Where Does The Russian Government Sit?

Here is a profound answer [from anonymous comment in a now extinct TrueSlant blog by Julia Ioffe]:

“The White House is the place where the Russian Government sits”.

Why profound?

Take 1. (trivial)

“The White House is the place where the Russian Government sits.”

We will have to dismiss the trivial interpretation – there is nothing “profound” or “deep” in the fact that the same way as some towns in US are named after the original towns in Russia, there is at least one place in Russia which was named after the American landmark. The White House in Kremlin, Moscow (Russia) is indeed the place where the Russian Government “sits”. At least sometimes. Before it is asked to move on – in some cases, with the help of artillery. Since we are not the Government and don’t need such an impressive “motivator”, let’s move on our own volition.

Take 2. (anti-Russian)

“The White House is the place where the Russian Government sits.”

The White House is THE White House. Vicious Russian spies, armed with the boobs (where the nature allowed), Morse Code, invisible ink and perhaps, the traditional Russian weapon of mass “distraction” – vodka, quietly replaced democratically elected American Government with the Communists and it is now effectively the Russian Government who “sits” in Washington. This can explain a lot – from the “communist” Obama’s economic policy to why the recent Russian spies were let out so easily.

Well, let’s get real here – especially with the “spies“.. While one can find numerous statements in the blogosphere or even in the press, claiming that Obama is a “communist” and that he is “controlled by Kremlin”, the authors clearly miss two important facts. First is that current Russian Government is about as close to Communism as Senator McCarthy had been in his time. Second -with regard to relations with Russia, the only thing Obama can be blamed for  is that his Administration somehow managed to accomplish what the previous US Administration had not very successfully tried, only this time without even a wink from the Russian Government. The impressive list of deeds includes the missile defense in Europe and invitations to NATO issued to the same Ukraine and Georgia, assurances of support to the old “friends” and even the traditionally problematic lecturing Russia on human rights &  “democracy” etc etc. Thanks to Obama and his aides, all this is now done without anyone in Russia even sneezing. At least – not too loudly. I am convinced that were Obama the President in 2008, South Ossetia and Abkhazia would still be a part of Georgia. So, in a sense, one can even say that, surpassing Alexander the Great, Obama did not even need a donkey with the gold* to enter Kremlin after the brute force attempts by the Bush Administration practically failed with almost disastrous results.

This latter allegory naturally brings us to the third interpretation:

Take 3. (Kafkian)

“The White House is the place where the Russian Government sits”
meaning simply “Russia is governed from Washington and by Washington”.

No, I am not going to feed you a Russian-side version of what the US newspapers routinely write. The Cold War rhetoric. After all – what would be “profound” about it? Russia and America are doing fine now – probably the best they ever had it since the WWII ended. Do we really need to carry on all that old baggage into another century?

The profound part of the answer refers to the difference between active and re-active foreign policies. The US policy being active and Russia’s – reactive. Reactive to the American, and only to American. When the reactions are predictable and the source is single – the country with the active foreign policy is in the position to effectively enforce the behavior of the one which reacts. For example, it becomes possible to install, remove or relocate tactical and even strategic nukes of another country, start, stop or change the direction of military reform there, make one country to occupy another etc. Or effectively force a country – eg. Russia, to do nothing by simply not showing interest. Like it happened in Kyrgyzstan. The sky is the limit. Is it really about Russia? I am not sure. It seems that recently some obvious shifts from the narrowly American focus of the Russian foreign policy did appear, but it is too early to say if they made the Russian policy sufficiently independent or even active. So, where do you say the real Russian Government “sits”?

UPDATE 2019.

It is amazing how the thing described in this old post changed in just 5 years. Republished to serve as a historical record.

* perhaps, because Obama did not have any gold left after generally successful “socialist” measures to bailout the American economy from the current cycle of economic crisis

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