The Bad Guy

About That Condoleezza Rice Article

A few days ago I read on article where Condoleezza Rice was reported to have said that Russia “at times seems to think and act in the zero-sum terms of another era.” Now that article has been edited to revise those remarks.

My issue with this article is not with the revising of the story; I’m sure there were larger issues of diplomacy that prevented her standing behind that part of her speech. My problem lies with Condoleeza Rice not exploring these ideas years ago. I may have some issues with Condoleeza Rice, but I give her credit where credit is due. Russia is her field of expertise and and when she makes statements about the country it’s a good idea to listen to her (another topic you should listen to her on is football, she did pick the winner of the Super Bowl this year). Having said that, I find that she is backing down from telling the American people the whole story about what is going on here so we can at least attempt to make nice with Putin and his government.

Let’s go back to the early 1990’s…1992, to be exact. I was on vacation in St. Petersburg with my father, seeing with my own eyes the new, free Russia. The historic city was covered in so much soot that one had to work overtime to appreciate how amazing the city could actually be (one great exception being the Hermitage). Rock bands played anywhere on the street they could find an electrical outlet, American goods were selling in stores for prices double, sometimes triple the monthly salaries of the average citizen (and I’m not talking high-end products, I’m talking about “Head and Shoulders”), the streets were pock-marked with potholes the size of kitchen sinks, and no merchant would accept rubles, only American dollars. It was the real deal, we had truly won the cold war.

Or had we?

This is not one of those times where I can say that I saw it coming. No one did. The whole world was overjoyed at the defeat of communism to dig deeper into what that would really mean. No, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I even thought about the following possibility: Could Russia have been drawing us in all along? Could this whole thing have been a set-up? Allow me to clarify this.

-The French Invasion of Russia, 1812: Napoleon’s armies invaded Russia only to find that everything had been destroyed or abandoned, victims of the “scorched earth” policy. He moved on to take Moscow, but found it almost deserted. He settled in, the town was burned and Napoleon’s army retreat was set in motion. The Russian Army lead by General Kutosov, drove the French clear across the continent to invent the modern French bistro.

-World War II: After being mired down in Russian for a couple of years, the Russians wore down the Germans, drove them back to Germany and occupied a chunk of it for 45 years.

These are the two most famous examples why you don’t want to invade Russia, but there are many more just like these. Armies invade, wait for Winter and are then defeated. It’s happned like this for so long that it’s frustratiing that nobody EVER learns from those previous mistakes.

Of course one might counter “But we didn’t invade Russia with an army.” No we did not, our economy invaded them and communism did the prep work to lay waste to the country. Then our economy was there to take control of the scorched earth that was the Russian landscape. And while we tried to help rebuild, the Russians held their cards close to their chests. They were down, but not out. They were slowly building back their might and the world failed to notice it in time. Between the cyber attacks in Estonia and threatening to turn off the natural gas to the rest of Europe, Russia is reminding the world of it’s strength and ruthlessness. As for us, the rest of the world (especially us) seems to forget that taking over Russia is only half the battle. The other half is dealing with Russia fighting back.


June 2, 2007 - Posted by | cold war, Condoleezza Rice, News and politics, russia


  1. Something else we have in common – a visit to the Soviet Union! You were about seven years behind my visit to the U.S.S.R. – I went in the summer of 1985, and to date I have found it the holiday that has affected me the most. While the facade of communism was showing its first cracks the regime was still in place. There was an IMMENCE sense of national pride, and general respect for the armed forces which was evidenced by off duty military wearing their uniforms while out – even if just strolling around G.U.M. or other shopping areas with their partners. The other strong memory I have is trucks after truck of open back trucks filled to overflowing of cabbages.

    I think it was obvious to anyone from the outside that however wonderful the ideal of equality for all is in practice we (almost) all want more than we have – even if other people have to lose out. This is the very nature of capitalism. I think this greed was part of the key to the downfall of communism as (surprise surprise) despite the appalling hardships endured by most a small minority of Russians became multimillionaires.

    (I am not sure I am being succinct here – but stay with me – I think I am going somewhere with this.)

    While the press to the outside world was limited within Russia even internally the discrepancy between those that had and those that didn’t have were plainly obvious. What was even clearer was the ‘have-a-little’s ’ from abroad (the likes of you and me) had a fortune by comparison to the Soviet have nots. Of course the Soviet have nots were going to try to redress the balance a little.

    In your counter towards the end of your blog I am not sure it is wise to say ‘our’ economy when clearly referencing America. I am not entirely sure it was America that the Russians want to emulate but the capitalist framework that the non communist world offers (albeit the USA are the biggest movers-and-shakers and fastest movers) the best example of this American speed – I recall it was the ‘Golden Arches of well balanced nutrition’ that was the first to make itself felt behind the iron curtain. It was capitalism that rushed in.

    However isolated a country tries to remain there comes a point with technology that a state of splendid isolationism becomes untenable – not even Chinas limitation of technology stops the invasive capitalism spreading its spiny fingers on a massive scale. Is that the American economy rushing in? No, it is capitalism.

    I believe it boils down to being ‘the superpower thing’ and since the break up of the Soviet Union Russia has felt its control ebbing and has regularly flexed its muscles. I think another great example of this flexing is the Litvinenko affair** (apologies for it being a British example) The Russians are fiercely proud, just like the Greek, American, Armenian, Scottish, _ _ _ _ _ (insert any country here)

    Is ‘fighting back’ the best way to deal with muscle flexing? Continued slaps on the back of the legs until I learnt my behaviour was inappropriate worked for me.

    **Litvinenko was a former Russian security officer – was a fierce critic of Russia’s government and in November 2006 died in a London hospital of acute radiation injury having ingested a lethal dose of Polonium 210. The radioactive trail led back to Moscow, and the Russian Authorities while seemingly pleased to help in this search for justice stated that they would not permit one of their own to be extradited once the prosecutors from CPS Counter Terrorism Division named Andrei Lugovoi to face charges of murder. **

    Comment by Hath | June 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. i beg to differ…condie’s only expertise about russia is that she read war and peace in russian…not sure how…cause she still wears those stupid earphones for interpertation…

    about what she wears…they say one can put lipstick on a pig it is still pig…then, the guys had a pic of condie and her red lipstick…then…in the current newsweek article she is still wearing the lipstick….which leads too…

    somebody in the bowels of the agency knew abou the lipstick deal and as secretary of state she is to incompentant to know anybetter…that is condie’s own words…as national security advisor she stated in a newsweek article that someone in the bowels of the agency knew about the niger deal…she was to incompentant to figure it out…

    then on fox news interview with greta at the reagan library condie stated that she was a midlevel staff during the reagan years and never thought the soviet union would fall on its own weight…

    yeh…guess one should LISTEN TO HER!!!

    but could some please tell her about the lipstick so the guys will quit making her the daily joke!!!

    Comment by ravin black | June 14, 2007 | Reply

  3. Wow! You make less sense than I do, Ravin Black…Kudos.

    Comment by thebadguy | June 14, 2007 | Reply

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