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Press Review October 17, 2002
 
McFallow The Leader
By Philby Burgess Browse author
 
Page 3 of 4
 
And that is exactly what McFaul's article is really doing: arguing about the spoils, the benefits of conquest. McFaul is concerned about the invasion of Iraq because it threatens to reduce the power of Russia specialists like himself -- because it will interfere with his career. His article is actually a sort of attempt to cut a deal with the Administration: in return for his dissemination of lies, he hopes to remind the Administration's middle managers to remember him and his fiefdom, the Slavic world.

So McFaul resorts to one of the oldest tricks of Imperial agents who want to be noticed: he informs the Home Office that the natives are restless in his territory.

In the great days of the British Empire, huge tracts of African territory would be in the hands of ambitious young Imperial agents. It was common practice for these men to magnify the threat of the local tribes in their reports, so that more resources would be allocated to them and their achievement in maintaining control more valued. This is essentially what we see in McFaul's article: a minor agent of the Empire whining enviously that the fellow in the next bit of the Dark Continent is getting all the attention. He paints a dark picture of "authoritarian creep" sweeping over the Slavic world. Ever careful to use the Administration's preferred jargon as much as possible, McFaul tactfully reminds his masters that "the task of promoting regime change in the former Soviet Union is not complete."

Of course, the notion that the US has been trying to bring about "regime change" toward greater democracy is as false for Russia as it is for Iraq. Throughout the 90s, McFaul devoted his considerable energies to whitewashing the kleptocracy which brought Russia nothing but poverty and humiliation. At a point when Yeltsin had a popularity rating which hovered around 2%, and millions of Russians were dying of cold, hunger and lack of medical care, McFaul churned out endless propaganda pieces assuring American readers that all was going well in the former Soviet Union -- and anyone claiming otherwise was probably a Commie.

What McFaul meant was simply that Russia was crumbling at a satisfactory rate, America's old adversary reduced to beggar status. That was positive change, in McFaul's view. McFaul's anxiety about current trends in Russia is fuelled by the very opposite of "democratic" worry: he and his masters are worried about Putin precisely because he is popular, because he shows a worrying tendency to act in the interests of Russia itself, and because he is the focus of rising self-respect and pride in the Russian people.

All this reduces, for McFaul, to a simple argument: the natives are restless in Russia, as well as Iraq. He wants some of the Imperial resources allocated to the Iraq adventure reassigned to his area, so that he can play with them and advance his precious career. In making this plea, McFaul is careful to toady again to the line that President Bush is a brilliant and very busy man: "Obviously, President Bush's foreign policy team is overworked and focused now on Iraq." "But," he whines, "the United States should be able to conduct more than one foreign policy at a time." Meaning, you see, that there should be a few gunboats left over for McFaul. Having made this deft plea for attention, McFaul spends the rest of his article flattering his masters yet again: "...Bush has already outlined his grand strategy for foreign policy...: the United States should champion freedom and liberty for people around the world...."

One must struggle to remember what these phrases actually mean. In Iraq, they mean direct military occupation by the US, with an accelerated sucking-dry of the country's oil reserves. In the Slavic world, they mean working for a return of the Gaidar/Chubais kleptocracy which served American interests at the direct expense of Russia's own legitimate concerns.

And in the case of Professor Michael McFaul, the plea that these policies be applied "equally and consistently" means something every bit as raw, cruel and simple: the elevation of Professor McFaul's career, at the expense of the natives he wants to manage.


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