Reason Writers Around Town: Michael Moynihan on Putin's Russia and the Echoes of the Evil Empire


This past week, reason Associate Editor Michael C. Moynihan took to the pages of The Los Angeles Times' Dust-Up section to debate Russia expert Andrew Meier on the question "What Does Putin Want?"

Read the full exchange here.

NEXT: Tippecanoe and Roslin, Too?

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  1. Putin, like Bush/Cheney, is a gun-barrel capitalist – not that there is anything wrong with that.

  2. V: Putin, Vlad Putin.
    P: Pussy Galore.
    V: I must be dreaming!

  3. Putin sounds just like Cheney! Just swap “Soviet Socialist Republic” with “Imperial Presidency”.

  4. Putin is like Cheney; they are almost identical in their thinking.

    The Western Media, plus Bush etc. are making far too much of the Georgia action. When the Soviet Union still existed, both S. Ossetia and Abkhasia were separate from Georgia, and were never happy being part of it. They voted three times for independence, in fact.

    The whole thing is pretty local, pretty fuzzy, and very ethnic.

  5. For what it’s worth, here are some quotes from Georgians who live close to S. Ossetia, taken from THE INDEPENDENT in UK:

    “Please tell everyone in Russia, in the world, that we want to be with Russia, we don’t want Saakashvili. He has brought us nothing but trouble,” implored Karaman Goguashvili, 77. “We don’t need NATO, we don’t need America, we need to be friends with Russia.”

    When asked if they agreed with this, the other villagers in the group nodded vigorously.

    One shopkeeper said he had only voted for Mr Saakashvili because government officials told him his shop would be closed down if he did not. “Russia protected Georgia for hundreds of years; we’ve always been close to Russia,” said another resident
    There were more nods of agreement. “We are just simple people, we are peasants,” rejoined Mr Goguashvili. “Perhaps all the intellectuals in Tbilisi who want to be with America are far cleverer than us; perhaps they understand the world better than we do. But we are the ones left here who have to live with this,” he said, with a mournful gesture towards the wreckage behind him.

  6. You guys have the greatest Putin pictures! I look forward to Putin articles, not for the content, but the see how wacky of a photo will accompany it.

  7. Let me get this straight… NATO bombs Serbia almost to the Bronze Age, so that Bosnia could become an independent state. Russia bombs Georgia, not as much as blood-thirsty NATO, so that S. Ossetia keeps being an independent State… and the West and NATO think Russia wants to take over the World?

    What’s the definition of scum-sucking hypocrite?

  8. Francisco,

    NATO didn’t got to war against Serbia so Kosovo could become an independent state, but to stop the Serbs’ aggression. It was American and NATO policy for years not to recognize Kosovar independence without an agreement with Serbia. The decision to do so was made years after the decision to go to war, by different people with a different ideology.

    ‘Course, I can’t blame the Russians and Serbs for not seeing it that way.

  9. I looked into his eyes, and I saw beady.

  10. In fairness to Putin (who I don’t particulaly like or trust), he’s had a formidable job in pulling together a rather large country on the verge of collapsing into anarchy.

    I remember another head of state who suspended civil liberties and even sent out soldiers to shoot their countrymen, all in an effort to hold together a cumbling nation. He also took his share of heat.

    So, is it hypocritical to bash Putin for essentially doing what Lincoln did?

  11. You remember Lincoln, Jim? Damn, you’re old!

  12. “The Western Media, plus Bush etc. are making far too much of the Georgia action.”

    You are so, so right. Why should anyone at all even comment when a country that is fastly reverting back to a police-state, hoping to recapture some of its old glory, invades a nation lead by a democratically elected president?

  13. “What’s the definition of scum-sucking hypocrite?”

    I won’t comment on the definition of hypocrite, but I will say that next to the definition of ignoramus, one can find your picture. Anyone trying to draw a moral equivalence between Russia’s invasion of Georgia and NATO’s intervention in Kosovo is a fucking idiot, plain and simple.

  14. How in the hell is Putin even remotely comparable to Lincoln? Unless Lincoln invaded Canada to prevent bloodshed in Newfoundland or some other province, there is absolutely no comparison whatsoever.

