All Russians are spies

A couple of weeks ago, after attending a showing of the Russian TV talk show Vremia pokazhet, British journalist Angus Roxburgh complained that what he saw shocked even as hardened and cynical a Russia-watcher as him. ‘Xenophobia, fear, and intimidation’ were what he witnessed, he said.

I confess to be an occasional Vremia pokazhet watcher. It’s hard to understand what people are saying half the time, as the show tends to descend into a shouting match. But that’s kind of the point. There’s always a vigorous debate. It’s not just somebody spouting the official line, although it has to be said that the official line tends to win out when the dust settles. But let’s engage in a little bit of whataboutism. Would Mr Roxburgh be equally shocked if he spent some time watching American TV? Would he come across ‘xenophobia, fear, and intimidation’ there?

Let’s take a look.

A couple of days ago, CNN interviewed Congressman Mike Quigley. This is what Quigley had to say:

When you meet with any Russians, you’re meeting with Russian intelligence and therefore President Putin.

What exactly is denouncing an entire nation of people as untrustworthy if not xenophobia? I wonder also what Quigley would have to say about his all his fellow Congressmen (including members of his own Democratic Party) who have met Russians. Like Congressman William Clay shown here meeting Gary Kasparov at the Congressional chess tournament in 2014? According to Quigley, meeting Kasparov is like meeting Putin! Should we not investigate Mr Clay for collusion with Russian intelligence?

garry-congress20
American congressman meets Vladimir Putin

But it’s not just Quigley. Take a look at Fox News’ Tucker Carlson demolishing international security ‘expert’ Ralph Peters during an interview last week. According to Peters:

The Russians have not been seriously fighting ISIS. The Russians have been bombing hospitals, clinics, refugee columns, schools … We can’t have an anti-terror alliance with terrorists, which is what the Russians are. … They hate the United States of America. … Vladimir Putin hates us. He is malevolent. He is as close to pure evil as I can find. … Vladimir Putin … bombs women and children on purpose in Syria. He is as bad as Hitler.

I’d never watched Carlson until a few days ago, but I might start doing so more regularly. A day after speaking to Peters, he conducted an interview with another ‘expert’, Max Boot, who claimed that it would be immoral to ally with Russia in Syria, because,

We do not share common goals with Russia, because Russia is trying to further the murderous Bashar Assad regime, they are trying to further Iranian hegemony. … We should not be complicit with Russian war crimes.

Now, you could say that there is a difference between all these and Vremia pokazhet, because in the Russian example it is state TV propagating the fear and xenophobia, whereas CNN and Fox are private companies. Besides, Carlson does a pretty good job of making Peters’ and Boot’s look idiotic, thereby discrediting their xenophobic views rather than enhancing them. Nevertheless, it’s worth bearing in mind that these interviewees aren’t just ordinary Joes. Quigley is a Congressman. Peters and Boot are respected members of the American foreign policy commentariat. Both have published numerous books and articles, write for leading newspapers such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek, lecture to military officers and publish in military journals, regularly appear on TV as pundits, and so on. When you listen to them, you’re not just listening to them; you’re gaining a glimpse into what is a fairly widespread worldview among elected officials and opinion formers in Washington. It’s not a pretty sight.

In the current East-West tensions, the paranoia of both sides feeds off that of the other. It’s a mutually reinforcing spiral of fear and xenophobia. Roxburgh isn’t wrong to say that it’s there on the Russian side. But it’s just as strong in America. Instead of ratcheting it up still further, we need people who can start ratcheting it down. Tucker Carlson appears to be trying. Good for him.

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14 thoughts on “All Russians are spies”

  1. Boot and Peters are an embarrassment to any sane American. Kudos to Carlson (who also interviewed Glenn Greenwald on Russiagate, I believe). I would never have imagined watching him prior to this last few months. Not an endorsement of his entire worldview, by any means.

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    1. ‘Boot and Peters are an embarrassment to any sane American’ – and yet their work regularly appears in leading media outlets, giving them the status of serious commentators on international affairs. What does that tell us?

