by Tyler Cowen
on October 24, 2013 at 1:55 pm
in Books, Current Affairs, History, Law, Political Science |
We came to Moscow as political correspondents. We leave as crime reporters.
That is from an excellent Jonathan Steele LRB review (free registration) of two new books on Central Asia.
Two words: Paul Klebnikov. The rest is detail. RU is corrupt, the citizens of Moscow pay overpriced goods whose profits flow to plutocrats tied to the Kremlin, and you should never, ever buy gas from the Lukoil gas station in Tysons Corner, VA. Nuff said.
> Two words: Paul Klebnikov. The rest is detail.
Well, let’s add a few of those “details” nonetheless: Anna Politkovskaya, Yuri Shchekochikhin … the list is depressingly long. See e.g. http://journalists-in-russia.org/
We came to [insert any national capital] as political correspondents. We leave as crime reporters.
That kind of talk does more harm than good. It breeds an attitude of “Well the all do it don’t they? Why shouldn’t I vote for my man just ’cause he’s on the take?”
And such talk is not true either. Whatever is wrong with your local councilor, legislator or president, the chances are more than 20:1 against him being on the mob payroll.
Half the people in the Whitehouse are from Chicago. What does that do for your odds?
It means low odds they had an oil tanker named after any of them? Low odds of still being paid by their former oil services employer while vice president? And really low odds of knocking off Iraq for all sorts of reasons which never, never, never involved oil?
The differences between Russia and the United States aren’t always that large. After all, you are looking at 2 of the world’s top 3 oil producers when comparing them. Controlling such a critical resource leads to certain results. It is just in one country, those possessing the most power determine who owns the profits. In the other country, it is the owners of the profits that determine who has power.
I always find this argument amusing. Dick Cheney was so completely unprincipled that he thought nothing of directing major American policy solely for the benefit of his oil buddies. And yet at the same time, he was so incredibly loyal that he was willing to do this for his friends, when it was not beneficial to him. The money Cheney was paid while VP was deferred compensation. He wouldn’t receive any extra benefit for starting the Iraq War at their behest, so it could only have been to return the favor for what they had paid him. But if he was so willing to thumb his nose at the entire population of America, why wouldn’t he be willing to not honor the deal with his cronies instead? After all, they were asking for an awful lot: changing the entire course of world history as a thank you gift for a few million dollars of compensation for his work in the industry (plus a possible promise of an oil tanker named after him). Plus there was the added bonus that not starting a war for the benefit of an oil company was actually the right thing to do. Unless you think Dick Cheney is not actually unprincipled but antiprincipled, and prefers to do the wrong thing even when it would be more beneficial to himself to do the right thing. But in that case, why not come up with something that displeases both America AND the oil companies?
Hey, I’m not saying you have to like Cheney. But at least keep your criticism to something that could at least possibly be true in some possible universe. This is a cartoon evil conspiracy. There is a reason those don’t exist: people who are willing to be evil will also be evil to each other.
But it is Prior Approval we are talking about. And in his world it is always Saturday (cartoon) morning, with the same thing on television.
So they decided to generalize?
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