[Marxism] Kargalitsky on Putin
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 14 14:53:09 MST 2005
The Progressive, March 2005 issue
by Boris Kagarlitsky
The state-run television channels were in hysterics. Every political show
included condemnation of American expansionism and calls to protect the
country against an enemy that was threatening the very existence of our
state. It was not the Soviet Union in the 1950s, Cuba in 1961, or Iraq in
early 2003. It was Moscow last December.
Bewildered viewers discovered that next door in Ukraine, a coup was under
way, allegedly planned by foreign intelligence agents. The goal of these
enemies, the TV reported, was to bring a pro-Western president, Viktor
Yushchenko, to power instead of pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich.
But the theory that a pro-American opposition was battling with a
pro-Moscow political elite was simplistic. Yes, Yushchenko is without a
doubt pro-American. But so was President Leonid Kuchma and his prime
minister, Yanukovich. Kuchma's government, after all, sent troops to Iraq.
And, ironically, when Yushchenko was finally elected as Ukrainian president
on December 26, he announced that bringing troops home from Iraq would be
his first priority in office. What's more, Yushchenko is opposing some
privatization efforts that are so cherished in Washington these days.
George Bush, having no other option but to back pro-Western Yushchenko and
his "Orange Revolution," may have to swallow political and economic
decisions in Kiev that are not going to be to his liking.
To be sure, Putin shocked everyone with his crude tactics and open
meddling. Along with Yanukovich, he became the main victim of the Ukraine
crisis. He is losing the last remnants of his political authority,
blundering from one crisis to another, appearing impotent both at home and
abroad. Locked in a domestic political crisis, Putin now has to talk tough
when referring to Washington. This will hardly convince many people at
home. Nor will it frighten the White House. Relations are getting spoiled,
and it is the Kremlin, not the White House, that will pay the price.
Western journalists love to speak about a new Cold War because this is an
easy and politically comfortable way to explain a complex reality they
don't even try to understand. But the real Cold War was a confrontation of
two economic and political systems. Now Russia and the West share the same
system: capitalism. There is no longer a standoff between NATO and the
long-defunct Eastern Bloc. The standoff now is between the dollar and the
Euro blocs. And the Kremlin can't seem to make up its mind which side to
take in this rivalry, dodging back and forth between Brussels and
Washington and dooming itself to a whole string of unilateral concessions
to both competing sides.
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