"We Can't Negotiate Nukes with a Black": Why the Kremlin Prefers McCain

As McCain campaign tactics sink back to gutter level, and our attentions turn to the next smear or attempt at voter suppression, this great diary by Ivan Krastev on The Motley Moose should remind us that there are bigots abroad who also want to see Obama fail: among these Putin and the Russian Oligarchy.

Yes, that's right. Whenever someone tells you that Obama will talk too much to enemies, and be soft on America's competitors, hear what a leading European political scientist has to say:

the Kremlin's elite with whom I have been discussing the coming American election are hard-core McCain supporters.

The well-known fact that Soviets have always preferred Republicans to the Democrats is not enough to explain "McCainmania" in the Kremlin. Russia's elite preference for McCain has different sources but four of them are worth mentioning: namely, race, class, strategic calculation and a love for lobbyists.

Based in Bulgaria, Ivan Krastev knows his stuff (he's the executive director of the International Commission on the Balkans, and Director of the Open Century Project) and he pins down these four elements brilliantly.

1.Race: The provocative title of this diary is taken from a comment made to Ivan by a senior Russian official. The quotation in full.

"You should understand - this is not serious, we cannot negotiate nukes with a Black".

If anyone doubts that Russia harbors such bigoted opinion at senior levels of government, they would be well advised to take a trip to St Petersburg or Moscow - or rather NOT well advised if they had dark or Armenian coloring like I do. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and his false image of multi national harmony, racism has mushroomed in many Russian cities and towns. St Petersburg, as an Armenian colleague of mine recently told me, is one of the most racist cities in the world, and he was in constant danger.

2. Class: here Ivan's diary makes an even more startling point about the convergence of interests between the hyper rich, jet setting elites in both Russia and the US.  

Post-communist Russian elites who made their money mainly through corruption are extremely sensitive towards any criticism of the existing status quo. And for them any appeal to more egalitarian policies is nothing else than an expression of dangerous populism that, they fear, can spread all over the world. What the Kremlin does not like about Obama is his egalitarian rhetoric and the fact that he makes an issue about the rising inequalities of income.

3. The Love of Lobbyists. As a recent Nation piece makes clear, there is a revolving door of interests and personnel between the McCain campaign and Russia's oligarchs.

And if you think all this chimes against McCain's professed support for Georgia during the recent war, even his alleged encouragement of Georgia's initial reaction, think again...

4.Strategic Calculations. As we saw so vividly between Serbia and Croatia over a decade ago, there is sometimes a convergence of interests between bellicose nationalists, even if they seem to be on opposing sides. Not only can they carve out smaller weaker nations between them, the leaders can also shore up domestic support in times of conflict, not to mention the money to be made on the side. As Ivan puts it:

Russia's strategy is to re-gain its status as world power through rhetorical confrontation with the West. In this sense,  McCain's tough rhetoric plays into the Kremlin's hands, both domestically and internationally.

Domestically it helps Putin to convince the public that Russia is under siege, and internationally McCain's toughness helps Russia to position itself as the challenger to America's global hegemony. At the same time Moscow does not need to pay a price for its anti-Americanism, first, because America is overstretched and second, because in the current financial turmoil McCain's toughness is nothing but rhetoric.

Above all, McCain's election would further weaken the already wounded transatlantic alliance, and splitting the US from Europe is the Kremlin's ultimate strategic objective.

Ultimately, that's what terrifies the Kremlin about an Obama presidency more than anything. It's not just that his image and his history would revitalise the American dream for the 21st century, his policies would also strengthen the US through diplomacy, co-operation, and all the panoplies of soft power that kept the US as the leader of the free world for half a century.

If I was a former KGB operative, I'd be having sleepless nights about Obama's victory, because only he can restore America's standing in the world

Tags: Barack Obama, foreign policy, Georgia, John McCain, kremlin, Lobbyists, racism, russia, Vladimir Putin (all tags)

Comments

28 Comments

Tips for...

... disappoint Russian Oligarchs. And you know what? Putin and Palin aren't just close neighbors. They share similar passions. They love to go hunting....

by brit 2008-10-09 03:30PM | 0 recs
Of course Putin wanted McCain!

John McCain folded faster than superman on laundry day in that campaign suspension debacle. With debating skills like that, they'd love to have a man like that on the other end. Jesus, they'd walk all over him!

by iohs2008 2008-10-09 07:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Tips for...

Wow... That's a disturbing picture.

by yitbos96bb 2008-10-10 06:13AM | 0 recs
Credit...

...where credit's due (no financial pun intended)

http://www.drawger.com/zinasaunders/

by brit 2008-10-10 06:26AM | 0 recs
Those are brilliant

I'd never heard of Zina Saunders before. Thanks for the link. I'll be showing these to my friends.

by kydoc2 2008-10-10 07:28AM | 0 recs
We Can't Negotiate

If foreign countries don't like our elected leaders based on skin color F__k them who cares what Putin thinks.

Russia is in the Howard Dean school of democracy anyway.

by dtaylor2 2008-10-09 05:35PM | 0 recs
Impressive construction

Do you have professional writers?

by Reaper0Bot0 2008-10-09 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Impressive construction

Ya but the punctuation guys are on strike

by dtaylor2 2008-10-09 06:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Impressive construction

 I'm tuning in to listen to Rush quite often these days. It's a smorgasbord of Schadenfreude!  

by QTG 2008-10-10 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressive construction

I'll join you. A portion of pickled red herrings (Ayers/Acorn) with a nice dash of sour grapes jelly.

by brit 2008-10-10 07:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Impressive construction

If Rushbo gonna eat, better order 2 portions of spotted dick for his just desserts.

by mydailydrunk 2008-10-10 10:27AM | 0 recs
You know, your bitterness amuses me.

