A Swap: Replacing Jackson-Vanik With Magnitsky?

By writing my previous post, I didn't want to create an impression that anti-Russian forces in the United States have suddenly disappeared — or switched gears to establishing a Society of Russian-American Fraternal Love.  What I meant was that in the absence of open conflicts between Moscow and Washington — and lacking major newsworthy "disasters" in Russia — it's not easy for the members of anti-Russian lobby to continuously perpetuate Russia's negative image in the U.S.  They have to wait until something "bad" happens — or at least until something they can call "bad."

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (I discussed her anti-Russian "credentials" before), had her "aha" moment last week: on Friday, she issued a statement condemning the deal that would sell French-made Mistral assault ships to Russia.  Here is an excerpt:

"It is deeply troubling that France, a NATO ally, has decided to ignore the clear danger of selling advanced warships to Russia even as Moscow is taking an increasingly hostile approach toward the U.S….and Europe itself."

One could endlessly debate with Ros-Lehtinen on how clear the "danger" of selling Mistrals to Russia is, but her assertion that Russia's attitude toward the U.S. and Europe is increasingly hostile borders on delusional.  I suspect that 20 years ago, when Ros-Lehtinen was first elected to Congress, she created a template for all Russia-related statements – and has never updated it since.  It is also interesting that while criticizing France, Ros-Lehtinen seems to have no problem with Israel selling unmanned spy drones to Russia. 

The same day, the Washington Post published an op-ed penned by the Brookings Institution's Robert Kagan.  Kagan hasn't written about Russia in a long time, and in order to compensate for lost opportunities, used quite strong language — like "corrupt, authoritarian mafia state" and "czarist dictatorship" — to describe the subject of his piece.  Kagan, too, sees negative trends in Russia's development, but in contrast to Ros-Lehtinen, he's unhappy with "Russia's increasingly authoritarian domestic policies."  To show his grasp for the latter, he writes:

"A new political party led by respected Russian political figures Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Kasyanov, Vladimir Milov and Vladimir Ryzhkov applied last month to register to run in the December elections."

(I like this "respected."  Respected by whom?  Certainly not by normal Russians.)  Kagan is wrong here.  The "new political party" he's talking about has only applied for registration with the Ministry of Justice, which is not the same as to register for parliamentary elections (not yet announced, by the way).  Not a big deal, of course, but one could expect more knowledge of the Russian law from a man with such a passion for it.  

Not surprisingly, Kagan demonstrates better command of American politics.  He props a recent persistent rumor that the so-called Magnitsky bill sponsored by Sen. Cardin (D-MD) may eventually "replace" the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment.  A Jun. 19 Post's editorial suggests that Congress passed the bill before repealing the amendment, which would allow keeping "outside pressure" on Russia.  This is a remarkable slip of the tongue: in essence the Post admits that the Magnitsky bill is not about human rights in Russia — as the Jackson-Vanik wasn't about Jewish immigration; it's all about applying "outside pressure" on Russia.

Kagan also informs us that:

"Sens. Joe Lieberman and John McCain will soon introduce a resolution calling on Russia to register opposition political parties, allow free media, respect freedom of assembly, and permit international and domestic monitors for the coming elections."

Nice!  The only thing that the future resolution is missing is obliging President Medvedev to have all his orders and decrees first approved by the Lieberman's and McCain's offices.

By their detachment from reality, the Lieberman-McCain tandem reminds me of the Soviet Politburo.  In this setting, overly ideological yet competent Lieberman could be considered as Mikhail Suslov whereas the old and gaffe-prone McCain would have to assume the role of Leonid Brezhnev

About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is a PMI-certified Innovation Management Consultant who helps organizations increase the efficiency of their internal and external innovation programs.
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28 Responses to A Swap: Replacing Jackson-Vanik With Magnitsky?

