Ah yes,
here we go again with another attack on Vladimir Putin, this time from the pen
of Joseph Stiglitz and I am a great admirer of his economic writing. But it’s
fashionable once again to bash Russia and after watching too many decades of
Cold War, I’m a bit fed up. This, from a recent Guardian UK article:
In terms of per
capita income, Russia ranks 73rd (in terms of purchasing power parity) – well
below the Soviet Union’s former satellites in central and eastern Europe. The
country has de-industrialized: the vast majority of its exports now come from
natural resources. It has not evolved into a “normal” market economy, but
rather into a peculiar form of crony-state capitalism
.”
Well Joe, Russia is
de-industrialized because we gave it no choice. The majority of its exports come
from natural resources because we blockaded all other options. Sanctions, as
you so wisely admit, never work and we chose to sanction Russia to the limit.
Supported
by Republicans in the Congress (and Democrats when they were in power), Lockheed
Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and the
sucker-fish attached to their corporate bodies essentially run our Russia
diplomacy. That’s our peculiarly American form of crony-state capitalism. You’re a ‘follow the money
guy, Joe and you know keeping Russia and America in a state of suspended Cold War
animation is profitable to the guys
who make the guns. The Pentagon’s top 100 contractors raked in $175.1 billion in contracts in 2015.
Military expenditures
account for 52% of our annual national budget. This madness hasn’t won us a war
in 72 years, yet it casts a shadow across our economic landscape that has left
us with a ruined infrastructure, unconscionable long-term debt, a deplorably unjust
tax structure and more than a third of our citizenry a single job loss or major
health issue from bankruptcy.
Military contractors spent $126,591,498 in 2016 bribing
the Congress
.
This enormous fraud against the general public is absolutely legal—because the
Congress unilaterally made it the law of the land. Our Congress has made it legal to bribe our Congress in a world
turned upside down.
So, you’ll
excuse me if I see Mr. Putin in a different light. Pardon me all to hell if I
see him struggling to hold a badly wounded country together with whatever tape
and string is at hand. Yeah I know he knocks off dissidents. We just imprison
our Chelsea Mannings and drive our Edward Snowdens to exile, but there was a
time when America committed genocide, practiced slavery, assassinated foreign
leaders, tortured political prisoners and toppled democratic governments we
didn’t much care for. And much of that is within recent memory.
What Vladimir wants
for Russia is within our power to give. He wants recognition. He wants the
largest nation on the planet, his nation, to be brought into the West with a
degree of dignity and a chance at economic parity, as China was offered that recognition
45 years ago. It is not too much to
ask and should have been offered decades ago when the time was ripe and Mikhail
Gorbachev was the man in charge.
And it almost was. But the military guys began to whisper in
ears and line certain pockets and the military guys were hip-deep in the
profits and villainy of Vietnam and god it was lucrative and only cost 50,000
American lives, but my god, the money.
Preparedness was the magic word—way better
than domino theories and encroaching communism, both of which
were out of fashion and disproven. Preparedness was a forever word and the
money rolled in and the nation staggered—but fuck the nation, the money was
beyond belief.
So
perhaps Dwight Eisenhower was simply too much a gentleman to say “beware those who will fuck the nation for
profit
.” But if he had it to do over again, he might have apologized to
Mamie in advance, turned directly to the cameras and said it: “Beware the military-industrial complex who
will fuck the nation for profit
.” Eisenhower spoke from his farm in
Gettysburg. That could have been his Gettysburg Address.
But
that was then and this is now. We have a man in Vladimir Putin who is a realist
and a pragmatist, which is sometimes even better. We may miss him mightily when
he’s gone, because Russia is not known for men with whom one can reason.

 

The
time is now, the vehicle is Rex Tillerson and we might then see something
positive come out of this administration.