What do Ruslan and his friends want from the Kremlin? No more than what is fair – strap hangers at waist level (on an average-sized person) on city buses and trams, so that little people will not be falling about when the bus stops or starts suddenly, and perhaps becoming injured; as Ruslan points out, this could take the form of a molded handle on the inner corner of the aisle seat. How refreshing – an activist who doesn’t just demand change, but offers concrete, sensible proposals to put the situation right! Half-size drinking fountains in public parks, so little people visiting the parks do not become dehydrated, or embarrassed by having to stand on each other’s shoulders to get a drink. When I mention many Moscow parks already have low-height fittings so that dog owners can give pets a drink, Ruslan just glares fiercely at me from under his bushy brows, and spits a stacatto stream of Russian invective. “What’d he say?” I ask the translator. She laughs, and responds, “He say, don’t patronize me”.
The list goes on. A low counter at nightclubs, with shorter stools, so that little people do not have to hop up and down to get the bartender’s attention. Half-size shopping buggies in markets, and a reasonable distribution of stepstools so that little people can access high shelves they cannot otherwise reach. Lower hand dryers in the public toilets. Ruslan tells me through the translator that he recently had a meeting with the Black Prince of Russian politics himself, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, at which he was presented the list of the organization’s demands. Mr. Putin read it carefully, Ruslan goes on, and then “he reached in his pocket, and gave me a handful of small coins – three rubles and 45 kopecks, I still have it. When I asked him, what’s this for, Mr. President, he replied, keep it, Ruslan – I heard you were a little short this week”. That was the last cabbage in grandfather’s backpack, as they say in Russia, and that’s why we’re here today at Novaya Gazeta.
Ruslan and his followers want a western boycott of everything made in Russia that is full-size, to call attention to Putin’s contempt for little people. And their heartfelt cry for help has brought an immediate, but unpleasant response in this blasted, smoking graveyard of human rights. Two of Ruslan’s followers were hung up on coathooks at a local school, where they work as crossing guards; it took more than an hour before a teacher on her way to her locker for more vodka noticed them and helped them down. Another was stuffed headfirst into a garbage can. All three are sure their attackers were FSB – significantly, all their assailants wore leather jackets.
How many more indignities against their persons must these brave little folk endure before somebody gets involved? The voices calling for help have gone silent one by one as the Kremlin bears down on its tame media outlets, until only this stentorian, compelling dissident voice is left…
Okay, obviously that is just made up. But somebody pointed out, a couple of days ago, two things we’ve probably been aware of for awhile on some level, but just never saw it put into words. One, for the Anglosphere, “Russia” and “Putin” are interchangeable, and they often say one when they mean the other. More importantly, actions taken to harm or destabilize Putin can harm or destabilize Russia without it being of any particular consequence to the west, because it despises Putin, and any collateral damage incurred in bringing him down is acceptable. Two, every time Putin accomplishes something that makes the country look good, it is followed by a barrage of bad press and often an attempt to whip up insurrection, in order to bury the message. “No” votes on UN Resolutions to “punish” Syria brought hoarse shouts of protest over enforcement of the NGO law. Offering Edward Snowden asylum was pretty much all Russia could do, and the USA helpfully canceled his passport – so he couldn’t leave Russia – and publicly licked its chops over what it was going to do to him when it got its hands on him, which made it obvious he would suffer politically-motivated persecution if that occurred. International legal analysts agree Russia was in the right to grant him protection. But that brought the western-initiated-and-backed gay revolution and the vodka boycott and more hoarse screaming in the English-speaking press. Before that came the effort to break the Russian gas monopoly with the Nabucco pipeline – now dead as the dodo – and Polish shale gas, and every couple of weeks brings some kind of don’t-invest-in-Russia scribbling from Swedish bedwetter Anders Aslund or one of his overstuffed assmonkey economics-challenged colleagues.
So, I have to ask – what will it be next? Now that RussiaPutin has stuck a stick through the spokes of the Anglosphere’s careering war-wagon and brought it to a shuddering halt, what will be the price? What Russian special-interest group is about to get a dose of lovin’ from Uncle Sam and his British Bulldog?
The little people? Doubtful – dwarfism is extremely rare, and the little-people community must be even smaller than the LGBT community. The gay thing seems about played out, although there are occasional desultory attempts to rake over the embers and get it to blaze up again. But the western countries who breathed life into the Great Homosexual Rebellion of 2013 are already showing signs of anti-gay backlash in their own countries , and whether or not this effect was inspired by the manufactured uproar over gay rights in Russia, western administrations will have to cool it or face expectations by their own gay communities that intervention to protect them and another round of gay rights are in the offing.