  1. Robert Kagan’s bro Fred (at last notice with the AEI) is another beaut.
    Both appear teflon in how they dish out certain thoughts, without apparent consideration to other views.
    Bobby the Brain has served as an adviser to McCain.
    Back to trying to understand how Yanukovych seeks to make Ukraine a Russian surrogate:
    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/ukraine/detail/107315/
    http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/06/22/52257772.html

  2. Jackson-Vanik was sanctions against a country (that no longer exists,, by the way) while this Magnitksy Bill is aimed at certain individuals. Thus, swapping one for another is logically flawed.
    What’s so disappointing is that while the people fighting for “Justice for Magnitsky” (such as @KatieFisher__ on Twitter) have solid intentions, they are also being so short-sighted in their association for such anti-Russian “war whores” as McCain and Lieberman.
    Besides, how is it even legally possible to enact sanctions against people who haven’t been convicted in any court of law. Basically, they’re saying, “screw Due process!”
    This whole project to find support in the US also makes it much harder for those Russians in Moscow who support this worthy campaign to bring the supposed thugs and thieves to justice. The more the US government gets involved, the less likely that the the scumbags who murdered Magnitsky will be convicted.
    Magnitksy’s supporters need to be smarter!!

  3. Eugene Ivanov says:

    Thanks Timothy,
    Sam Charap makes pretty much the same argument:
    http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/167823-congress-deserves-a-voice-on-human-rights-in-russia
    The Magnitsky bill was heavily lobbied by Bill Browder, and I strongly suspect that certain campaign contributions have been made in the process…
    Best,
    Eugene

  4. Poppy says:

    Eugene,
    It appeared to me that as far as the rhethorics from the said lady and gentleman are clearly for internal use, Russia doesn’t seem to be bothered to send a flying fu*k in response.
    An old French anecdote that I’ve heard says:
    ‘The Zoo. Lady asks the pool cleaner ‘Sir! If this hippo is male or female? ‘Madam, – was the response, – it’s only yet another hippo who might be interested to know this.’

  5. Eugene says:

    Poppy,
    True, this is completely internal issue: a member of Congress (fortunately, not from my state) issued a stupid statement, and I reacted.
    And the gentleman in question attacks the president whose Russia policy I happen to support.
    Internal matter indeed.
    Best,
    Eugene

  6. Eugene Ivanov says:

    Thanks Futility,
    It’s raining in MA, by Kim managed to make my day bright!
    Eugene

  7. Mark says:

    Leather-sheathed Russophile reptile. Wow – that’s going to be tough to beat. Although you probably didn’t realize it, that’s an NKVD-style black leather coat you’re wearing; you’ll be comforted to know, though, that it has recently come back into fashion. I must have missed the entire period when black leather coats and jackets for men were verboten owing to their NKVD associations.
    I’m leaning toward the view Mark Adomanis once expressed, that people like “Zigfeld” are probably deep-cover FSB agents put in place to spread such blatantly ignorant and foolish propaganda about Russia that there would be a sympathy dividend from Americans.
    Kovane once did an excellent post regarding the “Browder method”, which Browder himself bragged about. A clearly articulated fundamental principle was using the western media as a conduit to spread his opinions as if they were facts, and to play upon ignorance and knee-jerk biases. People tend to accept what they read.
    But it’s interesting to see all pretense vanish that this is somehow about human rights – and indirectly meant to benefit not only ordinary Russians, but humanity as a whole – in favour of naked coercion on issues from Ukrainian acceptance into the EU to gas prices.
    Ros-Lehtinin is among the most ignorant examples of the political class. Her sponsorship of legislation that would withhold U.S. funds from any U.N. entity that recognizes a Palestinian state is illustrative of her straight-up partisanship, while her protest about a presentation which featured the disappearing snows on Mount Kilimanjaro (in a discussion of global warming) made it plain she is an obnoxious idiot who believed that Diamond Head once had snow on it.

  8. Eugene Ivanov says:

    Mike,
    Thanks again for the link. A few people have already congratulated me with such an “event,” but you were the first.
    Now, I kind of regret that I don’t have a true leather coat as what you see on the picture is just a top of a very modest jacket. (If I were a mean man, I could argue that NKVD didn’t execute dissidents because “NKVD” and “dissidents” belong to different historic eras, but I’m not a mean man.)
    As I said on many occasions, I have no problem with Kim. Бог простит, as they say in Russia. And her “reptile” is a promotion of sorts, evolutionally speaking, after she called me on occasion “a little nasty insect.”
    But what I found completely hilarious is her assertion that I’ve done no research for the piece. Kim accusing someone for not doing research is like a rapist accusing another rapist for not kissing a woman before attacking her.
    Yes, she made my day.
    Best,
    Eugene

  9. Mark says:

    I thought it was particularly cruel, coming on the heels of your winning top honours with my readers and earning the label, “The Gentleman of the Russia-Watching Blogosphere”. Sounds like we’re talking about two different people, eh?
    She’s increased her frequency of taking a poke at other bloggers lately – business must be down. Or maybe she’s just copying a successful formula.

