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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

INSIDE RUSSIA: Kosovo Unites Russia Behind Safe Little War




In 1994, President Boris Yeltsin, having decided that society needed a victorious little war, took on Chechnya. The results are well known: The Russian budget after that war looked exactly like Grozny after it was stormed, and Chechens who before the war had earned a living with false letters of credit and train robberies restructured their economy and got involved in kidnapping for ransom. Meanwhile, Russian soldiers, who sold their own weapons and even their own comrades in Chechnya, are to this day convinced that they lost the war because of the treachery of their own generals. Even though the generals did not betray anyone but were, like the soldiers, simply doing business, only on a somewhat larger scale.


The war in Chechnya proved that in a corrupt state, everyone is corrupt: the officials, who allocate money for "lifting up the Chechen economy"; the bankers, who deposit that money in their accounts; the military men, who bravely report that a building supposedly erected with budget money was destroyed by Chechen fighters.


Last week, the Americans handed the Russian state a wonderful gift when they began to bomb the Serbs. Russia got the opportunity to conduct a virtual war, one with positive consequences only, without the slightest hint of the negative.


Judge for yourself. War raises, in a natural way, a nation's spirits to unforgettable heights. This war has united the nation around the president and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who, with a maneuver that will be known to posterity as "Primakov's loop," proved it is possible to perform top-level political aerobatics even in a civilian Tu-154.


It is now almost indecent to bring up the Cabinet's inept economic policy, alleged corruption of the president's family, Federation Council scandals and the adventures of a person "looking like Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov." True, mudslingers like Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov shout about turning the imperialistic war into a civil war, but public opinion obviously is not on their side.


Most important is that all of these tremendous benefits are being obtained for a laughably low price. We are not fighting. They will be going home in zinc boxes, not us. We have the war on television, comfortable and safe: We sit at the table, drinking vodka and munching mushrooms while we watch the Americans bombing the unhappy dictator Slobodan Milosevic. Russia cannot lose this war because it is not carrying it out. It is also not in a position - thank God - to steal money from this war.


On the other hand, the Russian government automatically becomes consumed with patriotism at the sight of American bombers, the way a dog salivates at the sight of meat. Granted, it is patriotism of another type. The prime minister is ready to come to the defense of Milosevic's national-totalitarian regime, but not ready to stick up for Russian metals producers that American lobbyists forced out of the U.S. market. Russia, in the name of the Serbs, is ready to risk a sovereign default, but Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Kulik asks the United States for "food aid" that will bury Russian agriculture once and for all, but bring huge profits to the Roskhleboprodukt company, headed by Kulik's friend Leonid Cheshinsky.


But such is the patriotism found in a country not involved in military actions. It is completely harmless to those against whom it is directed, and completely destructive to the patriots' own economy.