Western press outlets suggest that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a “throwaway remark” to the effect that the only thing which could avert an American military strike on Syria would be for Syria to place its chemical arsenal under international supervision. Then, the excited Russians picked it up and ran with it, and a terrified Syria quickly got on board. This allowed Obama to strut a little, and Kerry to claim that it was only the threat of the American big stick which had sent the Syrians and Russians scurrying. In fact, the discussion over using Russia to secure agreements on Syria’s chemical weapons first came up at last year’s G20 summit, in Mexico. And far from being a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants quick thinker, Kerry appears to have sleepwalked through the entire unfolding of the crisis since he assumed his post, and to be if anything an even worse SecState than Hillary Clinton was. Patrick Armstrong pointed out that Kerry was not Obama’s first choice for Secretary of State – Susan Rice was, but the Benghazi debacle made her too radioactive to touch, and Obama chose whom he thought would be politically acceptable. But Kerry seems to be overacting, and sometimes looks a bit of a buffoon, especially when he is blathering on about irrefutable secret evidence when the whole world knows the west has nothing but a few doctored intercepts portraying some alleged Syrian Army officer yelling over the phone “I’ve released chemical weapons – what do I do? Boy oh boy, I sure hope the Israelis are not listening to this, and possibly recording it to give to the Americans, this could get us in real trouble”, and some photos of dead people. Maybe even that ubiquitous photo from Iraq, showing the small boy jumping over rows upon rows of shrouded bodies; the BBC has a real thing about that one, they used it last year to portray the Syrian “massacre in Houla”. Or when he is arguing, pathetically, that if America is allowed to strike Syria, it promises to make it a small attack, very limited – tiny, really. Just enough to kill Assad, perhaps – whoops, sorry about that. Or perhaps just enough to draw a response, which would have to be answered by escalation – Kerry knows well that once the first shot is fired, any illusions of control will be quickly dispelled.
And then there’s the weird discrepancy over the number killed in the chemical attack, which nobody disputes actually occurred and which was actually a chemical attack, probably Sarin. Kerry says over 1,400. Even the nutty Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – AKA Rami Abdul Rahman, the clothing salesman from Coventry, England, who cooks the UN’s casualty figures for them via a network of activists in Syria – says a maximum of 500, and the on-scene authorities say something like 300. The list the U.S. State Department provided only had a little over 300 names on it, some of them first names only or a list of family members from the same family. The only other authority offering the 1,400 figure is the Syrian National Council, an eclectic mix of Bilderbergers and western think-tankers handpicked by western
administration regime flacks.
There’s been a lot of back-and-forth on whether the fake “rebels” were blamed for an earlier chemical attack, which also killed innocent civilians and which was also quickly pinned on the Syrian government. Well, the U.N. did agree that there was “strong, concrete suspicion, but not incontrovertible proof” that the fake “rebels” were responsible and not the Syrian regime. As a sweetener, the UN also said at the time that UN investigators had seen no evidence of the Syrian army using chemical weapons and it is clear that both sides in the Syrian conflict have the means to use chemical weapons…it would be misguided to assume that either side has a moral objection to such attacks.
Au revoir, cassus belli. The “intelligence summaries” prepared for both the U.S. and UK governments by their security services suggested the latest attack was the certain work of Assad’s forces because only the Syrian government possesses these weapons and their delivery systems. Gotta be Assad. Except the UN already said the last attack was probably the work of the fake rebels and not the Syrian government, and that the western-backed Syrian opposition “clearly has the means to use chemical weapons”.
In all of this, Russia has sailed close to the wind and its diplomatic maneuvering has been masterful, a true glimpse of old-world diplomacy. Not once has it taken a position which was not backed by international law, and it has met the screeching of the western press that it is acting out of self-interest, that it is acting as a “spoiler against western imperialism” that it is just trying to save its “vital Syrian naval base” and that the west must act without wasting any more time on irrelevancies like “evidence” and “proof” with unemotional dismissal and quiet dignity. It stands in marked contrast to the bullying, hectoring and conniving of its opponents. And as the parable has it, no good deed goes unpunished. It remains to be seen which string in Russia the west will pull on to settle the score, but I imagine it figures in the current western debate, considering how egg-faced it made them all look.