Fading From Relevance

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bush_putin.jpg
This picture, which found its way into my inbox today, is a pretty good reflection of the trajectory of U.S. versus Russian influence at the moment. Don’t get it? Look closely — there’s a second Head of State in the background.
— Scott Paul

Comments

25 comments on “Fading From Relevance

  1. Tintin says:

    orry for the bad proofing…
    “…and it’s not very popular…”
    “To my mind, they are outweighed, largely, but not entirely…”
    Ultimately, we’ll have to see the direction Russia goes in with Putin
    in spot #2.
    Perhaps you could say, I’m less hopeful than you about the good
    results coming.

    Reply

  2. Tintin says:

    Yes, we’re agreeing, sort of.
    It depends on where one puts the emphasis at any particular
    time.
    It tend to look for balance–that’s my lodestone–at it’s not
    very popular at the moment, for understandable reasons.
    It’s clear from your post, and other things I’ve read, that Putin
    has done any number of good things.
    To my mind, they outweighed, largely, but entirely, but the
    negatives. Moreover, his approach, such as it is, doesn’t seem
    to hold out much hope for self-correction in a liberalizing
    direction.
    In other words, he’s a believer in naked power, handled in a
    smart way.

    Reply

  3. arthurdecco says:

    …well, on second thought, maybe not. (Agreeing, I mean.)

    Reply

  4. arthurdecco says:

    I think we’re agreeing…in a disagreeable way, tintin. 😉

    Reply

  5. Tintin says:

    “Ignoring, denying and/or dismissing Putin’s successes based on
    passion rather than reason is not going to give you the answers
    you need to make sound decisions, is it?”
    Putin is so far from being a saint, it is hardly worth discussing.
    I don’t ignore what you’re saying–it’s just that I don’t ignore
    the other half, either.
    Think of it this way–had Bush prevented the disaster in New
    Orleans or responded competently to the disaster–would it
    have outweighed his gross malfeasance elsewhere? Would it
    have been okay or understandable for him to have spied on
    Americans, ordered torture, etc.? I say no.
    Saddam also had some good points. Women had lots more
    rights in Iraq than, say, in Saudi Arabia. He also butchered
    300,000 of his own people.
    I try to keep both sides of the equation in perspective and not
    get dewy-eyed when a dictator does some good things or acts
    “competently.” This, to me, IS the reasonable, rather than the
    passion-filled, approach.

    Reply

  6. arthurdecco says:

    “In fact, it is a compliment that
    highlights, rather than obscures, its own deficiencies.” posted by tintin
    “What does this sentence mean, exactly, tintin?” asked by ad
    “It’s the equivalent of extending a backhanded compliment.” posted by tintin
    I didn’t find your explanation satisfactory. Your original statement is still incomprehensible gobbledygook to me, to my mind designed to confuse rather than clarify.
    From my previous post:
    “Autocrat” Putin enjoys +70% approval ratings in Russia. Living conditions have improved during his tenure for almost all Russians. He has re-inspired his military leaders and given back hope and pride to his people. He has built political and personal bridges around the world and adroitly avoided almost all political pitfalls during his tenure. He has reclaimed the Russian economy from the carpetbaggers and outright thieves who had absconded with it during Yeltsin’s drunken stagger through his term of office and he has done all this with a clear-eyed, calculated pragmatism worthy of Machiavelli.”
    The above list of accomplishments goes far beyond “making the trains run on time”. The most charitable spin that can be put on your purposeful avoidance of acknowledging his accomplishments as Russia’s leader is that you’re being intentionally and stubbornly disingenuous.
    I don’t have to consider Putin a saint to recognize and respect his many positive accomplishments as leader of Russia. Nor should you.
    Ignoring, denying and/or dismissing Putin’s successes based on passion rather than reason is not going to give you the answers you need to make sound decisions, is it?

    Reply

  7. Tintin says:

    It’s the equivalent of extending a backhanded compliment.
    To be sure, Mussolini made the trains run on time, but that is no
    reason to excuse his other behavior.

    Reply

  8. arthurdecco says:

    “In fact, it is a compliment that
    highlights, rather than obscures, its own deficiencies.”
    What does this sentence mean, exactly, tintin?

