesbian activist, with dual Russian American citizenship (how did she manage that?), who is “married” to another lesbian, with a “family,” but who advocates the abolition of the “institution of marriage,” itself.
She has identified herself as a violent opponent of Putin and of traditional Christianity. Yet, her book, , is held up as the best volume on Russia and its president, while even her defenders (writing reviews on Amazon.com, for instance, and elsewhere) admit that her study reads like “one, long, impassioned editorial.”
Let us add that Gessen is an unrelenting champion of the Russian lesbian punk rock band, “Pussy Riot,” who profaned the high altar of one of the most sacred churches in Russia, the Church of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Her volume, (2014), is a passionate apologia for that pornographic lesbian band and a vitriolic attack on both Putin and traditional Orthodox Christianity, especially the institution of marriage, which Putin strongly and publicly defends. Her attacks find their way into the whole spectrum of American opinion, including, sadly, into supposedly conservative publications. Indeed, many Neoconservatives are remarkably “soft” on issues surrounding homosexual rights. [See, for example, “Fox News Goes Gay,” , August 14, 2013; James Kirchick, “Out, Proud, and Loud: A GOP Nominee Breaks Boundaries,” , February 18, 2014; Andrew Potts, “Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer calls gay rights struggle ‘heroic’,” , January 1, 2014 ]
Gessen, then, has now become one major source for attacks as well as the “analysis” spewed out by the major networks. As one can see, the real key here increasingly is the issue of homosexuality and the fact that Putin’s Russia defends traditional Christian ethics and has clamped down on gay propaganda. Gessen finds this intolerable….thus, even though her journalistic writing purports to take a researched and scholarly view of Russian affairs, her attacks, the charges of corruption and anti-democratic tendencies, are all subsumed into something much more important to this vocal activist: an all-encompassing passion to advance homosexuality worldwide and an unremitting opposition to traditional Christianity.
But it is not just a prominent and influential publicist like Masha Gessen who identifies the issue of homosexuality as central to the hatred for Putin and contemporary Russia. Gessen’s views are now completely mainstream in the West, illustrated resoundingly by President Obama’s naming of those gay former Olympians to represent the United States at Sochi. The gesture was unmistakable, but its symbolism indicated something more profound in the West’s post-Christian mentality. Indeed, this salient aspect of what euphemistically is now called “defending human rights” underpins EU and American policies towards Russia. Such organizations as the Human Rights League, People for the American Way, and the United Nations have gotten involved on a global level, . In the international political sphere, no clearer illustration of this pervasive influence on policy may be found than in the response of close American ally German Chancellor Angela Merkel to President Putin’s criticism of the collapse of traditional Christian morality in America and Europe. by , November 30, 2014, Merkel, who had for some time urged a softer approach to Russia and continued negotiations, finally realized:
…that there could be no reconciliation with Vladimir Putin when she was treated to his hardline views on gay rights. The German chancellor was deep in one of the 40 conversations she has had with the Russian president over the past year — more than the combined total with David Cameron, François Hollande and Barack Obama — when he began to rail against the “decadence” of the West. Nothing exemplified this “decay of values” more than the West’s promotion of gay rights, Putin told her. It was then, said sources close to Merkel, that she realized Europe and America should abandon all hope of finding a common language with the Kremlin and instead should adopt a policy of Cold War-style containment….” [underlining added]
And Merkel is not alone. She joins Barack Obama and prime ministers David Cameron, Francois Hollande, and the leaders of the EU in expressing this important underlying rationale for Western policy towards Russia.
It is, then, the formal Western and American embrace of homosexuality, same sex marriage, and other deviations from traditional Christian morality as normative that has opened a steep chasm and motivates zealous proponents, for whom Vladimir Putin and a revived traditional Russia present a distinct challenge to their eventual global success.
It is, then, this rebellion against God-created human nature and against natural law, itself, that is bitterly opposed to Russia’s affirmation of traditional religious belief. It is this divide now that forms the deepest basis of the profound conflict between East and West. Indeed, the world has been turned upside down, with Russia now defending Christianity, while the American and Western political and media elites viciously attack it. As Patrick Buchanan now rightly asks: “On whose side is God NOW on?”