jakell » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:02 pm wrote:That 'emotional connection' is what is needed to control discourse here and yes, doing that is abusive.
Completely agree; an actual adult wouldn't drag me into their bullshit like that.
jakell » Fri Nov 11, 2016 1:02 pm wrote:That 'emotional connection' is what is needed to control discourse here and yes, doing that is abusive.
Xenophobes ascendant in Bulgaria
Submitted by Bill Weinberg on Thu, 12/01/2016 - 02:44
More than 400 asylum seekers were arrested following a "riot" at a camp for Afghan refugees at the Bulgarian town of Harmanli, near the Turkish border, last week. The uprising was apparently sparked when authorities sealed off the camp, citing a supposed threat of infectious disease. Since then, authorities have been similarly appealing to popular fears, saying one of those arrested was a member of a militant group. Neither the detained man nor the supposed group were actually named. (EuroNews, Nov. 25)
This comes just as former air force commander and political novice Rumen Radev won a surprise victory in the race for prime minister. He was backed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, is said to be close to Putin, and is portrayed as a left-populist—but BBC informs us he "reached out to nationalists by opposing the EU's resettlement policy for refugees."
And this comes just as the political right is mounting anti-refugee protests, BalkanInsight reports. Further evidence of the blurring of the lines of left and right in the current paroxysm of xenophobic populism. across both Europe and America...
The Russia House
The right, the left, and the thing about Russia
Max B. Sawicky December 12, 2016
Russian meddling in U.S. politics is here to stay, writes Max B. Sawicky.
“Russians pretty bad people, Mr. Wessby,” Tiu agreed.
“They stink bad.”
— John Le Carré, The Honourable Schoolboy
I, for one, do not look forward to the rule of our new Russophilic overlords. The Trump camp is lousy with Putin apologists, including Trump himself. Why is this bad? Do you really have to ask? Okay, here goes.
First and foremost, Russian influence is bad because it comes from forces that gave us . . . Trump. Russia didn’t elect Trump, but they gave him their best effort. This conclusion does not rely on evidence of hacking, which is intrinsically hard to prove. All you had to do was follow the Twitter feeds and content of the propaganda outlets Russia Today, Sputnik, and their crooked little cousin Wikileaks. The tilt against Hillary Clinton and towards Trump was unmistakable. (Now that the election is over, they’re back to faux leftism.) The hacking evidence, whatever you make of it, is just icing on the cake. Wikileaks, erstwhile anarchist foe of all centralized authority, does not seemed moved to utter a discouraging word about Trump. To genuine anarchists, this favoritism is anathema. Here’s one of their recent retweets:
Second, if you’re anywhere left of center, Russian influence is bad because Russia is ruled by a rightist and allied with rightist movements throughout Europe and Asia. These movements foment virulent hatred of gays, Muslims, and immigrants in general from Africa or Asia. They are a huge threat to the European social-democratic systems that provide models for the more socially benighted nations of the world, such as the U.S.A.
Russia Today and the post-truth virus
A video is circulating of a woman revealing “the truth” on Syria that is being withheld from us by “the mainstream media”. The woman is introduced as an “independent Canadian journalist”. She is said to be speaking “at the UN”. The date is December 9, 2016. The video has become viral.
Eva Bartlett, the woman in the video, writes for various conspiracy sites including SOTT.net, The Duran, MintPress and Globalresearch.ca. But more recently she has emerged as a contributor to Russia Today. And though her wordpress blog is called “In Gaza”, and though she has a past in Palestine solidarity work, unlike the people of Gaza, she is a strong supporter of Assad and she uses language to describe Assad’s opponents that is a virtual echo of the language Israeli propagandists use against Gazans.
Bartlett was recently a guest of the Assad regime, attending a regime sponsored PR conference and going on a tour of regime-controlled areas herded no doubt by the ubiquitous minders (the regime only issues visas to trusted journalists and no visitor is allowed to travel without a regime minder). On her return, the regime mission at the UN organised a press conference for her and three members of the pro-regime US “Peace Council” (The organisation has the same relationship to peace as Kentucky Fried Chicken has to chicken). In the press conference they all repeated the claims usually made by the regime’s official media SANA and by Russia Today: all rebels are terrorists; there is no siege; civilians are being held hostage; the regime is a “liberator” etc.
