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« No, Don't Repeal Jackson-Vanik, Just Graduate Russia Permanently | Main | Why Magnitsky is Good for Business »

March 14, 2012


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It seems that those Cold War warriors never learn new lessons.

1. I don't understand the logic that makes the author thinking that"graduation" instead of "abolition" would create a "pressure" over the Kremlin. What kind of pressure? Does he really believe that Putin would not sleep well because of a change of the word? Such childish game would simply irritate the Kremlin by its stupidity with negative effects for the US and zero effect for Russia.

2. I also cannot understand the logic of these guys who sincerely beleive that the US is in a position of teaching morale to Russia. The US forfeited their last moral credit in Iraq and around. A rebuke from a Swiss or Swedish human rights activist could be understandable (even if not useful) but from a US Cold War hawk - simply laughable.


Wikipedia is open for everyone to edit - why wouldn't you fix the inaccuracies?

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Egor, it's imperative that the US not *remove a law entirely from its books just because the Kremlin doesn't like it*. That's all. That's a pretty basic principle. There is no legal and lawful reason to remove the amendment to the 1974 Trade Act. It doesn't reference Russia or Jews. It references emigration from countries with non-market economies and therefore it applies to Turkmenistan -- and by the way, most relevantly, because there is a considerable Russian minority in Turkmenistan virtually held hostage from travel because of the refusal of the Turkmen government to recognize 1) freedom of movement -- it keeps a blacklist and b) dual passport agreements made with Russia. It has a punitive policy that forces Russians to chose Turkmen citizenship and abandon Russian citizenship if they wish to leave and return to Turkmenistan. This second issue isn't one that JVA can speak directly to, but the first one can, and the second is exacerbated by it.

It doesn't matter what Putin thinks or doesn't think. Russian can be graduated, the WTO regulations satisfied, and trade flourish -- but then, that's not really what this is about for the Kremlin. In fact, I wonder if even an annual waiver process would be enough to satisfy the WTO. Regardless, for the Russians, it's not about trade, and their insistence that they are interested in US jobs or revenue is ridiculous -- of course they don't care about that. They are putting up a huge fight about this merely because it injures their pride.

Augis, it's not true that Wikipedia is "open for everyone to edit". That's one of those hugely fake memes that Wikipedia purveys but it isn't AT ALL true. The editing cult at Wikipedia is arcane and exasperating and difficult. You can't just step in an edit a page. You have to first master their arcane editing rituals and doctrines. Then, if you clear that hurdle, you have to deal with dozens of Fiskers and ankle-biters of all sorts who want to put the passage back to its lefty Chomskian original in this case (there's a pervasive lefty ideology at Wikipedia that just won't quit and is hugely doctrinaire on a number of key controversies).

It's also definitely not true that "anyone" can edit controversial passages. Once a controversy develops or was pre-existing, the cabal of the few pre-cleared to handle these cases kicks in, and they are impossible to override -- all of this is worsened by the utter anonymity and lack of accountability of the Wikinistas.

A long protracted battle develops where one tries to prove the obvious -- like the temporary dip of emigration for one year can hardly be said to "harm emigration" if it was only a temporary bullying tactic by the Soviets before they finally began to allow emigration again and then it rose. After you make that statement, you then have to deal with the tendentious literalists who come in and insist that the passage remain because temporary effect is still negative effect and it still harmed emigration. No amount of obvious pointing to the next years will persuade them because they are hooked on their ideological notion that there is something "progressive" about the USSR and "regressive" about the US, so they are wedded to trying to show that trade sanctions "don't work". And on and on. It never gets fixed. It never even reflects that there are two points of view about this.

The kind of obnoxious assholes you have to deal with at Wikipedia are EXACTLY people *like you* who say literalist silly things like this when they know full well that open-source inanities like "patch or GTFO" don't apply to more complex political debates -- and they say them merely to troll.

Catherine Fitzpatrick

Egor, I also reject the tendentious moral equivalency involved in saying that America's sins means it is not entitled to urge other countries to live by their obligations. Human rights are universal. They are worse off in Russia -- full stop. We owe it to the victims of human rights abuses to stand up for them -- that's all. Trying to string this out to some hobbling of the American ability to intercede on behalf of victims of human rights doesn't work.

Two wrongs don't make a right. American can have done wrong in invading Iraq AND Russia can STILL be wrong about allowing murders to go by with impunity AND America gets to raise that issue.

It's especially important because of the Communist legacy of mass crimes against humanity.

Ilya Zaslavskiy

Egor, Putin and his crooks definitely can't sleep well when they see that JVA can see Russia graduated but replaced with the Magnitsky Act. How they are annoyed with that is proved by an amazing effort that Russia's untalented Minister Lavrov and FSB agents in Europe spend on trying to lobby against the passage of the Magnitsky Act.
Invading Iraq was probably a mistake (although many in current government in Baghdad and Kurdinstan will actually argue with that behind the scenes), but you know that unlike Russia the ruling party - Republicans - paid for that: they lost elections partly because of that! At least on that we can see democracy working. I have not noticed that Putin agreed to play fair and pay for his mistakes. There is no doubt that he forged the latest elections and avoided the second round in presidential elections. This is exactly why we neen foreign governments help us re-establish sense of democracy in Russia.

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