To ‘Time’ – ‘It is not Putin, it is Oil, you stupid!’

December 20, 2007 at 4:47 pm 13 comments

Putin - a Person of the Year 2007It appears that the Time mag has lost a plot once again.  Stalin was chosen twice.. Hitler was chosen in 1938, a year before that bloodiest war erupted.  I am sure that the magazine had the same line by appointing the despot as appointing Mr Putin: ‘TIME’s Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world—for better or for worse.

However, who would disagree that the Time nomination did not add to Hitler’s popularity in media controlled Nazi Germany, and evening the wider world ‘if  the Yankees think that our Leader is great, why should I doubt his greatness?’ probably many Germans thought back in 1938.

I am not comparing Putin to Hitler, but a free world magazine should have more respect for democracy, and should not play a cheep ‘let’s be controversial this year’ game.  The Putin controlled media will take a full advantage of that.  The Time magazine should be clear, they will not mention that the nomination is ‘not a popularity contest’.

Putin has destroyed a democracy and finally buried hope of Russia ever becoming a normal country, when the neighbouring countries sees it not as a threat but as a partner.  He created a system which is much more dangerous to Russia then that of Yeltsin one.  We are all humans, even Mr Putin, hence, what would happen if let’s assume by an incident or accident the leader is gone…  What would happen to Russia then?

It is not Putin who should be nominated to a Person of the year.  He was just a product of the lucky circumstances.  If the Time Magazine run out of options they should not have chosen not a human but a real Tsar of the world – Mr. OIL, as one of the Lithuanian bloggers suggested.  Mr. OIL runs the world at the moment.Have a look what the Time main raival, the Economist thinks about the choise.

Entry filed under: Energy, Oil, Politics, Russia, Totalitarian regimes, USA. Tags: .

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. johnnypeepers  |  December 20, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    Good post. Time’s magazine publicity will only boost Putin’s egotistical power exertion and abuse of human rights. He will be a great threat in the years to come.

    Reply
  • 2. So?  |  December 22, 2007 at 7:33 am

    For all intents and purposes he’s already gone. I know this does not fit well with the theory of him being a faschist dictator and all, bent on, gasp!, bypassing the plucky democracies with his pipelines… but it’s the reality. I guess all that time spent gnashing teeth, dreaming up of fantastical scenarios and other idle speculation was a waste of time after all.

    Reply
  • 3. giustino  |  December 25, 2007 at 2:13 am

    I think Time is lying to us. In December 2001, everyone knew who the man of the year was — it was Osama bin Laden. But Time decided that it was too risky to put his face on the cover and chose George W. Bush instead.

    If they try to hide behind the fiction that “Man of the Year” can be awarded to anybody, regardless of scruples, then why did they make the ‘patriotic’ decision in 2001?

    Reply
  • 4. giustino  |  December 25, 2007 at 4:31 am

    Correction, Man of the Year in ’01 was Rudy Giuliani — with the same effect.

    Reply
  • 5. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  December 28, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    To ’So’,

    I am not sure if I understood you. Who is gone? Do you mean Mr Putin? From what I gather you like ‘little of tough hand’, and you probably think that a liberal democracy is a ‘pile of rubbish.’

    Hence, you should be very pleased that a ‘sovereign democracy’ has presented the world with the ‘news’ that Mr Putin will rule Russia. Since you are not too critical about this ‘sovereign democracy’ I am sure that you understood that all that show, ‘guess, who is going to be next’ was put for you and other ‘not too keen on the liberal democracy’.

    It was clear from the beginning that Mr Putin is not going to let the democratic contest for the Presidential Post to happen. The question was not ‘if’ but ‘how’ he will manipulate the ‘sovereign democracy’ to his advantage.

    Best regards and Happy New Year!

    Reply
  • 6. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  December 28, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    To Giustino,

    Perhaps you have heard about the millions that the Kremlin decided to spend on a Russia’s ‘face lift’ operation in the word. Of course, it would be absurd to blame the Time magazine for, well, getting some of that ‘for personal use’.