So a conspiracy theorist with a blog who briefly visited Syria as a guest of the regime is declaring that everything you know about Syria is wrong. That you have been misled by everyone in the “MSM” from the New York Times to Der Spiegel, from the Guardian to the Telegraph, from CNN to Channel 4, from ABC to BBC, from CBS to CBC; that human rights organisations like Physicians for Human Rights, Medicins Sans Frontiers, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch; that international agencies like the UN and ICRC—they are all part of a vast conspiracy to malign Bashar al Assad. And the truth is only revealed on “alternative” media like the Kremlin’s own Russia Today! (watched by 70 million people a week according to its own claims)
In normal times something like this would provoke derision and dismay—or at least the person would be asked to provide verifiable facts instead of anecdotes (virtually everything she said is verifiably false). But these are not normal times. Supporters of the regime, admirers of Putin, and sectarian propagandists have latched on to this video. Kremlin broadcaster Russia Today has promoted the video heavily. And, in the game of Chinese whispers, the story has morphed into “a UN press conference”.
There is of course a deep racism at play here. Besides great international journalists like Christoph Reuter, Janine di Giovanni, and Martin Chulov, there are also many excellent Syrian reporters on the ground. But we are supposed to dismiss them because the truths that eluded all of them were vouchsafed to a Canadian blogger with a column on Russia Today!
What is happening in Syria is not a mystery. The facts are crystal clear. They are corroborated by multiple independent organisations. People who deny these facts only do so because of a will to disbelieve. It’s willed ignorance in the service of an ideology. This ignorance has been reinforced by Kremlin’s premier disinformation service: Russia Today. The broadcaster has rebranded itself “RT” to conceal its provenance and agenda. It has even spawned neutral-sounding viral video outlets like “In the Now”. Their aim is to sow doubt, feed cynicism, and confound knowledge. They are pressing a narrative—Kremlin’s narrative. And as the major perpetrator of violence in Syria, Kremlin has every intention to muddy the waters. (And no Russia Today is not “just like the BBC”. Have you ever seen a Russian government official questioned the way British government ministers are by a Jeremy Paxman or a James O’Brien?)
So next time someone shares a stupid video like this, hit them with facts. If they want to challenge them, then they should bring something more substantial than rambling nonsense from a conspiracy nut.
According to the most recent Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) estimate, nearly 470,000 have died in the conflict. Syrian Network for Human Rights estimates that the regime and Russia are responsible for over 95% of the civilian deaths. The Violations Documentation Centre (established by Razan Zeitoneh) puts these figures closer to 93%.
The UN Commission of Inquiry on the war in Syria has indicted the regime for “the crimes against humanity of extermination; murder; rape or other forms of sexual violence; torture; imprisonment; enforced disappearance and other inhuman acts”.
The regime’s main ally, Russia, has been accused by Amnesty International of “egregious” war crimes, including the deliberate targeting of civilians and aid workers.
The UN Commission of Inquiry has also accused the regime of using starvation as a weapon of war and for the “deliberate destruction of health care infrastructure”. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has reported 94 strikes on 63 of its medical facilities and, by the end of last year, Physicians for Human Rights, calculated that the regime and its allies were responsible for 287 of the 346 attacks on medical facilities and 667 of the 705 medical personnel killed.
A Syrian military defector has produced photographic evidence of at least 6,786 detainees killed under the regime’s torture.
The regime has used rape systematically, as policy.
A survey of refugees by the Berlin Social Science Center shows that the regime’s violence is the primary cause for their flight.
But even before the regime’s August 2013 chemical attack, which killed more than 1,400 civilians, Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, special investigator for the UN Human Rights Council, had found the regime responsible for eight of the nine massacres perpetrated until then; a year later, even after the rise of IS, the equation remained unchanged. Despite IS’s extreme violence, Pineheiro noted, the regime “remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily”.
Since its entry into the war, Russia has surpassed the regime’s kill rate; it has also helped ISIS expand its territory by targeting the rebels fighting it.
There is an old joke. A wife returns home to find her husband in bed with another woman.
“What are you doing in bed with another woman?” she screams.
“What woman?” the husband replies.
