Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 21, 2012

On "Western Experts"

The Russian president Putin is modifying some of the policies his predecessor Medvedev implemented. The NYT is lamenting about that and includes this funny bit:
In a way, the biggest surprise is that Mr. Putin has found it necessary to roll back Mr. Medvedev’s initiatives in the first place.

For the four years of the “tandem” arrangement, the consensus among Western experts was that Mr. Medvedev did not do much without specific approval from Mr. Putin. On the day the two men announced they would switch places, a top Obama administration official shrugged off a query about whether this would herald a change of course in foreign policy: “Everyone knows that Putin runs Russia,” the official said.

That seems less obvious now. Mr. Putin set about reviewing or reversing a long list of policies after his inauguration: [...]

All this suggests that many of Mr. Medvedev’s initiatives toward the end of his presidency, sporadic and incomplete as they were, were undertaken independently, and in some cases against Mr. Putin’s wishes.

I am no "western expert" on Russia. But compare the view of those "experts" after four years of Medvedev to my take at the beginning of Medvedev's presidency. In March 2008 I wrote:
Dmitry Medvedev ran Putin's election campaign in 1999 and was his chief of staff. He is the chair of Gazprom's board of directors since 2000 and First Deputy Prime Minister since 2005. He was "Person of the Year" of the Russian equivalent to Time in 2005. [...]

Medvedev is a small man, 5'4'' or 162 cm - not the supersized format of a "western" manager. But he is young and a very fit sportsman. People who underestimate him and suspect that he is only a Putin puppet are in for some serious surprises.

Why are those experts called experts when it took them until after Medvedev's presidency to see what I could see at its very beginning? An independent man that was a partner but not puppet of Vladimir Putin.

The most serious surprise for the "western experts" was Medvedev's fast decision in August 2008 to react with force against the Georgian attack on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia. Something that did not surprise me at all. But even after that had happened those "experts" still thought of Medvedev as the Putin puppet he never was. Only now do they start to understand him.

Tell me, why are those experts still listened to?

Posted by b on September 21, 2012 at 9:56 UTC | Permalink


"Tell me, why are those experts still listened to?"

They are listened to for the same reasons that our pundits in the US press are listened to are being wrong time after time after time. They are writing withing a certain approved narrative that has boundaries that may not be crossed. One of those boundaries in the States is that the strongman Putin was always in control and was always dangerous. (and still is)

The Empire needs enemies. We will do whatever we can to create them and Putin is like a character straight out of a novel --- great enemy for government purposes.

Posted by: Mark Stoval | Sep 21 2012 10:45 utc | 1

'b' said Medvedev was (still is) "an independent man that was a partner but not puppet of Vladimir Putin." During the Medvedev presidency years, I remember reading several times in mass media outlets that Medvedev was "a partner but not a puppet" of Putin.
I expect that most people on this board gathered that impression too about Medvedev; and I expect most people who never visit this board but take a passing interest in Russia current affairs had the same impression as 'b' and I had. And I believe they all got that impression from the Western mass media.

So I am saying that 'b' is overstating the presence of a "puppet" narrative among the Western would-be Russia experts and the Western media.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Sep 21 2012 12:19 utc | 2

The following is an item about Syria and it is off-topic. I could perhaps work it into topic by the angle of "knowledge of experts".

Here are quotations from a number of experts on Syria, individuals who are watching Syria's events closely, and are and were intimately educated about Syrian society to begin with.

On 18 Sep 2012 Syria's Minister for Information Mohammed Al-Zoubi said Syria "will emerge from the talons of the conspiracy stronger than it was and it will treat its wounds and deal with the repercussions of what happened and what is happening thanks to the awareness of its people, the resilience of its leadership, the strength of its army, and the Arabism of its people."

29 Jul 2012. Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem said "Today I say to you that Syria is stronger and our determination to face this scheme is stronger."

22 Jul 2012: Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali said that his country's leadership is serious about reforms and will emerge from the current crisis stronger than ever.

