(Warning-This post has a sprinkling of common descriptive language)
With the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement I was prompted to reflect on the more than 30 years that have passed since the end of Cold War 1.0 The title of this too brief essay was inspired by James Billington’s book The Icon and the Ax; a book I read on assignment in one of my college courses about the history of Russia.
It is amazing to me that so much time has passed since the Soviet Union began the draw-down of troops- a quarter million from East Germany in December 1988 that was the beginning of the end of hostilities between the U.S.A. and Soviet Russia. Ronald Reagan had a month remaining in office. Since the trust built up with Russia was culminating in a new era of peace it was appropriate that the more than token end to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe- nations retaken at the cost of 20 million Russian and other Soviet state lives from Nazi Germany- started during President Reagan’s final month in office.
During the Bush administration the carry-over of Reagan’s policies continued. After an initial hesitation President G.H.W. Bush recognized that Reagan’s goal of eliminating nuclear weapons was correct. Nom one in the Reagan administration besides the President believed ending the cold war and eliminating nuclear weapons was possible though a groundswell of ending the hostilities and normalizing bi-lateral relations surged during 1982-1988. I recall one joke told by a drill sergeant then that had an American embassy guard with binoculars in Moscow looking across the distance toward a female Soviet soldier watch him with binoculars. The punch line of the joke was the sign language the American soldier made to the Soviet that said; “I want to fuck you until your eyes pop out”. People of the era worked for peace and war together with the victory finally going to peace.
President G.H.W. Bush faced numerous challenges in presiding during the time of troubles in the former Soviet Union. To oversea its breakup and reformation into a new political and economic system was extremely challenging. G.H.W. Bush however was Phi Beta Kappa ion economics and possibly the most experienced international and real politick hand the U.S.A. had. If he had been re-elected in 1992 it is probable that he would have recognized the need to allow Russia to include the Crimean Peninsula and at least Eastern Ukraine within its national territory. Unfortunately the United States elected an Arkansas hillbilly swollen an Oxford Rhodes scholar appointment that converted the hillbilly into a left leaning historically illiterate sophisticate anglophile with a pro-British, superficial, legalistic, predatory carpet bagging disposition to the White House. He took as much land as he could from Russia for the west not realizing the problems with that were so extreme that it determined the course of the future toward another Cold War followed by the present hot war in Ukraine.
The contrast between Bill Clinton and G.H.W. is rather stark. The difference in education and experience notable. A former C.I.A. chief during the Cold War, G.H.W. seemed to be content to let the former Soviet Union go through its own self-organization. He was slow to intervene in the Balkan conflict while Bill Clinton was not. Bill Clinton was non-interventionist in the 1994 Rwanda Civil war and genocide. G.H.W. seemed to tolerate or support the Orthodox Christian Serbian position while Bill Clinton sent cruise missiles to the Orthodox to reinforce Muslim self-defense against Serbs. Clinton’s pro-Muslim policies led to Wahhabist expansion globally and Al Qa’eda’s attacks on the U.S.A.
Self-organization of broken communist empires is challenging to manage. There is no super-Presidency to oversee the organization like some benevolent philosopher king might- that would need to wait until Boris Yeltsin rewrote the Soviet Constitution to make it suitable for Russia and that was amended several times later to make the President of the Russian President a Super-President able to oversea the development of reorganizing internal national political structures while defending the nation against external threats. That leads me to yet another topic that I will digress upon briefly.
The Biden administration and its sycophantic broadcast media frequently declares President Putin an autocrat. President Putin and his supports somewhat accurately declare the western allies of Ukraine and Ukraine’s military fascist. That should be unpacked a little here.
Since the 20th century when governments developed the technical capability of creating mass surveillance states and organizing global war with aircraft, missiles and satellites, governments could relate to citizens and opponents with a more nuanced and dignified approach than in the 19th century. In the 19th century governments could not single out individuals from belligerent populations well. The United States never even had an income tax before the civil war when Lincoln created one to finance the war and later let it lapse into non-existence. Andrew Jackson needed to expel the Cherokee from S.E. America because they were as it were a guerrilla sheltering civil populace. Back in the day governments had crude tools and poor policing. Basic relations with hostile populations were more or less limited to war, extermination, slavery or deportation. In the 20th century governments could do better than that.
Andrew Jackson’s south were slave states. The Cherokee made bad slaves on their home turf. The slavers were economic elites that wanted land and slaves. That was an era when most of the population were illiterates. Much news was simply popular opinion and the sources of much of that tended to flow downward. Popular southern culture reporting incidents of hostile encounters with Indians would have made it difficult to have a general lack of bias against Indians. Creating a reservation for the Cherokee out west was a humanitarian new option more or less that avoid continuing conflict, massacres and such for both sides. People lacked even party-line telephones to organize civil affairs a bit better. Mass political actions and specialized pork barrel legislation was more common.
When the Roman Republic went to war it appointed a dictator for a year to manage the conflict and draft the materials and personnel required for war fighting. Romans would bring out the fasces- something that were like a pair of clubs perhaps, and present them before the public to the Dictator who was selected by the senate. The origin of the word fascist is from that. Fascist came to mean just dictatorship with ruthless means even though for the Roman Republic is was nothing more than a declaration of war when and a foreign enemy was an immanent threat to peace with a leader appointed to sort it out.
In the 20th century the word fascist was drawn from Roman history to apply to the Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini. The early 20th century was a time when evolution theory was drawing scientists, doctors and politicians with complete support from the rich to the idea that some humans were naturally superior to others and that they should rule or even exterminate inferior races. It had universal appeal to a significant portion of the human race since it provide pseudo scientific support for moral wars that dehumanized economic and politically inconvenient peoples.
