New York Times' Paul Krugman betrays his utter ignorance of Russia

Bryan MacDonald
Bryan MacDonald is an Irish journalist, who is based in Russia
New York Times' Paul Krugman betrays his utter ignorance of Russia
Leaving the twelve months of mass celebrity expiration behind and welcoming a fresh epoch, I made a New Year bet with a colleague. That, before St Patrick’s Day, an established American media outlet would refer to its own government as a “regime.”

Now, it turns out I was overly conservative in my estimate. Because we haven’t even reached the end of January and the New York Times has already obliged. And €20 is winging its way to me.

However, what I hadn’t countenanced is how the first writer to break the proverbial levee would style the incumbency as “the Trump-Putin regime.” Which is a level of absurdity Samuel Beckett would have strangulated at conception. Not to mention, how the accompanying piece provides zero evidence of any Kremlin collusion in the US President’s projects.

Indeed, it now appears that just dropping the words “Russia” or “Putin” into an assault on Donald Trump, serves some bovine purpose amid the current American media “red scare” frenzy – no matter how irrelevant Moscow is to the subject on hand.

So, thank you Paul Krugman for helping me win my wager. And shame on you for yet another McCarthyite smear on Russia which betrays your pettiness and your utter ignorance of the country, best exemplified by the November assertion of how Trump was a “Siberian candidate” installed in office by some conspiracy orchestrated by Vladimir Putin and FBI director, James Comey. This was part of a cracked “tweet-storm,” which manifested as the ravings of a paranoid crank.

Xenophobic Insecticide

It appears that in his latest column, Krugman is attempting to paint Putin as the inspiration for Trump’s ‘Mexican Wall.” That said, it’s feasible I’m way off here, but given the poverty of the argument presented by the author, it’s my best guess.

Now, if the columnist knew anything about contemporary Russia, he would comprehend this. Here, the equivalent to Mexicans are Central Asian and Caucasus folk, from countries like Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Georgia and Uzbekistan. And without them, it’s fair to say the lights would go out in Moscow.

Nevertheless, in a situation very analogous to present-day America, multiple voices want them repatriated. Including Alexei Nalavny, who has been consistently painted as Russia's Great Liberal Hope by various New York Times' correspondents.

This is because everyone who opposes Putin - no matter how racist, criminal, deplorable, scandalous, conservative or Tory - automatically seems to transmogrify into a permissive and humanistic Gandhi impersonator in order to serve the enduring narrative.

Navalny has compared immigrants from former Soviet republics to vermin and suggested they need to be exterminated. “Cockroaches can be killed with a slipper, but as for humans, I recommend a pistol,” he ventured.

Disregarding this, supposedly 'right on' cat-video site Buzzfeed gave us “10 Reasons (sic) Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is Hank from "Breaking Bad.” Making him a sort of cuddly bigot. Or a hipster Enoch Powell.

Meanwhile, the most prominent Russian figure opposing the scapegoating of immigrants is Putin. Who has consistently rejected calls for visa restrictions on central Asians, and has said that Islam “has nothing to do with terrorism" and personally opened a new mosque in Moscow, which happens to be Europe's largest.

A Worthy Calling?

Krugman’s Nobel Prize - tellingly won for Economic Science, not knowledge of Russia - grants him a certain cachet amongst liberal globalists. It also suckers half-wits who overvalue a parchment which Bob Dylan didn’t even bother to accept in person. Thus, Krugman is a sort of pharos for folk who overestimate their own smarts. A kind of emblem of establishment putrefaction offering a mawkish, contrived routine for feeble-minded groupies. Something held in common with London's dreary, monotonous, pontifical and pompous Economist weekly.

For those of us who bother trying to understand modern Russia, the op-ed pages of most prominent US newspapers and magazines increasingly serve as blood pressure hazards. Populated by garrulous phonies, unscrupulous charlatans and warped, obstinate, shadowy, unsightly, belligerent gnomes. A considerable number of whom have choleric chips on their shoulders due to Russian misdeeds directed towards their ancestors. Which ignores the fact that almost every single living, breathing person from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok could have a bone to pick in this regard. Including most of the people employed at the Kremlin. 

If Paul Krugman had actually had a modicum of know-how on today’s Russia and not just macroeconomics, he’d be aware of how false his linkage of Trump’s immigration policy is to Kremlin’s. But he doesn’t, so he prefers to toss around orientalist smears against the perceived EurAsian ogre, like the dinosaur he is, framing his opinions around Cold War thinking. On the other hand, it’s also possible that he doesn’t want to know the truth, and prefers to dwell in ignorance. Believing how, to invert Edward De Bono, “If you change your mind, why have one?”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.