Russia

All You Ever Do is Talk, Talk

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American Prospect senior editor Tara McElvey writes that "Hillary Clinton and Obama adviser Michael McFaul may have made it seem as though the United States had become less interested in supporting democracy and human-rights advocates in Russia, but today United Nations experts made their views about these issues crystal clear and addressed the blatant abuses that have taken place in the country in recent years." Good luck with that, United Nations!

To be fair, I'm with McElvey on this (why not browbeat the Kremlin on its hideous human rights record?), though to think that a United Nations "grilling" of the Kremlin deputy justice minister will have any effect on Russian policy is as naive as thinking that the dynamic Putin-Medvedev duo are willing to turn the screws on Iran in exchange for scrapping missile defense in Poland and the Czech Republic. McElvey, though, has lowered the bar of success for the Obama foreign policy team, arguing that "despite the gaffes, Clinton's visit also had a positive effect: Russians and Americans were talking openly about the murders of journalists, the imprisonment of scholars, and the discrimination against gays–and that's a step in the right direction."

I suspect we'll be seeing a great deal more of this in the coming months. As long as unidentified officials are talking about pervasive homophobia and the erosion of democracy, or whatever the issue might be, it's a "step in the right direction." The problem with the Russia example, as McElvey should well know, is that all of this stuff is regularly talked discussed in Russia, conferences are held, and the opposition journalists of Novaya Gazeta and Ekho Moskvy (in which, it should be pointed out, Gazprom owns a majority stake) trudge forward. Yes, they talk, but nothing ever changes. The tricky issue is this: Ordinary Russians, as Nikolai Petrov pointed out this week, haven't been hit too hard by the economic crisis and don't mind living in a Potemkin democracy, provided a certain standard of living is maintained. And Messrs. Putin and Medvedev are well aware of this.

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  1. why not browbeat the Kremlin on its hideous human rights record?
    Ummm because we are not the world’s keeper.

  2. I suppose it’s better than the awkward silence that befell Hillary and the Russkies whenever a gay would walk into the room.

  3. I never comment on blogs as a rule, but I couldn’t let a fantastic Talk Talk reference go by the boards without saluting its tasteful author. Props to you and I hope you own Spirit Of Eden.

  4. I think the line is “all you do to me is – talk talk”.

  5. esoteric same here, i dont like to read the news

  6. Finally, something meaningful we can bitch-fight about:

    Props to you and I hope you own Spirit Of Eden.

    STFU, earless goon. Laughing Stock 4 LYFE.

    1. Best album of the 20th century imho.

  7. I suspect we’ll be seeing a great deal more of this in the coming months. As long as unidentified officials are talking about pervasive homophobia and the erosion of democracy, or whatever the issue might be, it’s a “step in the right direction.”

    American negotiator: “You Russians are doing very bad things!”

    Russian negotiator: * Shrugs. * “We categorically deny doing any such thing. And even if we were, WTF are you gonna do about it? Issue some fucking toothless UN resolution?”

    ***

    American negotiator (at press conference following the above): “We are making great progress with the Russians! We are talking openly about the murders of journalists, the imprisonment of scholars, and the discrimination against gays–and that’s a step in the right direction!”

    1. Yeah, that sums it up.

  8. I think Obama and team belong to what I like to call the “whacky sitcom mixup” school of foreign policy.

    They seem to believe that all the troubles in the world are caused by the kinds of confusion and mixups that drive most sitcom plots and therefore all the problems in the world can be fixed by the kind of open and honest communication that resolves most sitcom plots.

    However, its no coincidence that sitcoms rarely feature mass murdering sociopaths as characters. Since such people rarely respond to talking, you can’t tie up the episode with a heart felt talk.

    1. I absolutely agree. The boy just can’t get it into his head that the bad guys don’t want to talk. They want to destroy us. They sure as hell don’t want to worship O because he alone has shown them the error of their ways.

      Neither do his constituents.

  9. LOL, talk is cheap you know how that goes.

    RT
    http://www.anon-web.int.tc

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