    Reply

  9. Tintin says:

    Yes, it’s the whole “who lost Vietnam”…”who lost China?”
    Problem is, ANY Democrat who pulled us out of Iraq would be
    susceptible to the same charge. A charge that is Luntzian in
    character, though the technique long pre-dates his birth, let
    alone his professional ascendancy. That is, Kucinich and
    Richardson would have faced the same charges. Paul, since he
    comes from Republican and right wing ranks, might have upset
    the Republican apple cart had he pulled out the troops–
    assuming he lived up to his promise. He might have been called
    a traitor to the GOP, assuming the GOP ever let him get that far.
    I do think Hillary and Barack know what they’re facing on this
    front. We’ve been facing this charge since Vietnam.
    The Dems have to find a way to disarm this argument, much as
    they have to find a way to disarm the arguments against
    liberalism.

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I disagree, however, that Obama and Hillary are pathetic cowards”
    Well, you sure wouldn’t know it by their questioning of these two lap dogs, Crocker and Petreaus.
    Interesting, isn’t it, that neither of them felt the need to point out that the surge has simply become a policy of paying off yesterday’s “terrists”, “Sunni insurgents”, “former Baathists”, and “Saddam loyalists”?
    The two posturing jackasses don’t seem to understand that this ill-fated sell-out is about to be placed squarely in their laps, and that THEY are going to be held responsible for the inevitable disintegration of the illusion of “progress” that Bush and Petreaus have conjured up. There is a reason this bootlicker Petreaus used the term “reversible” instead of “tenuous” or “flimsy”. “Reversible” implies an act of initiation, which is EXACTLY what the Dems will be accused of doing…..
    “Well, we had real progress, until the Dems reversed our gains by the premature removal….yadayadayada”.
    By the way, this “reversable” horseshit sounds like it came right out of this scumbag Luntz’s playbook. I think that piece of shit might be writing the script for this whole damned ball of wax.

    Reply

  11. bert says:

    The photo’s interesting, but not because it captures a significant moment (after all, must all cameras be focussed on Bush at all times, even if something newsworthy is happening on the other side of the room?) Rather, the photo works because it illustrates a wider truth: Bush is over. He’s failed, and all that’s left is for historians to debate the degree of that failure.
    File alongside this photo, from the NATO summit:
    http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,grossbild-1140276-545178,00.html
    The caption says, in German, “US President Bush: Like a truculent child with his head against the wall.”

    Reply

  12. Tintin says:

    Putin IS an autocrat. Replacing himself with Medvedev and
    remaining the real power behind the scenes are the acts of a
    dictator. As is the repression in Chechnya and interference in the
    other “former republics.”
    Arguing that Putin has made the trains run on time is a trope that
    should have died a long time ago. In fact, it is a compliment that
    highlights, rather than obscures, its own deficiencies.

    Reply

  13. ... says:

    scott – thanks for sharing the pic and insights..

