Debunking myths

In my final post of 2015, I said that I would try to focus more on good analysis of things Russian and less on bad. So here are links to three recent articles which go some way towards debunking some common myths about Russia.

First, Mark Galeotti punctures the myth that Russia is ‘weaponizing’ everything from information to refugees. As Galeotti correctly points out, the weaponization meme, ‘reflects and encourages poor analysis’. He concludes:

Realistically, it is unlikely that there will be any change from the Kremlin. Rather, it will have to be the West that instead starts to wean itself off the addictive temptations of caricature. Not to be the bigger party (though it will be), not on the condition that Russia follow suit (it won’t), but because better policy comes from better understanding.

Second, Michael Kofman points out the fallacy of the concept that Russia is waging ‘hybrid war’ against the West. I said the same back in December 2014, and endorse Kofman’s final words:

We spend too much time chasing hybrid ghosts, confusing ourselves, and diffusing lines of effort. In Washington, Russian hybrid warfare has come to embody Frederick’s [Frederick the Great’s] warning on defending everything; while in Europe they seek to defend against Moscow everywhere. If the West is to come up with a political and military strategy that deals with Russia, it must start by killing bad narratives and malformed analysis: Russian hybrid warfare should be the first on that list.

Third, Sergei Armeyskov denounces the recurring claim that Russia is on the verge of collapse. As Armeyskov says, ‘real Russia’s problems do exist and they serve as the realistic basis for the mythology of “imminent Russian collapse”. This Western “collapsophilia” can be referred to as crussialism (from crush +Russia + [certain amount of] realism). Crushialism [sic] has been an inseparable part of Western master discourse of Russia for years.’ But this crussialism is wrong. According to Armeyskov:

Russia has many serious economic and social problems. I know it much better than any BBCNN ‘Russia watcher’ because I’m a common Russian living in Russia, so I see the signs of crisis every day. But ‘crisis’ doesn’t mean it will necessarily result in a revolution/regime change (we had enough), and even the latter isn’t equal to ‘collapse’.

Amen to all that.

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9 thoughts on “Debunking myths”

  1. Paul, it is downright… touching that you think that debunking myths about Russia will improve Western analysis of Russia in the slightest. At present, American ‘analysis’ of Russia is about manufacturing popular & Congressional the U.S. Congress to let the defense dollars flow again after a couple years of relative parsimony. Actual analysis of Russia is absolutely the last thing the MIC wants.

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      1. By all means, debunk. I debunked in college when Ronald Reagan was in office. I debunked on UseNet in the mid-1990s. I debunk to this day. I do so to enlighten people, one at at time. But thinking that debunking Russophobic myths will improve the policy debate just makes me shake my head.

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  2. My stance of Galleotti is a bit weird. A lot of his assertions concerning Russia being such an evil dictatorship are simply devoid of international context (I mean, if one would factor in things such as citizens killed by the police, or lack thereoff, non Chechen Russia starts looking pretty good compared to the US, India or Brazil) as well as being heavily biased.
    To my knowledge however he does not engage in outright falsehoods like Snyder.

    Kofman is iirc a soldier, and kind of reinforces Orwell dictum that, in a total propaganda world, the military will stay a bit more realistic then the rest.

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    1. Galleotti is one of these people who create negative myths about Russia.

      Case in point: ahttp://www.intellinews.com/stolypin-russia-needs-its-brains-88756/
      This article (and many others) tries to sell the idea that the current Russia suffers from a massive brain drain without offering much statistic to back it up.

      It was debunked by Anatoly Karlin in this article: http://www.unz.com/akarlin/nth-wave-of-russian-emigration/

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  3. All that is a lip service necessary to keep some degree of trust among somewhat critical readers. Thats kinda worst kind of propaganda. I’m still waiting for someone to write “it is not our business to judge Russia whatever it does. We must accept and see how we can do together something positive”.

    I’m sure I’ll die hoping. Hopefully though I’ll die not in mutual nuclear exchange.

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    1. “it is not our business to judge Russia whatever it does.”

      Precisely. However, “judging Russia” is central to the Anglosphere’s self-declared role in the world.

      The British have been vituperating Russia since just after the Napoleonic Wars. We Americans chimed in in the mid-1880s, as we had the reconstruction of the South and the development of the West in hand and began laying down a new steel navy.

      The Spanish Empire was our 25-meter target.

      The Russian Empire in Asia was our 100-meter target.

      “Containment” was first proposed my the U.S. seapower guru Alfred Thayer Mahan in 1900, advocating an alliance between the U.S., the British Empire, the German Empire, and the Japanese Empire, to contain Russia until collapse.

      The Anglosphere’s enmity towards Russia runs deep, and was suspended only due to the prodigious efforts of Kaisers Billy II and
      Adolf I.

      The Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy (AFPE&P) cannot give up judging Russia, because that role is central to its claim to global dominance. It will never give that dominance up willingly.

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  4. The first two items (weaponizing refugees, waging war on the west, etc.) is just plain war propaganda. It doesn’t deserve any response, because it doesn’t have any factual or intellectual foundation.

    As for the imminent collapse, it is of course true that they have social and economic problems. But what’s important is that it’s been improving, dramatically, in that last 15 years. It’s been going in the right direction, and with amazing speed. I believe you posted diagrams (from Forbes) here a while ago. These crussialists, it’s as if they woke up in the middle of a long, steep advancement of all social and economic characteristics, noticed problems, and screamed: oh, look, it’s about to collapse!

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