Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Updates

The good guys (Lucas, Shevtsova, Asmus) stormed to victory at the Intelligence Squared debate on March 18th. You can listen again here and read a review here

The debate was particularly interesting for the cynicism displayed towards Ukraine, Poland, Georgia and the Balts by some of the speakers on the other side. If you suffer from high blood pressure and have sympathies with the once-captive nations, be prepared.

A thoughtful review of New Cold War on Itching for Eestima

You can watch a video of my lecture at Brown here

A Flemish (Dutch) language interview in the Standaard here

And you can watch a debate in Nijmegen, The Netherlands (in English) here

A ludicrous "interview" from Lyndon La Rouche's wackos here.

(I particularly like the bit about my "thick British accent")


17 comments:

Colleen said...

In one swell swoop, this sequence examplifies EL' deep hatred of Russians and how little he knows about Russia's outstanding rise during the Putin administration, whic he is so bitter about that he sometimes pretend isn't happening:

LPAC: In the context of the crash of the entire world financial system, what do you think about the United States entering into an alliance with Russia and China, to stabilize the dollar, like Roosevelt did during the Bretton Woods?

LUCAS: Why should Russia be a party to that sort of conference? Economically, Russia is now a third-rate power. They have no economic power. They're at the level of a Holland, or a Belgium. Why should the Dutch, or the Belgians, have a seat at the table discussing a new world system?

Giustino said...

I think what he's getting at, is why does the world treat Russia like it is more important than it actually is?

Is it the size of Russia that earns it attention? Is it the stockpiles of nuclear weapons? Is it just a leftover from the Soviet period?

Think about Brazil. Brazil has more people, a higher GDP -- at almost every level it should be more important than Russia. Except Russia is in the G8 and Brazil is not. Russia has a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, Brazil does not.

Why? Is it really just the nukes? Because if you take away the nukes and Russia's relationship with Iran, it makes no sense to elevate Russia to a position above Brazil's.

Colleen said...

Part of it is because of World War II and the fact that Russia played the decisive role in liberating Europe from fascism, at the sacrifice of 27 million of its own.

Colleen said...

Another reason is strong global clout.

It's part of the "quartet" negotiating Mid East peace and has strong relations with Israel and the Arab nations equally (for example, Israel lifted Visa restrictions on Russian just yesterday !!!)

Russia's also one of the six parties negotiating with North Korea.

Russia made the Kyoto Protocol happen.

In a few years, it'll be the only nation able to send a man or woman into space.

Third largest F/X reserves.

Most natural gas, by a mile.

Reigning European champions in basketball. A mean chess team.

Culture. Sports. Economy. Natural Resources. Foreign clout. History. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Colleen said...

BTW, Russia is the fastest growing G8 economy by a wide margin.

Russia's economic growth in 2007 was 5x that of France, more than 4x that of Japan and Italy, and a little less than 4x that of the United States, for example.

Compared to a G8 country that also has a lot of natural resources, Russia's growth was still 3x more than that of Canada's.

After Russia, the fastest growing economy in the G8 in 2007 was the United Kingdom, yet its growth was more than 2.5x less than Russia's!

Goldman Sachs is truly correct - as if there ever was a doubt :) - when it predicts that the BRIC nations will form the core of the world's economic leaders in a relatively short period of time.

In fact, in 2007, Russia surpassed France to take over the number 7 spot in GDP (PPP), according to the CIA's World Factbook and it is poised to pass over number 6, the United Kingdom, sometime this year.

Not trying to rub it in. Just saying that Edward Lucas is either completely blind, totally lying, or both. He obviously hates Russia a lot and is sick of the magintude of its successes.

###

Finally, to EL: There were about 4 copies of your book at the Barnes and Nobles on 17th Street in NYC. The book is located on the fourth floor in the Current Events section. I am currently reading Comrade J, but might pick up NCW next. FYI, I am the type of person who likes to read what people who don't really agree with me are saying. It's pretty enriching and maybe in the future I could write a psychological book on emotions, who knows.

stalker said...

Brazil has a lower GDP than Russia, whether you measure it at purchasing power parity or market exchange rates. Its trend rate of growth per capita is around 7-8% compared to Brazil's 2-3%.

Furthermore, as you show here (http://darussophile.blogspot.com/2008/01/core-article-towards-new-russian.html) and here (http://darussophile.blogspot.com/2008/03/core-article-education-as-elixir-of.html), Russia will remain important for a long time.

Lucas' comparison of Russia's economy to that of Benelux countries is so manifestly ridiculous there's little point in employing logical argumentation against it.

Giustino said...

Colleen wrote:
Part of it is because of World War II and the fact that Russia played the decisive role in liberating Europe from fascism, at the sacrifice of 27 million of its own.

