. Don't look now, but last week President Vladimir Putin
the bright idea of bringing back the five-pointed red
star as the insignia of the Russian military. It all begins
to make sense if we note the
Russian government's crackdown on
Barbie! The Guardian
is on the story:
Russian Ministry of Education has included Barbie along with
a list of other toys and games, such as Pokémon, that
face a ban because of the supposedly harmful effects they
have on the minds of young children. Barbie, in particular,
is under fire because the doll is thought to awaken sexual
impulses in the minds of the very young, and encourage consumerism
among Russian infants."
Russian economy could do with a little "consumerism,"
the problem being that there still isn't much to consume.
Of course I don't suppose they've banned J.
C. Penney's "Forward Command Post," a model
of what looks to be an ordinary American-style middle class
home with the roof blown off and the walls pockmarked with
bullet holes. It's a bizarre post-9/11 twist on what looks
like Barbie's dollhouse, that comes with action figures
but no corpses. At $44.95, this ghoulish construction, besides
being far too expensive for the average Russian family to
afford, couldn't possibly have any ill effects on those little
Russkie tykes not when they're weaning them to wage genocidal
wars, like the one in Chechnya. As the Guardian reports:
move will be seen as part of the Kremlin's attempts to control
the sense of identity of young Russians. Russian President
Vladimir Putin is keen to foster ideals of family and patriotism
alongside the belief that Russia was, and can be again, a
great imperial power."
imperial power that is slowly imploding in on itself, demographically
as well as economically?
Not too likely. Forget those dreams of past glory, Vladimir,
and start handing out Viagra
as generously as your predecessors once ladled
out the vodka.
of being stoned out of one's mind, a
recent article in Pravda, reprinted in WorldNetDaily,
claims that the Russians may be planning their own coup attempt
in Iraq in order to prevent the Americans from grabbing all
the oil contracts:
if Russia were to deploy troops to Baghdad in its own coup
attempt? In the words of a Pravda analyst, 'This no longer
seems to be the idea of a lunatic.
It could provoke a crisis
that the CIA and the U.S. State Department analysts did not
even think of. Then, it will be the time for a different kind
of world order, taking into consideration everybody's interests.'"
Russians want to take Iraq, when they
can't even hold on to Chechnya? I say go for it. Better
them, than us.
them spend $9
billion a month to subdue, police, and hold the country
together: let them take the casualties, and bear the
burden of empire. They can pay the political costs, too, including
the degeneration of their own precarious democracy into a
full-fledged neo-totalitarian state.
any case, the Russians needn't go out of their way to cut
us off at the Iraqi pass, because it looks like the invasion
that once seemed "inevitable,"
according to the
conventional wisdom, has been called off, at least for
the time being. And us peaceniks have none other than uber-hawk
Paul Wolfowitz to thank for the
good news. In a speech to the International
Institute of Strategic Studies, Wolfowitz laid out the
new administration line on Iraq:
Bush is making every effort to bring about the disarmament
of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction without the use of force."
Bushies have come a long way since the days when the only
goal they would recognize or acknowledge was "regime
change." Naturally this concession was quickly followed
by an admonition to hope for peace but prepare for war:
only hope ... of achieving the peaceful outcome is if we can
confront the Iraqi regime with a credible threat of force
behind our diplomacy."
us the power to strike, the U.S. is saying to its erstwhile
European allies, because we won't necessarily use it. Trust
from Wolfowitz, the author of an
infamous memorandum on why the U.S. must pursue a policy
of hegemony on every continent, this is good for a guffaw,
or perhaps just a light chuckle, but there is a note of sincerity
here, too. What is striking is the admission that a unilateral
attack by the U.S. would lack credibility, and this is certainly
correct which is what critics of the war have been saying
the hype about the "hyperpower"
to the contrary notwithstanding, which the French have scared
themselves into believing,
the myth of American omnipotence is a delusion shared by American
neo-imperialists and America-haters alike. We simply do not
have the capacity to fight a successful war of conquest in
the Middle East and maintain an American military presence
for any length of time. Why else is the Pentagon balking
because they're a bunch of hand-holding pacifists?
a sixth-rate military power may not prove much of a problem,
our creditors as they demand repayment of the loans that
made the war possible plus interest will
require more than "smart bombs." The smart course
of action, now being pursued by the administration, is to
pursue the war option on the cheap, by getting the Europeans
to bear some of the financial burden. Give us money, and let
us have our way: not a very convincing argument, and one that
is unlikely to carry the day.
U.S., having chosen to go the inspections route, must follow
that road wherever it leads. There will naturally be many
attempts to divert or otherwise derail the new policy of conditional
war, in which the conditions are set by the Europeans and,
ultimately, Iraq's fate is decided by the Iraqis. We have
already seen how quickly the smear campaign against the weapons
inspectors went full
throttle, with the story of Jack McGeorge and his exotic
sex life making
headlines. Andrew Sullivan, always quick to complain of
the least perceived slight to gays, is so far silent on the
"outing" of brother McGeorge, a self-described "pan-sexual."
Maybe he'll regain his voice when Hans Blix is accused of
being a closet Saddamite.
interesting to watch is how quickly our neoconservative war
birds turn on the President when they realize he has no plan
to take Baghdad any time soon. Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan,
writing in the Weekly Standard, opine that he has fallen
UN trap," and aver that "the further we stumble
down this road, the greater the danger that the clarity of
our vision which the president has worked so hard to
establish may become hopelessly clouded."
qualify this with the assumption that the President doesn't
really mean it:
is the case for pessimism. But there is also a case for optimism.
It rests entirely on President Bush himself. We find it inconceivable
that the president intends to end his first term with Saddam
Hussein still in power."
before winter gives way to spring, and the UN inspectors are
through the rubble of Iraq, not finding anything resembling
"weapons of mass destruction," the neocons will
be singing a different tune. Already, over at National
Review, editor Rich
Lowry is giving the Democrats campaign advice:
really hope the Democrats don't go way left on the war. It
would be bad for them, and bad for the country. It's extremely
important for Bush to have good criticism even if it's
driven by bad motives. For instance, we probably wouldn't
have a 9/11 commission without the Democrats agitating for
one. Good for them. A few Democrats like Chuck Schumer are
criticizing the administration for not owning up to the problem
we have with the Saudis. Go Chuck! Finally, was John Kerrey's
criticism of the administration's reliance on proxies at Tora
Bora after-the-fact? Yes. Was it opportunistic. Yes. Was it
right? Absolutely. Now, if the Dems would just develop some
coherent structure for thinking about national-security that
these pot-shots could be folded into, we'd really be in business
guys are "in business," alright strictly for themselves.
The neocons care about one thing and one thing only: they'll
defer tax cuts and deregulation unto eternity, but to delay
a war is unforgivable; and as for calling it off don't even
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