My Chicago bureau chief writes a classic - I added a few paragraphs and the hotlinks but the majority of the writing is his.
Hello from Chicago. Well, the title to this post is a bit deceiving. I read this article from Business Week about Putin, the President of Russia. One line caught my eye:
"Unlike many a U.S. President, Putin has an impressive grasp of facts and figures and can discourse for hours on a range of subjects.”
Huh? The author of this article, Jason Bush (an ironic name), is diminishing the skills of our leaders in favor of Putin. Most likely, the author is ignorant of reality and is easily swayed by the selective memory that Putin features in his “Dennis Miller” style rants against the West.
If Putin really had an impressive grasp of facts and figures, here is my imagined speech that he would deliver about the history of the KGB:
Hello. My name is Vladimir Putin. I am the President of Russia. I was a Colonel in the KGB.
The KGB, along with the Communist Party and the military, ran Russia plus many conquered lands from the end of the Russian civil war in the early 1920’s into the 1980’s.
As part of the KGB, we were responsible for the deaths of millions and millions of innocent civilians. They were hanged, starved and shot in the back of the head. We created trumped up “crimes”, had a rigged trial, and delivered the punishment. The totals of the innocents cannot be accurately counted, but are certainly north of twenty million dead.
Originally, my agency, the KGB, was called the Cheka. It originated in 1917, when our leader Lenin was trying to stabilize the situation in his newly formed communist paradise. The primary job of the Cheka was to neutralize (slaughter) opponents of the state that Lenin created. The Cheka did a very good job for Lenin and we are very proud to lay claim to seizing the property of many independent farmers and killing them and their families in the most inhumane of ways, notably tying heavy rocks around their necks and pushing them into rivers and the innovation of using poison gas to eradicate whole villages where opposition was stiff.
Our name was changed from Cheka to NKVD in the 1930’s. The party came under command of one Josef Stalin who we were proud to help in the name of the motherland. With party support we managed to starve literally millions of Ukrainians to death in the thirties. As an aside, along with Stalin, we helped an American journalist, Walter Duranty, get access to our inner circle. We fed him false information and bribed him so he would not report the truth about this atrocity and he eventually won a Pulitzer Prize for the fake reporting in 1932 - still on display at the New York Times office of all places!
Also, during the thirties through our tenacious work ethic we were able to erect a series of camps in Russia called the Gulags. Basically they were prison or concentration camps for anyone we wanted to put inside. Millions froze to death, starved and worked themselves to death in these camps. We put inside everyone from chemists to political opponents to just normal Ivans who we didn’t like - and don't forget all of their children.
As part of the triumvirate of the party, the KGB, and the military, we left the country dangerously exposed to an invasion from Adolf Hitler in 1941. We ignored direct advice about the imminent invasion received from our intelligence services. Even though we outnumbered the Germans and had generally excellent equipment, we stationed our forces on the frontiers in non-defensive positions and allowed our forces to be obliterated. Only through years of hard fighting, aided by immense quantities of supplies and materials from the Western allies, were we able to prevail. We had a chance to save Warsaw during the uprising in 1944, but we stood aside and let the Nazis slaughter the population. After all, it was just fewer enemies for us to kill later. Interestingly enough, we had thought we had hidden the thousands of Polish corpses from the Katyn massacre very well, but they were found by the Nazis. The order from Stalin was to execute over 25,000 Poles, but there was only room in that particular grave for some 4,000.
After the war we shot all of the returning POW’s that we could find, because they might have picked up Western ideas in the prisoner-of-war camps. We continued our insane policies of persecution and Jewish pogroms, and slaughtered ethnic minorities such as the Ukrainians (see above). We put our brutal regime on helpless conquered nations and killed or imprisoned their patriots and intellectuals.
During the 1950’s through the 1970’s we squandered our nations’ immense natural resources of oil and gold, and we were able through astounding mismanagement to reduce the farming capacity of the Soviet Union to such a sad state that we had to import grain from the West. We polluted our cities and farmland to a degree that is unfathomable in the West, and whole areas of the country even today are basically uninhabitable.
In 1979 we entered into a brutal war in Afganistan and committed huge atrocities. We continued this pattern with the Chechens. As recent as ten years ago we massacred columns of refugees fleeing Grozny before we flattened the whole city with massive quantities of bombs and missiles. Based on these actions and many others, we have developed enemies on all of our borders that despise us and plot against us. We cultivated their hatred through our horrendous actions, and we continue to reap this harvest.
Our country is rich in resources and educated personnel. We were never occupied by foreign powers, except where our failures let Hitler almost defeat us in 1941-5. We imposed our horrible policies on our neighbors and minorities, creating generations of people who despise us and all that we stand for. We impoverished the country and threw away these advantages, and refused to persecute anyone for their crimes. Best of all, we supplied a great example for Mao to our south, who managed to triple our astounding figure of over 20,000,000 dead innocents.
Thank you for your time.