4 Jul 2012. The speaker of the Syrian parliament Mohammad Jihad al-Laham said that Syria's leadership and people will emerge victorious and stronger than ever. He underlined the Syrian leadership's commitment to reforms on all levels and the people's support for these reforms, and their rejection of violent uprising, and their rejection of foreign interference in their affairs. He said Syria will be victorious because its principles are just and its people are wise.

23 Apr 2012. Syrian interior minister Mohamad al-Shaar said Syria will emerge from the current crisis stronger than it used to be.

26 Feb 2012. Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said: "Today we are moving toward a new democratic era, and Syria will emerge much stronger than it used to be."

31 Jan 2012. Chairperson of Women's General Union, Majida Kteit, said that Syria will emerge from this crisis stronger thanks to the awareness of its people, their rallying around the leadership, and their support for the reform program.

29 Jan 2012: Syria's Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim said: "Syria will get out of the crisis stronger than ever due to its people's awareness, strong will, national unity and rallying around their leadership."

18 Jan 2012. Governor of Syria's Tartous province said "Syria will emerge from the crisis stronger".

Posted by: Parviziyi | Sep 21 2012 12:48 utc | 3

23 Aug 2011: President al-Assad said "The Syrian people have always come out of crises stronger... and it is natural that this crisis as any other crisis will give them more strength."

13 Sep 2011: Syria's Ambassador to the Arab League, Youssef Ahmad, said that Syria will come out of the current crisis stronger.

14 Sep 2011: Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister, Fayssal Mikdad, said "Syria will overcome the crisis stronger."

25 Sep 2011: Syria's Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moallem, said that Syria will come out of the crisis stronger.

23 Oct 2011: Syria's Interior Minister, Mohammad al-Shaar, said Syria will emerge from the crisis much stronger, thanks to the Syrian people, their commitment to national unity and their support for the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad., . He said the same again on 8 Nov 2011;

24 Oct 2011: Chief of Staff of the Syrian Army, General Fahd Jassem al-Freij, said Syria will emerge from the crisis stronger. He stressed the Syrian people's standing by their armed forces in confronting the armed terrorist groups.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Sep 21 2012 12:55 utc | 4

You saw Medvedev for what he truly was just as some saw Obama, in 2008 and before, for what he really is.But just as the "experts" are still experts, Obama is still, for too many, the champion of peace and hope.

Posted by: Greg Stricherz | Sep 21 2012 13:45 utc | 5

Two pieces from CounterPunch on Putin:

This one from 2001 depicts a boorish drunk (the fact that he was vacationing may excuse the drunkenness, but not the ill-manners);

and the other describes a center-right nationalist whose statesmanship exceeds the low standard set by western leaders.

Posted by: Watson | Sep 21 2012 13:50 utc | 6

A lot of these guys were "experts" on the USSR, which is related to modern Russia, but we make a big mistake in discussing and evaluating the two as if they were identical.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Sep 21 2012 14:11 utc | 7

and if I remember, Watson, those of us who criticized Obama from the time he started filling cabinet positions with corporate lackeys and wall street hand-job artists weren't all that popular in the eyes of his passionate advocates who absolutely needed to believe the shift in our president's complexion was a monumental victory, and that every early hint of betrayal was adept political jiu jitsu.

the shift in our president's complexion, in hindsight, was brilliant, focusing an intense white man's rage which negates all rational thought while the demographic dominance slips away.

Posted by: lizard | Sep 21 2012 14:14 utc | 8

An "expert" is one who has demonstrated expertise in explaining and justifying the administration's position. But the people are onto it. Most people get their news from television, and according to a recent Gallup Poll just 21% of adults said they had a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in TV news. That's down a whopping 25 percentage points from 1993, when Gallup began the poll.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Sep 21 2012 15:15 utc | 9

A natural rivalry and differences of opinion and seeing a way forward etc. are to be expected in this situation. (Putin - Medvedev.)

In fact they are obligatory.