    Reply

  14. David says:

    Sort of trying to figure out the Steve-bashing (no, I do not know him personally). Steve shares with us what he finds, what he senses, and what he thinks. I’ve been visiting this website for a while now, and I find his “raging centrism” a helpful foil against my pretty intense contempt/disgust/moral outrage at US foreign and domestic policy under the SCOTUS-imposed administration of two oil men, one a ruthless, monomaniacal bastard and the other, well…
    Of particular value for me is that he is open-minded, well informed, in league with a lot of very bright, non-ideological thinkers, and hell bent to get his hands on, and share, as much insight as possible. I don’t read him to have him go where I want him to go. I find The Washington Note valuable enough for me to simply want to know where he chooses to go in his thinking. And why in the hell would I agree with anyone, including myself, all the time?
    Well, ok, I frequently find myself agreeing with Russ Feingold, my first choice for president. Thanks for posting that, POA. I disagree, however, that Obama and Hillary are pathetic cowards.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Here is Russ Feingold addressing Petraeus and Crocker. Of course, these two have their heads so far up Bush’s ass that there is no hope of them hearing Russ’s sage counsel.
    (It must be terribly crowded up there, sharing the space with McCain)
    But perhaps these two pathetic cowards Obama and Hillary might take heed…..
    “I hope you won’t take it personally when I say that I wish we were also hearing today from those who could help us look at Iraq from a broader perspective. The participation at this hearing of those charged with regional and global responsibilities would have given us the chance to discuss how the war in Iraq is undermining our national security. It might have helped us answer the most important question we face – not “are we winning or losing in Iraq?” but “are we winning or losing in the global fight against al Qaeda?”
    “Like many Americans, I am gravely concerned by how bogged down we are in Iraq. Our huge, open-ended military presence there is not only undermining our ability to respond to the global threat posed by al Qaeda, but it is also creating greater regional instability, serving as a disincentive for Iraqis to reach political reconciliation, straining our military, and piling up debt for future generations to repay.”
    “I am pleased that violence in parts of the country has declined, but as the increase in violence in Mosul and recent events in Basra and now Baghdad indicate, long-term prospects for reconciliation appear to be just as shaky as they were before the surge. In fact, the drop in violence could have serious costs, as it is partly attributable to the deals we have struck with local militias, all of which could make national reconciliation that much more difficult.”
    “We need to redeploy our troops from Iraq and I am disappointed that you are calling for a halt in troop reductions, General Petraeus, because the presence of about 140,000 troops in Iraq will exacerbate the conflict, not stabilize it, and it will certainly not contribute to our overall national security. Some have suggested that we should stay in Iraq until reconciliation occurs. They have it backwards — our departure is likely to force factions to the negotiating table in an attempt to finally create a viable power-sharing agreement.”
    “If we redeploy, Iraq will no longer be the “‘cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world,” as the Intelligence Community so clearly stated. Iran, as well as Turkey, Syria, and other regional actors, will have to decide if Iraqi instability is really in their interests once we are no longer on the hook. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we will be able to adequately address what must be our top priority – the threat posed by al Qaeda around the globe, and particularly its safe haven in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Nothing could be clearer than the need to refocus all our instruments of national power to combat this threat.”
    “Redeployment does not mean abandoning Iraq. We must work for a peaceful outcome in that country. But if we continue to leave our military caught up in the sectarian divisions that consume Iraq, we will be doing so at grave risk to Iraq’s progress, the region’s stability, and our own national security.”

    Reply

  16. Mr.Murder says:

    “He still thinks Borat is really an Ambassador, and he still can’t hold his Vodka…”
    IT’s NIIIICE!

    Reply

  17. arthurdecco says:

    Posted by b: “I’m sorry, but the fact that our president, every one of them that’s finishing a second term, isn’t as “influential” (which we know is a nice way of describing Putin’s monopoly on all branches of
    government) as Putin remains as his term ends is A JOKE!!!!!
    You mean to tell me that a freely elected leader nearing the end of
    his term is supposed garner as much press attention as his host
    country autocrat??? Sorry, come on, let’s let a few anti-Bush
    tendencies linger a day or two longer for REAL news stories!!!
    Bill Clinton STILL doesn’t have any trouble getting cameras pointed in his face, b. Can you tell me how long has it been since he was President?
    Btw, what kind of chutzpa do you have to claim George Walker Bush was, “freely elected”?!? Oh! You meant by the Conservative majority (five people) of the Supreme Court in 2000? And by the corrupt shenanigans of Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, (one person), the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio in 2004? Is that what you meant by, “freely elected”?
    …give me a minute to compose myself…
    …Ahem…
    “Autocrat” Putin enjoys +70% approval ratings in Russia. Living conditions have improved during his tenure for almost all Russians. He has re-inspired his military leaders and given back hope and pride to his people. He has built political and personal bridges around the world and adroitly avoided almost all political pitfalls during his tenure. He has reclaimed the Russian economy from the carpetbaggers and outright thieves who had absconded with it during Yeltsin’s drunken stagger through his term of office and he has done all this with a clear-eyed, calculated pragmatism worthy of Machiavelli.
    George Bush’s approval ratings, on the other hand, are in the toilet. (The media couldn’t hide his intentions forever, could they?) Even border line brain-dead Americans finally understand the dire costs of his cowardice that he hides behind his bombastic blathering belligerence. Then there’s his greed, his delusion and the list of never-ending, all consuming failures that are staring back at all of us from every political, military and social direction possible… Look over there…or there…or there, and you’ll see how President Bush and his co-conspirators have deliberately screwed, continue to screw and will screw Americans well into the future solely to benefit themselves and their cronies.
    That’s a fact.
    Incidentally, what’s a “REAL” news story, b?
    Edward’s haircut? Hilary’s cleavage? Kucinich’s wife? Obama’s bowling technique? McCain publicly accusing his rich wife of being a “c_nt” after she brought up his receding hairline in front of reporters?

