Thursday, March 01, 2007

Russia's hudna with the Muslim world

Spengler is always excellent. In my opinion, his latest column on Putin’s Russia, here, is his best yet. I have long contended that--in the grand scheme of things--Russia is not our enemy. In fact, as the 21st century progresses, they may be our last natural ally. Of course, their heavy-handedness can be hard for us to take—just as our sanctimony is for them. For all the recent uproar over Putin’s Munich speech, I actually found little with which to disagree. Some excerpts from Spengler follow (emphasis mine):

Perhaps it is inevitable that Washington should misunderstand Moscow at this juncture in history. Putin has embarked on a monstrous enterprise, next to which Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Grand Inquisitor seems like a country parson. European Russia is dying, and Muslims will compose a majority of citizens of the Russian Federation by as early as 2040. But the successors of Imperial Russia, the Third Rome after the fall of Constantinople to Islam in 1453, refuse to slide without a struggle into the digestive tract of the House of Islam. Western Europe may go with a whimper rather than a bang as Muslim immigrants replace the shrinking local population, but the Russians have no such intention. Putin and his comrades will employ all the guile and violence at their command to delay the decline of European Russia. The Europeans are the emasculated remnant of a fallen civilization; for better or worse, the Russians still are real men.

Putin is playing a Great Game in Central Asia, comparable in scope to the long duel with Britain during the 19th century, but with a difference: Russia's object is no longer imperial, but existential. America's blundering about its borders in the form of "color revolutions" in the republics of the former Soviet Union is an intolerable form of interference.

It is instructive to contrast Russia's policy in Chechnya with America's catastrophic policy in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. Force, duplicity and bargains with the devil are the hallmarks of Russian strategy. Free elections have brought Hamas to power in the Palestinian territories, entrenched Hezbollah in Lebanon, and set in motion a civil war in Iraq. By contrast, Putin has pacified the most stubborn Muslim population in the world, namely Chechnya, by means that horrified the world. The United States offers democracy to the Muslim world, and is universally hated; Putin destroys an entire Muslim country, and is welcomed as a friend. The question begs itself: who better understands the Islamic world, Vladimir Putin or George W Bush?

It is maddening to contemplate the denizens of Washington sipping white wine and debating the final triumph of liberal democracy and free markets in the vaunted "end of history". Russia's tragedy is beyond their comprehension. For three generations, the communist system rooted out and extirpated any soul intrepid enough to show thought or initiative. By the early 1990s, Russia's European population was a passive, sullen rabble incapable of asserting its rights; the cleverest and most adventurous emigrated. Demoralization manifested itself in high rates of alcoholism, drug use and venereal disease. Life expectancy fell from 70 years in 1990 to 65 years today. It will take two or three generations before Russians acquire the courage and the sense of civil society to determine their own destiny after the fashion of the Anglo-Saxon countries.

The only leadership left in Russia by the terrible adverse selection process of the communist system was the former secret guardians of the state, men whose unique position required them to live by their wits. The former secret-police official Vladimir Putin is the only sort of man who could rule Russia in the wake of its 20th-century tragedy. There is nothing to like about the man, but there is something to respect. Russia is fighting for its life against the odds, and there is no one left to fight for Russia but the bloody-handed fighters of the old regime.

Safe in their own continent, with a Muslim population of no more than 2 million to 3 million, composed to a great extent of educated immigrants, the Americans are incapable of understanding what Russia now faces. Yet Russia is a natural ally of the United States for the remainder of the 21st century, perhaps the only natural ally the US will have. Europe does not have the stomach to resist its gradual assimilation in the Islamic world. But Russia will resist, and it will do so ruthlessly. America's cookie-cutter approach to nation-building has been a disaster; Washington stands to learn a great deal from the tragic history of the Russian Empire.

By all means, read the entire article.

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