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February 24th 2015 print

Christopher Carr

Putin’s Lengthening Shadow

A President who refuses to acknowledge that Islamist terror has anything to do with Islam is a poor prospect to resist Russian ambitions in the Baltic, should Moscow next target those nations in its campaign to re-claim the former Soviet empire. As Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia understand, they are on their own

putin fearTwo weeks from now, March 11, 2015, will mark 25 years since Lithuania declared its independence from the crumbling Soviet Empire, the “evil empire”, as President Ronald Reagan so eloquently and accurately described it. Similar declarations followed from Latvia and Estonia. This milestone should be an occasion for celebration. Instead, there is growing fear about the future.

My Lithuanian-born wife is in frequent contact with family and friends in her former homeland. All have expressed fear about Russian intentions. My Brother’s-in-Law daughter is now in her third year of medicine. In her spare time she has written poetry and short stories. She has read the classics in English. The youngest son is shortly to leave school. Both were born after independence. Will they be condemned to face a loss of personal freedom in the future? I do not pretend to be a disinterested observer.

During our visit to Russia back in 2012, I noted in my travel diary the Russian ambivalence towards its Soviet past. At the Moscow River Port on July 5, 2012, just before our departure on our River Cruise to St Petersburg, I wrote: “Amused to see a cruise vessel named Felix Dzerzhinsky (founder of the Cheka). This reflects a typical Russian ambivalence about its past. Could you imagine a German cruise vessel on the Rhine being called the Heinrich Himmler?”

At the time, I had not fully realised that this ambivalence would harden into a peculiar and sinister hybrid ideology. Mervyn Bendle wrote a disturbing exposition of this ideology in the September 2014 issue of Quadrant. Robert Zubrin has further expounded on the work of Alexander Dugin, “Putin’s Rasputin”, who, in the development of a new totalitarian “fourth political theory”, has combined elements of Communism, Fascism, Ecologism and Traditionalism to serve as the binding creed of a new Moscow centred “Eurasionist Empire”, opposed to the West. In this context, it is less than surprising that Putin’s Russia enjoys support from a gaggle of neo-Nazis in Europe, eg Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece, and an assortment of extreme Right anti-Semites. This reinforces my historic view that Communism and Fascism were vicious rivals, not ideological opposites.

My tentative view is that the largely peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union failed to extirpate the dysfunctional political culture which now threatens the rise of a new imperialist totalitarian ideology. The best analogy is the armistice with Germany in 1918, which allowed the German Army in the West to march home in good order and facilitated the stab-in-the-back legend. Full allied military occupation as opposed to the humiliating half-measures under the Versailles Treaty, would have spared the world from much suffering in the future. The dysfunctional political culture survived to spawn the horrors of Nazi  Totalitarianism. I hope to stimulate debate on this question from other Quadrant readers. At any rate, unconditional surrender by both Germany and Japan in 1945, eradicated, in the case of Germany, an imperialist militarist culture, dating back to its unification back in 1871, and in the case of Japan, the ideology of Bushido, which drove Japanese expansionism.

Back to the present, the deal reached in Minsk on February 12 between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine leaves all the advantage with Russia. The Budapest Memorandum of December 5, 1994, which provided to Ukraine security assurances against threats or use of force  against its territorial integrity or its political independence in return for its accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, has been exposed as pure puffery. Putin is free to slice up Ukraine by semi-covert means. And by the way, note the absence of the Obama Administration.

Where next for Putin’s imperial project? Estonia? Latvia? Lithuania? It will be a piece of cake for the Kremlin to stir up the large Russian minorities in Estonia and Latvia. Maybe Russia will roll over Estonia. It would take only a day or so. How will Angela Merkel, Francois Holland and Barrack Obama react? Would Putin fear their response to what would be rapidly a fait accompli?

These are dangerous times. The next two years are a window of opportunity for Putin’s Russia. One can only pray that Putin will be overly cautious even when dealing with a US President it is obvious he holds in utter contempt. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will only be truly safe when a US President unambiguously declares that an attack on these states is an attack on the United States. Can anyone imagine the current incumbent, busily denying that Islamist terrorism has anything to do with Islam, taking that course?