The ‘dauphin’, next in line, or semi-competitor plus partner has to bring up new ideas, new directions, be more radical and more outspoken, be a bit more towards the ppl than the top boss, more modernist, etc. E.g. against corruption, - pleading for the freeing of the Pussy Riot Girls - ...Ossetia...

Very hard to judge if they are a two-tag team cynically playing good cop / bad cop, or if Mev is truly trying to change things.

Probably a bit of both, a sort of top-dog drama played out on the Russky stage.

The French call such pairs a ‘binome’ - a couple who together assumes one job, with each partner taking on some set of tasks / roles, with their disagreements provoking much discussion.

Putin could get rid of Mev in two weeks if he did not suit.

Or maybe not. Maybe Mev has so much support Putin can’t get rid of him, or doesn’t want to, see above.

Kremlinology used to be a prized speciality! It has gone out of fashion since 1990.

Posted by: Noirette | Sep 21 2012 16:50 utc | 10

Detailed, excellent Breakdown of the US military intel complex connection to the latest Islamic hate video:

Posted by: JL | Sep 21 2012 17:08 utc | 11

I suspect Putin and Mev agree on things like oligarchs and NATO expansion. Pussy Riot will run out of Russians to offend and get jobs with Madonna.

Posted by: dh | Sep 21 2012 17:21 utc | 12

Noirette @ 10: "Very hard to judge if they are a two-tag team cynically playing good cop / bad cop, or if Mev is truly trying to change things."

Kinda like the Dems and Republicans here in the US?

Posted by: ben | Sep 21 2012 21:22 utc | 13

All I know is that I wish America had a nationalist of the caliber of Putin,and that the media is a bunch of dual citizen traitors who care not one whit about America,other than as a Zionist gold mine and Israeli expansion muscle.And why would Medvedev,as a Russian patriot,not continue the Putin policies?
If one controls all that's to be printed and spoken,where would one expect any critiques of their total idiotic stupid moronic serial lies and policy?Outside of a few internet sites as this,where can the truth of Zionist domination be expressed?Most of the once free speech sites have been filtered,from the Guardian to Mondoweiss,if you say the magic word(froggy?)you are exiled to bogeyland.
As someone mentioned recently,has anyone ever seen a sympathetic account of the obvious criminal actions to, and treatment of the Palestinians in any MSM source since at least 9-11 if not years or decades before?
And notice the hasbarites in mass critique hits on comments that enhance their BS on sites like that once proud liberal? site the Guardian,and the Guardians? filtering of comment.Assange called them on their angle and they turned on him.The wackos are circling their wagons of horsehockey,but the chickens keep coming home to roost with their loads of blowback while America burns.
Has anybody ever heard of something that can't be discussed?Anyone who tries to stifle discourse is hiding something,and obviously afraid of truth as a narrative that is true would welcome critiques,as their debunking would enhance their truth.Egghead thinking right?Or just simple logic.
Resist the borg.

Posted by: dahoit | Sep 21 2012 21:28 utc | 14

@13....Logic dictates all. Nationalistic fervor is not the root of evil...Unfortunately, we in the US feel that it only belongs to US......

Posted by: georgeg | Sep 21 2012 23:46 utc | 15

forget putin and Medvedev...whats not a surprise is how democracts and republicans seem to pursue similar policies....

Drone attacks in Pakistan have jumped from 8 strikes per year under Bush, to a staggering 63 strikes per year under Obama.

Posted by: brian | Sep 22 2012 1:43 utc | 16

They're not experts to be listened to. They are the disseminators of regime propaganda. As such, their job is to inform us of what we should think. Apparently our job is to have amnesia.

Posted by: Inanna | Sep 22 2012 2:47 utc | 17

brian @15: ".whats not a surprise is how democracts and republicans seem to pursue similar policies...."

That's because, I suspect, they both march to the tune of the same drummer.

Posted by: ben | Sep 22 2012 3:25 utc | 18

Aloha, ya'll...! I just wrote about Madame Shrillary's decision to delist the MeK... Meet the MeK...! ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 22 2012 3:53 utc | 19

Posted by: CTuttle | Sep 21, 2012 11:53:09 PM | 18

since she is supposed to be a representative of the US people...did Killery pass that by the people? what do the american people think of US recognising a terrorist group? where is the media oversight?

