by Don Hank
Folks, I feel sorry for people who fancy themselves Russia analysts but have never spent time in Russia, never studied the culture and literature, do not know the language and therefore are incapable of reading the Russian media, which is no longer monolithic and even sometimes severely berates Putin and Kremlin policies.
Cliff Kincaid is one such would-be ‘analyst.’
Just one passage illustrates Kincaid’s profoundly embarrassing ignorance of the Russian political scene and of Putin’s psychological make up. Kincaid struts his ignorance thusly:
As we have noted, Putin adviser Aleksandr Dugin is the leader of the “International Eurasia Movement,” which includes a “strategic alliance” between Iran and Russia.
If I weren’t so busy crying over the abysmal foreign affairs ignorance that is plunging our nation into war after war as a result of such blatant displays of mindless drivel, I would laugh at this absurd notion that Dugin is an “advisor” to Putin — a notion on which much of the trashy neocon ‘analysis’ of Putin’s mentality is based.
I was recently asked about the relationship between Dugin and Putin and here is what I said:
Many people here in the Western world have been told by anti-Russia critics that philosopher Alexander Dugin is a “mentor” of Putin. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Dugin is a clever man who wants power for himself and has made desperate attempts to ingratiate himself with Putin by dissecting his behavior and synthesizing a philosophy based thereon. Thus, he is not particularly creative or original and his ideas are not his own, just amateurish attempts to translate Putin’s actions into an ideology. Here is the key point: Putin is not a follower of Dugin’s but rather Dugin is a follower of Putin’s, as I will attempt to show.
Here is an example from a recent Russian language interview (which Kincaid, who parades as an authority on Russia, would not have been able to read). Back in the day, Lenin worshippers used to mouth the phrase:
Lenin lived, Lenin lives, Lenin will live. (Ленин жил, Ленин жив, Ленин будет жить, or in transliteration: Lenin zhil, Lenin zhivet, Lenin budet zhit’)
When I was studying in Leningrad, they flew banners on main streets there with the above worshipful message. Well, as I said, Dugin never was very creative. He took this sentence as a model and created the even cornier saying: Putin is everywhere, Putin is everything, Putin is absolute, Putin is irreplaceable.
Dugin also took a concept directly from Tolstoy as if it were his own.
Unfortunately, Dugin never really understood Putin. After Dugin made that crazy speech in a televised interview urging people to “kill, kill, kill” (the Ukrainians), many Russians demanded that Dugin be fired from his post as professor. Indeed, he was fired, and significantly, Putin did not object to this or defend Dugin in any way. Significantly, Putin has repeatedly said in public interviews that the Russians and Ukrainians are brothers. He wants conciliation and he wants Russians to respect other peoples. Thus, despite his show of erudition, Dugin was naive to call for the killing of Ukrainians ands it reveals his utter lack of comprehension of Putin’s mind set. Dugin later foolishly blamed Putin for not coming to his aid. Obviously, this man is an egotist who sought aggrandizement by associating himself with Putin’s ideas, but has no influence on Putin whatsoever, and I doubt he ever did. Putin was recently interviewed by Russian media and was asked what his ideology was. Putin said he had no guiding ideology at all and that he was a conservative and a pragmatist. Any keen observer of Putin (one not blinded by racist Russophobia) would say the same thing. This was a strong signal to the public that Putin was not in any way tied to Dugin and would not be swayed by his ideology of ‘Eurasianism’ (or anyone else’s for that matter. Russia was almost destroyed by an ideology. The Russians are gun shy when it comes to nice sounding ideologies of the Western ‘progressive’ or ‘liberal’ type. Dugin had his place in the sun. Now he is out, and I am convinced that Putin is saying to himself ‘good riddance.’
Here is one of many examples of why any analyst who wishes to criticize Russian affairs really needs to have a good reading knowledge of Russian. (I am not suggesting that anyone who wants to understand Russia is hopelessly hamstrung by a lack of Russian language knowledge. I am only saying that a person with limited knowledge of Russian culture, literature and language is skating on thin ice when he struts expertise in things Russian only to mouth the officialist cold war viewpoint). It is obvious from Cliff Kincaid’s rants that he knows nothing and wants to portray himself as a patriot by bashing Russians, preying on the residual suspicion and hatred for Russians — a form of racism not significantly different from anti-Semitism — that many older cold warriors and aficionados of Sylvester Stallone movies still nurture in their hearts.
If only they could see themselves for the clownish amateurs they are.