Rape As Smokescreen

Uncle Volodya says, "Let's see: if this is Saturday...it must be Russia's fault"

The Russian Flag, as it appears to you and I

Listen, I know how much fun and excitement the Russophobes had blaming Russia for everything to do with the crash of Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s plane at Smolensk last April. For a few moments, it even appeared they might be able to celebrate Russia and Poland returning to a state of mutual mistrust and suspicion, as both sides of the argument fielded their armchair experts. Immediate promises of Russian cooperation and images of Prime Minister Putin steadying an obviously shaken Donald Tusk during a ceremony caused most of the Russophobes to subside back into bitter muttering and wistful discussions of tin-foil-hat conspiracies.

Most of them. Keeping the home fires burning with regular shovelfuls of ignorance and pointless fury, La Russophobe churns out, “Once Again, Russia Rapes Poland”.

I’m sure most readers are by now aware of this author’s preoccupation with wild exaggeration and outright invention, not to mention sloppy research. This is a serial fabricator who, if Prime Minister Putin were overheard to remark that he preferred his steak a little under-done, would lead with the headline, “Putin to Force Russians to Eat Raw Meat!!!”

Well, then, let’s take a look at this latest rape of Poland, and see if there’s anything to it. While we’re at it, let’s do a little review of the accident itself, and what might be motivating this latest tempest in a pisspot. First, the quoted reference itself – always a good place to start. According to La Russophobe, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk “moaned” that cooperation with Russia is worsening. The article doesn’t mention anything about moaning. If you look at his photograph, I suppose he might be moaning. He might just as easily be singing along to Eminem’s, “Slim Shady”, or trying to get a piece of pistachio out of his back teeth with his tongue.

Moaning aside, Mr. Tusk is indeed quoted as saying that “with the investigation entering its final phase, cooperation with Russia is worse now than it was at the start”. Gazeta Wyborcza further quotes lead investigator (and, apparently, psychic) Edmund Klich as saying, “Russia does not want to make the material available”. Oddly enough, Klich said earlier that, “the pilots ignored the plane’s automatic warnings and attempted an incredibly risky landing”.

Really? Gee, it looks like things were going so well at first. Well, before we go any further, let’s also note that not everyone feels the way Tusk and Klich do. For instance, Polish Interior Minister Jerzy Miller – Commisioner of the investigation and the authority to whom Klich reports – says he believes it to be “just a procedural delay”.

Well, why would Russia be delaying anything? Surely it’d be in everyone’s best interests to get this cleared up, so everyone could move on and Poland could begin the healing process? Likely it would be in everyone’s best interests to wrap it up, but I can think of at least one concern that might make Russia want to give the evidence a final once-over before sending it on. A clue is found in the original reference;

“The newspaper says the documents in question could either confirm or rule out any part that Russian air traffic controllers and their equipment may have played a role in the crash.”

Tortured grammar notwithstanding, surely there’s not still a remaining possibility that Russia might be blamed for this? I can see why Russia might be suspicious of others’ motives. But there’s too much already on record that substantiates the accident being caused by the Polish pilot’s persistent attempt to land, despite being “waved off” by the Russian controllers and directed to land at an alternative airfield, due to unsafe landing conditions…isn’t there?

Let’s look.  Going back once again to the original reference, we see it is acknowledged that foggy weather is believed to have played a part in the crash, and that “investigators are looking into whether Mr. Kaczynski or someone else on board pressured the pilots to attempt a landing despite the bad conditions.” This reference reports that non-crew personnel were in the cockpit at the time of the crash, although the reason was unconfirmed at that point in the investigation and the investigators seem fairly sure it was not President Kaczynski. This item reports the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) identified at least one of these individuals as Polish Air Force Chief Andrzej Blasik. The BBC report, however, introduces information direct from the investigators: (1) all systems on the plane and at the airfield in Smolensk were working normally, and that the crew had been warned several times that the weather was too bad for them to land and they should divert to another airport; and (2) the captain apparently insisted on a trial descent, even though visibility was down to 200m. The report also offers for the first time that a Polish plane which had already landed (likely the one carrying Polish journalists) confirmed four minutes before the crash that visibility had dropped to 200 meters, and reveals information that the aircrew on board the crashed plane had been thrown together several days before the flight – and had not undergone simulator training as a team.

