From Russia with Hate

On the day of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, I spent my time watching the Russian invasion of Georgia instead. That night, I even thought of posting something like “while one police state is hosting the Olympics, another is busy invading its neighbor,” but didn’t. Now I have. Over the centuries, Russia’s rulers have changed – the Tsars, Lenin, Stalin, various other Chairmen of the Communist party, Gorbachev, Yeltsin and now Putin, but the authoritarian nature of the Russian political system hasn’t. The Russians had a semblance of a chance with Yeltsin, but the 1997 economic crisis, bad economic policies, and his numerous health problems including his addiction to alcohol blew it.

It is a sad but undeniable fact that people always choose security over freedom, and most Russians have done precisely that when they sided with Putin after the Yeltsin fiasco. And the meteoric rise in oil and gas prices have certainly helped the state finances. But with too much power concentrated in the hands of one man, freedom suffers; and belligerent nationalism becomes state policy. Every dissenter becomes a traitor. All businessmen not towing the state policy become “corrupt”. Tax demands appear from nowhere. Reporters are murdered and the media is gagged. Elections become stage managed. Power is used to bring opponents down to their knees. The invasion of Georgia and Russia’s “problems” with former member states of the USSR are part of the same game. Russia has now threatened a nuclear attack on Poland if the USA installs a missile defense shield in the country. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but the new cold war has begun. This time however, China is going to play a major role. Except for its known partnership with Russia and their membership of the SCO, it hasn’t shown its hand, yet. But when the time comes, I am sure it will. And it is not going to be a pleasant experience.

Russia cannot be trusted. Thankfully, the western world has a lot of experience of dealing with its predecessor the USSR, and comments from the US and various European countries is proof of the same. But mere talk is not enough. Bowing down to intimidation from Russia will set a bad precedent. And the free world – if the term still applies since many western countries themselves are becoming more fascist by the day – should understand that.

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