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Feature Story February 27, 2008
 
New Cold War Kitsch: We Were So Young, So Naive, So Idiotic!
By Alexander Zaitchik and Mark Ames Browse author
 
Page 6 of 7
 

Europe's hopeless lust for the Russian energy-whore is so horrifying to Lucas that he is forced to find comfort in scenarios predicting the imminent exhaustion of Russia's vast oil and gas reserves. Indeed this is another running feature of NCW russophobia: "Yeah, well, just wait till Russia's resources run out/the price of oil drops! It's gonna happen too, just you wait. That's what Tony says, at least, dontcha Tony? 'Raw Dloc! Raw Dloc!' See? Tony says they're gonna run out of gas in about 200 years, and that's good enough for me!"

It's true that 43 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves won't last forever, or even the century. Some studies show that as early as 2020, Russia could need to keep all of its gas for domestic use. But if these numbers are accurate, there's not much use in getting so riled up, is there? Why not just write a book about alternative energy? Answer: it ain't scary enough. And if it ain't scaring John Q Public, then John Q Public ain't gonna lay down $20 bucks to buy it. Besides, free market nut cases get nervous talking about that hippie stuff. Every time they bring it up they can see their hero Cheney sneering at them, and it makes them feel faint.

So Lucas's only idea for fighting Russia's massive resource advantage is a kind of "Better Stone-Aged Than Sovereign Democracy" policy, the Episcopalian equivalent of suicide bombing: he argues that we stop buying Russian fuel altogether. If frozen toes and cold baths once a month are good enough for us Brits, they're good enough for the rest of you softies!

But that sort of talk goes down better in North Korea than in free-market countries, as poor Lucas realizes. "Now the fellow travelers are capitalists," writes Lucas, speaking about accountancy firms, individual investors, and public relations officials. Although he doesn't use the word, he implies strongly that they are traitors. Lucas has an ally in this view in Tony Blair, who left office with a Eisenhower-esque exit warning in which he urged Western firms to stay away from the Russian werewolf. Don't believe it when you see profits to be made and resources to be traded: when there's a full moon out, those natural gas reserves and IPOs turn into werewolves, and they… KILL YOU! Raw Dloc! Raw Dloc! Tony, no!

Needless to say, it's an argument that would bring destruction to the West's economy and total world war if applied everywhere equally. Which is why Lucas issues no similar warnings about trade with China, a prison-labor state with a human rights record that makes Vladimir Putin look like Bishop Tutu. Nor are there any harsh words for Russia's fellow BRIC state Brazil, which still hasn't gotten around to eradicating human slavery.

Lucas doesn't agonize over the human rights records of other states because they're not his beat, so why should he talk up the threats they represent? It's bad enough trying to compete with those loudmouth Muslims!

But it's even simpler than that. Lucas is not really upset that the seized assets of Yukos were snatched up as Rosneft shares on the London Stock Exchange; he's upset because Rosneft and Gazprom have Europe by the balls and there's nothing much anybody can do about it. Lucas comes close to saying this at times, but he can't be too bald about it. Hence his amusing bleatings about Russia's "inattention to the moral and ethical basis of capitalism."

That, of course, is what this is all about: the nerve of Russia to get back up on its feet on its own terms. It's just plain offensive.

* * *

Boogeyman Fever, Dead as Disco

February, 2008: The New Cold War is over. The boogeyman Putin is taking a Deng Xiaoping-ish seat behind the stage, and his replacement is a cuddly liberal who dresses a lot like Lucas's friends dress, and who comes from the same crowd of Petersburg liberals as Lucas's heroes.


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