Sold? You probably think you are – but wait. Go back, and look at the date on the Moaning Donald Tusk report. August 2nd, 2010. But a BBC report dated May 19th delivered an analysis direct from the binational panel that said all the systems on the plane and at the airport were functioning normally.  The day of the crash, authorities knew as evidenced in this report that President Kaczynski had been making an uninvited visit and that his plans were “hanging in the air until the last moment”. Polish journalist Jedrzej Bielecki of the daily Dziennik reported also as of that date that the aircraft’s captain had been advised by the Russian controllers to land at Minsk, 400 km away. In a report dated June 1st, the Krakow Post released a transcript in English of the flight’s final minutes as recorded on the “black box”, the cockpit voice recorder. The Russian and Polish transcripts had been available before that. The recorded information suggests that personnel on the Polish plane already on the ground may have encouraged the pilot to make the attempt to land despite unsafe visibility and an aborted approach just minutes before by an inbound Russian aircraft. The transcript clearly shows the pilot was well aware of the unsafe visibility, had been directed by ground controllers to divert to an alternate airfield and – incredibly – had shut off his automatic warning systems as they began to scream for him to pull up. Although it may already have been too late, this resulted in the only known crash of an aircraft equipped with the American-made TAWS (Terrain Avoidance Warning System) since its introduction in the late 90’s. All this information was known not later than the beginning of June, and a good deal of it within days of the crash – but the documents that the Polish government says it doesn’t have are supposedly the confirmation as to whether Russian controllers were partly to blame. Would you be a little suspicious? I would.

Well, let’s take a look at the issue of the plane itself, although investigators determined the day after the crash that there were no doubts as to its airworthiness. A Russian Tupolev TU-154, it had been in use for 20 years. Former Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller was quoted as saying, “I once said that we will one day meet in a funeral procession, and that is when we will take the decision to replace the aircraft fleet”.

All right, let’s summarize. Polish President Lech Kaczinsky decided at the last minute to proceed uninvited to Smolensk, where there was no advance planning for his arrival for these reasons. Once in the vicinity, either the pilot or someone pressuring the pilot decided to base his decision-making on conversation with someone in the cockpit of the Polish plane already on the ground rather than instructions for the safety of all aboard issued by Russian ground control. Although the crew of the Polish plane on the ground agreed the visibility had deteriorated by half since they had successfully landed in a plane that did not have TAWS warning systems, and an approaching Russian plane had aborted its landing attempt and diverted, the pilot decided to attempt landing anyway. When the automatic system that had never failed to prevent crashing in the past (when terrain avoidance was the issue) sounded unambiguous warnings on the flight deck, he or another crew member turned it off.

And yet, “the documents in question could either confirm or rule out any part that Russian air traffic controllers and their equipment may have played a role in the crash.” The possibility that Russian equipment or ground-control procedures might have caused the crash is still being discussed.

Is there a Polish government figure who might benefit from consistently forcing suspicion back on to Russia every time evidence seems to have removed it? I’m glad you asked, because yes, there is. Russophobe-to-the-core-of-his-bones Radoslaw “Radek” Sikorski, Polish Foreign Minister, onetime resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Executive Director of the New Atlantic Initiative and husband to the strident, research-challenged neoconservative Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum. Here’s my favourite Applebaum quote, delivered in her regular column just after the U.S. Army’s successful drive to Baghdad: “The war proved, as we all knew it would, that America no longer needs military allies”. Cocky? Oh, my, yes. Wrong? That too.

Russia “once again rapes Poland”? I’d submit that if anyone might be on the wrong end of non-consensual sex, it’s Russia.

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18 Responses to Rape As Smokescreen

  1. Misha says:

    Hi Mark

    A nice deconstruction on your part.

