Michael McFaul’s easy, broken parallel

Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, has a blog on the site of Ekho Moskvy, the independent radio station based in Moscow. Commenting on the appointment of Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, he wrote:

It’s the equivalent of Putin appointing Alexander Dugin to the [Russian] Security Council and telling generals Bortnikov [head of the FSB] and Gerasimov [head of the general staff] to only attend when they are needed.

However Bannon’s and Dugin’s convictions may compare, their backgrounds and achievements are starkly different.

Did Alexander Dugin rise from humble, provincial beginnings to earn degrees from three top colleges? Did he serve in the army? Did he make himself financially independent by starting and running several businesses? Did he advise president Putin in a senior role in any of his three elections (2000, 2004, 2012)?

Dugin’s father was a military intelligence (GRU) officer, who would later reach the rank of lieutenant-general. The mother was a doctor. The family lived in Moscow. Dugin was admitted to a respectable college (MAI) but got expelled in his junior year (1981 or 82) for something that remains unclear, possibly politics. He avoided compulsory military service despite the expulsion.

Dugin has been philosophizing since. In 1989, he was kicked out from an anti-Semitic organization for “satanism and occultism.” There’s no record of his involvement in business or of his role in Putin’s electoral campaigns.

He’s been on TV lately. There have been reports of his visit to Turkey during the downed-plane crisis, but most of their details come from Dugin himself. He used to lecture on “geopolitics” at Moscow University (MGU), courtesy of its dementia-stricken dean of sociology. Now he’s the editor – Herausgeber – at a minor if malodorous TV channel in Moscow.

Which ought to tell us that Ambassador McFaul’s parallel is not particularly well-aligned. He might have considered pairing Bannon with Vladislav Surkov. While Surkov lacks a formal college education, he is a provincial who made a career in business before joining the government and serving, according to some observers at least, as the Kremlin’s propaganda chief for years.

As for the American counterpart to Alexander G. Dugin, one would have to plumb the depths of the occult for a suitable candidate.

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