Russia's one-man army of darkness

Russia is a country that has yet to come to terms with its history. Russian public opinion is sharply divided on every one  of their previous General Secretaries and Presidents, with the exception of relatively minor figures like Malenkov, Chernenko, Andropov, and... Lenin? For whatever reason, Lenin, the man who led the October Revolution and founded the Soviet Union, has received considerably less public attention than his succesors. 

Recently, though, Lenin has re-entered public consciousness as Russians have begun to debate whether the government should move Lenin's corpse from its present location in Red Square, where it is publicly displayed in a mausoleum, and bury it elsewhere. (Instead of making any predictable jokes, I refer the reader to an unrelated FP post on zombies.)

Today, Sergei Karpentsov provided Russians with a third option: perhaps after watching one too many horror movies, Karpentsov, armed with a gas-powered pistol, attempted to break into Lenin's tomb and shoot his corpse. After being arrested, Karpentsov declared that

"My main demand is the quick bulldozing of the mausoleum which contains the body of the anti-Christ...I wanted to open fire on the tomb with an assault rifle but I was advised not to do that in case the tomb is armour-plated."

Later, Karpentsov added that "I have drawn attention to this issue with my actions."

Yes you have, Sergei, yes you have.



Global Times readers fire back!

The nationalist Chinese newspaper Global Times posted on their home page a translated summary of my Time piece on the next decade in US-China relations, "The Indispensable Axis," as well an accompanying essay on "The Next American Century" by Andres Martinez.

It's been interesting to watch the comment-board in action. Wham-o!

My piece, for what it's worth, was neither a chest-pounding defense of America, nor a finger-wagging aimed at Beijing. Like many younger writers on China, my broad views were set neither by 1989 nor by Cold War memories of how two superpowers uneasily coexisted, but by reporting within China, where there's much news and many people to be admired. Yet, here's some excerpts from what this particular sliver of Chinese netizens thinks about U.S.-China:

  • The US is an evil country, whoever befriend with it will suffer.
  • China is the enemy when it does not obey and upset the US. China is a friend when the US needs to use it. 
  • China has history of 5000 years, diligent people, and harmonious society. As long as we work hard, China will become the most powerful country in the world and the US will be underneath us forever. 
  • The US wants to be a new axis with China? Is it an axis of justice or axis of evil? China befriends with everybody in the world and the US makes enemy around the world! The Americans only wants China to do the nasty job for them. It is nonsense that the US will consider China is the same as them.
  • The US is the most super shameful and inglorious country.
  • Wake up, we should discuss G2 50 years later. Now China can only conceal its ability and bide on the time.
  • The US is encouraging itself because it knows it lacks in confidence now.
  • Nobody believes that the US will not suppress China.
  • Simply put, the US wants China to share the same obligation with it. Those reports who praise China always have different meanings and purposes.
  • The debt crisis in Greece is the conspiracy by US Goldman Investment Bank. The purpose is to knock down the Euro and maintain the hegemonic status of USD. China has to be really careful because the Americans are the contemporary evil who will do anything.
  • Japan, Korea, and Vietnam ... can hardly be regarded as countries. They are just the menials of the US.

Although the opinions of a vocal minority hardly represent the majority, it's worth dipping into the Chinese nationalist online zeitgeist now and again. China's leaders increasingly do care about public opinion, for reasons of public security if nothing else. And just as Americans object to what they may interpret as President Obama kow-towing to a foreign leader, China's leaders feel domestic pressure to appear tough. Before assuming that every Chinese official's statement about the U.S. is made with an American audience in mind -- quite often remarks by Hu and Wen are meant to send signals at home -- it's worth knowing what charges and vitriol China's leaders have to keep in check.