[Marxism] Kargalitsky on Putin

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Mar 14 14:53:09 MST 2005

The Progressive, March 2005 issue
Putin Stumbles
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.

full: http://www.progressive.org/march05/kag0305.html



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