    To be sure (could be wrong), I’d have to check on these two particulars relating to the late Polish president:

    – elected on a budget cut in government campaign that might’ve played a role in the possibly suspect use and condition of the crashed plane

    – having fired a pilot who cautioned about landing in Georgia around the time of the 2008 war in the Caucasus.

    Without checking the article’s content, when I first came across that title “Russia Rapes Poland Again,” I thought it might be related to this:

    http://rt.com/Sport/2010-08-12/basketball-russia-poland-friendly.html

    I sense that R. Sikorski’s marriage to AA and time in DC with the AEI has polished his rhetoric a bit. Back in the 1990s, I recall a National Review article of his where he acknowledged hating Russians. In that particular piece, he describes a train ride discussion with a Russian woman. After listening to Sikorski, the Russian woman asks why he hates us (Russians)? Sikorski’s answer was something along the lines of Russians not fessing up to the past.

    Oh yeah? This is in line with other instances during his US stay, when he discusses how Poland was dominated by Russia. On the other hand, he omits another aspect of that relationship. He’s not alone.

    On Russo-Polish history, recent BBC and Moscow Times articles refer to “Russification” without mentioning the earlier “Polonization,” which was definitely not more progressive. It’s also bogus to believe that the last Russian qualms with Poland go back to the 1600s. Tens of thousands of Poles joined Napoleon in his attack on Russia in 1812. The belief that Poland saved Europe from Bolshevism in 1920 overlooks how Polish leader Josef Pilsudski’s Machiavellian instincts prevented a White Russian-Polish alliance in 1919, which could’ve very well defeated the Reds. Note that the Whites supported an independent Poland on land where Poles were the majority. This contrasted from Pilsudski’s ambition of a Poland with greater boundaries.

    Some not so well known aspects about the Russo-Polish relationship:

    http://www.russiablog.org/2009/10/russian-polish-history-averko.php

    I’m all for Russia and Poland burying the hatchet. However, it shouldn’t be done by readily accepting faulty one-sided historical premises.

    • marknesop says:

      So say we, so say we all. I’d read of the earlier incident involving the pilot in Georgia, and apparently it did happen, but I didn’t include it. I also read – from more cynical sources than the weepy mainstream press – that getting himself killed was just about the best thing Kazcinsky could have done for his re-election prospects, and he was probably going to be roundly defeated in the next election. His popularity figures were very low, which would seem to bear that opinion out. Of course Poles united in mourning their dead president, and rightly so, but it appeared his days were numbered politically in a way that he barely cheated physically.

      Although I know very little of Sikorski, the fact that he can (to all appearances) carry on a loving and amicable relationship with Applebaum is enough to make me dislike him. Her pious, grating columns extolling the virtues of market capitalism and democracy enemas at gunpoint make me want to put a fork in my eye. I’ll definitely peruse in detail the links you forwarded, as I imagine others will, and I look forward to enlightenment with your readable style. Best regards,

      Mark

      • Misha says:

        As a follow-up to my last set of comments, at the time of Sikorski’s period with NR, I’d a brief phone conversation with his then editor Rich Lowry, who at last notice is still with that magazine. Lowry belittled my opposition to Sikorski’s slant, with a simple reply along the lines of: he’s my guy and I back him.

        Some years later, NR canned Ann Coulter for comments she made that were deemed as hostile towards Muslims. The selective sensitivity factor is definitely there.

        There’s no legitimate denying of a predominating anti-Russian bias. At another thread at this blog, I noted the bigoted manner of the American Congressionally approved Captive Nations Week and how a La Judeophobe site wouldn’t be tolerated by the likes of JRL and RFE/RL in the same way that the site you comment on is.

        Back to NR, I note how they’ve selectively used Solzhenitsyn. He’s okay for raw anti-Communism, while his comments against anti-Russoism aren’t utilized.

        Anti-Communism is an opposition to an ideology (whether in theory and/or how some “Communist” governments have operated), whereas anti-Russoism is bigotry. IMO and hopefully that of others, blaming Russians for Communism’s ills is just as off and bigoted as targetting another group on the same claim.