“The woman I just saw in bed with you,” says the wife.
“Who are you going to believe,” the husband replies, “Me or your lying eyes?”
There is no doubt that the Western media has often failed in its coverage. Its reporting on Gaza and the journalism leading up to the Iraq war was abysmal. But western media isn’t devoted to obfuscating truth with the kind of single-minded determination that Russia Today is. It is deeply ironic that many people’s often justified disdain for western journalists has led the into the embrace of a channel that has no commitment to truth at all. And it becomes most pernicious when pro-Kremlin propaganda is dressed up as criticism of “the mainstream media”, “the establishment”, or “Washington”. As I wrote elsewhere:
There are few things more commonplace than an Oedipal disdain for one’s own government. In this solipsistic worldview, one need not have to understand the dynamics of a foreign crisis; they can be deduced remotely. If you hate your own government then, by virtue of being in its bad books, a Putin or an Assad becomes an ally.
Conversely, if people elsewhere are rising up against their far more repressive states, their cause is tainted because of a sympathetic word they might have received from your government. And all the images of agony do not add up to a tear of sorrow as long as they are relayed by a hated “mainstream media”. Indeed, victims are reproached for eroding ideological certainties by intruding into our consciousness through their spectacular suffering.
Idrees Ahmad wrote:
So a conspiracy theorist with a blog who briefly visited Syria as a guest of the regime is declaring that everything you know about Syria is wrong. That you have been misled by everyone in the “MSM” from the New York Times to Der Spiegel, from the Guardian to the Telegraph, from CNN to Channel 4, from ABC to BBC, from CBS to CBC
Assadism: Haunted By Its Own Success
Civilians being evacuated, Eastern Aleppo.
The task of defining Assadism is useful for specific purposes only—such as identifying arguments that legitimate or exonerate Assad’s iron fist rule and crimes. But to even gnaw at what Assadism exactly is, it is necessary to adopt a holistic approach and thus move on to define what conservatism exactly is.
I wish to argue that Assadism is conservatism. It should be clear as day, but this argument should be elucidated. So what is conservatism? If we wish to define it narrowly: conservatism is the ideology of reaction to demands for egalitarianism. Historians of conservatism trace its progeny to the reaction to the events in Revolutionary France that began in 1789—all the way down to opposition to feminism and racial equality. Commonly thought to be conceived by Edmund Burke, conservatism has been embellished and re-produced by thinkers stretching from slaveholder intellectuals such John C. Calhoun to Ayn Rand and Ludwig Von Mises. One would reasonably ask: why would such an impulse—to conserve power in the hands of so few—only “begin” in 1789, much less require original thinkers at each turn? The answer is that by virtue of the fact that conservatism is an ideology for defending privilege, it necessarily arose at a time when power had to be established and maintained by consent and hegemony. The baroque ways of domination just didn’t achieve their task anymore. What was different about conservatism was that it constructed ex nihilo “the people” and pitted them against the forces of egalitarianism. “The people” were authentic, pure and facing them were the forces of destabilizing modernity.
The rest of the story is that conservatism is often haunted by its own victories. Once it clings to the levers of power, it sheds its drapes and becomes associated with its eternal core—the preservation of hierarchies of power. Its rhetoric may valourize The People and claim to speak for them against “foreign influences,” but its essence is the enslavement and domination of those who are neither of the aristocracy or the bourgeoise.
Which brings us to the question: what is the significance of this to Assadism?
Assad increasingly appears to be re-monopolizing power. Regardless if they’re true, one common trope we’ve heard is that Assad is the only one who stands between barbarism and secularism. Sectarian division—he has so carefully germinated—is adopted as a primary lens, to interpret the revolutionary processes, not struggle for class or political equality“With us the two great divisions of society are not the rich and poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class.”—John C. Calhoun
“He’s a moderate and was only provoked.”“But [French revolutionaries,] who began with refusing to submit to the most moderate restraints, have ended by establishing an unheard-of despotism.”—Edmund Burke, Reflections On The French Revolution
And so on and so forth. Conservatives have historically branded themselves as the last bulwarks of order against the chaos self-government. Moderation against the fanaticism of the guillotine, or the “headchoppers.”
