Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Putin underestimates capitalism

Soviet tanks Prague
With thousands of Russian operatives purveying the story that the West will not use its economic power in the Ukraine it should not be surprising that those who did not live through the Cold War will buy into this argument.

 Yet, as Russian President Putin’s black ops continue in the eastern Ukraine it looks like he may be losing his bet that capitalism companies have no homes and will pursue money at any expense.

 But the Western media, much of which reflects the opinions of these corporations, is reporting Tuesday that many CEOs are skipping an economic forum in St. Petersburg.

 More investment money has been pulled from Russia in the first quarter of 2014 than all of last year.

 Putin, if he were a student of history instead of a short-term strategist, would know this is not the first time this has happened.

 Stalin accepted Marxist dogma that said capitalist countries inevitably would be at war with each other.

 That is why Stalin was willing to make deals during War War II, because he figured once peace returned the natural course of history would make communism the winner.

 In “The Cold War: A New History,” by John Lewis Gaddis, Stalin asked the Soviet people to make more sacrifices, even after World War II and to “prepare for the next war that the contradictions of capitalism were sure to bring about.”

 At the same time, the US, the world’s greatest economic and military power, shed its isolationism and “assumed peacetime responsibilities beyond its hemisphere. Stalin’s challenge had helped to bring that about,” Gaddis writes.

 As the excesses of Stalin’s regime became known, the West learned they were little short of Hitler’s Holocaust. America and Western Europe woke up. In the Ukraine along, Gaddis writes 5 million people died of famine while collectivized farming was being introduced in the early 1930s.

 NATO was formed and an uneasy Cold War lasted from 1947 to 1991. The Berlin Wall fell a year earlier. The late Pope John Paul II cheered the fall of communism but said it would be much harder to contain the inherent evils of capitalism.

 No longer were people shot trying to scale it to escape the tyranny of a regime that benefited only the bureaucratic elite. Now, Putin, would have the world believe thousands, even hundreds of thousands, want to return to Russian rule from former Soviet Republics.

 World business executives are warily considering whether to retain major ties with Putin’s regime, expansion is unlikely.

 “The top executives of such giants as Alcoa, Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo, Morgan Stanley, ConocoPhillips and other multinational companies with business in Russia have either pulled out of the conference or plan to do so after an intensive lobbying campaign by President Obama’s advisers. Corporate officials predicted that nearly every American C.E.O. will now skip the forum in St. Petersburg,” the New York Times reports.

 Washington’s ability to manipulate banks should not be underestimated. Wikileaks found that out when it had to set up an underground funding system, not a suitable solution for a country.

 Republican Sen. John McCain, Obama’s opponent in the 2008 presidential election and a POW in North Vietnam, has been making the round of TV shows to say: "Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country…all he's got is gas and oil. And that's really all that is sustaining them."

 The point is Russia is a mono-crop economy and with the development of fracking in the US, and the development of alternative energy sources, Moscow cannot hope to have even the brief success of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. The US once again is the world’s leading energy producer.

 Even funnier than McCain was a skit last weekend on Saturday Night Live in which a Russian peasant woman begged the Ukraine to come and rescue her.

 “Olya” is asked about a possible war. “Come and get me Ukraine. Free me from my earthly prison.”


New York Times

Wall Street Journal

Voice of Russia

 Robert Weller is base

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