Article from: http://www.balkanalysis.com
Russia: Richard Perle to the rescue in Russia
The last months have seen neocons, worst of all being Richard Perle, protest the growing power of Russian president Vladimir Putin. He sparked their ire by cracking down on the countrys oligarchs, especially Yukos boss Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The real outrage for the neocons was how this act sidelined a deal between Exxon-Mobil and Yukos, a deal which would have enormously enriched a professed political enemy of Putin while putting a large chunk of Russias energy supply under the control of an American company.
Yet its not just Exxon. Neocons fear that Russian oil might be diverted into pipeline projects to not only Japan but- most fearsome of all- China.
The capper - that event that really drove the neocons ballistic - was when the Russian people disagreed with them and strengthened Putins party hold on parliament in Decembers elections. One can only imagine the inflammatory rhetoric we will be subjected to following the Russian presidential elections of March, which Putin will win.
Even these events beside, Vladimir Putin fundamentally represents what neocons hate most - a foreign politician who is actually a leader and who actually stands up to the US. In the neocon political universe, the word leader is synonymous with evil dictator, and opposing the US could only logically be done by rogue states and spiteful, impotent former allies. Foreign governments are respectfully asked to be caretakers, sycophants, willing to join coalitions and more besides. Anything less is tantamount to betrayal and roguery.
Yet there are solutions for insolence. On 31 October, following the arrest of Yukos boss Khodorkovsky, Prince of Darkness Richard Perle demanded that Russia be expelled from the G-8: No (other) G-8 country is allowed to treat its leading businessmen the way Russia treated Khodorkovsky, he spewed. I believe Russia is moving fast in the wrong direction.
As the neocons would have it, this was yet another example of Soviet-minded politicians crushing the valiant free-market reformers of the business class. On the same day, a very loaded commentary from the Neocon-dominated American Enterprise Institute bombastically declared that:
a scandal of Watergate proportions is rocking Moscow. It threatens Russia's economic revival and endangers President Vladimir Putin's long-term political survival. Russians are calling it a signal event in their country's history, comparable to Stalin's purges of the 1930s or the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968.
The tacit absurdity of this statement is only reinforced by the failure to cite anyone - anyone - except Russians in general in defense of the comparison with Stalin or the invasion of Prague. Unfortunately for the neocons, when somebody did ask ordinary Russians for their opinion, they voiced it loud and clear at the ballot box, just over a month later. And that was the final straw for the neocons.
The parliamentary elections of 7 December saw a big victory for pro-Putin United Russia candidates. Rather than countenance the possibility that a majority of Russians might actually have voluntarily supported a president with 80 percent approval ratings, they instantly joined the chorus of outside voices charging electoral unfairness and corruption. That international cuckold, the OSCE, complained the election was a regression in the democratization process. And US media fretted that elections were unfair to the opposition parties. The San Francisco Chronicle offered this misleading description of the state of affairs in Russia today:
as parliament looked on, he (Putin) has turned Russia into what Kremlin insiders and analysts call managed democracy- a state where democratic institutions are too weak and the opposition is too vulnerable to make a difference, and where political elites, not voters, decide the country's future.
The subtle implication of this approximation is that in other places (i.e., America) it is the voters and not political elites who decide the countrys future. However, the alternative to Putins managed democracy is not voter empowerment - rather, it is the rule of the financial elite, Russias oligarchs. And that, come to think of it, wouldnt be too different from the political realities operative in todays America.
The timing of Khodorkovskys arrest was politically significant, of course. A report from Reuters cited well-connected foreign investors as saying Khodorkovsky was planning to buy 150 seats in the Duma:
he was trying to control 150 votes in the Duma, said one international banker who asked not to be identified. He had at least 100 people lined up who would vote as he wanted.
Putin is known to have been infuriated when Khodorkovsky mobilized support in the Duma earlier in the year to vote down an increase in taxation of oil company profits. They (the Kremlin) believe he was launching some initiative to take over the reins of power and that it was a very well thought out attempt, said a prominent investment banker in frequent contact with Kremlin insiders.
While neocons portray the situation as one of a Soviet-style Putin versus champions of the free market, not a word is said about how Russias oligarchs were able to enrich themselves so much and so quickly. In fact, there is an entire website devoted to exposing the oligarchs. It begins with this summary:
using their links with the state and, sometimes, shadowy business connections made before the collapse of the Soviet Union, a small number of well-placed and ruthless men managed to thrive in the early days of Russias bandit capitalism. When the great Soviet enterprises, oil companies and fields, media outlets and mines worth billions of dollars were privatized, they used their inside positions to amass huge wealth, in the process acquiring the hatred of the Russian population and, often, the adulation of a Western press eager to find successful businessmen in the hub of the former communist empire.
In 2000, there were no billionaires in Russia, whereas today there are 17. Antiwar.coms Justin Raimondo recounted the oligarchs Soviet-style methods of enrichment, and notes the following irony in regards to Putins chief neocon accuser:
it is oh-so-appropriate that Richard Perle should become the chief Western defender of the crony capitalist Khodorkovsky: Perle's links to such companies as Trireme Partners, Boeing, and Hollinger International have paid off as a direct result of his high-level political connections.
Indeed, the neocon affinity for dubious causes the world over is well attested in the story of Comrade Perle and his noble quest for international justice. When Perle decries Putins way of treating their leading businessmen like that, he is simply expressing his shock and confusion that now-capitalist Russia nevertheless fails to attain the same heights of state socialism so prevalent in the US today - the cozy cronyism at taxpayer expense that has made chickenhawks such as Richard Perle so fat and happy. Indeed, the innate contradictions so characteristic of Perles thought - attacking France while at the same time vacationing there, demanding a bloody war while having no intention of fighting in it, ordering the removal of political influence from capital in Russia while clearly not planning to play by the same rules in America- is symptomatic of all the bloated hypocrisies of neoconservative thought in general, one that is tiresome, oafish and increasingly untenable.