        Regarding the Captive Nations Committee, Captive Nations Week and the involvement of Yushchenko’s wife with both:

        As a follow-up to my last set of comments, at the time of Sikorski’s period with NR, I’d a brief phone conversation with his then editor Rich Lowry, who at last notice is still with that magazine. Lowry belittled my opposition to Sikorski’s slant, with a simple reply along the lines of: he’s my guy and I back him.

        Some years later, NR canned Ann Coulter for comments she made that were deemed as hostile towards Muslims. The selective sensitivity factor is definitely there.

        There’s no legitimate denying of a predominating anti-Russian bias. At another thread at this blog, I noted the bigoted manner of the American Congressionally approved Captive Nations Week and how a La Judeophobe site wouldn’t be tolerated by the likes of JRL and RFE/RL in the same way that the site you comment on is. There’re numerous other examples as well.

        Back to NR, I note how they’ve selectively used Solzhenitsyn. He’s okay for raw anti-Communism, while his comments against anti-Russoism aren’t utilized.

        Anti-Communism is an opposition to an ideology (whether in theory and/or how some “Communist” governments have operated), whereas anti-Russoism is bigotry. IMO and hopefully that of others, blaming Russians for Communism’s ills is just as off and bigoted as targetting another group on the same claim.

        Regarding the Captive Nations Committee, Captive Nations Week and the involvement of Yushchenko’s wife with both:

        http://www.russiablog.org/2006/04/yuschenkos_wife_and_the_ugly_h.php

        • marknesop says:

          This is a particularly illuminating comment, Mike, because I have never seen any criticism of anti-Russian sentiment from Solzhenitsyn, either. I’ve seen a lot of of anti-Communist feeling from him, although I never got a sense from his work that he hated Russia. But I’ve never read anything where he came out and said that such-and-such was anti-Russian and offensive to him. I can understand his opposition to communism, because the system didn’t work out too well for him. I suspect that even those who miss the law and order of dictatorial rulers such as Stalin are engaging in a little selective nostalgia as well. I’ve certainly never been sorry to have been born and live where I do.

          You make an excellent point as well when you highlight the difference between racism and bigotry. I could never understand why defenders of Russia’s right to live as they wish described Russophobia as racism, because it’s too easy for a well-educated Russophobe (and there are some) to tie them in knots over the textbook definition of racism. It’s probably not – but it IS bigotry.

          Any initiative that resulted in Anne Coulter’s dismissal couldn’t have been all bad, because she’s a classic attention-loving hatemonger. She makes a living by being outrageous, and the only difference between her and a clown is that the clown tries to get your attention by being funny.

          I don’t read NR, but there are several newsmagazine-type sites that have a strong anti-Russian bias; a good example is Pajamas Media, the other passion of the twisted freak “Zigfeld”. There’s no “Turkish correspondent” or “Iranian correspondent” (although the idea of war with Iran gets general approval). Why would they need a “Russian correspondent” who never spends any time in Russia and never says anything good about it? Surely anyone else, including the photocopier attendant, could copy and paste from The Moscow Times or Novaya Gazeta?

  2. Misha says:

    Mark, while in the US, Solzhenitsyn mentions the Captive Nations Committee/Captive Nations Week in one of his books. Offhand, I think it’s The First Circle.

    Some American “Russia watchers” respond by saying that the org and its American government approved holiday in question aren’t so well known. My point is that the US government approved of a bigoted anti-Russian agenda. Like I said, I’m looking at an overall sequence of occurrences.

    An excerpt from:

    http://www.inosmi.ru/world/20080410/240734.html

    I am reluctant to use the term “Russophobia” because those accused of being such tend to dislike Russia more than actually fearing it. The term “Russophobia” reflects a soft approach at dealing with the hard core anti-Russian prejudices. “Anti-Russian” and “Russia unfriendly” can thus be considered more accurate (though not always so perfect) alternatives to “Russophobia”.

