Word of the day: Russophobia

Ever since I read the novel Poland by James Michener, I’ve been interested in Poland and its neighbors. Thus, I follow a few organizations which often talk about Poland, one of which is the Center for Eastern Studies(OSW) based in Warsaw. They run an online publication which explains what‘s been going on in Eastern Europe in detail. Today, I can across a Point of View article on their site which talks about Russophobia, which is the political and information strategy used by Russia to make its residents believe that the Western world hates/fears/wants to destroy Russia. All well and good. They run a propaganda machine and we understand that.

Reading the paper, I came across this quote, found in footnote 11 on page 16 of the PDF document –

He regrets that the “ungrateful” Ukrainians are dismantling monuments to Lenin, “to whom, after all, they owe the awakening of Ukrainian national consciousness.”

‘He’ is a former head of a Russian intelligence analytic group. The words above echoed in my mind and connected the dots with another topic I’ve read about today. What could I be thinking of while reading those words? Well, here‘s the quote –

“Those involved in this ludicrous case should recognize that the British Crown Jewels is precisely the right place for the Koh-i-Noor diamond to reside, in grateful recognition for over three centuries of British involvement in India, which led to the modernization, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratization of the sub-continent.”

Who said that? Historian Andrew Roberts, in regards to the latest case by an Indian group, asking for the return of the crown jewel, Koh-i-noor, of which they believe India is the rightful owner. Andrew Roberts, of course, disagrees.

Notice the similarity in the statements? The oppressive power, having trampled, abused, stripped of all riches and domineered over the oppressed nation, then assumes a state of victim-hood and faux-chivalry. “We gave you education, liberty, civilization and nationality, and this is how you repay us?”

Frankly, this ugly act is ill-suited to super-powers. They are aware of their transgressions and should accept their role in enslaving the masses of their colonies instead of acting like hurt Starfleet officers thwarted in their attempts to uplift the masses of an alien civilization.

The fact of the matter is that the Prime Directive has only been a myth of science fiction and history has always shown that the greater power will only suppress the lesser, no matter how much their historians wax eloquent about the noble goals with which these super-powers stepped on foreign soil. At the end of the day, this propagandist Russophobia and this false British victim-hood isn’t fooling anyone.


“Which way to Svoboda?”

I was reading a BBC news report of how, recently, pro-Russian sites are popping up in the Czech web sphere, which could allude to some serious USSR-style propaganda. The article referenced the 1968 Prague Spring, which was when the then Czechoslovakia government tried to establish reforms which would lead to freedoms to the press and private sector, the division of Czechoslovakia into Czech Republic and Slovakia and a general upliftment of the people who were suffering cruelly under the rule of the Soviet Bloc. Needless to say, Soviet Russia didn’t take kindly to this and, along with their friends of the Warsaw Pact (Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and East Germany) attacked Czechoslovakia to take back control.

Of course, they won. Even with the way things were under the USSR, they had tanks, weaponry and manpower and Czechoslovakia had, well, a leader who told his people not to resist. But resist they did. Without the necessary means to win the war, they resisted in the only other noble way – confound the heck out of the enemy. In the most peaceful way, road and street signs across the country were painted over or removed so as to completely confuse the incoming force.

The result was hilarious. Supposedly, one could see troops stopped in rural areas trying to study maps and making sense of how every village they’d visited was called either Dubček or Svoboda (which means freedom). Road signs were painted over, except those that led to Moscow. The result of that was that an invading force from Poland spent a day roaming around before being routed out of the country, empty-handed.

Now, these reports come from Wikipedia and further from two separate sources, but I’d say you should take them with a grain of salt regarding their veracity. However, the point to understand is that in those days, it was possible to confound an incoming force by the sheer ingenuity of changing your road signs and hiding all the maps. Of course, today’s military will simply whip out their iPhones and tell you where to invade next. But this episode lends importance to the idea that with the accumulation of power so dependent on finding your enemy, it is important to also control the means of finding the enemy in the first place. This is obviously the reason why countries like Russia, China and India as well as the EU are working to create their own version of the GPS system (which, mind you, is owned by the US Government).

Clearly, in tomorrow’s war, one of the first efforts will be to either block the enemy’s signals, thereby preventing them from finding our accurate locations. The other, more radical one, would be to try to shoot down their navigation satellites, a scenario that has given birth to more science fiction movies than we care to admit.

But, going back to that wondrous time when people still had to use maps and ask for directions from locals, I must say that it is remarkable that someone thought of the simple idea that perhaps one way of stalling the enemy is to paint over the signs which will tell them how to get to the capital. That’s your trivia for the day.