Honestly, I hone in on all your posts just to revel in your resentment. It really makes my day. Keep up the good work!

by iohs2008 2008-10-09 07:29PM | 0 recs
and, as Obama mentioned during the debate...

the way to diminish Russian influence is to reduce their inflow of petro dollars from oil and gas by developing alternate sources of energy that can be first used at home and then exported abroad.  

To a lesser extent, a more peaceful world also reduces demand for their arms exporting trade (if that is possible).

by mboehm 2008-10-09 06:04PM | 0 recs
We don't need them fancy logical thinkings

you elite thinker types are always goin' on about, dontcha know?  Too, we just need to show them Rooskies when they poke their heads up and such that we're Americans and we don't take no guff when it comes to standin' up and you know tellin' 'em to just "back off" you know like we do because in America foreigners know we can't just be fooled around with and that's the reason, too, that America is.

by chrisblask 2008-10-09 07:02PM | 0 recs
LOL I can hear Palin's voice as I read n/t

by kydoc2 2008-10-10 07:30AM | 0 recs
Looks like Putin

 will just have to lump it, because Barack is going to be our guy.

by ReillyDiefenbach 2008-10-09 06:06PM | 0 recs
My fellow prisoners

by Iago 2008-10-09 06:12PM | 0 recs
Quick hide the free speech

Oh look the Obama KGB has struck again...

by dtaylor2 2008-10-09 07:11PM | 0 recs
Re: "We Can't Negotiate

Also don't forget that McCain likely has a HUGE KGB file based on tons of direct observation from his POW days.  Putin probaby has that file handy.

It gives you one hell of an advantage to be negotiating with someone you can play like an X-box.

by tired of dynasties 2008-10-09 08:29PM | 0 recs
Well, that's very candid.

And good catch. Damn.

It's too easy to forget that racism isn't unique to America, and that it even exists in countries where all the people who live in them would face some sort of discrimination in the US. In Costa Rica, for example, I noticed that lighter-skinned and more European-looking "Creoles" may discriminate against dark-skinned people and, very especially, the obviously Native people. They also seemed curiously down on Nicaraguans.

Anyway, it won't just be good for America to have the biracial son of an African man be the most powerful person on the planet. It'll be a good thing for the whole damn world, hopefully make everybody a little less dumb.

by Natasha Chart 2008-10-09 08:30PM | 0 recs
Chavez too

Incredibly accurate diary, sorry to say. Russians want McCain very badly. They see him as the stay puft marshmellow man,really. They may not want to deal with Obama, but they respect his capabilities. And Chavez will be none to pleased with a President Obama, either.

by Jeter 2008-10-09 09:09PM | 0 recs
Actually...

I see our relations with Chavez improving under Obama.  Chavez's own rhetoric will essentially force him to acknowledge that the United States is trying to be better than what we were under Bush.

by Dracomicron 2008-10-10 07:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Actually...

Putin and Chavez are already in agreement about what their strategic goals are. Besides decreasing dependence on oil, the US should allow US farmers to grow opium and coca. It's not like we can control it from getting into the country.

Why don't we let US farmers sell these products (pharmaceutical grade, of course) to other countries. We can't even grow hemp in this country. When you consider that alcohol consumption and addiction is probably the greatest driver of chronic health care costs in this country, and it's creation and sale is extremely well regulated, why not add obvious products that would create jobs?

by Jeter 2008-10-10 12:49PM | 0 recs
McCain = Da? Palin = Nyet?

Not sure how the following fits in, but the press in Russia seems to have a pretty good understanding of Palin:

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postg lobal/sais/nexteurope/2008/10/russians_p alin_who.html

(exerpt from article)
"At the end of last week, the Russian daily newspaper Izvestiya published an article deriding the VP candidate claims of belonging to the American middle class. The article discussed in detail Palin's family financial resources and concluded that the Alaskan governor must have been "modest" when she placed herself as part of the working class. A few days later, the same newspaper published another piece related to Palin's claims that Barack Obama had ties to terrorists. The author commented that the Republican vice presidential candidate had embarked on a personal attack against Obama because she was unable comment on the crucial issues facing America today, like the ongoing financial crisis."

by mydailydrunk 2008-10-10 04:55AM | 0 recs
Re: McCain = Da? Palin = Nyet?

Fortunately not ALL the press is under the thumb of the Kremlin - there is some opposition left.

And given the pusillanimity of McCain and the Republicans over the Global Stock Market crash, some of those oligarch's might be having second thoughts by now

by brit 2008-10-10 05:02AM | 0 recs
Quite frankly...

...this is a bluff that I'm happy to call.  Russia WILL negotiate nukes with "a black" because A) that "black" will have more nukes than they do, and B) Russia has a longstanding tradition of revolution, and if the world rejects Russia and embraces "a black"'s philosophy of diplomacy and courage over threats and corruption, they're facing more than just being isolated on the world stage, they're facing potential revolt.

by Dracomicron 2008-10-10 07:21AM | 0 recs
Agree with every word...

...except your last few about 'Russia facing revolt'.

They've already faced it in former satellites like Ukraine and Georgia, and Republicans like Chechnya. Sadly, racism and xenophobia actually bolsters the governing elites. (Where have I heard that before?)

by brit 2008-10-10 07:51AM | 0 recs
Hmm

Maybe you're right, but I'm not talking about Chechnyian-type revolt, I'm talking about a Bolshevek-style smackdown by their own people.

I mean, how's the Tsar doing these days?

by Dracomicron 2008-10-10 07:57AM | 0 recs

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