    Anti-Russian bias includes the American Congress passing a bigoted anti-Russian “Captive Nations Week Resolution”, (in 1959) that recognized every Communist country as “captive” with the exception of Russia. The leading activists behind the Captive Nations Week Resolution were anti-Russian Ukrainian-Americans; whose roots typically came from the Galician region of Western Ukraine. Western Ukraine’s lengthy historical experience of non-affiliation with Russia explains why that part of Ukraine does not feel so closely akin to Russia.

    Another example of Russia unfriendly bias is shown by the views receiving the nod in American presidential administrations. A case in point is a comparison between Carter administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and Clinton administration Undersecretary of State Strobe Talbott. In some circles, Talbott has been perceived as being soft on Russia. When compared to Brzezinski’s hard views on Russia, Talbott is nowhere near as soft. The two of them do not appear to be so politically diverse from each other. Several years ago, I watched Talbott and Brzezinski gleefully bash Russia at a Carnegie Endowment panel discussion, which also featured Vladimir Lukhin and Sergei Rogov.

    ****

    My previously noted selective sensitivity factor concerns how various groups have different levels of clout. This might explain how NR treated Coulter relative to Sikorski. True investigative journalism doesn’t suck up to imperfect establishment slants.

    I’m not so hung up on the ethnicity of a given journalist. The Moscow Times, Ekho Moskvy and Novaya Gazeta underscore this view.

    Regarding one of the featured Pajamas Media contributors:

    http://accidentalrussophile.blogspot.com/2007/08/should-we-be-afraid-of-russia-have-your.html

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/worldhaveyoursay/2007/08/a_new_cold_war.html

    Some folks prefer lobbing cheap shots from a safe bully pulpit distance. Others are willing to meet adversarial views head on in a reasonably earnest manner, minus sleazy trolls, who intentionally divert the discussion away from a subject related dialogue.

    Unfortunately, much of the high profile commentary remains limited from what’s otherwise available. The saying “you’re what you eat” can apply to what one chooses to read, listen and watch.

    I’ll close with some recent references you made about Stalin at this and one other recent thread at your blog:

    Re –

    http://www.rferl.org/content/RFERL_In_The_News_James_Kirchick_in_The_New_Republic_On_Russia_Georgia_Stalin_War/2126177.html

    The above linked article which initially appears in The New Republic inaccurately characterizes how Stalin is viewed in Russia and Georgia.

    The article overlooks matters like:

    – Medvedev’s stern rebukes of the Stalin era

    – the Russian government’s approval of a mandatory teaching of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago in public schools

    – how Russian public opinion and some in government rallied to overturn a move to have Stalin billboards present at the past Victory Day holiday obervance in Moscow (note that the proposal to have these billboards included commentary stating that this stance wasn’t intended to support Stalin – but to acknowledge who was leader of the USSR during WW II)

    – opposition to the Stalin era change in the status of Georgian SSR territory

    – periodic examples in Russian media expressing sympathetic portrayals of WW II era anti-Stalin general Andrei Vlasov.

    Furthermore, over the past several years, one can find instances of Georgian officials offering praise of Stalin.

    The point being that it’s flat out inaccurate to suggest that Russia is taking a pro-Stalin stand to Georgia doing the opposite.

    Russia not bombing the Stalin museum in Georgia probably had to do with the site having little if any strategic importance and a war related understanding of what should and shouldn’t be bombed. During the US government led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, I recall reference being made that bombing one of Tito’s former estates would be problematical because it fell under the category of a historical/cultural site.

  3. kovane says:

    Solzhenitsyn had an extremely controversial biography, and he still evokes negative feelings among many Russians. To me, he seems to be an opportunist who put his personal feelings before anything else. Even his imprisonment is very questionable. He, being an officer of the belligerent Soviet army, perfectly well knowing that all correspondence was subjected to disclosure, sent letters full of anti-Soviet dissent to his acquaintances, thus framing not only himself, but them also. He readily testified against them during interrogations. There is also a significant evidence that he was a prison informer. The US aptly used him as a ram to bring down the USSR and discarded him immediately after he had became useless. The best phrase about him: “aimed at the USSR, hit the Russian people”.