  10. Eugene, the follow-up discussion directly below your June 12 piece at this blog (centering around Medvedev and Russian domestic reform) includes a reference to Lenin and the Leninist similarity of Shevtsova among others. One doesn’t expect certain long winded individuals to note that, while babbling away on other matters.
    ——————————————–
    Re: Wearing black leather above the waist
    Sudden reminders:
    - The 1960s cartoon series Rocky & Bullwinkle, featured Fearless Leader, who periodically wore a black leather coat.
    - There’s a Yul Brynner movie, where he plays a Soviet major in 1956 era Hungary:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zETAA0NgzZY&feature=related (The black leather jacket comes in at about the 32 second mark.)
    http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9E02E4DB113AE734A25753C2A9649C946892D6CF
    Not that I expect the Military History Channel to do a documentary on Soviet military officer uniforms.
    - The Fonz symbolizing a different image of a man wearing black leather.
    ——————————————–
    Re: Early summer blase on FSU coverage
    On the matter of this time of the year (school just out, a clearer sense of summer), taking away from the emphasis on news note:
    http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/europe/news/article_1647013.php/Russia-disappointed-as-Transistria-reunification-talks-flop
    http://www.bradenton.com/2011/06/24/3299758/us-russia-urge-step-forward-in.html
    Overall, the coverage on these talks appears light.
    No great surprise that the talks on the Pridnestrovie (AKA Transnistria and closely related spellings) and Nagorno-Karabakh disputes don’t seem to have produced anything new.
    Some of the high profile commentary is lacking on these issues is lacking:
    http://www.rferl.org/content/nagorno-karabakh_kazan_summit_breakthrough_in_peace_process/24244645.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/opinion/24iht-edfreizer24.html?_r=1
    This article and follow-up discussion presents some reasoned ideas for a settlement of the dispute over Pridnestrovie:
    http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/06/carl-thomson-russia-and-the-west-should-find-common-ground-on-the-future-of-transnistria.html
    For qualitative purposes, the commentary on Pridnestrovie and Nagorno-Karabakh will be improved, with the addition of new input at the more high profile of venues.
    The above Conservative Home thread references the idea of a union state of republics on territory that made up the Moldavian SSR. Neither side to that dispute appears able to achieve their ideal settlement. Consideration can perhaps be given to Nagorno-Karabakh having the unique status as a simultaneous part of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Any ruling against either of the two countries will not go down well with the losing side.
    http://www.russiablog.org/2009/04/settling-the-dispute-over-nagorno-karabakh-averko.php
    Salut!
    Mike

  11. Виктор Кривчун says:

    Здравствуйте, Евгений! Ваша очередная статья, как всегда,- на злобу дня и Ваши оценки этой “злобы дня” созвучны моим. Я не буду комментировать заявления Джона Маккейна, Роберта Кагана и Илиана Рос-Лехтинена: подобных упёртых мастодонтов, но с антиамериканскими взглядами, и в российской Госдуме хватает. Без этих клоунов жизнь была бы пресной. Мне очень импонирует Ваша ирония по поводу “уважаемых ” представителей российской несистемной оппозиции. О том, что эти люди кормятся за счёт вашингтоских грантов, только немой не говорит. Да и они сами этого не скрывают. Однако, кто платит, тот и танцует девушку. Поэтому все заявления нашей несистемной оппозиции почти слово в слово совпадают с заявлениями вашингтонских неоконов. О том, насколько они “уважаемые люди”, говорят их прозвища: у М.Касьянова – “Миша – два процента”, у Г. Каспарова – “грязный Гарри”, у Э. Лимонова – “Эдичка – мастурбатор”. Небезынтересен недавний ход этой оппозиции, подавшей заяв вку на регистрацию партии ПАРНАС (Партия народной свободы). Мне кажется, что все нарушения(наличие в списках в прямом смысле мёртвых душ и противоречия с законодательством) были сделаны умышленно, чтобы спровоцировать отказ в регистрации и последующий за этим скандал, дающий повод американским неоконам в очередной раз разразиться антироссийской риторикой и рвать на своих главах волосы по поводу удушения политических свобод в России. Успехов, Евгений! С интересом ожидаем Ваших статьей.