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      1. It tells us that the Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy are a pack of blind Russophobes whose self-defined purpose in life is to conspire to wage aggressive war against a seemingly never-ending line of ‘Hitlers’ and every day is Ann endless sequence of ‘Munichs’

        In reality, they would all, every one, been an enthusiastic supporter of Neville Chamberlain, fully subscribing to his idea of proposing “… Germany and England as two pillars of European peace and buttresses against Communism” to Hitler.

        Questions?

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    2. In Boot’s case, I think you’re not giving him nearly enough credit. I’ve never seen any other commentator who has such a consistent record of being absolutely wrong about everything. Takes a special kind of talent to manage that.

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  2. Damn you for forcing me to click theguardian link, for violating my boycott…

    I don’t watch Vremia Pokazhet, I watch Pravo Golosa. The show is perfectly fine, everyone (including odious russophobes) gets a chance to say their piece. I feel it’s Mr Roxburgh himself who’s being a ‘hate-leader’ (or, perhaps, rather ‘hate-follower’) here.

    I’m really curious about his Nizhny Novgorod story, though. What happened? Why did he have to sight “a false statement”, after already contacting the British embassy? Did the British embassy tell him to to sign a false statement? Weird. Did the British embassy issue an official note of protest afterwards? Illegally detaining a subject of Her Majesty the Queen, refusing him water for many hours, and forcing him to sign a false statement – surely a major diplomatic scandal!

    In any case, he starts by claiming that “there was no rhyme or reason to the arrests that followed”, and that’s a an obvious lie, and he knows it. So why should I believe anything else in his piece?

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    1. Angus is lying piece of opinionated turd:

      “It takes a lot to shock me in Russia, after 45 years of studying it. But this month my blood ran cold. Not because I watched innocent kids being hauled off the street by thuggish riot forces, and not because I was myself arrested and questioned by police for seven hours – though those incidents played a part – but because of what I witnessed in a Russian state television studio. But let’s start at the beginning …

      On “Russia day”, 12 June, thousands of people protested in central Moscow against Vladimir Putin and his kleptocratic clique. There was no rhyme or reason to the arrests that followed. “National guards” in black tunics sliced through the crowd in groups of five, snatching random people and hustling them into police vans. You might have been holding a Russian flag (on Russia day!), you might have been chanting “Russia without Putin”, or you might just have been watching, or even – in one case – explaining to an interviewer why you supported Putin … nothing protected you.”

      2 Paragraphs, lots of lies.

      1) He couldn’t study “Russia” for 45 years. He might have studied USSR up to the last 26 years though.

      2) He arbitrarily judges kids to be “innocent”, though he has no right or reason to assume that. Only the court.

      3) The “thousands were protesting” is a big fat fucking lie, when people conflate those who celebrated with a little more than 1 000 of Navaln-yugend idiots.

      4) If you are violating the existing legislation, no amount of Russian flags or vocal support to the “Regime” should protect you. Or is it somehow different in the Blessed Valinor?

      #ОниЖеДети

      “We were taken to a police station, where I was held for seven hours, being interrogated about what I was “really” doing.”

      Totally legit demand, cuz he contradicts himself – either you are JUST a tourist (and applied for the tourist visa), or you are “on a study trip, meeting politicians, experts, activists”, which is a conduct of the political activity and requires a separate vise application. Happened to even allegedly “pro-Russian” people from the crypto-Masonic/Rota-club “Council of the Citizens Initiatives”.

      “They seemed to know everything about me – even that I had been expelled from the Soviet Union in 1989. Why was I pretending to be a tourist when I was really a journalist? “

      Then why does he act so surprised? What, the White People are exempt from the Native’s Laws?

      “Eventually, they let me off with a small fine – but only after I was forced to sign a false statement “confessing” to having violated visa regulations.”

      He is either an idiot or a liar. Can’t rule out either.

      “He cursed the Polish parliament for voting to remove memorials to the Soviet occupation of their country.”

      They are memorials to the 600 000 of the Soviet Army soldiers, who died liberating the ungrateful bastards from the Nazis, whom fucking Armija Krayova couldn’t defeat on its own – not to the occupation. And this putz talks about “1984”? Gewalt-gewalt!

