T Nation

Americans Play Monopoly, Russians Chess

Interesting piece from the Asia Times:

On the night of November 22, 2004, then-Russian president - now premier - Vladimir Putin watched the television news in his dacha near Moscow. People who were with Putin that night report his anger and disbelief at the unfolding “Orange” revolution in Ukraine. “They lied to me,” Putin said bitterly of the United States. “I’ll never trust them again.” The Russians still can’t fathom why the West threw over a potential strategic alliance for Ukraine. They underestimate the stupidity of the West.

American hardliners are the first to say that they feel stupid next to Putin. Victor Davis Hanson wrote on August 12 [1] of Moscow’s “sheer diabolic brilliance” in Georgia, while Colonel Ralph Peters, a columnist and television commentator, marveled on August 14 [2], "The Russians are alcohol-sodden barbarians, but now and

then they vomit up a genius … the empire of the czars hasn’t produced such a frightening genius since [Joseph] Stalin." The superlatives recall an old observation about why the plots of American comic books need clever super-villains and stupid super-heroes to even the playing field. Evidently the same thing applies to superpowers.

The fact is that all Russian politicians are clever. The stupid ones are all dead. By contrast, America in its complacency promotes dullards. A deadly miscommunication arises from this asymmetry. The Russians cannot believe that the Americans are as stupid as they look, and conclude that Washington wants to destroy them. That is what the informed Russian public believes, judging from last week’s postings on web forums, including this writer’s own.

These perceptions are dangerous because they do not stem from propaganda, but from a difference in existential vantage point. Russia is fighting for its survival, against a catastrophic decline in population and the likelihood of a Muslim majority by mid-century. The Russian Federation’s scarcest resource is people. It cannot ignore the 22 million Russians stranded outside its borders after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, nor, for that matter, small but loyal ethnicities such as the Ossetians. Strategic encirclement, in Russian eyes, prefigures the ethnic disintegration of Russia, which was a political and cultural entity, not an ethnic state, from its first origins.

The Russians know (as every newspaper reader does) that Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili is not a model democrat, but a nasty piece of work who deployed riot police against protesters and shut down opposition media when it suited him - in short, a politician in Putin’s mold. America’s interest in Georgia, the Russians believe, has nothing more to do with promoting democracy than its support for the gangsters to whom it handed the Serbian province of Kosovo in February.

Again, the Russians misjudge American stupidity. Former president Ronald Reagan used to say that if there was a pile of manure, it must mean there was a pony around somewhere. His epigones have trouble distinguishing the pony from the manure pile. The ideological reflex for promoting democracy dominates the George W Bush administration to the point that some of its senior people hold their noses and pretend that Kosovo, Ukraine and Georgia are the genuine article.

Think of it this way: Russia is playing chess, while the Americans are playing Monopoly. What Americans understand by “war games” is exactly what occurs on the board of the Parker Brothers’ pastime. The board game Monopoly is won by placing as many hotels as possible on squares of the playing board. Substitute military bases, and you have the sum of American strategic thinking.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/JH19Ag04.html

Nothing of note here - just an author looking to see how many times he can use “stupid” as an adjective describing America and Americans.

Witness:

American hardliners are the first to say that they feel stupid next to Putin.

Then, he goes on to quote two commentators who say nothing of the sort - they merely remark on Putin’s sharpness.

By my quick count, he used “stupid” seven times - fantastically banal insight, and presumably an editor asleep at the wheel.

And, to borrow on the author’s point - he says Russia is playing chess, and America is playing Monopoly. Of course, that is nonsense - in reality, Russia is playing Risk, whether anyone else wants to play with them or not, and the Buchananites want us to take the recess we would otherwise have to play a game and instead take a nap.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
Nothing of note here - just an author looking to see how many times he can use “stupid” as an adjective describing America and Americans.

Witness:

American hardliners are the first to say that they feel stupid next to Putin.

Then, he goes on to quote two commentators who say nothing of the sort - they merely remark on Putin’s sharpness.

By my quick count, he used “stupid” seven times - fantastically banal insight, and presumably an editor asleep at the wheel.

And, to borrow on the author’s point - he says Russia is playing chess, and America is playing Monopoly. Of course, that is nonsense - in reality, Russia is playing Risk, whether anyone else wants to play with them or not, and the Buchananites want us to take the recess we would otherwise have to play a game and instead take a nap.[/quote]

Sure, the stupid stuff is a little gratuitous, but you think America has a grand strategy? If so I’d really love to know what it is.

And you don’t think our governing class is largely composed of mediocrities? Ever flick on C-SPAN?

Poorly written article.

To solely blame America for throwing “over a a potential strategic alliance” they overlook the fact that the Russians themselves “threw over” the alliance by backing Iran in it’s nuclear ambitions thereby creating the need for the defensive missile shield in Poland.

Why the Russians would feel threatened by a defensive shield is beyond me, unless they have ambitions to march on Poland in the near future. If not, why exactly is this a threat to them?

Who is the author of this article and is he a contributor to PWI?

Americans build computers that beat Russians in chess.

[quote]Gkhan wrote:
Why the Russians would feel threatened by a defensive shield is beyond me, unless they have ambitions to march on Poland in the near future. If not, why exactly is this a threat to them?[/quote]

It’s “defensive” because…the US says so?

And this is supposed to be proof enough for the Russians?

