A Government of Tradecraft

This week La Russophobe is blogging about two pretty interesting articles. One, by Andrei Piontkovsky in the Globe and Mail about Iran and Russia, and the second, a fascinating analytical article by the AEI Fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht titled “A Rogue Intelligence State?” Here Gerecht notes how the “moral freefall” of the former security officers in change in the Kremlin have translated into Russian business tactics – a connection that not enough people seem to grasp:

There is another Russia-Iran parallel: in Iran it is difficult to separate the truth from frightful falsehoods because there is little transparency in the deliberations of the ruling elite. The result in Iran has been severe ethical corrosion as the regime’s disregard for life defines down what is acceptable. The politics of murder have left Iran’s political and intellectual classes in a moral freefall, where neither the killers nor the victims are sure of ethical boundaries. Dictatorships need these traditional barriers to keep their worst instincts in check. Russia’s moral freefall under Putin has probably weakened the ethical floor that keeps Russia from descending into the horrific domestic practices and immoral foreign policies that characterized the Soviet Union. Litvinenko played a significant role in advancing the story implicating the FSB in the supposedly Chechen bombings of Russian apartment complexes in 1999.[5] Given the ethics of Putin’s FSB, one can understand why the organization would have wanted to kill Litvinenko in an especially gruesome way. This political aggression is mirrored in Russia’s business practices. Countries such as Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Poland; multinational corporations like Shell; and–indirectly–much of Western Europe have felt Putin’s strong-arm tactics in oil and gas, or in his shutting down essential food and export markets.[6] Russia has explored the possibility of creating gas cartels with Iran and Algeria, which, if erected, could wreak considerable economic havoc in Europe.