We can argue some other time how exactly Europe was liberated from 'fascism' in 1945 when Spain was ruled by a fascist dictator for 30 more years. But what I think you are referring to is the USSR's seat at the victor's table at Yalta and Potsdam. Yes, it was definitely a global power then, but that era is soon to pass from living memory. So why not go back to Versailles or the Congress of Vienna, if we base the present on the deep past?

It's part of the "quartet" negotiating Mid East peace and has strong relations with Israel and the Arab nations equally (for example, Israel lifted Visa restrictions on Russian just yesterday !!!)

That makes sense. There are a lot of Russians traveling back and forth from Israel.

Russia's also one of the six parties negotiating with North Korea.

Russia has a lot of nukes, which I pointed out previously. This would fall under the "Russia has clout because it has nukes" category.

Reigning European champions in basketball. A mean chess team. Culture. Sports. Economy. Natural Resources. Foreign clout. History. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Like Brazil doesn't have great sports teams and culture. We're talking about the country that invented bossa nova and samba.

Russia's economic growth in 2007 was 5x that of France, more than 4x that of Japan and Italy, and a little less than 4x that of the United States, for example.

These are slower growth economies. Russia's economy it seems is finally catching up to its western neighbors', like Poland. Maybe it was the mess of the Yeltsin years, or maybe it just takes longer for capital to spread to Russia, but this kind of breakneck economic boom has been going on in most transition countries. I think Estonia had something like a 10 percent growth rate two years ago. Most financial reports I have read though warn that this is not permanent.

Not trying to rub it in. Just saying that Edward Lucas is either completely blind, totally lying, or both. He obviously hates Russia a lot and is sick of the magintude of its successes.

I am quite pleased with Russia's economic growth. The more self-absorbed the emerging Russian middle class is, the less likely they are to slip back into the attraction of
expansion. What troubles me is the top-down political management. The whole state is in the hands of a few select wealthy people. When they mess up -- which is pretty much inevitable, how will the state correct its path? Also, I don't believe Edward Lucas hates Russia. He's a British journalist, and yes, to most people, including British journalists, the largesse of Gazprom's wealth coupled with the low living standards of everyday Russians is a bit nauseating. Forgive us for not falling in love with the PR of state-owned gas export companies.

Stalker wrote
Russia will remain important for a long time.

Russia is a big country with a lot of weapons that touches several strategic regions -- the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. I am not arguing that it is not important, I am just stating that there are other countries that are also important. This Cold War legacy of viewing Russia as a centerpiece of the world is cute, but does not exactly mesh with reality.

Edward Lucas said...

Colleen's comment and the followups are treating this Larouche "interview" as if it were a serious expression of my views. It isn't. These people did not use a tape recorder or take notes. Even the website admits it is a "paraphrase". You can find plenty of other places where I have argued strongly for _greater_ engagement with Russia, especially on strategic nukes and space.

I suggest that this discussion now closes and I apologise for having let it run on so long.

Attention would be better devoted to things I have said, than loopy Larouche's interpretation of them.

Anton said...

``I think Estonia had something like a 10 percent growth rate two years ago.``

But how significant is Estonia? =)

Anton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anton said...

According to the CIA World Factbok(2007), Holland holds the 20th position in terms of GDP, Belgium 28th.

----------------------------------
It's part of the "quartet" negotiating Mid East peace and has strong relations with Israel and the Arab nations equally (for example, Israel lifted Visa restrictions on Russian just yesterday !!!)

That makes sense. There are a lot of Russians traveling back and forth from Israel.
--------------
Substantial part of the population of Israel are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. There is a Russian party in Israel and Russian is widely spoken. During the 1940´s USSR very actively pushed for a creation of Israel, and its role during the early years of Israel´s existance is more dominant than the role of US.
------------------------------

Apart from Russias´s size and strategic location, its military and nuclear strength, Russia is also the world´s biggest oil and gas exporter. (in fact, has more natural resources than any other nation) There are significant Russian minorites and diasporas all over the world. Has more billioners than any European Country. Is a dominated state in the space-industry. Worlds number 1 exporter of weapons and military hardware.

A lot of NATO supplies go to Afghanistan through Russia. Unlike the West, Russia/Soviet Union has traditionaly had good relations with Middle Eastern and Rogue States. While America was simply ingoring them with the 'no dialogue with evil states' policy, Russia was communicating with them.

Russia has a 10% Muslim population.
It has more credibility to talk to Muslim States.

But I guess the size of the country is the major factor, it has boarders with China, Middle East it has a Pacific Coast etc. etc. etc.


To Conclude, the reason why Russia is being treated as an important partner, is because the country is simply important. As much as some of you dislike the idea, its a fact. The other key reason, is that the world doesn´t want to exclude Russia again, it doesn´t want a cold war, and the best way to do so is to engage with Russia. From the West´s perspective, it is about keeping your enemies closer.