Posted by: brian | Sep 22 2012 5:03 utc | 20


Shukumaku l A special sources told Shukumaku that more than 12 terrorists were killed in the city of Jobar affiliated to Damascus the capital , after information had been leaked as per the movements of their colleagues , which consequently led to the killing of more than 64 insurgents who tried to attack the checkpoints of the Army.They exchanged accusation of betrayals ; clashed with each other , and a bomb was thrown which led to the the death of all of them.

Whereas , authorities have arrested today a terrorist who was hiding in a house of a belly dancer in Damascus countryside . The dancer reported his stay at her house by force ,which helped the security forces to deal with the terrorist very carefully and without any clashes.

Posted by: brian | Sep 22 2012 9:51 utc | 21

Syrian Truth l RT l Exported Swiss arms mysteriously reach Syria
Sept 22, 2012

Hand grenades exported by Switzerland to the United Arab Emirates several years ago, are now in Syria, according to the Swiss government. The finding comes after a newspaper photograph showed a Syrian rebel with a Swiss-made grenade.
The picture prompted Switzerland to set up a joint commission with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in July, according to AP.
Switzerland temporarily halted arms shipments to the UAE after the photo was printed, but lifted a block on licenses for such deliveries once the commission was established.
The investigation found that the UAE gave part of a shipment of Swiss hand grenades to Jordan in 2004, to support its fight against terrorism.
"From there the hand grenades evidently made their way to Syria," a Swiss government statement said.
The statement did not give details of how the weapons made their way from Jordan to Syria. It did, however, note that the case pre-dated Switzerland’s 2006 introduction of rules which prohibit countries to re-export arms.
Additionally, countries are now explicitly prohibited from transferring weapons in the form of gifts or loans.
Berne has stated that application procedures for arms can now be resumed, but that new safeguards will be implemented.
Applications to export weapons to the UAE must include a declaration that they won’t be re-exported. The document will also grant Switzerland the right to conduct an on-site inspection of the weapons after they’re shipped.
Switzerland says it will conduct a review of past exports to “various countries” over the coming months, although it did not identify which nations would be involved.

more lies....switzerland is arming terrorists and will continue to do so

Posted by: brian | Sep 22 2012 10:00 utc | 22

This may sound as a bit of a side note, but I don't think it is. Here in Japan they asked a 'master,' "So, what is zen?"

The man said, "If I explain it to you, it isn't zen anymore."

I wish many so-called experts would keep that in mind. That, and I'm sick to the teeth of all those lies being paraded all over the place as truths.

Posted by: Daniel RIch | Sep 22 2012 12:57 utc | 23

Pussy Riot to Receive LennonOno Grant for Peace in New York

Read more:

Russophobia continued......

Posted by: georgeg | Sep 22 2012 14:35 utc | 24

Posted by: georgeg | Sep 22, 2012 10:35:49 AM | 23

Lennon must be rolling in his grave!..,but then its like giving Obomber the NobelPeace prize

Posted by: brian | Sep 23 2012 0:34 utc | 25

One wonders at the inner workings of the peace movement...

Posted by: dh | Sep 23 2012 1:10 utc | 26

Well, that foreign policy stumbling novice Mitt did say that Russia is the USA's #1 enemy. Altho' sometimes he seems to say China is...and he's going to go after China for accepting all those businesses he sent over there!

I found his statement stunningly...inflammatory. But it got little attention, it seemed to me.

But his dismissive attack on the 47% of those who don't pay Federal income taxes, that was noticed. And he doubled down on it, but tried to spin it merely as a wise tactical move to get the 50.1% of the electoral votes necessary to win power. Yeah, right, Willard. You're trust quotient is falling at supersonic speed. And all your statements do belong to the intertubes, where we voters can find them.

Posted by: jawbone | Sep 23 2012 1:39 utc | 27

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