  12. Eugene says:

    Здравствуйте, Виктор!
    Спасибо большое за Ваши добрые слова. Мой следующий пост будет как раз об отказе в регистрации ПАРНАСА. Не исключено, что с чем-то Вы и не согласитесь. Приходите, поспорим.
    С уважением,
    Евгений

  13. Quetzalcoatl says:

    It was Trotsky – not Stalin or the NKVD – that popularized the long leather coat.

  14. Mark says:

    That’s a relief, because I thought it was Gene Simmons, and I’d be shocked to hear he had NKVD associations. Although I’ve seen him in concert, and could totally imagine him torturing dissidents.

  15. Poppy says:

    Scheisse,
    I could have bet my ass it was Michael Jackson.

  16. Eugene Ivanov says:

    I feel we’re pretty much settled on the fashion part of the issue. What about dissidents? Kim seems to have a long list of dissidents killed by leather-coat-clad NKVD people. I don’t. Anyone to help me? Kim?
    Best,
    Eugene

  17. Reminded to check on the number of Russians who’ve advanced in the Wimbledon tournament.
    Based on the suggested “logic” of some, South Korea, China and Russia must be in shambles, seeing how their teams didn’t qualify for this year’s FIFA women’s World Cup and U-17 men’s World Cup, unlike North Korea.

  18. Mark says:

    It’s funny you should mention that, since women’s tennis used to be a favourite venue for croaking cries of triumph at LR. I notice on reviewing the current rankings that the USA does not have anyone in the top 20 at all,
    http://www.wtatennis.com/page/RankingsSingles/0,,12781~0~1~100,00.html
    while Vera Zvonareva is steady at number 3. The USA has 2 players in the top 30 (the formerly untouchable Williams sisters, whose star I predicted a year ago was about to burn out, and who now trail at numbers 25 and 30), while Russia has 6. No other nation has more than 3 in the top 30.
    LR would counter, no doubt, that Serena Williams has not played in nearly a year, owing to a foot injury. She was curiously less forthcoming with excuses for Maria Sharapova when a shoulder injury took her out of play, and Ms. Sharapova currently sits at 19 places ahead of Serena Williams.
    As far as NKVD and dissidents go, this clip is attributed to “Communist Interrogation”, a 1956 article from The Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry:
    “The article describes basic Soviet N.K.V.D. (later K.G.B.) methods: isolation in a small cell; constant light; sleep deprivation; cold or heat; reduced food rations.
    The effects of isolation, anxiety, fatigue, lack of sleep, uncomfortable temperatures, and chronic hunger produce disturbances of mood, attitudes and behavior in nearly all prisoners. The living organism cannot entirely withstand such assaults. The Communists do not look upon these assaults as “torture.” But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture.
    Interrogators looked for ways to increase the pressure, including “stress positions.”
    Another [technique] widely used is that of requiring the prisoner to stand throughout the interrogation session or to maintain some other physical position which becomes painful. This, like other features of the KGB procedure, is a form of physical torture, in spite of the fact that the prisoners and KGB officers alike do not ordinarily perceive it as such. Any fixed position which is maintained over a long period of time ultimately produces excruciating pain.
    The KGB hardly ever uses manacles or chains, and rarely resorts to physical beatings. The actual physical beating is, of course, repugnant to overt Communist principles and is contrary to K.G.B. regulations.
    Prisoners are tried before “military tribunals,” which are not public courts. Those present are only the interrogator, the state prosecutor, the prisoner, the judges, a few stenographers, and perhaps a few officers of the court.
    In typical Communist legalistic fashion, the N.K.V.D. rationalized its use of torture and pressure in the interrogation of prisoners of war. When it desired to use such methods against a prisoner or to obtain from him a propaganda statement or “confession,” it simply declared the prisoner a “war-crimes suspect” and informed him that, therefore, he was not subject to international rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war.
    Communist-style interrogation routinely produced false confessions.
    The cumulative effects of the entire experience may be almost intolerable. [The prisoner] becomes mentally dull and loses his capacity for discrimination. He becomes malleable and suggestible, and in some instances he may confabulate. By suggesting that the prisoner accept half-truths and plausible distortions of the truth, [the interrogator] makes it possible for the prisoner to rationalize and thus accept the interrogator’s viewpoint as the only way out of an intolerable situation.”
    Even a casual glance will reveal startling similarities with the conduct of interrogations by the USA at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Boris Nemtsov cried that he was forced to stand during the hearing that sent him to jail for illegally participating in a demonstration – he missed a propaganda opportunity when he did not describe it as “NKVD-style torture”.