Christopher Carr is a frequent contributor to Quadrant and Quadrant Online

Comments [7]

  1. Alan says:

    Fully agree with your sentiments but also consider that the Islamist threat is in the longer term more dangerous for the Western World and our culture.

    Having travelled to Ukraine and Russia in 2013 my brief time in Ukraine [Kiev] showed they looked west. Russians are harder to read. The peasants and there are many, seem to want a return to the old days. Cradle to grave stuff. The growing wealthy are Nationalists but appear like the life style that capitalism brings. Could be interesting to see how this pans out. But the US and Eorope need to stand up against Putin. Read the Churchill address in Fulton Missouri USA in 1946. Its all laid out there and still relevant.

    Simpering appeasement is prevalent amongst our poltical leaders everywhere. We don’t need more Obamas, Camerons, Shortens etc.As there are no Churchills in the world at the moment to provide leadership and vision, what is needed is for the thinking people to rise and demand action on both fronts. Who is going to guarantee the freedom of these Baltic States and Ukraine from Russian concerns and demands? Who is going to call Islam for what it is? Who is going to stop the immigration of Muslims here to Australia? Who is going to support and assist in the protection of the Jewish State of Israel from thugs and terrorists. Who is going to fight for our culture and way of life?

    The world is spiralling downward towards chaos, whilst gutless countries keep borrowing more money, the people have no big picture because bread and circuses are keeping them dumbed down. Someone or group needs to wake the Western World up to take action before we stumble into disaster.

  2. Keith Kennelly says:

    Christopher
    Communist Russia under Stalin and Nazi Germany under Hitler were rivals.
    The Nazis were National Socialists and the Soviets International Socialists. THE Nazis aimed to impose their brand of National socialism and the Soviets their brand of International socialism. They signed a peace treaty to carve up Poland.

    None of that was ever seen as an indication of anything right wing. Left wing propaganda has led many by the nose into a belief the Nazis were right wing fascists.

    Alan, no western country is going to go to war to protect the state of Israel. Judaism has much more in common with the Religion of Islam than the beliefs and practises of western liberal democracies.
    It is time the west woke up to that and realized siding with one ancient religious based culture against another ancient religious based culture only involves us in a narrower focused religious clash.

    Fewer westerners believe in religions or even God than ever before. An argument could be made easily that has benefited the West more than the belief in religions. (NOTE our western liberal democracies have not been founded on a religion. They were founded on Christ’s words in the new testament and the reason and logic of the Greeks.)

    We need to share our enlightenment and Christ based beliefs with both. Even perhaps educating them both that adherence to our culture of forgiveness and peacefulness leads to congeniality between people of alternative beliefs and far greater economic, moral and intellectual development.

    That certainly beats the alternative of handouts and continued reliance on others.

    Cheers.

    • acarroll says:

      I agree with your points regarding Judaism and Islam.

      The values in the Talmud (Rabbinical Judaism) aren’t universal in nature and are at odds with Christian values.

      So-called “Judeo-Christian” values don’t exist. Christian’s historically haven’t followed the OT values (which are frankly brutal) — they’ve followed the Hellenic values of the NT.

      • pgang says:

        The Talmud isn’t a book of values, and neither is the New Testament. They are books of history and prophesy concerning God’s approach to man and creation – they are books which purport to narrate ultimate reality. To suggest a demarcation between the Hebrews and Christianity is deeply flawed since Jesus was historically the fulfillment of the Jewish Covenant, especially in the way Jews such as Peter and Paul understood it.
        The difference post resurrection was that some accepted that Christ was the fulfillment of that Covenant, based on the real-world evidence of observation, testimony and logic, (and not some postmodern concept of blind faith), while others refused because it wasn’t what they were expecting, nor wanted. It should also be noted that this causal approach was only possible within a Jewish worldview as opposed to the theological dualism of Hellenism (the eternal separation of heaven and earth).
        So no, modern Christian ‘values’ aren’t the same as those of the people whom Moses led out of Egypt. They were living in very different times in a far more dangerous and uncertain world. It is thanks to the Christian worldview, as many conservatives appreciate, that we hold the luxury of focussing on our values in relative security.