Giustino said...

Anton,

I think there are several other countries that are as important to the global economy as Russia is. Brazil is obviously one of them, India is another. And, oddly enough, is Germany getting the attention it deserves? It seems these days that EU politics are based more on what is going on in Berlin than in Brussels.

The idea that we should color our world with only Washington and the Kremlin seems outdated and bogus. I think, for example, as an American, that we should be developing strong relationships with the Brazils and Indias, and stop obsessing about what Putin thinks.

We elevate the Russian position by means of our own paranoia. I think the EU does this too. They are so scared that Russia -- which the West views as inherently irrational -- might do something rash. So they bend to the Kremlin's will, because they think that the Kremlin holds the keys to a peaceful (or terrible) European future.

I wonder how Moscow would react if Europe acted the same way. If, say, Germans informants cozy with the Kremlin were assassinated in St. Petersburg by German assassins who then went on to political careers in the Bundestag?

I wonder how Moscow would react if there were armies of goosestepping soldiers parading down the boulevards of Berlin to commemorate some historical victory, dressed in historically accurate uniforms. And let's say we're not talking about the 1930s, but we'll go back to the Bismark years for inspiration.

Could you imagine Merkel on a balcony overseeing the power show and giving passionate speeches about how "European power" should be respected? Maybe she would have her own special youth group too, complete with summer camps! "Have a child for the EU, our population is in decline!"

I simply wonder if Russians would pay attention to this, and possibly worry about what was going on over there in the European Union. Would they think it just an exercise in esteem building in the EU. Or would they feel a bit threatened?

I can't say. But that's sort of how Russia looks in the West. The Europeans that make nice perhaps see it the same way, but favor a different approach to, say, John McCain.

Those are just some thoughts.

Anton said...

I based my reply on one of your posts, where you were questioning why Russia is such a big deal, therefore- I have attempted to answer that. Saying that Russia is treated the way it is, simply because of its nukes is wrong.
The EU does have several major reasons to treat Russia the way it is treated, this obsession is understandable.

Germany is getting plenty of attention worldwide. And the US is not at all obssesed with what Putin has to say, if they were- they wouldn´t be deploying the PRO defence system for that matter, they would not have carried out the Colour Revolutions, would not have extended NATO to Russian boarders. If you ask me, US doesn´t give a crap about Putin´s opinion at all, it doest what it wants to do. America isn´t that gentle giant, who listenes to everyone´s concerns, everything it does, is in its own interest.

I do agree that Brazil and India should be paid more attention to, and I am suprised they are still not in the G8, India - 1/6 world population, for the matter. These countries are underrepresented. However that is partialy due to their foreign policy, which tends to be quite isolationist if you look at it at a worldwide scale. Ofcourse Brazil is listened to when something goes down in south america, India likewise. However you hardly hear these nations, when it comes to international events. They don´t participate in global arguments, they get on with their catching up with the west, industrialisation etc. While on the other hand you get US,EU and Russia having an opinion on everything, anywhere in the world.


As for the 9may parade, that is simply incomparable to anything. The inspiring Bismarck Era didn´t not see 25 million German citizens dying in a war. For no other country is the momory of WWII hardship, as significant for Russia, you have to understand that, it is fixed in the Russian mindset.

No I couldn´t imagine Merkel doing that, once again, for the same reason. Russia and Germany are too different, Germany doesn´t have a demographic crisis, where the population decreases 400.000 annually. The point is that, history of Russia is brutal and bizzare, and the state of RUssia right now is not normal, not stable, it is a difficult time, a recovery after a disaster, you cannot compare Russia to any other western country for that matter. Most of Europeans have no idea what Russia is like, and how messed up it is, they assume they are just like them...they are not. To them everything Russia does externally and internally seems wild and crazy, because they have no idea what living in Russia is like, and lets be honest Europeans know how to enjoy themselves, its a heck of a good life for the average eu citizen.

I really don´t think this idea of comparing Russia to Germany, and vice versa, works that well. Same goes for Mr.Lucas´ efforts of comparing R.Federation to 30´s Germany

Just some ideas.

Giustino said...

And the US is not at all obssesed with what Putin has to say, if they were- they wouldn´t be deploying the PRO defence system for that matter

They seem to be talking a long time to deploy it. I am not even sure if they will at this point. And how many times have Secretary of State Rice and Secretary of Defense Gates been to Moscow to ask Putin to reconsider his position?

They ... would not have extended NATO to Russian boarders.

Norway and Denmark were already members, and Norway already shares a border with Russia, right near the naval base at Murmansk. The addition of other states on the Baltic Sea actually made little strategic difference. Think about it -- does Russia feel threatened by Norwegian or Danish membership in the alliance? I don't think so. So why do Norway or Denmark or Iceland get to enjoy a collective security blanket, but Estonia does not?

