How to best spread liberalism to Russia? By waging an economic war on its middle class!
This is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared at Consortium News
This liberal mindlessness appears to be catching. On Sunday, the New York Times’ star columnist Thomas L. Friedman weighed in with his own upside-down analysis, smirking about the economic suffering now being felt by average Russians because of the U.S.-led sanctions and the Saudi-spurred collapse of oil prices.
“In March, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers, was asked on ‘Fox News Sunday’ how he thought President Obama was handling relations with Russia versus how President Vladimir Putin had been handling relations with the United States.
Rogers responded: ‘Well, I think Putin is playing chess, and I think we’re playing marbles. And I don’t think it’s even close.’
“Hmmm. Marbles. That’s an interesting metaphor. Actually, it turns out that Obama was the one playing chess and Putin was the one playing marbles, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say today that Putin’s lost most of his — in both senses of the word.”
Ha-ha-ha. Putin has lost his marbles! So clever!
Perhaps it also wouldn’t be wrong to say that Tom Friedman has lost any credibility that he ever had by getting pretty much every international crises wrong, most notably the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 when he was just as smarmy in paving the way for that bloody catastrophe.
Washington Post liberal columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. also joined in the “group think” on Monday, writing “even … some of [Obama’s] older bets were paying off.
The Russian economy is reeling from sanctions imposed in response to its invasion of Ukraine (and from low oil prices). An approach seen by its critics as not tough enough is beginning to show its teeth.”
Beyond the propagandistic quality of these columns – refusing to recognize the complex reality of what actually happened in Ukraine, including the overwhelming referendum by the voters of Crimea to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia – there is this disturbingly smug pleasure at how the U.S. actions are hurting the people of Russia.
Whatever you think of Putin, a key reason why he has remained so popular is that he brought some stability to the Russian economy after the “shock therapy” days of plunder under Boris Yeltsin when many Russians were pushed to the brink of starvation.
Putin pushed back against some of the corrupt oligarchs who had amassed vast power under Yeltsin (while also striking alliances with others).
But the cumulative effect of a more stable Russian economy was that a fragile middle class was taking shape in a country that has notoriously failed to generate one over the centuries.
Because of the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine, which essentially forced Putin’s response and then led to Obama’s sanctions, the Russian middle class is losing its modest savings as the ruble’s value collapses.
In other words, the part of Russia’s population that could best propel Russia toward a more democratic and progressive future is being dismantled, in part, by punitive U.S. policies – while liberals Krugman, Friedman and Dionne celebrate.
What really seems to matter to these pundits is getting a shot in at their conservative rivals, not the fate of average Russians.
These liberal columnists are enjoying bashing conservatives over their supposed love of Putin and their tolerance for Putin’s “invasion” of Ukraine.
Not only are the likes of Paul Krugman, Thomas L. Friedman and E.J. Dionne Jr. spreading dangerous propaganda, they are setting the stage for a new Cold War and possibly even a nuclear confrontation.