Comrades Counteracting

It's been half a dozen years since Sergei Lavrov met formally, one-on-one with Xi Jinping in Beijing. The last meeting between the two was on April 23, 2018, a little over a month after Vladimir Putin declared himself president for a fourth time following what almost everyone who bothered to comment derided as a(nother) sham election in Russia. Aleksei Navalny, who Putin succeeded in poisoning to death on a second try in February, said the Kremlin inflated the turnout numbers by at least 10ppt.

Join institutional investors, analysts and strategists from the world's largest banks: Subscribe today for as little as $7/month

View subscription options

Or try one month for FREE with a trial plan

Already have an account? log in

Speak your mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

17 thoughts on “Comrades Counteracting

  1. When I looked at the picture at the top of this post I couldn’t help but feel the fellow on the left was an old familiar face, Robert McNamara. It creeped me out a bit as JFK’s late defense secretary played a large part (exogenous) in my life at the time.

      1. Nope. I was in the lottery and my number was 256. I was never in any danger. What McNamara did for me was install newly invented program budgeting in the DOD and give me a topic for my senior honors thesis. He also installed gobbledygook as the official language of the Federal government, which continues today.

    1. I’m a Vietnamese, lucky enough to be born and raised during peace time. I was angry when I learned about the My Lai massacre and Operation Rolling Thunder. When it comes to war, Putin and his pals look like saints when compared to Robert McNamara, Lyndon Johnson, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. That said, that doesn’t justify Putin’s special operation, in the same way it doesn’t justify US involvement in the Middle East and who knows where else around the world. It’s likely true that we’re done with the Great Moderation, Peach Dividend era or whatever you’re inclined to call it.

      1. “Putin and his pals look like saints when compared to Robert McNamara, Lyndon Johnson, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon.”

        That logic is silly. Like: “Charles Manson is a saint compared to Adolph Hitler, who’s a saint compared to Satan!”

        1. Also, just no. No in general. Go to Aleppo and tell the locals how much of a relative “saint” Vladimir Putin is.

          You want to be abrasive? I can be abrasive: Your country looked like a paradise once we got done with it “compared to” what rebel-held areas of Syria looked like once Putin was done helping Assad clean out the rebels.

          1. You need more caveats, Tommy. Let me explain the difference to you in simple terms: Vladimir Putin is a personal murderer as a well as an impersonal one. Not only will he wittingly murder innocents with his military, he’ll (happily) shoot somebody in the face for looking at him wrong. Literally. He’d do that. Himself. And without thinking twice about it. It’s also highly likely that he murdered 300 of his own citizens in 1999. I don’t know what that is, but it’s not a “saint,” relative or otherwise.

          2. Okay. My bad for using the word saint. He’s no saint whatsoever. I was just a little angry when someone mentioned Mcnamara. Now that we’re counting: 2 million Vietnamese civilians died in the war. Now someone go stop Netanyahu.

          3. I mean, look, I’m obviously a huge critic of US foreign policy. I’m also a huge critic of the Founders. You might fairly call me a self-hating American. This is a country founded in slavery and genocide.

            What I try to emphasize, though, is that when we talk about Putin and Xi and Kim, we shouldn’t forget that we’re talking about real-life, cold-blooded, killers. It’s not “just” — you know — “Oops, we ‘accidentally’ ruined your country and killed 350,000 people while trying to transplant, defend and promote democracy.” It’s “That guy seems like a troublemaker, so we’re going to poison him tomorrow.” Or “That general fell asleep in my meeting today, so I’m going to execute him with an anti-aircraft gun later this afternoon even though he’s my uncle.”

            You’re certainly correct to suggest that US foreign policy has led directly to some of the most disastrous outcomes imaginable in the post-War context. My only point is that we do need to occasionally remind ourselves that these men (Putin, Xi, Kim and even, to a certain extent, your Erdogans and your Orbans) are categorically different from modern Western leaders in that they’re personally dangerous. They’re pathological not just in a realpolitik sense, but in an actual, day-to-day context such that if they were regular people (i.e., not world leaders) we’d probably have to jail them because they’d be out committing some kind of crime(s).

          4. Charles Dickens was quoted as saying: if all men behave decently, the world would be decent. I never met my Erdogans and Orbans, but given the fact they probably wished that they’ll wake up one day and all their subordinates would become decent men, I bet they are relatively decent. Or at least decent enough to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza, and call for a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine war. Not that it matters that much but our foreign policy is probably what made me a self-loving Vietnamese. And that’s really saying something. Anyway, my more important point is that the world is balanced. I don’t want to think about the counterbalance in the event the US ignores the world and continues aggressively down this path vis-a-vis its spending and deficits. Better to just focus on my portfolio.

          5. Jesus Christ, Tommy, no. Erdogan and Orban aren’t “relatively decent” guys. They’re autocrats. I give up.

            And as a quick aside, looking back over your comment history, you once suggested that Putin might’ve invaded Ukraine because he was mad about MMT. Given that, I don’t think it’s likely that our exchanges will be especially fruitful, so you’ll forgive me if, in the future, I eschew the temptation to respond to your geopolitical musings.

          6. I don’t know what the Western media told you. But we weren’t raised being told to hate the US or capitalism. In fact, in history books, we refer to the US as the American Empire. Believe it or not, I wasn’t angry when I learned about the Vietnam war (we call it the US war) in our history books. It wasn’t until I watched the Vietnam war series – a US documentary – that I was angry. Meanwhile, we also believe that capitalism and growth is essential to our development as a species. As you put it, without capitalism and growth, the world would likely be a more primitive place. That said, we aren’t so sure that it’s a good idea to pursuit growth at all costs. You know what Yuval Harari said in Homo Deus.

          7. Believe it or not, if you ask a Vietnamese to pick a side, they would pick the US over China any day of the week (except for the weekends, perhaps). That said, we prefer it this way, right in the middle the two superpowers. We gained our independence and freedom, and we intend to keep it staying this way, trying to be as autonomous as possible. If that’s saying something about our Erdogans and Orbans. Honestly, I don’t know who Erdogan and Orban are, and I don’t care. But because you prefer to put our leaders on the same line with them, I assume they are bad. What I’m saying is they (our leaders) aren’t really that bad.

          8. There’s a language barrier here, Tommy. When an American says “your Erdogans and your Orbans,” the “your” isn’t actually a reference to anything to do with the person who’s being spoken to. It’s just a manner of speaking. If I were to say, for example, “An Acura or a Lexus — or even your Audis or your BMWs — aren’t ‘luxury’ in the same way a Rolls Royce is luxury,” I wouldn’t mean that you, Tommy, owned multiple Audis and several BMWs. Again, the “your” is just a manner of speaking. I wasn’t saying anything about your country’s politicians.

          9. Thanks for the clarification. I’m still working on removing the language barrier. Don’t intend to learn Chinese, though. Probably one day, when English isn’t the world language anymore and assuming we all make it through whatever war that is you suggest is coming. But not today.
            As a quick aside, that bunker in New Zealand is looking real good, no?

NEWSROOM crewneck & prints