But this is all coming unstuck. Consider the dilemma: despite his defenders’ denial of his crimes against fleeing civilians, none of them have found an argument against one stark fact: civilians are being evacuated. They will doubt the existence of a 7-year old girl with Twitter account in Aleppo, they will scrutinize activists who can speak English and have internet connection (the crime!) they will doubt the veracity of human rights organizations’ reports on his crimes, they can claim that the White Helmets are in bed in Al-Qaeda/funded by shady organizations in the West but they won’t ever deny the fact that ethnic cleansing is in fact occurring. That is not a paradox. The defence of hierarchy by any means is the essence of conservatism. To deny that displacement is occurring is to deny the legitimacy of Assad’s rule.
Considering the fact that many on the Left and the Right share almost the same exact opinions of Assad and Putin today, it may not be a coincidence that conservatism was born of the same womb—Revolutionary France—that gave us the categories “Right” and “Left.” Perhaps a rearrangement is in order.
The Most Dangerous Philosopher in the World
Dugin thinks Trump’s victory is a monumental strike against the “globalists”, whose candidate was Hillary Clinton - the same language that you can easily find peppering conservative American websites like Breitbart News, Drudge Report and conspiracy king Alex Jones (a particular favorite of Dugin’s). He thinks Trump’s victory was a kind of “revolution” started by American people and should lead to worldwide defeats of the globalist agenda, draining the proverbial “swamp” the world over.
Dugin doesn’t stop there, however. His visions of what Trump’s victory means go into the apocalyptic and civilization-changing:“We need to return to the Being, to the Logos, to the foundamental- ontology (of Heidegger), to the Sacred, to the New Middle Ages - and thus to the Empire, religion, and the institutions of traditional society (hierarchy, cult, domination of spirit over matter and so on). All content of Modernity - is Satanism and degeneration. Nothing is worth, everything is to be cleansed off. The Modernity is absolutely wrong -- science, values, philosophy, art, society, modes, patterns, "truths", understanding of Being, time and space. All is dead with Modernity. So it should end. We are going to end it.”
This certainly would not be the first time in recent history a Russian thought that everything is wrong and the world needs to be completely uprooted. We know how that turned out. And the occult-sounding elements of some of what Dugin is saying, along with his beard, perhaps earn the comparison to Rasputin. But does Dugin believe concrete measures should be taken to bring about his vision of the world?
Interestingly, prior to Trump’s victory, influential American conservative outlets like the National Review were warning about Russian intentions, specifically singling out the threat Dugin’s ideology posed, calling Eurasianism “a satanic cult”. Now that Trump won and Russia was implicated in election meddling, they are not so keen to bring that up.
Austria's far-right party cozies up to Russia
The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party said his party had signed a friendly pact with the Russian government in Moscow on Monday and vowed to be “a neutral and reliable intermediary and partner in promoting peace” between the United States and Russia.
FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache also revealed in a statement that he’d traveled to New York a month earlier to meet with Ret. Gen. Mike Flynn, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser.
Monday’s announcement sought to establish Austria’s growing populist party on the world stage, but it served the dual purpose of signifying Russia’s growing ties to Europe’s far-right movement.
“The FPO continues to gain international influence,” the statement said, although it did not not elaborate on the contents of the agreement with Russia.
Monday’s meeting in Moscow was also attended by the FPO’s recently defeated presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, and members of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruling United Russia party.
Originally founded by Nazis shortly after World War II, the FPO has become one of Europe’s leading platforms against migration. Like many of Europe’s rising far-right populist parties, it also supports scaling back the European Union and cutting down on sanctions against Russia, which were imposed by the EU and U.S. governments in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea region in Ukraine.
Russia’s recent meddling in European domestic politics has stirred plenty of anxiety among EU leaders, who accuse Russia of funding these populist movements in an effort to weaken Western democracies. The issue was a major preoccupation among EU leaders during a summit in October.
Monday’s meeting is hardly the the first time Russia has been linked with Europe’s far-right populist parties.
France: The National Front Party (FN) borrowed 9.4 million euros from Russia to help fund its reelection campaign in 2014. FN’s leader, Marine Le Pen, has made her admiration of Russia well known — she famously supported Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and opposes the EU and U.S. sanctions. Earlier this year, Le Pen sought a 27 million euro loan from a Russian-owned bank to finance her presidential bid.