    Reply

  18. JohnH says:

    The General (Petraeus) deigned to speak with Congress this week, and all the Washington Note could muster was, “Petraeus for President?” It’s not like the administration’s Iraq strategy is the major foreign policy issue or anything…
    Then I checked. Ahmadinejad only got four posts this year. Of course, it’s not like Iran is the Bush administration’s other big foreign policy challenge or anything…
    Steve writes about whatever he wants. And apparently it’s no longer about serious foreign policy issues.

    Reply

  19. Mr.Murder says:

    Where is valued expert on Sovietology, Condi Rice?
    Would L.Ron Hubbard sue Steve for me saying that?

    Reply

  20. Bartolo says:

    Maybe that is actually Leonard Zelig passing through the photo.

    Reply

  21. Tintin says:

    Good point, b.
    Since this is just a photo, we could add that Bush’s influence faded
    long before he became a lame duck, however.
    (Depending on when you want to start counting his lameness.)
    It could be argued that whatever influence Bush had came not from
    him but from the fact that he was president of the US.
    This is not as obvious a point as it sounds. True, all presidents
    gain their power from their position as president. But some have
    extra influence because of how they use their position.
    Bush lost influence because of how he misused his position.

    Reply

  22. Mr.Murder says:

    Bush was freely elected, sans Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004.
    Your comparison is nullified for those reasons. He and Putin are fished from the same water.
    The CIA family and the KGB family each run the show.

    Reply

  23. b says:

    I’m sorry, but the fact that our president, every one of them that’s
    finishing a second term, isn’t as “influential” (which we know is a
    nice way of describing Putin’s monopoly on all branches of
    government) as Putin remains as his term ends is A JOKE!!!!!
    You mean to tell me that a freely elected leader nearing the end of
    his term is supposed garner as much press attention as his host
    country autocrat??? Sorry, come on, let’s let a few anti-Bush
    tendencies linger a day or two longer for REAL news stories!!!

    Reply

  24. JohnH says:

    Here’s the link to Obama’s call for the US to engage with Iran–
    http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Obama_calls_for_talks_with_Iran_ove_04082008.html
    Obama’s position should be very gratifying to Steve, though I doubt that Obama will get any kudos for it here.

    Reply

  25. JohnH says:

    Incredible that Bush’s fade took this long–he’s been a lame duck for over a year now.
    Two interesting developments on the Iraqi front:
    1) The US is asking Iran for help in restoring peace in Iraq. Of course, this is all very hush-hush, since the American people aren’t supposed to know anything about what goes on there. (This site is largely complicit in the cover up, since it provides virtually no insight into developments in Iraq. I mean, it’s not like Iraq is America’s major foreign policy challenge or anything!)
    http://www.upi.com/International_Security/Emerging_Threats/Briefing/2008/04/07/us_contacts_iran_for_iraqi_security_plan/8914/
    2) Obama is publicly calling for talks with Iran to stabilize Iraq. Essentially Obama is recommending the US strategy, only taking credit for it, since the strategy is hush-hush. This has happened before. Obama recommends something. Then he gets roundly condemned. Afterwards it turns out to be US policy.
    But Obama does not get attacked for revealing US policy, probably because the secrecy cannot be justified. No, he gets attacked because of his unrealistic, naive recommendation, which as I said, is the secret US policy. It’s a brilliant move for Obama to take advantage of the administration’s ridiculuous, unjustifiable secrecy. And it’s the height of hypocrisy to attack him on the merits of his recommendation.

    Reply

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