Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Russian Bear Re-Awakens

I had thought to title this post “How Russia Spoiled China’s Coming-out Party”. More about that later.

Russia’s invasion of Georgia may one day be viewed as Russia’s announcement “We’re Back!” Russia has been down since the breakup of the old Soviet Union. They had lost the Cold War. Communism was dead; it had no future. Free markets had won; planned economies had lost.

Better mines than us have made the mistake of underestimating the Russians. Napoleon and the German high command made that mistake, a blunder that lead to their undoing. So, never ever make the mistake of underestimating the Russians. Do not take the Russians for granted.

Russia had been in turmoil after the fall of Communism. During a time of weakness, countries that never really wanted to be a part of a Russian dominated union – like Georgia – declared independence, and the old Soviet Union built during Communism’s heyday began to breakup.

Communisms great claims of equality in a workers’ paradise just couldn’t keep up with old fashion capitalism. Workers under that bugaboo capitalism had a higher standard of living that those in the workers’ paradise.

During the latter half of the previous century, Russia was at a disadvantage because it was hindered by a form of government that obviously was not working as well as the governments it denounced. Now, Russia has thrown off that hindrance. It has taken up the free market cause, Russian style, and return to being a world player.

Russia’s future power plays will not be hampered by a system that everyone knows is not working. It need not cloak its aggression with altruistic Communist sayings that no one really believes but in the tried and true sayings of capitalistic exploitation which have worked for years. They are a force to be reckoned with.

Its little forceful excursion into Georgia is an announcement to the world that Russia is back. This was suppose to be the week of China announcement through the Olympics that they are a major player in world events, but news of Russia’s aggression left them with nothing more than a mention as they were pushed off the front pages of the world.

China’s Communism did not fall but has been transformed to reap the benefits of free market capitalism. How China managed the Olympics is more interesting than the games themselves. The stories of sweatshop like preparations and living conditions of participants of the host nation leave no doubt that China, while it appears to have changed, has not.

What China does not realize – just a Russia discovered with glasnost – once you allow the freedom genie out of the bottle, you can not put it back. China is due some internal reverberations as the rank and file gets a taste of freedom and demands more.

Russia could tell China a thing or two about transforming its economy, but Russia will not. They will exploit the situation like any good capitalist should do.
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