Maybe the time has drawn
the faces I recall;
Things in this life change very slowly
if they ever change at all
Eagles. from “Sad Cafe”
“Every individual needs revolution, inner division, overthrow of the existing order, and renewal, but not by forcing them upon his neighbors under the hypocritical cloak of Christian love or the sense of social responsibility or any of the other beautiful euphemisms for unconscious urges to personal power.”
Everything bad that happens is because of Russia, and when anything good happens in Russia, it’s because they got lucky.
A recent revelation for me was the announcement that the revenue Russia realizes from agricultural exports has surpassed what it earns in arms sales. That was actually announced more than four years ago, but it came to my attention only a short time ago, because of context. I mean, it was fairly common knowledge that the sanctions Europe dutifully imposed on Russia, and the counter-sanctions against imports of European meat and produce, fostered an agricultural renaissance in Russia. But linking it as a moneymaker to exports of weapons really puts it in focus; Russia is now able to exercise more economic clout through farming than through the tools of war. And, as if any of you needed to have it pointed out to you, this peaceful surge in production occurred at a time in history when western pressure expected to make Russia more martial – not less.
Given that any positive news from Russia is immediately pissed on by the western media, you might expect reporting which suggests the Russian state merely caught a completely-undeserved lucky break. And you would not be disappointed. The booming farm economy and the profits which accrue to it, Politico will have you know, are due to…good land management, and the weather having a pro-Russian bias.
So if the Kremlin tells you it actually wants the sanctions to continue, it’s just whistling past the graveyard, because those who say sanctions have not had a serious impact on Russia are lying. I mean, there’s the impossibility of getting good French cheese, and….and….no French cheese, and…well, okay, it’s just cheese, and widespread fakery which leads individuals who presumably were discerning cheese buyers only a couple of years ago to mistake blocks of grease for fine Camembert. Yes, the western obsession with European cheese imports, and their conviction that not being able to buy real Parmesan or Stilton is driving suffering Russians to the edge of madness refuses to die. Washington is determined to believe the sanctions against Russia are a tremendous success.
Well, they’re not.
The Politico reporters correctly point out that Russia overtook the United States in wheat production in 2016, and looked likely also to overtake the EU in 2017 as its own grain crops were devastated by bad weather. Russia does not need to import pork any more, as domestic production has made up for the shortfall and more – Russia is now poised to be a small-scale exporter of pork to China. Good news, though – Russia has completely failed to become self-sufficient in oranges; got you now, you Slavic bastards! The price of oranges shot up 58%! I smell regime change.
Okay, I was being sarcastic. The price of oranges fluctuates wildly based on the eternal law of supply and demand, everywhere. The USA likes to put on airs because it has a couple of states where it is warm enough in winter to grow oranges. But surprise! Orange prices in the USA are subject to the laws of supply and demand. And prices are driven not only by seasonal factors, but by natural disasters such as the fires in Southern California. And the number 2 and 3 global orange exporters – which might come as a surprise to many – are South Africa and Egypt, both comfortably outside the sanctions regimen.
But all that is background. I didn’t really want to talk about oranges, that was just a piece of idiocy from the article that rubbed me the wrong way. What I really wanted to talk about is a core but unacknowledged truth in the west’s endless – but lately more aggressive – attempts to overthrow the government of the Russian Federation, and replace its leader with a compliant western-friendly liberal who will bow to western whimsy, and cease competing on the world stage.
I was reminded of this core truth once again at the sight of US Secretary of Eating Everything Not Fast Enough to Get Away, Mike Pompeo, conferring with Eye of Earthly Wickedness Binyamin Netanyahu, and the former’s rote blathering that upheaval in Iran is because of ‘people seeking freedom’ from the ‘kleptocrats’. And it is this.
The people of Russia – and of Venezuela, and of anywhere else the United States and its western allies decide to go in and cause a big disturbance in an effort to change the government to one which will let them have a free hand – have only the word of the regime-changers that prosperity and peace will be theirs if they only cast down their leader, and loyally serve the hand-picked western replacement.
What does their track record look like? The west overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and took control of the country. The GDP growth last year was -1%, and that was even an improvement over the previous year, when it was -3.8%.
Unemployment was 14.8%, the inflation rate was negative and per-capita GDP had declined by every metric. Freedom isn’t free, you know.
How about Libya, another target of the regime-changers?
Growth is sporadic, to put it mildly, again the inflation rate is negative, and unemployment is 17.3%. You probably noticed that massive growth spike right after the government was overthrown, and if you pushed out the viewable period in the Iraq chart, you’d see it there, too. That results from the west conducting an aggressive round of debt forgiveness following its successful conquest, and pouring in money in the short-lived hope of making the country a capitalist paradise.
Ukraine? I’m glad you asked. The growth figures for GDP look pretty respectable.
However, in the midst of all this prosperity, the country is running a current account deficit of $651 Million USD, and a trade imbalance of – $1.2 Billion USD. How is that possible? Actually, it’s pretty easy, if you are living on handouts and loans and spending everything you are given. At no point since the Glorious Revolution has GDP growth ever attained what it was in 2010, under Yanukovych. Regular hikes of utility costs in a country where a quarter of the population lives in poverty are all part of the western plan – before the revolution, western whizbang economist Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister of Sweden, said that generous state subsidies on utilities were making Ukrainian business uncompetitive, and the people lazy about efficiency. Good to see they’ve cleared that up.
Once more; the Russian economy is not only growing, it is hardening against shock from without by increasing domestic productivity and self-reliance. It is accomplishing this in the face of a nasty and deliberate campaign to ruin it. Countries the west has already despoiled and taken over are failing, in spite of western efforts to make them a success. Russia’s resilience is mostly the result of sanctions, and efforts to tell you it is mostly down to luck and good weather are mendacious. Luck and good weather would not have motivated Russia to undergo a revitalizing of its agricultural sector to take it from a net importer to a net exporter without the impetus of sanctions.
But don’t take my word for it. If sanctions are working for the west, and all is unfolding according to Washington’s plan, keep them in place. Although truth be told, it probably would not make much of a difference if they were dropped. Russia would not immediately begin accelerated imports of American pork and poultry, and the precious French cheese it cannot do without.
I know that’s not the popular view. But tell me how it is.