The aphorism penned by the English poet Thomas Gray 275 years ago is still relevant and resonates:
No more; where Ignorance is Bliss,
‘Tis Folly to be wise.
The ecstatic callowness of the media is jaw-droppingly stupid when it comes to opining on Russia in general and Putin in particular. Consider first these headlines from the Washington Post’s opinion page.
The will of Ukrainian volunteers shows how we will prevail over Russia by Iuliia Mendel
Even from prison I can see opposition to Putin’s war growing by Vladimir Kara-Murza
Putin is doing his best to out-fascist Mussolini by George Will
‘Realists’ have it wrong: Putin, not Zelensky, is the one who can end the war. by Michael McFaul
Note that the Post is making sure that no dissenting opinions appear. When you are running a propaganda op you must ensure that disquieting facts that challenge the party line are blocked. George Will, apparently mentally slipping in his dotage, does not appreciate the irony of labeling Putin a fascist while he–George Will–eagerly peddles the party line in order to please corporate and government masters. Ignorance is bliss, George. Ditto for Iuliia, Vladmir and McFaul.
But the most egregious example of ignorance presented as “news” comes courtesy of Yvonne Lau writing at Fortune. Did you know that Russia is on the ropes and headed for the dustbin of history?
‘There’s no path out of economic oblivion for Russia’: New report reveals how corporate exodus has already wiped out decades of post–Cold War growth.
The Western sanctions and widespread corporate exodus from Russia since Feb. 24 have ravaged the Russian economy—and its future prospects look even bleaker, according to a new report from Yale University researchers and economists led by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Yale School of Management professor and senior associate dean for leadership studies. It’s now become clear that the Kremlin’s “finances are in much, much more dire straits than conventionally understood” and that the large-scale “business retreats and sanctions are catastrophically crippling the Russian economy,” the researchers.
As of Aug. 4, over 1,000 companies, including US firms like Nike, IBM, and Bain consulting, have curtailed their operations in Russia. Though some businesses have stayed, the mass corporate exodus represents 40% of Russia’s GDP and reverses 30 years’ worth of foreign investment, says the Yale report.
The international retreat is morphing into a larger crisis for the country: a collapse in foreign imports and investments.
Russia has descended into a technological crisis as a result of its isolation from the global economy. It’s having trouble securing critical technology and parts.
Oh my God. How will Russia live without the NIKE’s made by slaves in China and the wisdom dispensed by Mitt Romney’s old consulting firm, BAIN. I can see Vladimir Putin now. He is curled up in a fetal position under his bed. Barefoot. Bereft of the latest pair of Air Jordan’s. Even more terrifying, he now realizes he is deprived of Mitt Romney’s pearls of wisdom. How can Putin and Russia survive without that titan of capitalism in his corner? Poor little Vladimir is sobbing inconsolably.
Okay. Back to reality. The claim that 1000 plus companies allegedly bailed on Russia is a total misrepresentation (I think the scholarly term is “bullshit”). The total number listed in the Yale study is 1382. Over 400 companies are still operating in Russia. Another 500 are listed as “keeping their options open” for returning to work in Russia. Only 311 companies have made a “clean break”. For the math challenged among you, that is a measly 23%.
Yvonne Lau article reminds me of a washing machine on super spin cycle. She offers up this ridiculous “reporting”:
Russia’s precarious economic position means that it faces even more dire, long-term challenges ahead.
Sanctions aren’t designed to cause an immediate financial crisis or economic collapse, but are long-term tools to weaken a nation’s economy while isolating it from global markets, the report said. And the sanctions are doing exactly that for Russia.
The country is losing its richest and most educated citizens as its economy crumbles. Most estimates say that at least 500,000 Russians have fled the country since Feb. 24, with the “vast majority being highly educated and highly skilled workers in competitive industries such as technology,” the report said.
Let us play the sanctions game. Name me one country in the last 80 years that has been brought to its knees and, because of the economic trauma, changed its government? Just one. Please!! Okay, I’ll save you time. The answer is NONE. Just ask Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela. Yeah, Cuba is a wreck but it did not produce anything other than cigars, rum, bananas and casinos.
Russia has some things going for it economically that none of those other “sanctioned” nations have. Russia is independent in terms of food and fuel. It also builds its own tractors, cars, planes, ships and trains. Did I mention that Russia’s dominance in the field of fertilizer means that foreign farmers who want to grow crops will have to cough up some rubles if they want a successful harvest?
Emily King understands why Yvonne Lau’s competence as a journalist is in question:
Russia is vast with abundant natural resources. While oil takes the headlines, Russia’s mining industry quietly provides many of the critical metals the world is dependent on for products ranging from air planes to fertilizer to electrical vehicles and more. . . .
The US (by contrast) is heavily dependent on imports of the most basic but valuable minerals for renewable technology, defense and hi-tech. According to the USGS, in 2021, imports made up more than half of US consumption for 47 nonfuel minerals, and the US was 100% net import reliant for 17 of those.
Of the 35 minerals or mineral material groups identified as “critical minerals”, the US was 100% net import reliant for 14, and an additional 15 critical mineral commodities had a net import reliance greater than 50%.
At some point, the idiot savants writing screeds for western publications like Fortune will wake up and smell the industrial and manufacturing fumes of Russia’s plants and factories. We are back to “projection”. Ignorant but credentialed reporters and pundits spew nonsense that is only going to deceive an equally gullible, ignorant public. But there is a cure. Read for yourself. Ask questions. Demand data.
Meanwhile, the ignorance is bliss crowd continues to dominate the corporate media and halls of political power in Washington, DC and London. But this comes at a cost. It is called reality. Just as Baghdad Bob discovered that his denial that US tanks were rolling into Baghdad did not make those beasts of war vanish, people like Yvonne Lau, Michael McFaul and George Will discover that Russians are not a stupid, slothful band of kulaks, passed out in pools of vodka laced vomit. Russia controls some critical industrial and agricultural trump cards and knows how to play them.
I close with one fun fact. Did you know that between 1942 and 1945 that Russia produced more tanks than the United States? Look it up.