The military reports that our missile defense system is ready. Russia threatens to retaliate if we put weapons in space. In the meantime, Putin implies (despite asserting the contrary for months) that he will run for Parliament, and therefore could become prime minister. David Remnick’s long essay on Garry Kasparov, the leader of the only opposition party worthy of being called that (the Other Russia) party and Russian politics (such as it is) is very much worth reading, from the current New Yorker. Oh, yes, one more thing, Gazprom is threatening to cut gas to Ukraine. Gazprom is Russia’s largest company, and the lines between it and the government are, to say the least, blurry. For more on Gazprom’s bully tactics and/or how it is representing Russia’s geopolitical interest primarily see this and this and this. But the European Commission isn’t worried about Gazprom.
I was hopeing that the Garry Kasparov would be the chess champion and I wasn't dissapointed. I always wonder to what extent those who are supreme at games could translate that sucess to politics. If politics could be reduced to a set of rules...then multileveled thinking and general feel for the corresponding opening should allow such people to prevail, of course unlike chess and other games...politics is a game picked up in progress...and depending on the alingment of peices I could probably beat Kasparov if he spotted me a queen a rook and a bishop...but it is not just about pieces...if I had a mate in one material would not be an issue, so long as I had the vision to see it soon enough. And then again...somehow Bobby Fisher's insanity needs to be explained.
Interesting how Putin is made to be the Judo expert...a more physical game than chess chiefly set around exploiting the momentum of the adversary...chess vs. Judo...intellect versus brawn...or intellect in action as brawn?
This article reminds me of the anecdote about AJ Ayer facing off against Mike Tyson...
Also interesting is that "liberal democracy" is only really appealing as a means to an end...wealth and power. I remmember reading in Forbes how a billionare who got out of line was dealt with..why he was no longer on the "list"...This David Remnick guy is very good...four coffee cups.
Basically, they want their empire back. It's now (meaning, starting now) or never, given their poor demographic prospects and the opportunities opened by U. S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. NATO is about to be tested. The most vulnerable point on the map at the moment may be Georgia, although Ukraine is obviously key to any reconstitution of their empire.
This is an article where you really don't know whose side you want to take...the opposition refers to Russia as Saudia Arabia without Islam...well that sounds more like a goal than a reproach to me. It seems that Kasparov is so worried about honest elections that he would ally with people who understand that Hamas being elected in palestine was the result of open elections. It sounds like Kasparov is stuck in a position where the ennemy of my ennemy is also my ennemy. It is a complex and dangerous game.
I for one am no fan of Gary Kasparov. He has formed an alliance with Limonov's National Bolsheviks who oscillate between Bolshevism and National Socialism-and keep both the swastika and the hammer and the sickle on their party flag. And his level of support in Russia is literally zero. Russia desperately needs a responsible opposition but it won't come from Zhuganov's Communists (who hate Putin for not being a Red) or from Kasparov's pseudo-democratic front. I also fail to appreciate the wisdom in indefinite NATO expansion to the East. Even American conservatives procede as if "eternal Russia" and not the ideocratic Soviet Union was the enemy of the United States during the long Cold War.
I really wonder what Ayn Rand would say...I think she would attack Garry Kasparov on multiple levels, especially for compromising with Limonov. She would echo Sergei Kovalyov. "If there is no chance at all to win the elections, then the danger of participating in the elections is that it becomes a trap, a trick for government propaganda. . . . But what a real candidate can do is speak the truth about the regime to a maximum number of people.”
So she would have Garry Kasparov give a Gault like speech and then shrug...retreating to New Jersey?
I agree with eveything Dan says above, and find myself in the unusual position of vehemently disagreeing with Will. I particularly agree with Dan's phrase "desperately needs." It suggests that Dan might agree with me that Putin is no longer defensible, even if one is left with the nagging and perhaps decisive question, "compared to what realistic option?" Some of Nietzsche's most sensible words are harshly addressed to those who judge in the abstract, and for the sake of their own puffed-up purity. For the forseeable future, our presidents simply have to deal with the Putin organization as legitimate, and not be handing them perfect greivances to exploit like NATO expansion. What the rest of our political actors, including US intellectuals, need to be saying is unclear. But Putin has crossed a rubicon with this open willingness to pick a puppet and to set the stage for constitutional-amendment-on-the-fly. That he will be Prime Minister is either a sign that he greatly fears his own ex-KGB guys should he be away from the levers of power, or that he really hopes to become defacto president-for-life. Either possibility means there is a desperate situation brewing behind the voter-approved facade of Russian stability.
America hasn't seen Mother Russia always as a problem. Tsarist Russia sided with the Union during our Civil War. And Russia was an allied power during the Great War, as well as the Second. Though an asterisk has to be attached to their participation in the Second.
Kasparov is going to speak in Philadelphia in a couple of weeks, and I'm going to listen to him. If an opportunity arises, I'll ask him if he's only a "quasi-democrat," as some have suggested.