Saturday, January 30, 2016

Bizarre White House claims about Putin's billions

Update: funnily enough, hours after I posted this blog post, a U.S. journalist at RT used the same adjective bizarre for these attacks.

On Monday, the BBC aired a documentary in which Adam Szubin, a near-top official of the U.S. Treasury Department, called Putin a picture of corruption. Some claims about Putin's paying billions to relatives and friends were mentioned, along with suggestions that Putin – while officially getting the same salary I was getting as junior faculty – might be the wealthiest person in the world or close to it.

Putin is buying a breakfast

Fine. There has always been some corruption in Russia. One may speculate that it still exists. Szubin may have heard some detailed information that supports such conspiracy theories. And individual people may be expected to be much more attracted to conspiracy theories than others. However, there was a shocking development on Thursday. John Earnest, a spokesman of Obama's, said
that the Treasury’s assessment best reflects the administration view.
By that time, I didn't even know that Szubin's speculations were "the Treasury's assessment". And now, they're probably the official statement of the United States of America.

I had to laugh out loud – and read thrice – when I saw this stuff for the first time. Was that supposed to be a statement by Obama? Is it his childish way to ignite the Third World War? Even if there were reasons for such beliefs, what's the purpose of similar proclamations emitted by the White House? Are these comments supposed to be associated with Hillary and make her look tougher?

Needless to say, Lavrov and others have protested the accusations.

Vladimir Putin is often picked as the world's most powerful man [thanks, not fan, although Vovka may be good at air-conditioning, too] – a fact that an empty suit elevated by the affirmative action to the White House may be jealous about.

Putin makes actual decisions that generally do agree with what his nation expects, but they don't have to agree. He gets an unspectacular salary for that. But even if he had tens of billions of dollars, I am sure that most of his supporters would support him, anyway. They would think that he deserves those things. And I am sure that virtually all Russians agree that the hypothetical corruption in Moscow is not America's business whether it exists or not.

It's very plausible that Putin wants to be the de facto or de iure #1 man of Russia till the end of his life. And if he wants to keep his image of a man with a modest, disciplined life – and I am pretty sure that it is not just "image" – he will never be able to enjoy those hypothetical tens of billions of dollars. So why does it really matter whether he has tens of billions of dollars?

I don't really believe that Putin is more corrupt than the typical politicians in his part of the world. His career in KGB may be troubled – but it did place him in a very different position than that of the actual oligarchs and people who benefit from corrupt systems in general. I think it's probably true that he helped to reduce the corruption in Russia significantly.

At the end, I think that those accusations say much more about the current state of America than they do about Putin. America has become a country of softened, emasculated, politically correct Niemands where emotionally stated accusations like this have become more important than any real strength and merit. Tens of millions of Americans have no spine or balls anymore and they totally change their views or behavior in the wake of an arbitrarily stupid accusation of this sort.

If you open The Harvard Crimson now, you will see that the most read article is one about a petition of obnoxious students of medicine who demand racial quotas to be imposed on the Harvard Medical School. The second most read article is a short letter by Prof Harvey Mansfield who recommends to replace the housemaster title (the title that Harvard decided to ban after several centuries) by "Co-Marshmallow" and "Co-Mickey-Mouse," new titles that sound sufficiently soft and bisexual.

Mansfield is making fun of the PC nuts – but this is the kind of thinking that has replaced the ambitious endeavors of people in the land of the free.

If the accusations are addressed to the Russian audiences, it's even worse because Obama and his comrades are showing that they completely misunderstand the thinking of the nations that haven't totally degenerated yet. The Kremlin remained calm and diplomatic, especially because everyone knows that the White House made itself look like a bunch of clowns. Almost no one in Russia will actually become more critical of Putin because of such weird statements by the White House. But many more people will think that America's politicians are just ludicrous – and that America is constantly trying to undermine political systems in other, stable countries.

The Obama administration's immature behavior is frustrating for me especially because I consider myself a part of the West, not the Russian realm, and this behavior is a reason for me to be ashamed for our part of the world, one that we should normally be proud about.

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