A Guide to Nationalism

by Nathan Hamm on 11/3/2006 · 4 comments

Sometimes a link is so truly wonderful that it deserves far more than a small link in the sidebar. Kommersant’s “A Guide to Nationalism” (via Dan O’Huiginn who got it from DJ Drive) is one of those links. The article is a handy guide for Russia on how it can deal with the treachery of not just obvious foes such as Japan, the United States, and China, but also on how to deal with the sinister plotting of former Soviet republics seeking to cripple their proud neighbor.

Some of my favorite suggestions:

  • Ban the sale of Armenian cognac (as inconsistent with Russian concepts of clarity and taste) and lavash (as inconsistent with Russian concepts of bread).
  • Declare the Turkic-speaking population of the Northern provinces [of China] potential Russian citizens and convince them of the advantages of holding a referendum on self-determination.
  • Announce that all residents of Alaska are eligible for Russian citizenship and that the state has the right to self-determination.
  • Return the money of those who saw the horror films Night Watch and Day Watch and deport [Kazakh] director-scenarist Timur Bekmambetov for manipulating public consciousness.
  • Conduct sanitary inspections of restaurants that serve beshbarmak.
  • Label Salani Peak (formerly Communism Peak, before that Stalin Peak) Putin Peak on Russian maps, and Independence Peak (formerly Lenin Peak) Sovereign Democracy Peak.
  • Stop importing Daewoo Nexia and other Uzbek-made cars. Say they do not conform to the Russian car-buyer’s taste.
  • Conduct an unsuccessful rocket launch from Baikonur.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Brian II November 5, 2006 at 3:24 am

Or maybe it should read ‘conduct another unsuccessful rocket launch from Baikonur’. This is sheds some interesting light into the rising heat of the nationalist movement, and while cast as a comedy routine, there must be a relatively large group in RU that are nodding their heads saying ‘da’ to the suggestions.

A bit ironic that Kommersant is the same paper that was recently purchased by the group headed by the powerful Uzbek, Mr. Usmanov – that in itself lightens the tone, as apposed to such a piece showing up on some more state-controlled outlet. Nevertheless, the storm clouds are definitely growing against non-Russians in the state. Add to that the news that Gazprombank is looking to open branches in UZ and KG, and you see some interesting reversions back to an earlier time.

Josh November 5, 2006 at 9:22 pm

I think in particular if they crack down on beshbarmak they’ll face a revolt. It is clearly the tastiest food to come out of the former republics.

Michael Hancock November 6, 2006 at 4:57 am

I take great offense at the idea that beshbarmak is the tastiest food from the former republics. I like in Kazakhstan, and I HATE beshbarmak. At best, it is so-so, being nothing more exciting than unseasoned meat on top of a pile of flat pasta. At worst, it is down right disgusting. But, well, Josh is entitled to his opinion, and if it’s the Josh I think it is, then he’ll have to agree that there other foods worth mentioning in this category. Plov. Somsa. Shorva. I’m not a big mantiy or pilmeni/chuchvara fan, but they certainly are popular around here. And then there’s laghman. Who can say bad things about laghman?

Nick November 6, 2006 at 6:34 am

It’s interesting to note the way Central Asia permeates the current cultural consciousness; it’s not all about Borat.

There’s a political thriller called The State Within currently showing on BBC1 in the UK. I’ve only seen the first episode thus far, but it’s plot could best be described as a cross between Spooks and 24: terrorism, spies, political intrigue etc. eagle-eyed viwers will note the great Sharon Gless playing the US Secretary of Defense.

One of the characters is the former British ambassador to a Central Asian republic, who was ‘An out-spoken critic of President Usman and the human rights abuse he encountered in Tyrgyzstan. After his wife Saida’s death, became even more vociferously opposed to Usman. As a result he was recalled and subsequently fired from the job of Ambassador.’

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