Mussolini was a broadcast journalist yet apparently had a PhD in economics. I may be wrong about that. Even so he invented the economic system named corporatism where corporations and government work together as partners to govern society for the benefit of elites and their inferior subjects probably regarded as incapable of governing themselves. They were not supporters of democracy.
Russians call the west fascists because the Clinton administration’s leverage of Ukraine and Crimea away from Russia when a very weak leader without a constitution or military capable of resisting was in charge of something named the Community of Independent States (C.I.S.) resembles the history of Russia losing the Ukraine to German fascists. Many Ukrainians supported the fascist side in W.W. II. The west also has an economic system something like that of Nazi Germany. It had corporatism. Corporations today are moving toward replacing nations globally to a limited extent that is sufficient to bring people to describe corporatism or corporatocracy appearing in their countries (see the Stanford Encyclopedia to learn the difference). National leaders sometimes seem to be flunkies of the rich.
The Biden administration calls Putin an Autocrat because they don’t understand history well. Neither do they comprehend the Russian constitution that makes the presidency a Super-presidency to deal with internal governmental development and to manage against foreign threats. Since the first Cold War was followed by a break inn the continuity of trust between Russia and the United States that had ended the Cold War 1.0 when Bill Clinton defeated G.H.W. Bush in 1992, and Russia had it western lands snatched by N.A.T.O. members led by the Democrat Bill Clinton and followed by successive waves of sanctions applied to Russia ever since, especially when Democrat Presidents were in office, the election of the Biden administration in 2020 prompted Russia to launch a war to retake the lost land. Plainly no legal remedies were available to Russia.
Managing the reconstruction of post-Cold War 1.0 Russia required a little political wisdom. The Soviet Unions ability to free itself from communism and liberate the occupied countries of Eastern Europe taken during the Second World War was incredibly accomplished with little bloodshed. President Gorbachev was mentored by Yuri Adropov the former KGB leader. President Gorbachev was on vacation at Andropov’s Crimean home when arrested during the Russian post-Cold War civil War. President Yeltsin of course captured the Russian congress in Moscow during the rebellion of communists unhappy with the way things had gone. His tanks were able to drive supportive military defenders away and the coup was ended. The entire affair seems to have been lain upon a foundation of collusion to end communism and move Russia to the west and the capitalism that had so attracted it. Coke and Levis and Rock and Roll weren’t the least of those features attractive to popular Russian culture.
Bill Clinton seemed to regard the former Soviet Union as an opportunity to grab land and place stakes on land claims as far east as possible. As the foremost leader of the Western alliance and Oxford lawyer with zero ideas about Russian history concerning Ukraine he made a deal with Boris Yeltsin to leave Russia with a rump state bereft of Ukraine and Crimea. Mr. Yeltsin was in no position militarily to dispute that. Mr. Clinton and subsequent Democrat Presidents would thereafter stress the phrase rule-of-law over Russian aggression and attempts to restore the land of the Soviet Union to Russian efforts to recover its lost land. The end of the Cold War should not have been regarded as a chance to see the lost empire lands like those of a frontier were the first to place stakes could claim ownership- that was a strategic mistake made by a hillbilly President of the United States.
I should say that I like Arkansas. I had some great barbecued goat there. Little Rock reminds me a little of Bath England. It is mild and soft. The Roman baths at Bath are a real marvel since they are about 2000 years old and still have inviting blue water in them amid the decaying, crumbled columns and structure. It is like something out of the future that was sent back to 200 AD. and then began to age to assume its present position. Really marvelous engineering. Anyway, President Clinton’s home state is nice yet still regarded with Kentucky as a hillbilly state of there is one in the U.S.A. I doubt if Bill read much Russian history while prepping for law school. On his return from Oxford he was elected governor of Arkansas and then on to the Presidency. He learned much yet it was inappropriate for managing the Cold War. Blow jobs in Little Rock and in the White House, lawsuits and fast deals, White Water rapids and British Thermal Units. A quick lie before Congress under oath “to protect his family”. Impeachment. The course of a sophisticated hillbilly.
A wild and crazy light-hearted President who partied in the White House liked by Democrats yet lacked political wisdom like President Obama and Biden and unable to recognize a significant historical mistake. At one White House Party his guest President Boris Yeltsin was spotted running drunk around the White House lawn in his underpants. Rule of law is two dimensional and politics three-dimensional. During a period without rule of law as during the dissolution and reorganization of an empire wisdom is required more than a theoretical assertion and extension of a legal system from abroad. There are no legal systems on Earth that cover how a dissolving nations must be reorganized or what form its government must take. If there were that would be a pretense of the dominant global power and once more simply a will to exercise power by the most powerful through force rather than law.
President G.H.W. Bush of course had no chance to win the 1992 election. The media never liked him and said he had put his manhood in a blind trust. The billionaire Ross Perot ran against him in the primary as did the journalist Pat Buchanan. Buchanan adds implied that G.H.W. had wild behind the scenes secret society parties with homosexuality and perhaps something like the Bohemian Grove. G.H.W.’s press secretary Marlin Fitzwater was vaguely referenced as providing blow jobs to Mr. Bush as a kind of rich man’s tool. After President Bush left office the Florida Marlins baseball team was created and one the World Series in its expansion year- a never before or since event. That seemed similar to the Nobel Prize going to someone named Bloebull the year Bill Clinton’s relation with Monica was revealed. It is as if news managers like to obfuscate inconvenient truths.
President Clinton’s historical error has swelled with additions built upon it to bring the world to the brink of nuclear war. M.A.D. policy no more seems a problem. What me worry? Could become the new national motto imprinted in the dollar.
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