        • acarroll says:

          The Hebrews you refer to were not unified under one orthodoxy at the time of Christ. There were about half a dozen major sects who were at various degrees of war with each other. This included a large group of Hellenised Jews (a mix of people from various diasporas in the Hellenic world, proselyted Greeks and the offspring of mixed Jewish-Gentile unions). It’s believed that the Hellenised Jewish sect became the core of early Christianity.

          The traditional Jewish sect that prevailed and has direct lineage into modern times was the Pharisees, who believed in following what they believed was an orthodox interpretation of Mosaic law. There was animus from this group towards the Hellenised Jews along ethnic and religious lines.

          Jesus was openly critical of the spirituality of the Pharisees (see 7 and 6 woes). So at this point there were already fundamental differences between the set of values that Jesus promoted and those of the Pharisees. The Pharisees later codified their opposition to Christianity on fundamental grounds (albeit to an arguable degree) but the direction taken was insular and promoted their separation and specialness (“chosen”) of their community which later became what we know now as the Jewish community.

          Furthermore, the collection of Gospels that make the canon of the Christian Bible was chosen at the conference of Nicea (in the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire, Asia Minor, now in Turkey) by Christian Hellenic scholars. Hellenism here is clearly extremely influential as it was a Hellenic weltanschauung that drove the direction the Christian religion would take (not to mention its roots as highlighted above), its composition and interpretation.

          Your last paragraph tends to contradict your initial assertion that the suggestion of a demarcation of the Hebrews and Christianity is deeply flawed, as indeed modern Judaism has its roots in the traditional interpretation of the law of Moses. I believe you’re looking at Christianity from the perspective of those relatively few Jews who preferred to keep traditional forms versus that vast body of Hellenised peoples who adopted Christianity from pagan traditions.

      • pgang says:

        “I hope to stimulate debate on this question from other Quadrant readers.” No debate here, I agree with you Christopher. 1918 was the year of perhaps the greatest military victory in history and indeed Australia’s finest moment. The peace wasn’t quite so well managed.
        Presumably you’ve read Churchill’s discourse on the Treaty and its aftermath? It is very illuminating, particularly in the lead-up to WW2 and its parallels with contemporary foreign politics. It is worth also extending the net to German imperialism in Africa which was very much a warning to the world of the horrors to come. Social Darwinism was lurking darkly in the shadows of German philosophy from the earliest days of the empire, and it worries me that it is still very much a part of ‘progressive’ western thinking today.
        In my opinion the philosophies that spilled out of the ‘Enlightenment’ era were an enormous step backward post Reformation, explaining much of our current decline in the West and why someone like Putin has been allowed to become so dangerous. I’d like to put those ideas into the public arena and have them debated but I no longer bother writing things that will never be published.

  3. acarroll says:

    Well, what can I say? We shouldn’t let Russia’s posturing be a cause for hysteria.

    Putin’s Russia isn’t a friend. But I don’t believe it needs to be an enemy.

    There’s a huge geopolitical game being played involving the middle east and Russia’s support for the status quo. Namely its support for a Syria that isn’t thrown into total chaos, and its continued hegemony over European energy futures.

    The story of Russian aggression, is not the full picture and it’s not all one-sided. The USA has waded waist deep into the affairs of Ukraine, “brokering” in Obama’s own words the “transition” from the democratically elected pro-Russian government to this current rabble which includes Neo-Nazis. I guess my enemy’s enemy is my friend applies here, Ukraine supporters?

    Russia’s biggest threat to the West is that it alone is capable of breaking the USD hegemony on energy commodity transactions. At some point the ponzi scheme will break down and the US and European countries will have to face up to their essentially un-payable foreign debts.

    As for the world spiralling down into chaos. Much of that chaos has been manufactured by the USA and European powers. Likewise with the Muslim question (really only middle-eastern Islam) for Australia is one that we’ve needlessly been forced to have due to the capture of our judicial, educational and bureaucratic institutions by utopian leftism and pragmatic support for the agenda from the globalist business interests where they align. The only way that will change is if the majority stops being marginalised and nationalism takes hold.

    Don’t hold your breath.

    Personally I think the West is done for. Demographics is destiny!