Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Putin: the trumpet blast in a room full of whispering and hollow voices?

Listening to the "red-line" demands by western leaders, of both Putin and his Russian "thugs," one grows increasingly despondent, no matter which country one lives in. If ever T.S. Eliot's Hollow Men applied to the sound bytes that jump out of our woofers and our tweeters, not to mention off our facebook and twitter feeds, it is the current tone-deaf drum-beat of "Putin must do"..."We call on Putin to"..."Russia must face the consequences"...."We hope European leaders will"... while in the background from the skies, more missiles fired from Russian firing devices take down more Ukrainian fighter jets, as Putin thumbs his nose, his aparatchiks and his political machine at the world. Here are the opening lines of the Eliot poem:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Naturally and predictably, ranged over against the elected leaders in many countries, are those voices like U.S. Senators McCain and Graham, calling Obama "feckless," "weak," "responsible for Putin's moves," "unmanly," almost as if to question whether or not the president is a self-respecting male.
Arming, training and provoking the terrorists in Eastern Ukraine, while claiming no influence among them and simultaneously calling for an unimpeded, independent and authentic investigation of the crash site of MH17, after the cock-pit and fuselage have been deliberately cut apart by the chain saws of his thugs and the personal affects of the passengers have been looted and much of the forensic evidence removed by those same thugs, while laughable as a matter of credible evidence and leadership, is tragic and indicative of the kind of duplicity, mendacity, outright lies Putin is not only telling but seems committed to hitching his nation's wagon to, on the world stage.

  • Ownership of the very companies that peg his domestic approval rating above 80%,
  • recognizing his dominance of the energy supply to many of the central countries in the European Union,
  • purchasing and having paid for two amphibious war ships from France thereby snookering Holland,
  • blaming the Ukraines for the downing of MH17,
  •  factoring into his calculus the war-weary populace and budgetary emaciation of the United States, 
  • factoring also into his calculus the more specific German and Dutch dependence on the Russian economy for most of their trade, thereby muting their motives to impose deep and cutting sanctions
  • recognizing that energy and petro-dollars are the engine that drives the global economy and that his country's positioning on both fronts provides cover
  • enmeshing himself with the most powerful and most wealthy in his country, while encouraging them by his own example to invest in the west, thereby spreading his fiscal and political influence abroad like dirty ink that saturates the world's blotting mat
  • cozying up to the other countries in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in support of a $50 billion fund to parallel and to compete with the World Bank and another $150 fund to parallel and to compete with the International Monetary Fund, both of which institutions are led by the EU and the US respectively thereby silencing the most harsh of their potential barbs against his latest and most dangerous moves
  • supplying arms, intelligence and training to the Assad regime in Syria, and to the Maliki "government" (if it can be called one) in Baghdad, while supporting Iran in her pursuit of nuclear power, and even potentially nuclear weapons, thereby playing another off-stage role in the current negotiations between Iran and the Group of Five + 1, while
  • participating knowingly in the Iranian flow of missiles to Hamas, currently engaged in one of the more heated and murderous exchanges with Israel, in an all-out attempt to protect her people from terrorist attacks from Gaza and the "tunnels" inside her borders
these are just some of the notations in the Putin calculus that we know about, when, taken together paint a picture of a man whose intellectual machinery is verging on the capability of IBM's Watson, while his capacity for truth-telling, open and honest engagement, incorporating the long-term impact of his quixotic adventures, all of them calculated to burnish his legacy and presumably his eventual statue in the Kremlin Square in Moscow, along with his 'heroic' predecessors Lenin and Stalin, is evidently and demonstrably hovering around "zero"...
Is Putin the most visible and most active symbol/archetype of the kind of leader whose regime, built on lies, chicanery and deception (the sine qua non of all war, as we are reminded by Sun Tzu in his aprocryphal book, The Art of War), yet sustained by a new and complex system of detection, infiltration and cyberspying and a geo-political tsunami of flux, change and turbulence that makes everyone, all leaders in every country and the people for whom they are responsible, anxious, nervous, frightened and to a degree that worries many, paralyzed by their own fear of "going too far" into provoking the enemy, in this case, the Russian bear?
Have we collectively created a geopolitical culture dotted with some of the following developments:
  • strategic nuclear weapons (although a reduced number of tactical nukes),
  •  the capacity of money to flow in nano-seconds to every corner of the world,
  • the ratio of 1:22 millionaires among the residents of the city of New York, a simply astounding piece of non-trivia!)
  • the capacity of multi-national corporations to hide their profits from taxation in what were generally considered the countries that housed and serviced their head offices,
  • the erosion of public confidence in and respect for all large institutions including banks, universities, and even religious organizations,
  •  the rise of divergent armies of terrorist recruits committed to the destruction of the 'western' culture, laws and economy whose infiltration of 'hot-spots' provides adequate obfuscation and confusion about who is friend and who is foe, thereby destabilizing all conventional attempts to influence the situation,
  • the headlining of sexism to match, if not surpass, racism, as a blight on the world's consciousness and conscience, generating a canyon-like divide between 'liberal' countries and cultures and those whose contempt for diverse sexual orientation is monumental (Russia, for example)
  • the capacity to produce, with both its immediate benefits and its potential long-term anaesthatizing impact on the viewers, of 24-7 news, concentrating as it does on the micro headlines to the detriment of insightful and relevant analysis (numbers of deaths in various war zones crawl, like stock reports, in numbing fashion across the bottom of our television screens, rendering them increasingly irrelevant by the moment)
  • war's new weapons, through the new and dramatically different technologies, becoming energy and information, thereby enhancing the role and significance of disinformation and propaganda
  • new anti-biotic resistant diseases, thereby endangering the health security of people everywhere
  • rising temperatures that threaten the sustainability of human life on the planet
these are just some of the destabilizing factors to which we are all attempting to adjust, to accommodate and to reconcile into our daily diet of workplace frenzy, in which more production is being demanded from depleting resources along with the erosion of all collective supports for individuals working for large companies.
Is there anyone else out there who is feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the compounding of these factors, over which we seem to have less and less influence...rendering each of us with shorter fuses, shorter breaths, decreased oxygen and increasing dependence on anything that will reduce the anxiety?
Let's all hope and pray that we are not authoring the conditions required for a "perfect storm" from which we are ill-prepared to recover.

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