The Slavic Miracle: Putin, Bush and Lukashenko by the Numbers (2007)

February 25, 2007

By Matt Johnson

As the sick and corrupt American media beat the drums for a new cold war over the Livitenko scandal, it might be worth approaching this from the only relevant region: that of money and power. It does not take a Russia specialist to figure out that Russia is under attack from both corrupt American parties, from both liberals and conservatives, from all media without exception over a murder where even Scotland yard, once their investigation was complete, claimed had “no evidence” behind it.

I have to laugh when I’m called a “conspiracy theorist:” it’s an absurd, Orwellian slogan to stop the process of investigation. These same people have no difficulty picturing a conspiracy by the FSB to poison this former employee of Berezovskii, or dream up a conspiracy of 19 Arabs slaughtering Americans in New York. But whenever their sacred cows are gored, suddenly, “conspiracy” becomes a term of abuse.

The reality is that Russia has regained her super power status, and she has set her face against American expansionism abroad. Her economy is powerful, and a Russian led alliance of herself and China are preparing to confront the regime both economically and militarily. Russia is now the world’s largest supplier of military hardware to the world, as well as the world’s largest supplier of energy. She is strategically positioned near some of the world’s future hotspots, including Central Asia, where trillions of dollars are waiting to be made through various pipeline projects traversing this nearly unknown region. The U.S. economy is utterly dependent upon U.S. control over these resources, and therefore, any hint of nationalism from the Russian side, no matter how harmless, will be dealt with through harsh condemnation and threats of war. This has been the main thrust of this web-journal since its inception 18 months ago: to defend Russia and the Slavic world from these attacks.

Therefore, Russia will be the target of even more shrill and sub-rational attacks in the future: and yes, it is a conspiracy, it is a conspiracy of the world’s wealthy to destroy Russia’s emerging world order, as a counterweight to the Atlantian World Order based in Washington and New York. Normally, such people, those represented at Bildeberg and Trilateral meetings do not provide the world with press releases, and, as a matter of course, their activities are known only through their results.

The Regime has normally two arguments it uses against Putin, both mutually contradictory. The first is that Russia has been mismanaged under Putin and his “fascism” and therefore, prosperity can only return when he is overthrown. The other argument is that Russia is too powerful, and she will harm the world’s emergence into global democracy and “civil society,” two buzz words never defined. Sometimes, these two arguments are uttered by the same person, and sometimes, in the same article. Yesterday, CNN featured the well paid, fraudulent media darling and lickspittle, Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation, angry at Lukoil’s success in America, and Russian interests in the far east. The Regime is in hyper-mode, and the most irrational attacks against Russia are oozing out of every media corner, regardless of ideology. Cohen speaks of Russia’s success as a threat to “democracy.” This view is echoed at Fox News, CNN and the Brookings Institute. Ideology does not matter. But, for the record, let’s see who pays Mr. Cohen’s extremely high salary:

  • In 2005, Heritage received an $800,000 grant from the Scaife Foundation, controlled by Mellon Oil.

  • Another $700,000 from the DeVos Foundation, a Protestant Christian group that also funds the anti- Russian American Enterprise Institute (itself a front for oil interests).

Remember, Heritage is funded (and largely controlled) by the Bradley Foundation, who itself is largely the creator of the neo-con movement in America. Most “right-wing,” neo-con, Fox news style pablum is controlled, funded and founded by Bradley. Bradley itself is extremely close to the Olin Foundation (itself a major funder of Heritage and neoconism in general, presently inactive), a major chemical and weapons concern, whose corporate parent is in direct competition with Russia. (For more information, see, as always, the ever helpful people, who track neocon money.) Much of this neocon money has gone into Russia baiting worldwide. It might also be worth mentioning that Olin has also, in the recent past, attempted to take over academia, giving Chicago, Harvard, Princeton and Georgetown a combined $72 million, which might explain the sudden appearance of neocon “respectability” on these campuses.