Hungary: In May 2013, leaders of the far-right party Jobbik met with members of Russia’s parliament at Moscow State University. A member of the same party was accused in 2014 of acting as a Russian spy.
Bulgaria: The leader of the neo-Nazi Ataka Party, Volen Siderov, traveled to Moscow in 2012 for Putin’s 60th birthday party and expressed support for the Russian president.
Slovakia: The far-right Our People’s party is an ally of Moscow. Leader Marian Kotleba sent a letter of support to Ukraine’s pro-Russia leader, Viktor Yanukovych, just before he was ousted in a popular revolution in 2014.
The meeting between Strache and Flynn took place at Trump Tower, where, according to the statement, they discussed ending the United States’ and EU’s “harmful and ultimately useless sanctions” against Russia. It is the latest indication that historically chilly relations between the U.S. and Russia will warm under the incoming Trump administration.
Several key members of Trump’s Cabinet have shown close ties to Moscow in the past, most notably Trump’s pick for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has a history of friendly relations with Putin. Flynn has also expressed an openness to working with Moscow, and once sat next to Putin during an event.
tapitsbo » 20 Dec 2016 17:28 wrote:It's funny Joe, the Russian blasphemy laws you're referring to seem more analogous to Western speech laws against insulting certain communities (which certainly have more direct equivalents in Russia) than they do to sharia!
RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 - SECT 18D
Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:
(a) in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or
(b) in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or
(c) in making or publishing:
(i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or
(ii) a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.
The CIA Is Not Your Friend
Now some liberal pundits are — either flippantly or sincerely — hoping that the CIA will find a smoking gun to definitively prove that Russian intelligence helped elect Donald Trump. Others, notably Glenn Greenwald, have pointed out this fantasy’s disturbing implications insofar as it goes against what we know about how the hack took place and what its purpose was. More importantly, as Juan Cole noted, Trump didn’t need any Russian help to win the election.
Liberal pundits went off the rails on this one. Before the election, they huffed and puffed over Donald Trump blowing the house down by threatening to reject the election’s legitimacy. Yet last Friday, Barack Obama himself implicitly questioned the president-elect’s legitimacy, warning of dark conspiracies and foreign powers.
Readers would side-eye any news story describing the president of a country outside the advanced capitalist west questioning his successor’s legitimacy. Perhaps they’d mutter “banana republic” or snicker about dumb Latin Americans or stupid Africans or crazy Slavs or corrupt Asians. But now Barack Obama, drone-master, Mr. Likeable, Mr. Too-little Too-late even by his limited “fired up and ready to go” promises, essentially asked the CIA to do whatever it takes to get rid of that scoundrel Trump. What makes this so appealing to liberals?
It does have some plausibility: the Russians, after all, have always tried to influence public opinion in the United States. But let’s say everything is true — that Trump received not only ideological but also material support from Russia. And let’s say that Trump won because of Russia, and Russia’s goal was to have him win.
These revelations would depend on the United States having a mole in Russia’s own intelligence services, no revelation in itself. We don’t need to rehearse how the State Department does things like this all the time, nor do we need to think very hard to rattle off other situations when outside powers have meddled in domestic politics. One doesn’t have to be a Mearshieimer–Walt acolyte to recognize that Israel has used their intelligence services to impact American politics, as have likely the Saudis, China, Pakistan, and India. One nation trying to sway politics in another is, simply put, a nonstory.
What binds this CIA-as-hero fantasy together — aside from the Alex Jones–surpassing allegations that Glenn Greenwald is a Russian agent and even Bernie Sanders unwittingly helped Russia’s efforts — is that Trump’s alt-right politics look less like liberal America and more like Putin’s Russia. This is the rational kernel at the heart of the liberal conspiracy theory: they can disavow the United States’s own foreign policy and their role in losing the election in one fell swoop.
We must grant the first point. Russia’s role in the ongoing war crimes in Syria is undeniable. Without Russian air support and cover, Assad’s thugs likely wouldn’t have been able to take Aleppo, Grozny-style. Putin has made friends all over Europe’s far right, while, at home, he functions effectively as a dictator, repressing workers’ movements, journalists, and Muslims.
