For those of my Russian-non-speaking friends, to whom I owe explanation (rather than apology) of my unconventional attitude to World Cup 2018. (I did buy Red Devils t-shirt, when found one without championship symbol, however). Here comes a very free, unprofessional translation of half of an excellent FB post of Аркадий Бабченко , which better structures the feelings that made me declare that I wish this championship was the disaster and made me compare it to Munich in 1936. (Another, untranslated, half of Babchenko’s post is about how Putin bought his own people with this World Cup and peaced his until-then opponents into cheerful glorificators of new nation being born – but if you read at least the half I have translated – I will already feel better understood and victory of Evil against Good not so definitive).
Click on a link for original Babchenko FB post if you can read in Russian.
And below comes my (free, unprofessional) translation of first half of his text. (And because it’s mine, I felt free to bold the things I thought worth bolding – knowing how distasteful and patronising such behaviour is. Don’t tell me, how this WC brings out the worst of us!).
FIFA World Cup 2018 happened to be a critical moment for Putin’s power. And it looks like in this crucial moment Putin won. The crisis is over. He made it. One more time Money has hold victory against the Good.
The world’s best championship, FIFA lying at Putin’s feet and waving it’s tail, the presidents of France and Croatia in the stands, total unification of Russia in a feast of victorious football madness, kokoshniki (Russia’s traditional headdress) and happiness, and finally, as a cherry on the cake – the long-awaited meeting with Trump.
Three or four years ago, Putin could not even dream about it. No one talks about isolation anymore – Putin is again eligible for a handshake. No one of course is talking any more about strengthening of sanctions for a country that gave to the world such a wonderful championship!
Those who conclude that the meeting between Putin and Trump ended with nothing – are fundamentally wrong. It ended with Putin’s victory. There were two leaders who entered the negotiation room, each of them with his own super-idea. And what happened then? Arnold Schwarzenegger writes that Trump looked at Putin as a fan-boy would look at his idol – in anticipation to ask for an autograph. Quite an exact comparison.
However, I would rather talk about a situation where a petty starting bully is allowed to a dark backyard to meet an older, more accomplished hooligan, and he stands there with his mouth open and looks upwards at this totally grown-up, experienced criminal, who has already served his jail sentence. He looks at him as one would look at an unquestioned authority, semi-God, role model. You can see Trump’s envy and desire to be like Putin. Entrepreneur and the bandit – a story, as old as is the world.
The meeting between Putin and Trump ended with a handshake. End of a plan to strengthen the isolation of Putin’s Mordor. Now one can trade again. Dutch firms can continue building Crimean bridge, Germans – supply generators. One can again buy oil and gas, conclude multi-billion contracts. Boycott has ended. It is out of scope.
Advantages of autocracy compared to democracy. You cannot fight that. In democracy, every new leader starts his own dance from where he is. In autocracy, an irreplaceable dictator can, for years, for decades, push his line. So at the end he will succeed. I am convinced Putin will now succeed with Nord Stream 2. It will be built, no doubt.
On Internet, I found a statement with which I completely agree: if Hitler wouldn’t have rushed into action, but would have rather applied Putin’s creeping scheme – he would still be sitting on the throne, having absorbed half of Europe.
It seems that Putin is convinced in efficiency of his main idea: you can buy the West! You just need to persevere in your attempt: take your time, do it tediously, spare no money, pour it into all possible cracks. If door is closed – pour it through the window, if ten ventilation shafts have shut down – pour it into one that opened instead. Ultimately the West can be bought. If not one leader – then another. If not Sarkozy – then Macron. If not Macron – then Le Pen. Another couple of waves of refugees, and it is quite possible that France will have an inadequate leader with his own super-idea in head. If not Obama, then Trump. If not by washing, then by taking for a ride. If not through threats, then through bribing.
It seemed that this was only the beginning of standing against dictatorship, but no, it seems that this was its peak. Now the sinusoid will go down. Europe choose not to confront Putin. Europe decided to sit it and wait. Wait until Putin’s rule is over.
The same mistake is being made as seventy years ago. You cannot appease the dictator. Dictators do not understand this. You can only slap their hands; you can only confront force with the force. That is the only thing they understand.
But that’s only half of a trouble.
Very free and unfinished translation of FB post of Arkadij Babchenko FB post