Sunday, June 26, 2016

Correspondent Comment on Russia

Russia gets 6 to 10 times more from a dollar of defense spending than the US does. It probably has far less graft in its defense industry because Russians feel so threatened by the US.

War like Kursk and Manchuria is totally outside US experience. Russia had 16,000 war deaths a day for the 46 months of its participation in World War II. It will be in deadly earnest if attacked.


James said...

It probably has far less graft in its defense industry


nothing in russia has less graft.

High Plateau Drifter said...

If graft opportunities were the priority of the regnant Russian elite, they they, and Putin, would have rolled over for the U.S., become a vassal state like the rest of Europe, slashed defense spending and pocketed the defense savings, just like the Ukrainian oligarchs have done.

Confronting the U.S. empire as they have is solid evidence that the Russian elites are willing to accept significant mortal risks and that riches are not their top priority.

James said...

And Russia's corruption ranking is solid evidence that riches are their top priority. Pervasive corruption is an intrinsic part of their culture and political system, extending far beyond anything in the rest of Europe or North America, and the idea that they have less graft than the U.S. is as bizarrely counterfactual as your earlier claim that slave-owners lost money when they bought slaves.

Putin doesn't want Russia to become a U.S. vassal state for the obvious reason that it would strip away his power. It has nothing to do with stopping graft--he just wants to make sure that he and his associates control the graft and reap the attendant benefits.

Do you speak Russian, and have you ever been to the country? Your opinions of Russia sound like things you've read on alt-right/neoreaction blogs that have no connection to reality.

ADL said...

I see much support for this in the poverty and obvious income sources of the Russian elite.

High Plateau Drifter said...

I have a friend and correspondent who has lived in Russia for many years and states that petty corruption - nickle and dime stuff - $100 to a policeman and $300 to a lower court judge are commonplace, and tolerated by the government because at least 10 or 15 years ago, their salaries were so low. With rising incomes he reports that this sort of thing is gradually disappearing. But as for the oligarchs, the profits from owning their oil and other businesses dwarfs any profit increases that they could achieve by bribery of pubic officials and that each bribe could entail risk of losing everything if they get caught or the internal politics change. Also the oligarchs police their employees very carefully to prevent this sort of thing.

The bottom line is that the political system in Russia has not yet evolved to the level of the US where graft, corruption and special favors are written right into our laws and thus made perfectly legal. Our legalized corruption is vastly greater than the under the table stuff in Russia.

ADL said...

So you're saying you'd rather be an unconnected small business owner in Russia than in the US? There's merit to critiquing the level of cronyism and captivity in the US economy, but the solution is not to be more like Russia.

And, just out of curiosity, how did these oligarchs get their riches? And how do they hold onto them in a control where rule of law is tentative and proscribed?

And--though I expect this to hold limited sway with you--Transparency International ranks the US 16th in its perception of corruption index. It ranks Russia 119th, regardless of what your correspondent says.

ADL said...

And just to be clear: if you have a system of a few immensely wealthy people who got their wealth through corruption and get to hold onto it by cozying up to a quasi-dictatorship, that in my book qualifies as corruption. That there are not suitcases of cash changing hands (though there well might be) seems to me to be a bit too fine a distinction.

Anonymous said...

James and ADL are totally right - there is huge difference between critique of what is happening in US and falling in love with Russian model. C'mon this is basically third world country. You are still very lucky to live in the USA and if you think otherwise you are deeply mistaken, just like leftist intellectuals were during cold war. (just my Eastern European perspective)