The Russian-hack conspiracy theory lets liberals put the United States’s intrigue and violence in the past. Sure, we’ve done bad stuff in the past — like Obama once said, “we tortured some folks.” But right now, as bad as we may be, as many atrocities as we may commit, we are not as bad as Russia. I mean in America, at least the police don’t shoot you — unless, of course, they do.
But this liberal dream requires not just backing, but elevating, the CIA. They want the CIA to keep putting out damaging information about Trump to force him to resign or tow their line. First, they swooned over the possibility that Romney would step in as a sober, Mormon voice to counteract Bannon’s Russia connections. Then they hoped that the Electoral College could be “swayed.” Maybe Barack Obama will declare himself an emergency ruler pending new elections. I can almost hear Obama saying it: The 2016 election was “compromised. So Michelle and I are gonna have to stick around awhile.” Liberals and perhaps even the detritus of the old “decent left” would cheer this, just as they cheered the war on Iraq.
Those who hope the CIA will substitute for democratic legitimacy may well argue that Trump has no democratic legitimacy. Well and good. Within the current American system, no one can lay claim to substantive democratic legitimacy. Regardless, Donald Trump won the election.
Fighting back against Trump means fighting against the liberals who invented him — in some cases literally, as the DNC leak showed that Clinton’s campaign wanted him to be the candidate. It means fighting back against the very foundations of a society that would produce him. It doesn’t mean desperately tailing the headless chicken of the liberal intelligentsia as it dances at some place on the highway near Langley.
Vladimir Putin and the Return of Russophobia: Symbols of a Changing World
Michael Orion Powell-Deschamps
Something peculiar has happened in modern geopolitics. Russia, a country that arose nearly as a fractured version of the much larger Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, has arisen in our time as one of the most powerful and feared power brokers in the world.
President Vladimir Putin's role in Russia's rebound has led to his vilification in the United States and much of the Western world. He has been featured numerous times on the cover of mainstream Western magazines, whether leading a rebellion of nationalist leaders on the cover of the Economist or being accused of attempting to subvert American elections on the cover of Time. Some covers have even gone as far as picturing him with enhanced, evil green eyes.
Putin is a chameleon. American progressives see him as a white nationalist, while leftists such as Venezuelean leader Nicholas Maduro award him peace prizes. American conservatives see him as a "KGB thug," as Adam Taylor of Business Insider put it, while America's new Trump-style crop of "Alt Right" nationalists see him as an icon. Putin somehow gets a warm reception in Bejiing, Caracas, America's Rust Belt, and even Jerusalem.
Putin's decade-plus-long ascent comes at the time of America's great decline from global control, and his combination of power and charisma is timed just when much of the world, including the United States itself, is looking for alternatives to the Western order. A general alienation from American command is the uniting facet from the quite disparate leaders that have attracted to Putin's rise, be it Nicholas Maduro, Donald Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu, or Rodrigo Duterte, and the various groups that they represent.
Putin is popular in Latin America. In early October 2016, only a month before the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, Putin was awarded the 'Hugo Chavez Prize for Peace and Sovereignty' award in Venezuela. Speaking emphatically of the Russian president, Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro said of Putin that he was "a leader that I believe is the most outstanding there is in the world today, a fighter for peace, for balance, and a builder of a pluri-polar, multi-centric world."
Venezuela is not the only country that sees Putin as a peacemaker. In 2011, Putin was awarded with China's 'Confucius Peace Prize.' Whereas the Venezuelans saw Putin as a leader in creating a world of more diversified power, the Chinese praised Putin for his toughness and leadership in fighting terrorism, citing the conflict in Chechnya especially. Translated to English, the accompanying document stated, "His iron hand and toughness revealed in this war impressed the Russians a lot, and he was regarded to be capable of bringing safety and stability to Russia. He became anti-terrorist No. 1 and the national hero."
Pope Francis, the widely popular pontiff, has said that Vladimir Putin is the "the only one with whom the Catholic Church can unite to defend Christians in the East." Francis has also made outreach to the Eastern Orthodox Church a priority for his papacy, a move that the Economist has said is akin to "kissing Putin's ring."