What if they wanted to put “defensive” missiles in South America. Would you be fine with that?

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Americans build computers that beat Russians in chess.[/quote]

lol wut? Most computer scientists ARE Russian.

[quote]Zap Branigan wrote:
Americans build computers that beat Russians in chess.[/quote]

Maybe they should be put in charge of your foreign policy?

Come on guys, don’t you know americans=stupid and europeans=smart?

(we need rollie-eye icons on this board)

[quote]Nominal Prospect wrote:
Gkhan wrote:
Why the Russians would feel threatened by a defensive shield is beyond me, unless they have ambitions to march on Poland in the near future. If not, why exactly is this a threat to them?

It’s “defensive” because…the US says so?

And this is supposed to be proof enough for the Russians?

What if they wanted to put “defensive” missiles in South America. Would you be fine with that?

Zap Branigan wrote:
Americans build computers that beat Russians in chess.

lol wut? Most computer scientists ARE Russian.[/quote]

Nominal, are the missiles offensive because YOU say so?

Anyhow, the Russians are putting offensive nuclear bombers in Cuba. Poland is a NATO member. If they want offensive missiles in their country they’re entitled to them.

I am sure if Venezuela wanted missiles to knock down our planes, Russia would supply them and probably already have.

Most computer scientists are Russian? I thought the Japanese were the leaders in technology. Wow, was I wrong about that!! Lol.

Why are you so pissed about missile shields in Poland?

Why is it a threat to Russia?

[quote]orion wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Americans build computers that beat Russians in chess.

Maybe they should be put in charge of your foreign policy?

[/quote]

Maybe they should be put in charge of European-Asian countries that feel the need to threaten their neighbors with nuclear attack, and in charge of European Nato Member countries who do nothing but sit on their hands while aggression is taking place in Europe for 2 decades.

[quote]Gkhan wrote:
orion wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Americans build computers that beat Russians in chess.

Maybe they should be put in charge of your foreign policy?

Maybe they should be put in charge of European-Asian countries that feel the need to threaten their neighbors with nuclear attack, and in charge of European Nato Member countries who do nothing but sit on their hands while aggression is taking place in Europe for 2 decades.[/quote]

Why would we do that, if the result would be the same?


That’s because Communist Monopoly is no fun.

[quote]orion wrote:
Gkhan wrote:
orion wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Americans build computers that beat Russians in chess.

Maybe they should be put in charge of your foreign policy?

Maybe they should be put in charge of European-Asian countries that feel the need to threaten their neighbors with nuclear attack, and in charge of European Nato Member countries who do nothing but sit on their hands while aggression is taking place in Europe for 2 decades.

Why would we do that, if the result would be the same?

[/quote]

What makes you say that? It nullifies what you wrote above.

[quote]Gkhan wrote:
orion wrote:
Gkhan wrote:
orion wrote:
Zap Branigan wrote:
Americans build computers that beat Russians in chess.

Maybe they should be put in charge of your foreign policy?

Maybe they should be put in charge of European-Asian countries that feel the need to threaten their neighbors with nuclear attack, and in charge of European Nato Member countries who do nothing but sit on their hands while aggression is taking place in Europe for 2 decades.

Why would we do that, if the result would be the same?

What makes you say that? It nullifies what you wrote above.
[/quote]

Not really.

Because their foreign policies already are at least semi-clever.

[quote]orion wrote:

Europe smart, america dumb[/quote]

My what nuance!!

[quote]GDollars37 wrote:
And you don’t think our governing class is largely composed of mediocrities? Ever flick on C-SPAN?[/quote]

CSPAN is the funniest and most depressing experience i put myself through. it is absolutly insane that we have complete idiots running this country. i would have used stupid about 10 more times.

[quote]dhickey wrote:

i would have used stupid about 10 more times. [/quote]

You too may be able to be published in an “internet only” publication!

[quote]Gkhan wrote:
Why are you so pissed about missile shields in Poland?

Why is it a threat to Russia?[/quote]

What’s hard to understand here? What would we think if Russian missile defense shields were placed in Canada, Cuba and Mexico? Hey, they’re just SHIELDS, right?

Regardless of actual threats or intentions, the act of placing our weapon systems in nations close to Russia doesn’t exactly send a friendly message.

Sidenote: Poland actually wanted to buy more. Something like $20bil of our weapons…but we only sold them about 0.1 of that. Maybe due to knowing what reaction that would lead to from the Russians.

[quote]Gkhan wrote:
Poorly written article.

To solely blame America for throwing “over a a potential strategic alliance” they overlook the fact that the Russians themselves “threw over” the alliance by backing Iran in it’s nuclear ambitions thereby creating the need for the defensive missile shield in Poland.

Why the Russians would feel threatened by a defensive shield is beyond me, unless they have ambitions to march on Poland in the near future. If not, why exactly is this a threat to them?
[/quote]

Come on. It’s interceptors on your border. Anything that threatens your nuclear arsenal is going to make you pretty touchy. You don’t think we’d react the same way?

No, he’s an anonymous columnist for the Asia Times, I think he’s Australian.

[quote]Nominal Prospect wrote:

Zap Branigan wrote:
Americans build computers that beat Russians in chess.

lol wut? Most computer scientists ARE Russian.[/quote]

Most computer scientists are Russian? Looks like Russia is going to invade a few more countries than just Georgia.