The Russians Are Not Your Friends

Since the 2015 election season, there has been this weird meme going around. It is a meme that has been showing up in the far right mostly, but to a degree in the far left as well. I do not know if there is an original line for it, but it essentially says this: We should work with Russia on X. Usually, this is “Defeat ISIS” but it also can be something like “Halt climate change” or “work on space travel together.” On the surface, this statement makes sense: ISIS is bad, climate change is very bad, and space travel is good, so why would we be arguing with the Russians when we could be working together on these important issues?

Here is the thing: as we know, the Russians have been using the internet and money to influence people’s opinion of it, so we have forgotten something very important: the Russians do not care about anyone else. This is not to insult individual Russians and culture (who have given us arguably the greatest literature in human history, vodka, jokes, and excellent hockey players, among many other things) but the simple fact is that the Russian political system is dedicated to, in the simplest of terms: screwing over the West. Putin is not interested in helping us except on terms that no person who considers themselves a member of the free world should find acceptable.

Defeat ISIS? Russia’s military makes no qualms about human rights or combatant-civilian casualties. We fail, but we aspire to more and we do not make it explicit policy. Not to mention their alliances with Iran and Syria, which are not our friends in the slightest. Climate change? They would benefit from it: they would be able to become a food superpower and would control a warmer world, not to mention they are the biggest petro state in the world and gain pretty much all their GDP through oil and natural gas exports. Space travel? They’re not trying anything halfway as ambitious as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are doing with their own money. There is no point to working with the Russians, and yet there are people like Tulsi Gabbard (who is a monster) and of course, Donald Trump, who think they are collaborators just because they hate Muslims, or because they’re white, or just because Trump gets his wives from former Soviet states.

I have been wondering where exactly this meme that has suddenly implied Russia is not so bad has been coming from, considering that just recently in 2014, they annexed Crimea in Ukraine, which is the single biggest land grab in the hemisphere in 70 years and was widely illegal under basically every international law. I have come to a couple of conclusions. The first is on the far right they have been brainwashed by far right propaganda (such as that Putin is the leader of the White Christian world defending against the Muslim hordes) as well as just parroting whatever Trump says, while people like Le Pen in France get their money from him. Not to mention that they are no longer communist or atheist by policy (though Putin wants all the old Soviet states back). That is fairly easy to explain. The Far Left, which counts among it people like Jill Stein and Jean Melenchon, I have less of an explanation for besides the obvious (money), but I think there is also simple ignorance of the wider world here. There is a privilege of being able to criticize the American Empire as the Democratic Socialists of America do and think that any alternative is better, or that other countries are not so bad. This is ignorance. The Russians want to enslave millions of people which is exactly what NATO has been protecting them from. Putin killed a tenth of Chechnya’s population with his war against them. The Russian state is not your friend. Do not pretend it is. If you think they are, you are a fool.