American Roulette

Source: The Saker.

This brief essay interests me because it presents a Russian opinion of contemporary America. The introductory paragraph is particularly striking:

‘Russian roulette’ is a most peculiar expression. At least for any Russian. For the simple reason that he has never heard of it. In fact, it does not exist in Russian, neither the expression, nor the reality. It is something we learn about with astonishment when we learn English. The expression is an American invention and only an American with a death-wish could have thought up such a thing, in 1937, in fact (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_roulette). And so it is that only an American with a death-wish could have thought up the present situation. He has poked the bear so much and so often for over thirty years that the bear has had a lot of time to plan exactly what he would do. Now he is doing it. Why are you surprised? You loaded the gun and pointed it at your own head, now expect the bullet to come out.

I think there are many Americans who skip over what Russians have to say because they (the Americans) prefer to see the world according to their own assumptions. This is a willful choice in my experience, but not a productive one.

36 thoughts on “American Roulette

    1. We have made them enemies? How about they have made the West enemies since 1917?

      Putin is a Soviet Union style one man politburo. Ex-KGB for bonus points. Not much has changed except the rise of oligarchs so long as they give the king his due.

      The recalcitrant vassal states were slowly, violently re-absorbed. Ukraine balked.

      At what point does the West decide that “Putin style” is truly “gangman style”.

      Autocrats start wars. Stable democracies don’t.

      There is a lot of gray area with geopolitics and we are not innocent ourselves. But the West is not just about democratic institutions. It is also very much, if not more, about free market capitalism.

      Putin is not interested except as far as oligarchs fueling his coffers. And his personal perception of power was rooted in a creaky, corrupt military. A military that is a failure just because of the economic institution he supports. That is, the siphoning of military spending to bolster a navy of yachts instead of training and materiel.

      If free market capitalism is the better route, which most agree it is for peace among participants, then allowing Putin and his ilk to prevail in taking over sovereign states is not in our interest.

      IMO

      Liked by 2 people

    2. It was the USSR that invaded Afghanistan. Not Russia. They were already our enemy.

      Anyone who invades other countries makes themselves our enemy. Our main mistake with respect to Russia was under-reacting when they grabbed parts of Georgia (Bush) and Ukraine (Obama). Biden has learned from past mistakes – appeasement only encourages fascist tyrants to further aggression.

      Liked by 2 people

          1. So, where does it stop?

            It stops when Russia abandons its imperialist ambitions and gives up attacking its neighbors. That will require a revolution in Russia and this Ukraine folly may be the proximate cause.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I would say it ends when the artificial divisions created by the Soviets to break up ethnic cohesion are resolved and everyone gets to choose where their borders go peacefully.

            What is our national interest in preserving the political engineering of Soviet Communists who have been dead 50 years?

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          3. “…everyone gets to choose where their borders go peacefully.”

            Now that sounds like an admirable idea. How come it has yet to ever come to fruition anywhere in the world.

            Virtually all of Africa was chopped up by Europe to fit their needs without regard to ethnic divisions.

            Same in the Middle East. The Kurds have been trying to get a homeland for decades, but no one gives a crap. So sectarian violence continues unabated.

            Islamic states that are in Russian control would love to get out.

            I don’t think Putin cares one whit for the Russians living in the Donbas region. It wanted access to ports, manufacturing and a chunk of valuable wheat fields. In other words, Ukraine had what Putin wanted and he is going through his playbook of starting separatist movements (Georgia and Moldova, for example), then in the chaos try to “rescue” them. Ukraine punched back and here we are. 50,000 or more Russian casualties, 1000 tanks, innumerable military vehicles, planes and generals all in the name of “I want it and I want it now”.

            I reiterate the interest of the West is to keep free market capitalism, the best idea we have so far, for peace. And it only thrives in democratic institutions with a decent distribution of wealth and a healthy, educated citizenry. Once autocracy takes hold, oligarchs rise up in the corruption and in time the sh*t hits the fan. And when it does, autocrats look for diversions. War against supposed enemies is a good one.

            Liked by 2 people

          4. “I would say it ends when the artificial divisions created by the Soviets to break up ethnic cohesion are resolved and everyone gets to choose where their borders go peacefully.”

            If you imply that what Putin is doing is in service of that idea, then I think you are being duped. Ethnic Russians have never been a majority in Donbas so why would they get the final say. Without violence and Russian meddling they would not. There has always been an easy and non-violent solution for Ukrainians who want to be Russian – move to Russia.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. I don’t know Putin’s heart, neither do you. To what extent Russian nationalism plays a part is uncertain, but I do think it is significant.

            But in any case, I don’t see our national interest being served by intervening.

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          6. “I don’t know Putin’s heart”…

            You don’t know his mind, either. Yet you continually profess to do so.

            And if you think his HEART is pure, you probably think the same thing of Trump.

            Liked by 1 person

          7. Isolationism notwithstanding, you CLAIM you base your opinion on actions and capabilities. But when those actions are viewed through a lens other than your own, you see what YOU want to see.

