Monday, March 25, 2013

It Makes a Certain Amount of Sense

Russia sees the hand of the West in the NGOs working for rule of law in Russia. I guess if you want to name and enemy, naming one that actually has no interest in crushing you is safer.

Russia has moved against rights groups in Russia:

Russian prosecutors and tax police searched the Moscow headquarters of Amnesty International and several other rights groups Monday, continuing a wave of pressure that activists say is part of President Vladimir Putin's attempt to stifle dissent. ...

Putin has long been suspicious of NGOs, especially those with American funding, which he has accused of being fronts for U.S. meddling in Russian politics.

We barely think about Russia let alone have the time to plot against them. Good grief, you can read stuff here just about begging Americans to remember that Russia still matters. They could nuke us and otherwise make trouble for us, but practically speaking they aren't going to smash up Europe or Japan. And without that, we really can afford not to think about Russia too much if they don't want to be our friend. Have fun with 1.2 billion Chinese on your border and angry Moslems within them.

But Russia really does think we are plotting against them. Or at least enough in power think that way:

Westerners are puzzled at the way Russian politicians are growing increasingly hostile to foreigners in general and the West in particular. ...

Scrounging up details from Russian media, discussions on the Internet and statements by the many members of the Duma (parliament) with access to the inner circle reveals a rather bizarre (to Westerners, and some Russians) state of affairs. Put simply, most of those currently running Russia really believe that the United States has formed an anti-Russian coalition that is surrounding Russia in preparation for an invasion. The motive behind this plot is the Western need for Russia’s many natural resources. The U.S. has been using pro-democracy and reform minded NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) within Russia to cause turmoil and weaken the government and military.

In a way I'm flattered. Some like to complain that we can't sustain a long-range plan for anything under our system. Yet the Russians think we have a deep (and secret) plan to surround them and crush them. Oh sure, we did that to the Soviet Union. I'll grant them that. But Russia isn't the Soviet Union.

And the Russians shouldn't want to be the Soviet Union again. We could be friends if the Russians would get over their nostalgia for the Soviet era when fear of them gave them power and influence.

But who knows if the Russians really believe this stuff. After all, it is safe to rail against a NATO conspiracy when European NATO would have trouble rounding up stray cats let alone invading Russia. So if I was going to make up a threat, I'd pick someone to demonize with no interest or capability to make the fantasies real.

But I go for the simple explanation. I suspect that this is a sincere belief among Russian leaders rather than just a story to justify their increasingly dictatorial rule. But I'm not sure if it is better or worse if the Russian leaders do believe this stuff or don't.

Still, I much prefer a Russia frustratingly annoying over the Soviet era when they were a major threat to us around the globe.