A few years ago the US attacked a certain city of Iraq. It was a part of their bigger operation in that country. The truth is that such operations had become quite commonplace in the last decade. The US and NATO were busy in liberating people either in Iraq or in Afghanistan. I would not be any exaggeration to assert that many people around the planet were either oblivious of the fine details of the events happening there or they did not have enough time to follow up the news. I was one of them. So as I heard about the attack, it was a surprise for me. Due to the astonishment of the event I rushed to a close friend of mine and told him about the incident. My friend is a Roman Catholic. I cannot disclose his complete identity due to the purpose of confidentiality. All I can say is that he is a Hungarian Romanian with Shaman roots. He is a very nice man and a very dear friend. He helped me in various critical phases of my life in which if he had not helped me, I would definitely have had very tough times.
As I broke the news of the incident to my friend. He accommodated me by absorbing the information. In order to emphasize the severity of the news I had to reiterate about the event to him twice. At last he assuaged my concerns by telling that it was after all not a very bad deal in relative terms. He further instigated me to consider a scenario in which Russia or China had invaded Iraq (or any other country for that matter). In the case of China he literally said that they might not even spare animals from getting into the oven when they decided to march. And while saying this the blue eyes of my friend were as bleak as the cold war itself.
My friend has an extremely cool personality. Everyone loved to hang around with him for a while when we were together. Muslims specially loved him. Moreover, we always used to love to suspect that he would convert to Islam one day. My friend has many qualities a good friend should have. One of them is that he can make you feel good about your present circumstances no matter how bad they are. He has a knack of showing that all the thinkable alternatives are worse than the current plight. Consider this incident for example. One day I told him that sometimes I wished that I had been born in the times of Alexander the great or some other similar dignitary from ancient past. My wish did not ensue from the misery of my lifestyle. Rather, I had a comfortable life. I wished to live in that era simply because I could have witnessed with my own eyes the glories of great empires as we see them in movies. However, my friend was very quick in discouraging me for nurturing such a desire. As soon as I told him about the wish he very quickly discouraged me by saying that it was a very bad desire since we could most probably have been slaves had we been born and living in any of those eras. This made quite a lot of sense to me for the first time in my life.
Consider seriously what would Chinese have done to a country if they invaded it. I have another friend who is from China. When we were together we used to tease him for having connections with Bruce Lee. He used to feel very proud about that. He even knew quite a bit of Kung Fu and related arts. Upon wheedling a lot, we could even persuade him to make those peculiar Bruce Lee sounds from his mouth, that he used to make while breaking wood or bones.
One of our friends somehow knew that China has some sort of a problem with Tibet. I do not know what the problem really is. All I know is that there is some geopolitical problem between the two countries that has not been resolved since long. My friend used to ask him that how would he propose to solve the problem. Our Chinese friend used to say all the time that that was not a problem and all that he needed was a few tanks and a few men to take care of Tibet. This was his typical answer that he used to give us with his smiling face and we used to laugh. However, I am sure that he used to propose this solution not due to the viability of this sort of a solution, but to make up for his very limited ability of speaking in English. I believe that it was a much easier verbal short cut for him to speak like this.
But what would Chinese do if they ever invaded a country. Pakistan has always had very good terms with China and we really like them for so many things. Indeed, our relationship has always been cozy and we hope it to become cozier. But we also have an impression that on the day the Chinese decided to march out of their country to the rest of the world, they would even put every single green leaf in the broth. What we know about chinese is that they make soup out of even frogs and rattlers. Indeed, if this is true, then a war would just be a picnic trip for them. Let’s hope that they learn and adopt better ways of dealing with world’s problems.
Let’s consider Russia now. Russians have developed a bit of a reputation for being at war for many decades. Every now and then we read about the cold war and geographical necessities of the Russians to expand their borders westward (and possibly also eastward). It has become a personality thing for them to project themselves like this. With Vladimir Putin as its facade the Russia looks all the more scary too.
Let’s try to recall Alexander Letvinienko for a while. He was an ex-KGB defector who had absconded to the UK. He was a critic of Kremlin and a particularly harsh critic of Mr. Putin. In the days when he was dying the news of his terminal illness were all over the media. I wonder if I read about him through Stratfor. If my memory is not betraying me, then I can assuredly say that Stratfor covered each and every aspect of that episode.
The crux of the story is that he was given radioactive poisoning. One of the reasons why he was given radioactive poisoning was to give him a slow death in which he could see himself dying very slowly and helplessly. I even remember that I read something like that if he would die like this he would know who killed him. And that he would die slowly like this in front of his own eyes and wonder, and eventually know, that who killed him and that why he was killed. It took him around twenty days to die. And all of this happened in front of his very own eyes. It all happened as it was planned. Indeed, this is an extremely pathetic way of killing someone.
There is no safe mechanism of internal criticism in Russia as well. At the time of Alexander Letvinienko’s death there was a discussion of assassination of another lady journalist whose name was probably Anna (Something). She was found dead in her apartment. Her crime was that she was a critic of Mr. Putin.
One of the crimes of Alexander Letvinienko was that he criticized the unspeakable atrocities committed by Kremlin in Chechnya. Indeed, what the Russians have been doing to Chechens is also extremely heinous. Or is it a lot more than that?
These days Mr. Putin is trying his luck in Ukraine. Are the eastern Ukrainians really happy that Russia has finally come for their redemption? What about their oligarchs? Perhaps they cherish the idea to live under the constant and perpetual bad influence of Russia that it actually is. We shall know about all of this from Crimea in due course.
On the other hand, it would have been much nicer of Russia and its people to model their polity on some sort of a democracy. But when did the people of Russia win an opportunity to have any influence in shaping a better government for their country? The truth is that no matter how much we detest the US or other such states for their hegemony and domineering tendencies, such polities at least have certain soft power mechanisms that make them appear as acceptable leaders on the world’s political canvass. Whether they are their think tanks, better institutions, outreach mechanisms, higher education, research institutes, general liberty, economic aids and incentives, egalitarian societies or generally humane philosophies etc., in one way or the other many western states have these and many other appealing qualities that not only make them amenable as global leaders but also suitable for inhabitation by foreigners.
The truth is that Russia has no such mechanism by which it can project itself as a humane entity that it may wish to pretend to be. With Mr. Vladimir Putin as its facade, it appears to be a lot more fearsome and grotesque.