  15. “It’s a thin line between cool and cold.”
    -Willie Dynamite

  16. Georgia was part of Russia from Imperial times and through the Soviet Union. If the average Mexican has yet to get over the loss of the Texas through California arc do you really think the average Russian has forgotten Georgia?

    If Kosovo has the right to self determination as the West has argued, then why not S. Ossetia and Abkhasia?

    This is not to defend Russia’s behavior as much as a way to better understand it.

  17. Ossetia was a Russian land-grab.

    Russia wants to be a major empire.

    Asia, Eurasia or Europe — only one can rule the continent. All three want to, and with good reason: to not rule is to be ruled.

    Realpolitik, coming back into vogue, before you know it…

  18. Sorry dude, the only Evil Empire in town is the Bush Regime! Dictator Bush is pure EVIL!


  19. Is it 2002 in here, or is it just me?

    “Let’s look at this in terms of political dynamics, rather than theology…”

    “Moral equivalence! Munich! ZOMG teh new Hitler!”

  20. So to, like, comment on the article, I think these series of exchanges between Moynihan and Meier have been pretty good – especially since neither is stuck in conventional wisdom nor cliches.

  21. How in the hell is Putin even remotely comparable to Lincoln? Unless Lincoln invaded [a neighboring foreign country]…

    Well, some people contend he did. In any event, I was speaking more specifically about the crackdown on civil liberties.

    You remember Lincoln, Jim? Damn, you’re old!

    I remember Abe when he was still a protege of John McCain…

    (Damn…that was waaaaaay too easy…)

  22. “I think these series of exchanges between Moynihan and Meier have been pretty good…”

    Sure, except Meier has the argumentation skills of an infomercial (I quote from memory):” Would the Russian be tamed if allowed into the WTO? Of course they would!”

    The rest of the column is a medley of anecdotes and petty jibes. I mean, did you know that Meier knows Russian mobsters? He makes sure to tell us that he conversed with them face to face. And they tell our courageous Meier that Putin is one of them, you see, a businessman. So of course America should be nice to him. Cause Bush sucking up to him made things in Russia really swell.

    I’m not saying he doesn’t have good points to make, but he constructs arguments like a highschool freshman.

  23. I looked in his eyes and saw The Angel of Death. Some badass admixture between the one from The Sventh Seal and the depiction in Hellboy II.

  24. In a previous discussion, many pondered the existence of Fascism in modern academia. To find a prime example you need only look to the UN health intervention strategy.

    To encompass Fascism in all of it’s forms you have to recognize the common thread, of a protectionist, over a designed to be, defenseless population. As we see today Healthist regimes where people become the tool of their own oppression. Through the mean spirited comparisons of one group promoted as superior to another we can enlist the hatred buried in us all.

    This is a statement I have sent to a number of editors normally locked into denials, by the sales department. An empiric design and apparently; politically correct or acceptable statement which found publication in 47 of 50 moderated venues.


    “How is a healthscare worker today any different from a racist, with different target groups?

    Dalton declared smoker quit or be punished through bans and targeted taxes he applied his moralist decries.

    Constant whines from those who are benefiting today from healthcare remain puzzling? A system built and maintained for the largest part of the past 60 years primarily by smokers and former smokers, who now dare seek benefit, from what they paid for, over their whole lives?

    I would really like to know, due to the similarity in methods of growing support through protectionist fear, exaggerated misinformation and promoted hatred; is the Klan currently a stakeholder organization, involved in public health? If not, as they would see similar benefits to those, which attracted the other UN stakeholders, are they eligible to sign up? What legitimate reason could you possibly give to refuse them?

    Disease management is not difficult to understand, nor those who promoted it.”

    With two National elections looming in North America, please use generously to cure what really ails you.

  25. Apparently, our pal Putin just killed a Siberian tiger. I don’t know if they’re trying to turn him into Russia’s version of Chuck Norris or if this is a joke.

  26. The Soviet Union is not back; the Cold War is not back; Russian nationalism is back. Putin is acting in a manner similar to Stalin during and just after World War II. He is asserting a claim to a sphere of influence. I do not think Russian foreign policy has really changed in 150 years.

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