Now, it is very important, when tracing the real sources for silly neo-con anti-Russianism, to connect it with its corporate centers. All American politics is privatized, that is, funded by corporate interests, who are, to a man, hostile to Russia, Putin and Orthodoxy (unless its crazy Ukrainians). The Scaife Foundation is a center for oil interests in America. It seems, in terms of corporate control over politics, that big oil and big chemical have funded the neocons, while the usual suspects, Levi-Strauss, American Express, Coca-Cola, Xerox, Starbucks, AT&T and a host of others have taken over the Left, using it for their own purposes (cf. The Capitol Research Center for more information on corporate giving to Leftist causes). In other words, the establishment Left is largely AT&T and a AOL, while the establishment right is big oil. Let’s see who else big oil has given to recently: The extremely anti- Russian Institute for Policy Analysis received almost $10 million this year from Mellon. Equally, the Center for Strategic and International Studies received almost the same. Heritage received, over the last few years, about $20 million. Tufts University received about $9 million. As an aside, Tufts has, in its campus newspaper, published anti-Putin screeds recently. Clearly there is a connection. I have been forced to respond to this on their university-controlled forum, with some very telling responses. I wondered why a poorly run student newspaper would care about Kuchma, Belarus or Putin in the first place, but now, you know. Big Oil has given millions to the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which, incidentally, funded much of the work of the Zionist, Beltway, neo-con “Orthodox priest,” Al Webster of Virginia (who also works for Homeland Security, or so he tells me), who I confronted harshly after liturgy at a Greek church near me here in Pennsylvania, to the horror of the congregation, I’m happy to say. Big Oil has also given about $1.3 million each to two major anti-Russian outfits: the Jamestown Foundation and Freedom House, Inc. And check this out: apparently, big oil is behind something called the “Foundation for Defense of Democracies,” (with a grant of $400,000 this year) which, in its Russia section, has this to say: “It’s time we start thinking of Vladimir Putin’s Russia as an enemy of the United States.” All organizations have made hatred of Putin, and the fear of U.S. losing influence over the world’s oil, the centerpiece of their bogus research. Without following the money, the sub-rational hatred of Putin and co. makes little sense.

The reality of it all is power, and power is a function of access to energy and sources of raw materials. What is the nature of the Russian economy? It has come under the typical vicious attack from the establishment conspiracy theorists, but the fact remains that Putin’s legacy will be dictated, by Russians, through the extent to which the system was able to deliver the goods. Cracks are already visible in the armor of the American economy, and it is this market which ensures the United States a global place. The American economy is the lynch pin to the New World Order, and its massive debt and irrational spending habits will be its undoing. The dollar continues to lose value, and China, fully aware of how the game is played, are buying up truckloads of American paper, providing a weapon far more formidable than its nukes.

Russian economic growth is highly respectable under Putin. Over the last two years, the economy has grown almost by 14%, with a slight slowdown this year, 2006. Now, the problem with GDP is that it is a broad indicator, not providing the details necessary for a true evaluation for a country’s economy.

Wages, of course, are the primary indicator, when corresponding to a cost of living: in Russia, wages have gone up by 10% in 2005, and another 7% in 2006. This means that Russia is becoming a powerful market, and is one not hampered by non-repayable debt. In fact, as far as the state goes, her budget surplus is substantial. This is far more a threat to U.S. hegemony than Russia’s military, or her lack of “civil society.” Keep in mind too, that, according to the World Bank, this spectacular rise in wages actually reflects disposable income rather than raw wages, a far more accurate index of “well being.”

Making matters worse for the U.S., utterly dependent on being a market for cheap foreign goods, the Russian ruble appreciated by nearly 4% over the U.S. dollar, which itself is not really important since the falling dollar has been the rather muted central issue in international political economy in 2006. The ruble has appreciated against the Euro by nearly 18%. The actual payoff, however, is that countries such as China and the major oil producing states have decided to deal in Euros rather than dollars in their foreign exchange, slowly cutting the Federal Reserve out of its global role, which is another way of saying that this institution, a privately owned oligarchy of bankers, is being cut out by the Yuan, Euro and Ruble.

In terms of merchandise exports, Russia has a strong balance of trade, approaching nearly 100 billion rubles, and this is a strong predictor of currency strength; it amounts to nearly 8% of GNP. This is also one good reason why Russia should never become a part of Europe-wide economic institutions, given that Russia’s economic strength guarantees her a great deal of international autonomy, and a position, given the abundance of raw materials, to remain aloof from Europe while still being able to enjoy her intercourse, borne from necessity, if from nothing else.

Contrary to media myth, while it remains true that raw materials (including energy) remain an important part of Russia’s economy, the increase in manufacturing has strongly outpaced that of raw material extraction, by nearly 3%. Raw materials have increased about 1% over last year, while manufacturing increased by 5%. Therefore, increasingly, she is not nearly as oil dependent as the Wall Street Journal claims. All the while, her unemployment has gone down by about a percentage point over last year, to about 7.5% of the economically active population.