    • Misha says:

      “Putvedev” and many other Russians seem to respect him.

      “Opportunist” has been applied to others including Stalin.

      • kovane says:

        “Putveded” – yes. Solzhenitsyn initially supported Putin and I don’t remember that he publicly changed his opinion. So evil Putin used this opportunity to bolster his popularity.

        Eltsin also tried to use Solzhenitsyn as a anti-Communist banner, but Solzhenitsyn couldn’t support Eltsin’s horrendous policies and started to give unwanted advice, so the then authorities quickly abandoned him.

        As to the alleged support of many Russians, I couldn’t find any official polls to ascertain it, but here’s a good example. Look at the questions asked at this press-conference. Shows not so unanimous support I guess:

        http://www.lenta.ru/conf/saraskina/

        Speaking of his opus magnum “Gulag Archipelago”, it’s fraught with lies, rumors, which Solzhenitsyn tried to present as facts, and gross exaggerations. He maybe a great writer, I have no expertise to judge that, but I hold a very negative view about him as public figure. And of course, the title “conscience of the nation” which some people try to impose on him is preposterous.
        It’s extremely arrogant to begin with, nobody can be the conscience of a whole nation, but in Solzhenitsyn’s case it borders on offence.

        I don’t intend to portray him as some sort of villain I think he sincerely believed in his ideas, but nevertheless, Solzhenitsyn greatly contributed to all the troubles that befell the Russians in the 90s.

    • marknesop says:

      Once again, I’m guilty of getting almost all my knowledge of Solzhenitsyn from….reading Solzhenitsyn. I know very little in the way of objective comment on the man himself, and am very interested in the things I’m learning. I got the impression (of course, I suppose) that he was genuine in his attempts to expose the rot in the Socialist system, for the good of all. Maybe that’s what he implied because that’s what he meant. I did not know he was in the Army, although it stands to reason he would have been (conscript military), and the information must have been nin the public domain. I just never thought to look it up, since his work gives the sense that he was always a writer and dissident. His descriptions of prison life in “One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich” made me quite sure that one of the last places I ever wanted to be was in the Russian prison system.

      Thanks for reminding me never to assume anything; a common flaw.

      • kovane says:

        Mark,

        if you have desire to strain your Russian and want to know more about Solzhenitsyn, here’s some reading. Of course, it’s not the gospel truth, but it surely adds a few strokes to Solzhenitsyn’s portrait.

        http://warrax.net/58/solzhen.html

        • marknesop says:

          Thanks, Kovane – I’m always interested in something that will make me better-informed. My wife will help me out if I get stuck. I can already see from the title that it will be controversial.

  4. Misha says:

    Mark

    Seeing how your blog serves as a kind of counter to some of the crap out there, I thought you might appreciate this sports news:

    http://rt.com/Top_News/2010-08-16/russia-tops-euro-aquatics.html?fullstory

    As I noted at another one of your recent threads, Russia finished with the most medals at the Euro IAAF (track and field0 championships.

    Kovane

    I’m wary of some of the not so well substantiated claims out there on such Russia realted topics as the late Russian Patriarch Aleksy and the Russian government supposedly bombing civilians to legitimize military action in Chechnya.

    I’m under the impression that Solzhentitsyn is one of the more believable of name folks who turned against the Soviet system. I say this while not agreeing with everything he said.

    • marknesop says:

      Hey, Mike; thanks for the sports stats. I’m saving them for the next La Russophobe sports nonsense. On another note, I see she’s gone after A Good Treaty in her latest rant. Pretty funny, I should have a rebuttal up shortly. This is a fairly predictable reaction to the interview he did with Anatoly at Sublime Oblivion, in which he gave a moderately uncomplimentary review of her site.

    • kovane says:

      Misha,

      I’m sorry, but what relation do the appartment bombing accusations have with Solzhenitsyn?