            And protecting against the expansion of Putin’s power into PEACEFUL allies of ours IS in our national interest. Once again, you see what YOU want to see and not the reality of being part of this world and a country that is a leader in it.

            Liked by 1 person

          8. “But in any case, I don’t see our national interest being served by intervening.”

            And I do. I have explained why. But then I believe in democracy and you don’t. That we have established repeatedly.

            I do not know why what is in Putin’s heart matters. It is his actions that are criminal no matter where they spring from.

            Liked by 1 person

          9. You believe in fighting to the last Ukrainian for democracy, but you don’t support the vote of the people of the Donbass?

            So you support democracy when people vot the way you think they should.

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          10. “So you support democracy when people vote the way you think they should.”

            I thought we were going to try harder to be civil?

            The vote in Donbas was NOT democracy. You do not start a democratic election by driving away millions of voters through violence. That is what has happened in Donbas. You do not conduct an election ILLEGALLY. That is what has been done in Donbas. You do not conduct an election under the guns of a criminal invader. That is what was done in Donbas.

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          11. “Didn’t think that was uncivil”

            Then think harder.

            It is a very thinly veiled accusation of intellectual dishonesty. I have thick skin and I really could care less about your insults, but if you were serious the other day then I think it behooves you to set a better example.

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          12. “What is our national interest in preserving the political engineering of Soviet Communists who have been dead 50 years?”

            Our national interest lies in defending democracy against fascism. And it lies in standing up for the principle that nations cannot invade their neighbors with impunity.

            Liked by 1 person

          13. If we are going to go to war, or supply insurgents, on behalf of democracy and against totalitarian abuses, Russia and Ukraine would be about 33rd on the list, after the Islamic states and most of Africa.

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          14. “If we are going to go to war, or supply insurgents, . . .”

            Which Islamic state has sought to expand by invading a neighboring country? Which African state has done that. Internal strife is not the same thing as international aggression.

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          15. Syria? You mean Putin’s puppet?

            But seriously, why not include Egypt and Jordan if you want to bring up very old and irrelevant history. War against the forceful European colonization of Palestine is not quite the same as invading a neighbor because you covet his land and resources. I stand by my point. In spite of strife in the many places you cite, there is nothing analogous to what Putin has done repeatedly.

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          16. Actually, the two are very similar.

            The Palestinians are resentful of the arbitrary creation of Israel by the British, and the people of The Conbas and Crimea feel much the same about the Soviet boundaries.

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          17. “Actually, the two are very similar.”

            The emotions may be similar. The history is not. Again, I encourage you to learn a little more about Russian-Ukrainian relations going back at least a century.

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          18. “Those there a century ago are not there to vote today”
            Nor are the people – millions – driven away from their homes by Russia and its separatist puppets.

            My recommendation that you learn a bit more is based on this claim in another thread . . .

            “It is very much a matter of point of view, the Ethnic Russians see it as demanding the return of what was stolen from them by the Soviets”

            NOTHING was stolen from them by the Soviets. The Soviets moved Russians to Ukraine all the better to eliminate them as a nation and a culture. If you are going to express strong opinions about what is right and wrong, maybe you should have some knowledge of what you are talking about?

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    3. RE: “All in all, it is much better to have Russia as an ally that an enemy.”

      I’d go further by saying we have no choice. The so-called “American Century” is over, and we did not emerge from it as the exceptional world power.

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      1. “… we did not emerge from it as the exceptional world power.”

        The mantra from the right wing might be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        And yet our economy is doing better than the rest of the world. Our dollar is almost too strong. Our inflation is better than most. We are investing heavily in shoring up neglected infrastructure. Domestic policies to manufacture high tech products is moving.

        We are still the country of choice for refugees fleeing failed nations.

        Free market capitalism is at risk when kowtowing to countries like Russia. Such economies can only work well in democratic institutions, warts and all.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “And yet our economy is doing better than the rest of the world.”

          That’s debatable. Printing money in trillion-dollar batches creates the illusion of a strong economy, not the reality of one.

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          1. “Printing money in trillion-dollar batches creates the illusion of a strong economy, not the reality of one.”

            Funny, you did not seem to believe that while Donald Trump was piling up massive deficits (“printing money”) even before the pandemic. And you seem not have noticed how Biden has presided over the greatest one year reduction in the federal deficit ever.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. “The so-called “American Century” is over, and we did not emerge from it as the exceptional world power.”

        And that is a good thing. And it is the result of our policies starting with the Marshall Plan, the reshaping of Japan, and our rapprochement with China.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “And that is a good thing.”

          Could be, if we accept the reality that we can’t bend other countries to our will, as with “poking the bear.”

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          1. Could be, if we accept the reality that we can’t bend other countries to our will, as with “poking the bear.”

            Leaving aside the Putin nonsense about us having been “poking the bear,” the reality is that we are aligned with the world’s democracies and now that Trump is gone we understand that we cannot just shove them aside, push to the front, bully, and threaten. No, we must advance the causes of freedom and democracy beside them or even sometimes behind them. The universal condemnation and coordinated economic actions against Russian aggression are a good example of what the future holds.

            Liked by 2 people

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