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Book Review November 27, 2002
 
Mikey McFaul and the Three Bears
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 5 of 5
 
McFaul's tone changes suddenly at the end of the book, when Putin replaces Yeltsin. The ever-forgiving adulator suddenly switches on his atrophied sense of outrage. Putin, McFaul informs us "...inflicted considerable damage to democratic institutions." This sentence occurs on p. 362, which is why the reader is somewhat surprised; how can Putin have damaged "democratic institutions" when McFaul has never even begun to demonstrate that such institutions came into being in Yeltsin's Russia? It's like accusing Hiroshima's 1946 City Council of ruining the city's architectural heritage.

All the outrage over Chechnya which was notably absent in McFaul's scanty mentions of the first, Yeltsin-led war pours out in his account of the second, undertaken by Putin's administration: "More gruesome [than Putin's electoral crimes] has been Putin's indifference to the human rights of his own citizens in Chechnya..."

At this point, irony fails me; I'd just like to spit in McFaul's face. The first Chechen war -- Yeltsin's war -- killed 100,000 people, the overwhelming majority of them Chechen women and children. Yeltsin's army treated the entire territory of Chechnya as a free-fire zone, responding to "enemy activity" of any scale from sniper upward by massed artillery fire. Where is McFaul's anger over these hundred thousand dead? As far as the reader of this book will ever know, that first war was, literally, a footnote.

Why, then, does McFaul's dormant indignation spring up when the topic is Putin? McFaul and his fellows dislike Putin for a simple reason: Putin isn't their guy. Yeltsin was. So Yeltsin can do no wrong; Putin can do no right. McFaul -- who was loudly denying rumors of graft and embezzlement right up to the 1998 crash -- is up to his neck in the blood and filth of 1990s Russian politics. He has no choice but to prop up his crimes with repeated fairy-tales like this long retelling of the three little pigs. But there were far more than three of them, and they stayed at the trough till they had stolen every scrap...and their advocate, this smiling Palo Alto grant-getting Oval-Office parasite--

Words will not suffice. One sees why so many cultures have a notion of Hell, or vengeful reincarnation as a slug or a toad...because I know very well that McFaul and the hundred thousand McFaul-facsimiles clogging the campuses, the op-ed pages, the grant committees and the policy teams, will squirm from success to success, with no prospect of justice this side of the grave.

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