      • Misha says:

        Kovane

        They’ve to do with claims that some (stress some) pass off as fact.

        Dissident “Russia watchers” can have a field day with them.

        On “opportunists” and two-faced criticisms among the commentariat, note how Filaret (IMO a definite opportunist) and Ukrainian Greek-Catholics are exempt from little if any criticism. RFE/RL in particular spends a good deal of time with negative portrayals of the Russian and Serb Orthodox churches. In addition to being comparatively soft on Filaret and the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics, RFE/RL does the same with Croat Catholics and Bosnian Muslims.

        Up to a point, I can respect an across the board criticism (left or otherwise) of social conservative and nationalist trends among the major faiths.

        Later with the culturally biased imagery that noticeably targets one group. Besides RFE/RL, openDemocracy has carried on in this manner.

        Regarding your comments on Solzh, some writers of that type are known to embelish. Without knowing the specifics offhand, after achieving fame, Alex Haley was accused of making things up regarding Roots.

        Regarding your 4:03 PM comments, you seem to suggest that Solzh couldn’t support Yeltsin for reasons similar to Stephen Cohen’s criticism of the first post-Soviet Russian president. Concerning another point of yours, how then did Solzh contribute to the mayhem of the 1990s?

        Writers of his kind the world over have limited popularity when compared to others in their respective country. As one of many examples, note how popular Gogol and Shevchenko are in Ukraine when compared to other Ukrainian figures (at least according to polls). How do America’s great writers stack up in popularity when compared to people like Patton?

        Mark

        Okay.

        For me, it’s a fine line between acknowledging dreck and providing better options.

        I’ve an issue with promoting bully pulpit cowards who aren’t so well versed over more informed others, who’ve been limited from appearing at the more high profile of venues.

        • kovane says:

          Misha,

          no argument about RFE/RL honesty. But its bias is not a big secret, is it?

          Of course, It would be quite foolish to blame Solzhenitsyn for everything bad happened in Russia after the USSR’s collapse. But it’s also hard to deny that he and Sakharov were the most prominent dissidents at the time. Both created the image of the USSR as some savage beast which should be killed in order to immediately get a better life. So, maybe unintentionally, they threw their weight behind the most radical reforms, completely neglecting all the awful possible consequences. I think there’s a clear border between a writer and a public figure. And they should be measured up against completely different standards. And Solzhenitsyn crossed this border right in the beginning of his career.

          • Misha says:

            On Sakharov, there’s a view that his wife promoted him in a way more extreme from what he was actually about. On that thought, I’d like to have seen how his views of present day Russia would’ve played out.

            The USSR had negative issues. If it survived in
            a looser form, minus the Baltics and perhaps some others under a different name (noting Gorby’s proposed Union of Sovereign States), I’m not so sure that Solzh and/or Sakharov would’ve been so against that. I know that Solzh indicated support for a Rus state.

            I prefer Solzh over many other Russian as well as non-Russian writers of his era. Include the late Andrei Amalrik among them. He played on the Captive Nations Committee mindset of Russians exploiting others, leading to a race war, as the Soviet Union’s eventual downfall. In point of fact, a good number of non-Russians weren’t so enthusiastic about the Soviet breakup. Conversely, some Russian “nationalists” (that word gets selectively used at times) and “moderates” (to include patriotically reasonable folks) alike saw Russia benefitting from the Soviet breakup. This view is based on the thought that Russia was being supportive of less developed republics in a way that sacrificed Russia.

            Gorbachev’s handling of a tough situation had (IMO and that of others) much more to do with the Soviet breakup than the Sakharovs, Solzhenitsyns and Amalriks.

            RFE/RL had some recently absurd sequences with “humorist” P.J. O’Rourke. Besides some neocons and neolibs, who finds O’Rourke particularly funny and/or clever? In a RFE/RL interview, O’Rourke belittles the state of media including bloggers. In that segment, he doesn’t give any specfics. A short time later, he promotes RFE/RL in a way that some would consider as Soviet like.

            Constructively critical journalism eh?

  5. flights rhodes says:

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