Adding to Chinese and Latin American appeal, and perhaps drastically contrasting to, Putin has been praised by figures within the rising Alternative Right, the once fringe element of American conservatism - widely seen as a "white supremacist" and "fascist" movement -- that has been credited with propelling Trump in to the White House.
Matthew Heimbach, a widely known American white nationalist and leader of the Traditionalist Worker's Party, said quite simply when asked by the New York Times, "Russia is our biggest inspiration. I see President Putin as the leader of the free world."
Sam Dickson, a former Ku Klux Klan lawyer who speaks often at "alt-right" events, said of Putin, "I've always seen Russia as the guardian at the gate, as the easternmost outpost of our people. They are our barrier to the Oriental invasion of our homeland and the great protector of Christendom. I admire the Russian people. They are the strongest white people on earth."
For a white supremacist to claim Putin's Russia as the "barrier to the Oriental invasion of our homeland" while China simultaneously rewards Putin for his "iron hand and toughness" is truly fascinating. Groups that do not like, trust, or respect one another have somehow found a common admiration of Vladimir Putin for the same characteristics.
While Alan Feurer and Andrew Higgins, in their New York Times report, accounted Trump's admiration for Putin as "a dog whistle to a small but highly motivated part of his base," the reality may be much more daunting. Russia's leadership has managed to win over even the most trusted and reliable of American allies. For example, while relations between the United States and Israel declined, Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly reached out frequently to Russia.
While the US-Israeli bond is likely to be strengthened with incoming president Trump, who has pledged various itinerary that Israel has sought for years, such as approving Israel's West Bank settlements and the recognition of Jerusalem as the Jewish capital, the trend of Putin winning over countries alienated during the Obama years was still very striking, especially with the internationalist image Barack Obama himself ran with when he campaigned for president.
The popularity and admiration of the Russian president, coming from so many very different audiences, tells us of the increasingly tumultuous and inconsistent state of the world in the second decade of the twenty-first century.
A Post-American World
In 2008, right as Barack Obama was cascading toward his first term as president, American journalist Fareed Zakaria published the book "The Post American World," where he postulated that the policy decisions of Western powers were leading to a world of declined authority for American and other Western powers.
Zakaria primarily saw the economic heft of India and China as the major players in a post-American world. China has a GDP of $9.4 trillion while India has a GDP of nearly $1.9 trillion. With growth rates that exceed the US, both countries represent fierce competition for the American leviathan, which incurs $16 trillion annual GDP as of 2013. Russia, on the other hand, has only $2.1 trillion annual GDP, putting it ahead of India but well behind China and the United States.
For all of their economic weight, China and India have not yet taken on military obligations of the level superpowers usually do. Putin's Russia has taken the lead in the various chaotic situations left behind by America's interventions in the Middle East and North Africa. From Duterte in the Philippines to white nationalists in the US, Putin seems to appeal to people who once looked to the United States military as a source of global dominance.
This in effect explains some of Putin's wide-spanning appeal. In contrast to Obama, who won the more traditional Nobel peace prize in 2008, Putin's prizes from Venezuela and China represent an emerging global culture, breaking the shell of the old world signified by the Nobel -- a world that has been dominated by Western interests for roughly the past half of a millennium. The prize was set up in 1898 in the name of Alfred Nobel, a repentant industrialist and arms profiteer. The peace prizes that Putin received enjoyed him as one of the inaugural recipients.
The 2016 American presidential race especially illustrated how Putin had stepped in to the power vacuum of a declining United States. Russia is being routinely accused of interfering in the elections, much as the US itself boasted of doing in the election of Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. In response, Putin has asked rhetorically if the US still was a "great country" or if it now was a "banana republic," a term used to malign the unstable governments that riddled Central America in the early twentieth century.
Ironically, the phraseology once reserved for so-called "Third World" countries which invariably found themselves within the realm of western dominance, too chaotic and disoriented themselves to be powers of their own, and almost always exploited into oblivion, is now being directed at the US. In this time, with a bevy of countries like the US eroding from within while being spread thin throughout, we may begin to associate terms like "developing country," "banana republic" or even "Third World" with the once great Western powers, which have failed to adapt or aide their people in meeting a changing world. Putin's role in history specifically may be as the man who symbolized the decline of America's superpower role and the ascent of many other soon-to-be stronger nations in a rapidly changing world.
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