As for the 9may parade, that is simply incomparable to anything. The inspiring Bismarck Era didn´t not see 25 million German citizens dying in a war. For no other country is the momory of WWII hardship, as significant for Russia, you have to understand that, it is fixed in the Russian mindset.

I heard a talk recently that explained the three narratives of World War II. In Western Europe the villain is a country -- Nazi Germany, the victims are those who perished in the Holocaust, and the heroes are the allies. In Russia, the villain is an ideology -- fascism, the victims are the Russian people, and the heroes are the Red Army. In Eastern Europe, including Finland, the villains are Nazi Germany and the USSR, with an emphasis on the latter; the victims are the nation in question -- Poles, Czechs, Lithuanians, etc.; and the heroes are local resistance fighters. This explains some of the mess that comes out whenever people talk about World War II.

Germany doesn´t have a demographic crisis, where the population decreases 400.000 annually. The point is that, history of Russia is brutal and bizzare, and the state of RUssia right now is not normal, not stable, it is a difficult time, a recovery after a disaster, you cannot compare Russia to any other western country for that matter. Most of Europeans have no idea what Russia is like, and how messed up it is, they assume they are just like them...they are not.

From an Estonian perspective, Germany and Russia were the two greatest powers in the Baltic region since at least the mid-19th century. Sweden and Poland-Lithuania both dropped out of the game in the 18th century, though the prevalence of Scandinavian capital here (the Norwegians and Swedes own the two private TV channels and three of the national daily newspapers) it makes me wonder if they quietly got back in the game sometime around the year Ikea was founded. I am not an Estonian, but I live here, and that's how Berlin and Moscow appear -- like two old imperial centers.

But thanks for your thoughts. They were interesting to read.

Anton said...

There has been a lot of talking, however while negotiating with Russia, America has also been secretely discussing PRO establishement in Turkey, that is not much consideration for the Russian opinion. The US will deploy this anti-missile system, no matter the amount of talking with Russia. The possible obsticle could be a sudden withdrawal by Poland or C. Republic.


You seem to put a lot of attention significance on the baltic region, particularly Estonia and to be honest the opinion and fears of Estonia are hardly significant on the bigger European Scale. Expansion of Nato was not just about the baltic region as you know, it was most of former soviet eastern european states and not every European Nation shares the Estonian fear of Russia, they are more pragmatic about it. You hardly hear any concerns to the same extent as in Estonia. I completely understand what you mean by Estonian concerns and views of Russia, I am a citizen of the country myself and there is constant talking about Russia in every aspect of Estonian life, both negative and positive, mostly very negative.

However unlike the victims of Nazi/Soviet occupation, Western Europe tends to appreciate the effort of USSR, Chirac, and Shroeder have several times stated, that Russian role in WWII is absolutely fundemental and Europe and history must not forget the effort and the burden of the country. On the other hand, there you have Premier Ansip publicly claiming that the people burried under the "Bronze Soldier", were drunkards and maradoeurs, how very decent of the man. No matter what history is, you can't possibly talk about the dead like that...Western Europe lets Russia get on with its remembarance. Even in Great Britain, a country that has hardly sufferend from WWII(in comparison to Eastern Front) remembarance day is a significant event on a national scale...in any country for that matter, the bigger the tragedy, the bigger the remembarance and appreciation.


I don't really see why Estonia is that bothered about Russia, if you are realistic about it, Russia will not invade Estonia again in the next decades... Estonia is obviously part of NATO and EU, which is a big enough gurantee of security as it is...don't see why the Estonian Defence Ministry has to purchase military hardaware, and make absurd claims that in case of war with Russia, Estonia will take on the Pskov Division...madness if you ask, because Ansip and CO have been doing even more Nationalist and Populist actions than Russia, and you know what I am talking about.

Giustino said...

Anton,

I wrote a post recently that explains some of the attitudes of the Estonian political elite from a generational perspective. You can read it here:

http://palun.blogspot.com/2008/03/plvkonnad.html

I agree with you about the Ansip comments and generally what you said. But I would say a lot of Estonians at home didn't like that either. But what is their alternative? Savisaar?

Anton said...

Thanks Giustino, that was really interesting to read, a good insight. I agree with you, the big problem in Estonia is the lack of choice of political parties and representatives, probably due to the lack of democratic experience... That is why I am concerned about the next election, is there an a better alternative to the current government? I don't know. I believe that a number of Estonians disagree with Ansip's policies and methods and general views on life..but again as you said, i'd never vote for Savisaar, the man is a joke...

A bit like the Russian election in march, there you had the communists, the national clown Zirinovsky, a democratic candidate of whom no one had a clue, and Medvedev, a puppet of Putin's...not a great choice