    However, after an example when a head of one of the biggest liberal democracies during his last days in office signs a deal with Gazprom and then gets an offer of a senior position there few months after resignation, you start wondering… Money talks.

    Regards and Happy New Year,

    Reply
  • 7. So?  |  January 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    I don’t deny that Putin has been very lucky with the oil prices (and a few other things), but you’ve got a nice strawman erection going there. Your paranoia is palpable. Putin is not Dr Evil. He is not omnipotent. This will become even more apparent when the heir apparent is installed on the throne. Thanks to Yeltsin’s constitution, all power is in the hands of the President. Yeltsin exercised some of it, Putin some more, neither did to the full extent possible.

    There’s never been a time in Russian history, when the official ruler was someone else’s puppet (minors excepted). Attempts in the past to install one have met with failure. Stalin was thought by his peers to be an uneducated inarticulate hick who would be easy to manipulate. He sure showed them. Ditto for Khruschev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev, and of course, Putin himself. They were all the “weakest” candidates.

    Constitutionally the PM is a big fat zero. On a personal level, Putin may still have the FSB behind him. The president will have the army, the police, etc,. none of which have any love for the FSB. I think he is hoping for a quiet transition and a safe retirement, nothing more.

    Reply
  • 8. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  January 3, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Well, how should one feel if a leader states that the collapse of the USSR was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20C, who brings the Soviet anthem back and puts Russia back on course of the ‘great Russia’ restoration?

    Since you live in a far away country, perhaps you don’t know what the ‘great Russia’ means for this part of the world. Just 50 years ago this ‘great Russia’, in one or another form, exterminated one third of my nation, and locked it behind the bars of the ‘prison of the nations’ for 50 year.

    You may say that the Nazis did horrible things also. Yes, they did, but they admitted that and apologised for this to everyone. Russia don’t even acknowledge those crimes. You may say those crimes were committed by the communists on orders of the Georgian and has nothing to do with the today’s Russia. Well, Hitler was not a German either, and not all Germans were the Nazis, and it was not a Nazi Germany which apologised.

    You might say contemporary Russia is different from the Communist Russia. Well, communism was only the means of the Russian imperialism. Today it is replaced by oil. There are no tanks on the Baltic Russian borders, that’s right. The tanks and the weapons are in the Kremlin’s strategists heads. They convinced that the Independence of the Baltic states is a huge misunderstanding, and they treat us like we still a Russian gubernia. Only when a moment is right the Russians will take us back. Long live NATO and the EU! This is why the ‘great Russia’ means ‘back to the prison sell to us’. You should read the ‘Third Empire’ which was written by Michel Jurjev, an ex vice-chairman of Duma.

    Putin unleashed on purpose or by accident released a gin of Russian nationalism out of the box, which will be soon out of control. This is what I am worried about.

    He will stay in power, will find the way to transfer the means of controlling the president. Just wait!

    Best wishes,

    Reply
  • 9. So?  |  January 4, 2008 at 2:42 am

    Ruslanas,

    The reason the Germans apologised may have had something to do with the fact that they were steamrolled. When NATO tanks are in Moscow, Russians may too apologise. I wouldn’t hold my breath. The Japanese are not exactly apologetic for their actions in WWII, and they are doing just fine.

    WRT Russian nationalism – every new country is nationalistic. And Russia, as such, is a new country. These feelings abate with time. Putin and Co tap into these feelings from time to time, but they certainly do not stoke them. If Russia had truly free elections, a liberal paradise would not ensue. According to the surveys, the average Russian is far more nationalist than Putin could ever hope to be. When these feelings abate, a true democracy will become worthwhile. Until then it would be mob rule.

    I don’t think Kremlin Inc is all hot and bothered about the Baltics. Their chief concern is profit. I disagree with you about Putin. Had he wanted to remain in power, he would have simply changed the constitution. An absolutely trivial obstacle.

    Reply
  • 10. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  January 4, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Hi there,

    I agree with WRT the Japanese. They must apologise. However, with all due respect to the Japanese, I would not call Japan a truly democratic country. It is as good as it gets in the Far East. Further more, the democracy was imposed there, even it could be said that the same happened in Germany. But Germany’s Western part was incorporated into the West, which helped it to become a democracy.

