The Smiling Serpent If you thought comedy was dead, you obviously haven't heard of Strobe Talbott, the State Dept.'s factotum where Russian affairs are concerned. The Strobe used to be a Time hack, a man who took, and continues to take, himself extremely seriously.
The reason I find him so funny is simple. There is no bigger mess than Russia right now, but the Strobe, who should have resigned in shame five years ago, remains unaffected by the intrusion of fact and continues to bang on endlessly. If the Strobe were a politician, I would understand. Politicians have no shame, no honor and are as likely to fall on their sword as Hillary and Bill Clinton are to tell the truth.
But the Strobe is a hack, and he should know better. The great swindle that is Russia took place under his watch, and as William Pfaff wrote in The Los Angeles Times, "Ambition was involved... Strobe Talbott wanted the reputation of an important influence on reform in Russia, a country that always intrigued him."
But let's not be too beastly with the Strobe. He is only a Clinton-Gore catamite, yet another bald-faced phony working for the most corrupt administration since Huey Long bit the bullet. The real criminals are the Draft Dodger and the Bore. Here's William Pfaff again: "Bill's friendship with Boris, and Al's with Victor Chernomyrdin, served to identify them in the eyes of voters as patrons of the new Russia and as men of state. They used American resources to keep friend Boris Yeltsin in power?itself an inducement to corruption."
I don't think there has ever been a greater swindle in the history of the world. While visiting the Riviera last year I saw firsthand the scale of it. Sixty percent of all luxury yachts priced at more than $5 million belonged to Russians; 65 percent of luxury villas renting out at more than $100,000 per month were taken by guess who. Fifty percent of the clientele of the most expensive hotels in the area were Russkies. (Ironically, the house I used to rent on Cap d'Antibes, Les Cloches, included by F. Scott Fitzgerald in Tender is the Night, later on Irwin Shaw's favorite rental on the Riviera, is now owned by, according to some reports, Victor Chernomyrdin, as part of the Chateau de la Garoupe property that he reputedly paid for in cash to the tune of 70 million greenbacks!)
Back home in Russia, needless to say, things ain't what they used to be. People are practically dying of hunger, and child mortality is on an African scale. Every penny the American taxpayer sent over has been stolen. Still the Draft Dodger refuses to accept blame. Let me give you a little example of Clinton's handling of your money. Since 1995 $5.1 billion in aid has been provided for Bosnia. More than a billion has disappeared. Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic's son, Bakir, is allegedly one of the richest men of the region. Bakir shares in the extortion money extracted by Sarajevo gangsters from local businessmen and owns 15 percent of state-controlled Bosnia Air. These are the same people we shielded from the Serbs and into whose coffers have poured over $5 trillion.
Does it surprise you, then, that the average Russian sees an American moral complicity in the greatest swindle ever? American policy toward Russia since the Great Liar came to power has been one of amateurism and careerism. Clinton's self-aggrandizement as a man who knows how to conduct world affairs has been copied by everyone down the line, starting with Al Bore and the Strobe. According to Pfaff, "The central error has been Washington's persistent conflation of foreign relations with personal relations between individual leaders, disregarding the safeguards of traditional government to government relations." In other words, just like Madeleine Albright in Rambouillet, or Richard Holbrooke in Bosnia, amateur careerists both, the interests of both the West and the countries involved were sacrificed on the altar of self-aggrandizement and publicity.
One Stacy Sullivan commenting in The New York Times demanded that the Serb people face up to their crimes. "Washington should make all aid to the political opposition in Serbia contingent on acknowledging Serbian atrocities in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia..." he or she thunders. What crimes? asks poor little me. Those committed by their leaders, for which the greatest ethnic cleansing of Serbs took place in Krajina, or those committed by the unarmed Serb populace for which bombs rained on it for 79 days? The only acknowledging should be by the Draft Dodger, that he was much too vulnerable at home to risk a foreign affairs crisis, and alienate amateurs like Albright, the Strobe and the Bore. He has thus managed to turn Uncle Sam into a hate figure, and, for the first time ever, also an immoral one where Serbia and Russia are concerned.
Make no mistake about it. This is the dark side of American politics. And of the American media. Back in 1992 we had a candidate who had dodged the draft, had absurdly lied about pot smoking and marital infidelity, and pretended to be all things to all people. Despite the transparency of his lies, and the obvious lack of character, the media gave him a pass. And the people chose him over a man who had a long record of public service, including distinguished service during the war (despite the lies put out by Sid the Scumbag Blumenthal) and was as honorable a man as has ever served as commander-in-chief.
Now, nearly eight years on, we have the mother of a convicted drug dealer and wife of a convicted criminal, Geraldine Ferraro, suggest on national television that George W. Bush has drug skeletons in his closet. This is madness, Orwellian newspeak, the smiling wallet-lifter as hero. And again make no mistake about it: The smiling cobra making New York state rounds last week has to be in on it. The politics of personal destruction were invented by the Clintons, and Bill Clinton is as responsible for attempting to mire George W. in the shit as anyone. It is the Clinton style. I am willing to bet my last drachma that Bill Clinton has sniffed more cocaine than George W. has ever been near to, yet it's the latter who has to prove himself clean. As Jackie Mason says, the Clintons lie because they enjoy lying. Yes, Jackie, but they also lie because lying has been very, very good to them.