We're at war. It's a serious war this time. Which means that every pencil-necked American geek is scrambling to out-fascist the next squeaky chicken-hawk. The most difficult thing to stomach in all of this is watching all the frauds come out of the woodwork to declare their militarist credentials. It's all too reminiscent of wartime Europe, when first, in the late 30s, the West Europeans welcomed the Nazis; only after Stalingrad did every Derk and Francois scramble around the ville searching for a Jew to lock into their attic, rewriting their biographies in a race against time with the coming Allied invasion. They did it again over the past 30 years, when all the socialist radicals of '68 traded their suedes and pipe bombs for pinstripes and privatization.
Today, the same shameless turn is taking place before our eyes, even in the good ol' U S of A. Don't believe me? Strap on your helmet, cock your gun and read this quote from a recent Op-Ed by former neo-liberal tool Michael McFaul: "The process of defeating the enemies of liberty is twofold: Crush their regimes or the regimes that harbor them and then build new democratic, pro-Western regimes in the vacuum."
Zoiks! That's scary stuff, kids! It's the Count Floyd of jingoists! Heil der Neue McFaul! This nigga represents!
Whoa-whoa-whoa, back up a second. This is the same McFaul who, when writing for the Carnegie Foundation about Russia during the Yeltsin years, divided the world between "optimists" and "pessimists." Those who viewed Russia's total economic collapse and skyrocketing death rates as positive developments were "optimists"; those who dared criticize were "pessimists". It's hard to believe that such a small Stegosaur-sized mind could ever find its way into print, let alone instruct its legs to ambulate from bed to bathroom without squirting droppings on the hall carpet. But it did, and it did.
Now Clinton is gone, and so is the touchy-feely optimism. Ever the scheming little entrepreneur, McFaul has moved onto a new ideology-scam: corporate militarism. And it's there, in his ability to scheme and sense changes in the environment, that the McFaul distinguishes himself from the common Stegosaur.
You've got to wonder, did McFaul believe his new hard-ass schtick when he tapped out those oh-so-scary lines? Does he actually think we'll BUY IT? Did he read it to himself in the mirror, flexing his tan jowls and practicing his new stern Rumsfeldian expressions?
Or more importantly, are we, we who knew the old Clinton propagandist McFaul, the same McFaul who preached Tom Hanksian optimism to Russians, supposed to keep our mouths shut and actually allow the new severe, big-stick carrying McFaul roam wild?
Once upon a time McFaul made his name whitewashing his friend Chubais's rape and pillage of Mother Russia. But at least then, McFaul did push some ideas that made a kind of moral sense. In his previous incarnation he did, one must admit, argue that democracy and human rights were good for Russia because Russians had suffered so much under tyranny.
Not anymore. In last week's Moscow Times, McFaul wrote, "Perhaps the emasculation of the Federation Council and the brutal methods used in Chechnya could be overlooked or justified."
You get the feeling that McFaul never cared about democracy and human rights even then -- only people, or causes, that keep his career going. A few years ago, he got promoted for holding frightened Western-friendly Russians to the American public's eye as reasons why we should support Yeltsin (and hence Clinton's disastrous policy). Now Clinton is gone and those pesky pro-Western Russians are still complaining about human rights abuses... but those people don't help McFaul under the Bush regime, so fuck 'em. Committing genocide in Chechnya and taking away a historically oppressed people's right to representative government can now be "overlooked" or even "justified."
The real problem with the crushing of Russia's nascent democracy over the past two years, according to Der Neue McFaul, has nothing to do with Russians. Rather, it's that it could result in some American multinational's third-tier representative office having its computer desk confiscated: "A Russian state strong enough to take away TV6's license can also seize Boeing's assets," he declares. Fuck the hundreds of thousands of Chechens, fuck the millions of suffering Russians and their children -- it's "Boeing's assets" that matter! This potential negative hypothetical, according to McFaul, is the one "minus" in an otherwise positive Putin presidency. That's it. That's all the debate is about with respect to Russia and democracy. It's about whether or not Boeing will be allowed to spirit its profits out of Russia and to its Cayman Islands shell company before the Russian state can seize them for its own people. Under Clinton the debate over Russia's tragic fate was about optimists and pessimists; today, it's about the safety of Boeing's assets.