Saturday, February 5, 2005

It's Too Surreal

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has been in Europe for only a few days, but already her trip has become too surreal. Among other things, she has been lecturing the Russians for not being sufficiently serious about democracy. According to this piece from the BBC, she met with the Russian foreign minister in Turkey, and told him not only that "Russia must do more to show it is committed to democracy if it wants deeper relations with Western nations", but also that "Russia must show it is intent on strengthening the rule of law and permitting a free press."

Meanwhile, at least one Russian has shown that he is very serious about democracy. On Tuesday, Mikhail Gorbachev was quoted in this article as saying:

[E]ven though I am a supporter of elections and of the transfer of power to the people of Iraq, these elections were fake. I don't think these elections will be of any use. They may even have a negative impact on the country. Democracy cannot be imposed or strengthened with guns and tanks.

Does this sound like a man who is kidding? He sounds pretty serious to me.

Clearly she wasn't talking about Gorbachev. So which Russians was she talking about? Who among the Russian elite has too little concern for democracy? Could it have been Vladimir Putin? He was quoted in the same article as saying he believed the election in Iraq was a "positive event" on the road to normalising the situation in the country. Sounds like a pretty good joke to me. This is the same Putin who earlier said the very idea of holding elections in an occupied country was "a farce", is it not? They didn't get a new Putin while I wasn't looking, did they? Oh well, maybe he was just being polite.

But what about the Russians who weren't being so polite? Who were those guys sitting in the corner, whispering and giggling? Could she have been talking about them?

According to our sources, they were having the following very quiet conversation:

Sergei: This is too surreal.

Ivan: Why? Do you mean because a diplomat of the United States is telling us what we must do to become acceptable to 'Western nations'? As if she had the authority to speak for any country other than her own?

Sergei: No, Ivan, that's not it.

Ivan: Well, why then? Is it because she talks to us about a free press when the major media in her country is quite the opposite? As if we haven't heard of Jeff Gannon?

Sergei: No, that's not it either.

Ivan: Is it because she lectures us on democracy when she represents a regime that has taken and held power illegitimately? Does she think we haven't heard of Ken Blackwell? Or John Conyers? Or the Free Press? Or the BradBlog?

Sergei: No, Ivan. Those are all good guesses, but you still haven't found the answer.

Ivan: OK, then. I give up. Why do you say this is too surreal?

Sergei: Because she can't be here. Because she's dead. Because she melted!

Ivan: What do you mean, she melted?

Sergei: Didn't you see the movie, Ivan? They threw a bucket of water on her and she melted!