What about the other center of evil, Belarus? The news looks even better. Let’s get to the numbers, for it’s in the numbers that explain the screeching hatred the Regime has for Lukashenko, likely the most successful and popular politician (domestically) in the world.

In Belarus, according to the World Bank, the GNP has grown by about 10%. According to the extremely anti-Lukashenko CIA, their unemployment is the 6th lowest in the world, at about 1.2% as of today. Capital investments in Belarus have increased a shocking 35% this year. The IMF, another anti-Lukashenko elite outfit, has said that Belarus is a model for budget discipline, inflation control and a balanced approach to domestic investment. According to the UN, or more specifically, the UN’s Industrial Development Organization, that, among the former CIS countries, Belarus has the highest index of annual industrial production growth, followed by Armenia and Kazakhstan. . .holds second highest after Russia index of annual industrial production growth per capita. . . has second highest after Ukraine (42 percent) index of share of industrial production in GDP (33.1 percent in the prices of 1995).” Apparently, Belarussians are not “languishing in tyranny” as George W. Bush has said.

According to the 2006 Global hunger Index, Belarus has the “lowest hunger index” among all “transition” economies. According to the UNAIDS, the UN organization dealing with the disease, “Belarus may become one of the first Eastern European country which will stop the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic.” Inflation stands at about 8%. Belarus, according to the World Bank, has the lowest poverty rate among “transition” economies. Infant mortality, one of the harshest and most telling of indicators in the global economy, is at about 6.5 per 1,000 according to the World Health Organization, which is slightly higher than the U.S. (And this includes continuing problems in neo- natal care in relation to radiation from Chernobyl).

In terms of “real wages” that is, wage rate adjusted for inflation and other distorters, the Lukashenko record has been astonishing. According tot he World Bank, the increases in real wages since 1997 have been the following, from 1997 on, inclusive: 14%, 18%, 7%, 12%, 29%, 7%, 3%, 10%, 16%, ending at 2005, adding up to over a 100% increase from 1997-2004. I wish I lived in a “tyranny” like that.

It might also be worth mentioning that, in trying to interpret the subrational hatred of Lukashenko in the western media and elite circles, that Belarus has a sort of specialty in the oil industry, where it now has the autarkic ability to maintain all aspects of the oil processing/refining industry. In other words, though having no oil itself, Belarus can now perform maintenance on all petroleum refining plants in Russia and elsewhere (especially Venezuela). Furthermore, according to official military sources, Belarus can also perform all possible maintenance on Russian military hardware, of whatever type. This makes Belarus indispensable not only to Russia, but to all militaries throughout the world using Russian equipment, including China. Talk about far-seeing industrial policy. Lukashenko may have been a bad collective farm manager (or so I hear), but he is a first rate economic strategist.

Just for laughs: lets look at the head of the snake: the U.S. 45 million Americans are without health insurance. 0 Belarussians are without health insurance. The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit. Belarus and Russia have a trade surplus. 16% of Americans (i.e. 37 million Americans) live under the poverty line, far higher than in Belarus. For children, the American poverty rate is over 17%. (all stats from the Census Bureau) All American debt, i.e. private and public, is over $44 trillion, far more than the entire worth of the economy (about $7 trillion) and unrepayable. China holds much of this paper. 68% of this debt was created since 1990. Private debt (this is the sector where capitalists say the “rational influence of the market prevails”) has reached $33.7 trillion, about 5 times the size of the above ground economy. This includes credit cards, corporate debt, etc. Next time you see someone in an SUV on her cell, remember this. The top 20% of households in America control almost 87% of the wealth. The bottom 60% (that means me and you) control a whopping 3.7% of the wealth, nearly 100% of which we create (according to the Survey of Consumer Finance, as the Census Bureau does not keep statistics on distribution). Keep in mind also that, according to studies too numerous top mention, the minimum wage, using 1966 as a base, and factoring in all increases in production from labor, should be almost $60 an hour. In other words, the minimum wage in 1966 was about $1.60. Factoring in increases in production, and using the adjusted 1966 figure as a base, the American minimum wage should be nearly 9 times what it is now. Where did that surplus go? Well, it is reflected in the distribution of wealth, the distribution of caffeine-free lattes, and in the combined wealth of Putin’s enemies. Relatively speaking, American wages, adjusted for all distorting variables, have been declining since 1972.