New Eastern Outlook

By: Deena Stryker

Published 27-10-2017

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On October 23, Politico published the latest beltway anti-Putin screed, by Susan B. Glasser. It takes a different tack from most Putin bashing, claiming that the US has built up the Russian President as more of a threat than he actually is. (The beltway must have realized that repeating the same thing over and over while expecting different results is a sure sign of folly. Apparently, the American public is not reacting to Putin-bashing in a sufficiently bellicose way as to justify preemptive war on Russia…. At least it has the decency not to hold up Putin’s lone opponent, Alexis Navalny, as a credible alternative.

Glasser: “When I ask Khodorkovsky about Navalny, the only one who has shown a real public following. Khodorkovsky, still deeply unpopular as an oligarch seen to have profited off the post-Soviet disarray of the 1990s, said he would not coalesce behind Navalny or any other opposition figure yet (a united opposition,” he says, just makes a nice big fat target) and all but called Navalny an ‘authoritarian’.”

Authoritarianism should be the least of Russia’s worries: According to Navalny’s Wiki, his only qualification for running for the highest office in the land is as ‘a Russian lawyer, political and financial activist’. Would that give him more of an edge over Donald Trump than Vladimir Putin? Let’s compare CV’s:

Like Putin, Navalny has a law degree: but Putin’s work in the Soviet KGB took him to Germany, Europe’s most powerful country, for several years, during which time his German became fluent, enabling him to debate world-shaping issues with Angela Merkel. During his seventeen years at the Russian helm, he has overseen the transformation of a former Communist country reeling from economic shock therapy into a power able to confront the US in its most crucial backyard — the Middle East — saving Syria’s President from defeat at the combined hands of ISIS and Washington. Without losing his nerve over the NATO buildup on its Western border from the Baltic to the Black Sea, he increased Russian readiness, described in the West as “threatening”.

From a close reading of Navalny’s Wiki, it would appear that the only job of a nation’s president is to crack down on corruption. At one point he is quoted as portraying Ukrainians as cockroaches — the same epithet, by the way, used by Ukrainians vis a vis Russians — prompting musings as to how he would have dealt with the Maidan and its aftermath. Or would the business-savvy Navalny have welcomed a Ukrainian-EU deal that would result EU products circulating freely in Russia with no counterpart?

Would he stand tall against inevitable expectations on the part of the West for payback in return for electoral support that surely would have to have many zeros in order to beat Vladimir Putin? What deals would he refuse to make?

And what about his self-designation as a ‘democratic nationalist’? Is that more reassuring to a West obsessed with ‘playing by the rules’ and ‘politically correct behavior’ than Putin’s ‘managed democracy’? How much daylight would there be between neighboring Europe’s — and Ukraine’s — far right, and Russia, in a Navalny presidency? Has anyone ever asked him what exactly he means by ‘democratic nationalism’? Taking the words at their face value, let’s assume it means that political offices would be filled through ‘free and fair elections’, and that the winners would commit to a ‘Russia for Russians’. The next question them becomes ‘What is the definition of ‘Russian’? Is it whiteness?

Okay, let’s stop worrying that bone and move on to Russia’s relations with the wider world (after all, having eleven time zones and a big pile of nukes isn’t everything…..). Would Navalny invite Exxon Mobil to drill for oil in the Arctic and allow the US to attack Iran for ‘backing terrorists’ (i.e, Palestinians fighting for their homeland supported by Lebanon’s Hezbollah, a Shia militia?)

Beyond ‘democratic nationalism’, what is Navalny’s worldview — and has he had any foreign policy experience, other than being possibly the US’s longest standing color revolution represen-tative? His lengthy Wiki mentions none, while in the Politico article I referenced earlier, a former US national intelligence officer who attended the recent Valdai discussion club criticized Putin for warning of nuclear war!

It was a very anti-American speech,” she told me, wrote Glasser, “with a new element he was putting forward: alarmism about the possible imminence of nuclear war. Definitely, he was saying were in a really dangerous place now. That was the message.(Never mind that Senator Bob Corker, an early supporter of candidate Trump, came out today on national television expressing misgivings about — among a host of other things — the President possibly taking the country to war…) What would Navalny have had to say to an international gathering of political and business people whose title was: ‘Creative Destruction: will a New World Order Emerge from the Current Conflicts?”

The most surprising thing about Politico’s anti-Putin screed is that it comes just as the American political class across the board struggles against the least qualified President in US electoral history.

Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.

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