      ” I remember advising his chief propagandist that if they wanted to woo the west they should start by demonstratively turning their back on communism and reaching out to the countries they once occupied”

      Would have never worked. Instead, those bitches will continue to whine, to accuse and to demand repentance and payment – payment and repentance.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “When you meet with any Russians, you’re meeting with Russian intelligence and therefore President Putin.”

    #JeSuisPutin

    “Like Congressman William Clay shown here meeting Gary Kasparov at the Congressional chess tournament in 2014? According to Quigley, meeting Kasparov is like meeting Putin! Should we not investigate Mr Clay for collusion with Russian intelligence?”

    But there is a cop out. They can always claim that Gary Kimovich is not Russian.

    “We can’t have an anti-terror alliance with terrorists, which is what the Russians are”

    By Allah! This kaffir is overindulgent on liquid haram!

    “Vladimir Putin hates us. He is malevolent. He is as close to pure evil as I can find. … Vladimir Putin … bombs women and children on purpose in Syria. He is as bad as Hitler.”

    Inshallah! Also – this:

    Discussing the persecution of the Christian is absolutely haram! All ROC clerics are KGB agents! Freedom is Slaver! War is Peace!

    Also, can someone clarify this one thing to me? To breath the same air with Russians – is this a collusion? Or are you in fact acting as Murikan Patriot, by liberating the air from bloody Ruskis?

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  4. And one more thing:

    “I confess to be an occasional Vremia pokazhet watcher. It’s hard to understand what people are saying half the time, as the show tends to descend into a shouting match. But that’s kind of the point. There’s always a vigorous debate. It’s not just somebody spouting the official line, although it has to be said that the official line tends to win out when the dust settles. But let’s engage in a little bit of whataboutism. Would Mr Roxburgh be equally shocked if he spent some time watching American TV? Would he come across ‘xenophobia, fear, and intimidation’ there?

    […]

    In the current East-West tensions, the paranoia of both sides feeds off that of the other. It’s a mutually reinforcing spiral of fear and xenophobia. Roxburgh isn’t wrong to say that it’s there on the Russian side. But it’s just as strong in America.”

    For the sake of honesty and consistence, Professor, it would be fitting for you present us with counter examples, i.e. of Russian members of the “elite” saying same kind of crap prime time on the central channels. Or are you going just to assume that we must belive your word?

    P.S. Quoting Zhirik us cheating 🙂

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  5. If Tucker Carlson represents our last hope for sane political discourse in America, we are well and truly screwed. I don’t know why such a large segment of the American right wing has abandoned its long tradition of Russiophobia, but they do indeed seem to all that is standing between us and WW3.

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  6. Hey, Professor! You’ve become notorious!

    “The clear context that both you and the jingoists in that blog outright ignored because it is convenient in order to create a false sense of equivalency, is that politicians meeting with Russians aren’t meeting with regular Russians, they are meeting with diplomats, politicians and state agents, all of which are under the the administrative reach of Vladmir Putin.

    There isn’t anything in the video where the Congressman said all Russians are spies besides, every arranged meeting between Russian officials and US politicians or US officials are done with Russian agents that answer to Putin. Not every Russian citizen is a spy narrative that you and that abomination of a blog are claiming to exist. “

    Resistance is futile, Professor. Come and join the tight ranks of Kremlin Stooges and Useful Idiots! 😉

    Btw – there is still a balalika embargo in the US. You are banned to import them. Being in effect since 1940. And brave Obama extended it till 2020. Yeah.

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    1. “aren’t meeting with regular Russians, they are meeting with diplomats, politicians and state agents”

      Hmm, that’s odd… I got the impression that (at least) everyone named ‘Natalia’ is “Kremlin-connected”, by definition.

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  7. Oh, and I do hope that TvTropes diehard Westies gonna see that:

    But, OF COURSE, Jimbo Clapper is of “no consequence”, amirite? Saying that “Russians are genetically driven to be untrustworthy” (c), “Russians genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor” (c) and “Russians genetically driven to be opposed to democracy” (c)?

    #Resistance

    Like

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