The game goes a little deeper across several dimensions: 1) Putin’s narcissistic needs for control and “narcissistic supply”; 2) Russia’s true domestic and military state of affairs, which are not very good but improving albeit with some ugly features; 3) Russia’s traditional sphere of influence and its relationship with Syria, a part of which today involves the dismal phantoms of the Cold War, starting with Baathist delusions and related Soviet-Era now post-Soviet cultural expectations and premises; 4) emerging desires of some Islamic leaders — there’s one in Qatar we really don’t know — amid a tapestry of still delicately emerging and globalized humanism and modernism, which, amazingly, has set Putin out in front as champion of the secular, however he may feel about, say, “gay propaganda”. In essence, if I were Obama, I would want Putin to pick up with modern Russia’s responsibilities in Syria, which, instead, it has long milked for cash — that’s what those military contracts have been about — and otherwise neglected.
Notably, the bulk of Russian civilian and military assets resident in Syria have been quietly removed — migrated — over many months. The airbuses have done their work; Tartus is a shell. Russia, still recently, has refused major arms deliveries for want of direct Syrian cash.
Maybe I should be saying these things or pointing out this and that because in this weird parallel universe of shadowy state leadership (350,000 FSB employees today; U.S. expenses in similar intelligence activities, including psy. ops and related analysis: more than $52 billion annually), both of these guys, Obama and Putin, want to write a story the other and everyone else can’t see. Reduced: if you let the other guy win, or encourage the behavior he adopts, of course you can’t say anything about it! However, I think it is good for Putin and for Russia to pick up the slack in Syria, and I think with the CW imbroglio, it’s doing it. Finally.
I am disappointed by what I feel may be RT’s reversion to old Pravda-style propaganda, but . . . people also regress to what they know. From my old high school history teacher and his remarks on Russia: “two steps forward, one step back.” The Cold War is over; Putin is finishing it: he’s got state-wide corruption, his own foibles, and feudal mafia themes on his plate at an age where he may be mindful of how Russian history will go on to treat his name.
The narcissistic environment has been called a “house of mirrors” — there’s a blog on the subject with just that name — and perhaps when it involves state officials, it should be called the “hall of mirrors” if not quite the carnival’s fun house.
In that we see ourselves through language (try looking in a mirror without words), the Internet provides one mighty big mirror for reflection. Add just this little bit observed in personality — in clinical psychology, the disorders that have to be recognized (for trouble with the banks, friends, the law, and work) fairly scream with their florid qualities, but with political psychology, one treads much, much more carefully, and yet the distance from the junta in Burma to Paul Biya in Cameroon to Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe becomes small. Causes and cultures may differ, the line of rant have nothing to do with true context or situation, but at the end of the day certain figures bear an uncanny resemblance.
With that much noted, I would separate from comparison in myriad ways President Putin from Robert Mugabe. Putin may take post-Soviet Russia’s proverbial “two steps forward” the one step back — and so for a little bit in time, RT may get up to old Pravda’s tricks — but he will again take the one true heroic step forward, and that in the direction of responsible and responsive government and, may I not pay a short-term price for suggesting this, fair dealing.
Sometimes people get worse with their ways and the way they are. In fact, I would venture most of the time the worst in interior character prevails: the addict goes down with the drug; the liar spins the web primarily around himself. But some change and with ambition discover the better old memories of themselves. If one was stronger and more wild not so long ago, perhaps too one may too remember being stronger and more kind, more comprehending, determined, and, well, if not always good, not so bad.
That Awkward Time Putin Called for Military Intervention in the New York Times | FP Passport 9/12/2013 — in addition to material related to the above post, this analysis also provides a fair example of what I like to call the “dark mirror in language” — and it has Putin looking through the funny side of the glass.
President Obama’s Syria Confusion 9/12/2013 Atlantic Council
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