  19. Concerning the coverage of Russia and what gets considered as worthy for posting/linking over some other material:
    http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9232-17.cfm
    Backup link:
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:TZ1EkBuWOLwJ:www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9232-17.cfm+http://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/9232-17.cfm&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&source=www.google.com
    - Numerous non-Russian athletes live and train in other countries, while representing their nation of origin in internatinal competition. The Russian born Sharapova acknowledges herself as a Russian. What’s the big deal? In contrast, there’re several examples of Russian and non-Russian born athletes who choose to represent a country different from where they were born. Of course, people are free to selectively advocate the “free to choose” spirit. During Russia’s bid to host the 2012 summer Olympics, Sharapova accepted the role as the lead Russian athlete used to promote that now failed attempt.
    - Tennis rankings are based on a consistency level over a given period. A player winning one major tournament while bombing out of others and/or not regularly competing in tournaments is subject to not getting as high a rating as a player who finishes near the top of every tournament played, while not winning any of them. Sharapova, Vogue Magazine and the Russian Tennis Federation didn’t set the standards for rating the top player. Regarding these standards, Sharapova at the time, qualified for a number one rating, based on the number of tournaments she played during that period, relative to her results when matched against other players.
    - It’s suggested that Sharapova gets more coverage than others because of her good looks. In supporting this contention, reference is made to another Russian player, the since retired (from the sport) Anastasia Myskhina. Myskhina is quite attractive in her own right. At the time, tennis experts universally agreed that Sharapova is the more talented of the two.
    - The snide remark that Sharapova’s number one ranking is on par with Vladimir Putin somehow manipulating an otherwise undeserving Russia into the G-8 is factually off. Russia was in the G-8 prior to Putin’s presidency. One can ask why Italy and Canada are in that organization of supposedly leading world economies?
    - Issue is raised on why the families of the referenced Russian Little League baseball team were denied visas to see their kids play in Williamsport. Rhetorically put, perhaps there’s a growing authoritarian anti-Russian streak permeating in the US. Around the time of the above linked piece, there was a shameful ABC News Nightline Chechen separatist friendly feature with the late terrorist Shamil Basayev. At times, it seems like NightLine was more accommodating to the Soviet view during the Cold War, when compared to how it has generally treated post Soviet mainstream Russian views.

  20. Excerpted from Mark’s last set of comments at this thread:
    “In typical Communist legalistic fashion, the N.K.V.D. rationalized its use of torture and pressure in the interrogation of prisoners of war.”
    Elsewhere:
    http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/were-all-leninists-now-5525

  21. Quetzalcoatl says:

    Sharapova seems to make a lot of money. She also gives a lot of it to childrens’ charities in her native Russia & Belarus. I wonder which of these bothers LR.

  22. Eugene Ivanov says:

    Guys,
    Your latest series of posts has transformed this humble blog into something Huffington Postesque: everything from politics to sports. Great job!
    I want to give you an advance note: this Friday, my wife and I are going on vacation to Russia and will return on July 17. I still plan to write a piece for RBTH and re-post it here, but I won’t be able to respond to comments (should they come, of course).
    Talk to you all later!
    Eugene

  23. Enjoy your vacation Eugene.
    Salut!
    Mike

  24. Luis Alcala says:

    The hostility against Russia in the western world is the norm, if someone exhibits some positive fact on Russia, for example that his revenue per capita is more of the double that of Turkey is looked like an eccentric or a leftist depending the type of public.
    An example between thousands. In a Spanish newspaper they publish the news about throwing of missiles of Russia and Iran in the same new, it is necessary to read it slowly to see that they speak about two different throwings and not one combine . Since it is always a question of joining Russia to the “axis of the evil”.

  25. As noted, Russia can improve such imagery with better English language mass media and PR efforts.
    I just got thru reading an InoSMI/Forbes propped piece on how RT isn’t so bad when compared to a number of English language mass media TV news segments. There was nothing in that piece about how RT can improve upon its past and present standing.
    The selection process in place has been limited when it comes to encouraging worthy contributors, who would provide a definite improvement from the existing status quo.

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