    Despite all mistakes the Bush Snr, Clinton and Bush Jr Administrations made, Russia had a chance to become a European country, since the majority of the Russians claim what they are. The Russians had a chance, even with pain of teething problems, to become a Western country. The Baltic States, which are the members of the EU and NATO, to lesser of bigger extend still experiencing the transitional problems. However, we are becoming a part of the West, with all its advantages and disadvantages.

    The Russians chosen to take a short cut, suppress a democratic process, and became an authoritarian state. I agree, that eventually became their choice. Nevertheless, I blame president Putin’s Co for manipulating the Russians into the nationalism. Yes, Russia is changing, and there are a lot of people who are holding extreme nationalistic views. But this is a direct effect of the Putin’s technologist’s effort. As I said, Putin released the nationalism gin out of the box, which will be extremely difficult to contain in the future.

    In regards to the profits, yes, I agree. The Kremlin Inc. is after that. However, you probably know that business and politics are so intertwined in Russia that it is difficult to distinguish who is who. By making money abroad the Russians also bring their practices and methods with them. Kremlin sees Russia’s business abroad as its ‘extended’ hand. And this worries me the most. Just remember how Herr Schröder was lured.

    Reply
  • 11. So?  |  January 4, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Ruslanas,

    Japan is indeed a special case, spending much of its history in isolationist splendour. However, like you said, Russians at least identify themselves with Europe. Though lately such notions seem to have been diluted with Eurasianism, “unique orthodox civilization”, “sovereign democracy” and other exceptionalist crap.

    But the leap for Russia would be easier to make than for, say, Egypt or Iran, or even Turkey. IMO growing prosperity leads to growing expectations. Travel exposes people to other “white people” who live like “normal people should”. But for the time being they are happy just to have a holiday in Turkey, buy a small car, flat-screen TV, etc..

    This new petty bourgeois mentality is a good thing. In fact, it’s downright revolutionary for Russia. Just compare it with the Soviet ideals of smiling people perpetually building communism without a thought for themselves. The next step will be to extend this petty self-interest (and thus interest as such) to politics. Representative government and all that.

    Just give it another 10 or 15 years.

    Reply
  • 12. Ruslanas Iržikevičius  |  January 4, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Hi again,

    It is said that Putin loves Peter the Great, the greatest Russia’s Westernise. Nevertheless, the Russian history shows that the two camps those of the Westernises and the Euroasianists fighting amongst each other constantly. If one sees Putin as a Westerniser one is deeply mistaken. His ideology is that Russia has to become a great power, at expense of being westernised. If you follow the Kremlin’s controlled media you should have noticed that the Euroasianists are clearly in the lead there. The media is a powerful tool, as you know.

    I absolutely agree that it is a good thing that the Russian middle class is growing. This should certainly play a positive role in Russia’s development. However, this middle class admires Putin and his authoritarian style. I don’t think that their kids will be educated differently. The Russian middle class does not really profess the liberal values. They also longing for the ‘Great Russia’. I am not sure if it is a right comparison but the Nazis also brought back the economical benefits to the Germans. However the newly baked middle class was shouting Heil Hitler!

    However, the trouble is that the Russian prosperity is based on the astronomical oil prises. What would happen if this golden fish stops bringing those petrodollars to Russia? What if there are no those 10-15 years? This very middle class would loose its prosperity, since almost all the Russian economy growth is based on the oil exports. This sham stability would erupt into a volcano.

    That would be the prise, which Russia will have to pay for killing off liberal democracy. It has to be noted that the Russian middle class paid an active role in that. However, the unfair thing is that its neighbours also have to suffer for Russia’s mistakes.

    Reply
  • 13. So?  |  January 5, 2008 at 1:58 am

    The middle class professes consumption. IMO, oil prices are likely to plateau at roughly the current level for quite some time. Russian macroeconomic policies are conservative, so even if the prices drop, I wouldn’t expect an immediate collapse. In fact, such a drop would be welcome, as it would spur reform. Next year they’ll be admiring Medvedev just as much.

    Reply

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