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Feature Story May 19, 2006
 
How Dick Cheney Got His Cold War On
A Cold War Timetable By Mark Ames Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 6
 

Bush gets wood over Aliyev's oil wealth.

They say Americans' memories are short, but that's like saying a Nazi's sense of compassion was fleeting. Americans literally rewrite their memories over and over in real-time. Case in point: Just 4-1/2 years ago, Vladimir Putin was treated as a rock star in America. You probably forgot about it, so I'm going to remind you because it's not a pretty memory.

After 9/11, Putin became our biggest, bestest friend in the world when he made his famous first-to-the-phone call to Bush and green-lighted American forces entering Central Asia for the war against the Taliban.

I was in America at the time I remember all too well how happy Americans were to have the mysterious, morally-ambiguous yet effective evil guy joining our side.

In fact, I can say that I've never, ever in my lifetime seen a foreign leader more adored than Putin was in that brief period, from September through December of 2001. Articles like the November 21st "To a Russian, with Lust," by Boston Globe staffer Joanna Weiss, capture the rather embarrassing Pootiemania: she described the man who had shut down NTV, quashed the free media and consolidated power as "Compact and athletic, with a Mona Lisa smile"."visibly buff"."balding, in a cute Jean-Luc Picard sort of way"..."or maybe a Thorn Yorke sort of way." Even heavyweights like the Los Angeles Times, which now tries to out-anti-Putin its rivals, wore out their kneepads fawning over Putin. In its November 24th editorial, "In a Word, Zdorovo," the LA Times concluded, with full Spielberg happy-ending and John Williams score accompaniment, "Never mind for now the remaining political and policy differences between the two countries and the savvy public relations. ...If Americans could feel real terror at times about an opponent's evil 50 years ago, then there's nothing wrong with reveling for a warm moment in the changes today. 'Wow' is one word for it. 'Zdorovo' is another."

Ah, it's so vile it's is fun. For me anyway. God I hope the lickspittle who penned that has to read it again. Read it and weep, folks. Yes, Putin had literally charmed the socks of America, because, well, let's admit the shameful truth: we were scared shitless then. We had a big yeller stripe running up our backs. We didn't know if we'd actually win in Afghanistan, or if we'd be plunged into a new Dark Age of fire and plague and submission to swarthy, bearded savages. In that sense of insecurity and existential crisis, a man like Putin was exactly what Americans, even liberals, felt they needed. Strange, but Russians, who experienced total collapse over the past 20 years, are called savages for supporting Putin for the same reasons. But at least Russians support him without that sphincter-twisting sentimentality found in that LA Times Op-Ed.

* * *

When Putin reached out to Bush and gave him everything he asked for post-9/11, his base was furious. Particularly the siloviki, who saw it as yet another in a series of betrayals, a repeat of Gorbachev and Yeltsin, whom they believed had betrayed Russia's interests in order to earn a pat on the head from America. They argued that Putin was being naive and foolish just as his predecessors were; and that in the end, the Americans would fuck him like they fucked Gorby and Yeltsin. Russia would get nothing for helping, neither would Putin; nothing but problems, just like what happened in the 90s.

Aliyev re-creating the Saddam photo.

The argument wasn't simply a matter of pride. The Gorbachev-Yeltsin years were among the most catastrophic of any nation in peace time. Russia was literally dying off. Another repeat of that could destroy Russia for good, they argued.


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Ames
Browse author
Email Mark Ames at editor@exile.ru.
 
 
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