Posts tagged Potemkin village

Suspension of Peace Corps in KZ and “Pakazooka”

Seems what I thought were just rumors and rumblings is TRUE. Peace Corps will no longer exist in Kazakhstan because a few powerful people thinks it to be a fully developed nation with no need of outside assistance from American volunteers.  How do you spell “Pakazooka?”  I know that may be an insulting Russian word to some of those Kazakhs who are in the lofty positions of authority in Kazakhstan, however I think the word aptly fits.  Peace Corps volunteers give up two years of their lives to go to out of the way places in Kazakhstan where those in administrative positions in Almaty and Astana do not subject themselves to.  These two cities hardly make for a “developed country.”

I did not travel as much as I would have liked in this very large country of Kazakhstan, especially to see the western part where the supposed “oil money” is. Yet I saw enough just outside of Almaty and Astana to know there are still many schools and libraries that are woefully far, far behind any western developed nation. Pakazooka really means “just for show and without substance underneath.” No different than a Potemkin village set up in Ukraine that was supposedly to satisfy the powers that be while the Ukrainian people were really languishing in poverty.

Since I was a Peace Corps trainer  at the very beginning back in the summer of 1993 where we were housed at the “Bang Institute” I know the caliber of the Peace Corps volunteers as English teachers back then.  I know that they were very good volunteers willing to help where help was MOST needed in the educational systems in rural Kazakhstan.  I saw many quality PC volunteers since in the three and half years I was teaching in Almaty and Astana.  The following bulletin is just putting a nice face on what must be very bad politics underneath.  I’m reminded of this saying: “Pride goeth before the fall.”

Press Release of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan

November 18, 2011

On the work of the Peace Corps in the Republic of Kazakhstan

Over eighteen years the United States Peace Corps has fruitfully worked with Kazakhstan in accordance with the Agreement between the Governments of the United States and Kazakhstan regarding the activities of the Peace Corps in the Republic of Kazakhstan signed in 1992. During these past years, more than 1,000 Peace Corps volunteers have undertaken great and useful work highly regarded by the Kazakhstan side.

On November 18, Peace Corps informed of the suspension of their activities in our country providing a number of comments in this regard. The relevant release says the decision was made “based on a number of operational considerations” and cites the fact that Kazakhstan is one of the most developed countries in the world where Peace Corps has run its programmes.

Due to the fact that Kazakhstan has achieved great progress in the political and socio-economic development over the 20 years of its independence and today is a country with an income above average, we believe that the suspension of the activities of the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan is a rather logical step. As it is known, this organization assists mainly the least developed countries. In addition, many programmes of the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, in general, have come to their conclusion.

We proceed from the understanding that this decision is connected with an internal review of priorities, the adjustment to the organizational plans and the redistribution of volunteers to other parts of the world. As it is known, the spectrum of activities of this organization includes more than 70 countries.

We can state with confidence that US volunteers and our countrymen alike who benefited from the invaluable experience of communication and mutual cultural enrichment with this organization will remember all these years of effective partnership with warmth and gratitude.


Comments (3) »

“I Write as I Please” 1935 book (Part VII)

The philosophical question was posed by Walter Duranty of “Does the end justify the means?”  What were the “means” used?  That is why I am glad I read what Duranty wrote in this book published in 1935 despite the six or so pages missed by the scanner.  I am on a quest to find out what might have been purposely left off for the Web readers to know. Anyone can download this book by the above title, all 347 pages of it.

So, W.D. answers that perplexing question with the Soviet Goal being for the “betterment of humanity there can be no loftier aspiration.”  Yet earlier he wrote about the human cost.  My husband, ever the economist, claims the price of the Soviets replenishing not only the human capital wasted but also the livestock killed off took a staggering amount of time into many decades to return to what it used to be when it was just individual peasants in the vast land of the former Soviet republics.

WD wrote a poem in ee cummings style to writing a piece he didn’t believe in 1917 about the war, but he got good marks for it from his editors “I plead guilty to adding a little color on occasion.” [if that is not an admission to lying, as Malcolm Muggeridge claimed Duranty did, I don’t know what is]

p. 310 – American objection to communism, it is not only foreign but coercive and therefore repugnant to our love of personal independence

p. 310 Bridge from “rugged individualism” to “capitalist collectives” without involving coercive or violence or any of the sufferings which during past five years have attended the birth pangs of Soviet socialization. [these were not “birth pangs” as if a hopeful child was born but the death throes of civilization!!!]

p. 314 – W.D. asks the question “Why did Russian people endure such hardship without revolt?”

1) ruling forces had no choice Lenin’s famous speech of “Kto Kavo” (who beats whom?) according to him, no compromise was possible

2) poor peasants had more to give than those who were not as poor

3) propaganda – emotional “sturm and drang” of Great War of West

Sabotage trials – Kulak hate, Japan threat, rise of Hitler, machivation of foreign capitalists

Lenin solved puzzle – communist party + 100,000 tractors and modern farm machiner = rural socialism

Soviet War fought on two fronts – industrial and agrarian

Turning point of industrial victory came in the beginning 1932

Initial success in Moscow, Leningrad [used to be called St. Petersburg] and Kharkov [city in Ukraine]

Bob Lamont – son of Secy of Commerce in 1932, made a trip to stock raising  station, NE Caucaus, conditions not so bad, hearkens back to 1921 Famine or whitewash stories sort of modern Potemkin village.

Kalmikov – president of autonomous republic of Kabarda – heart of cattle country

p. 317 – Bob Lamont said when livestock dies wholesale “You can’t treat your pigs the way you treat your peasants. Pigs won’t stand for it, can’t coerce them with exile.”

WD had not been back in NY since 1926 much better conditions than Soviet press led to believe.

W.D. had admired Hoover because of his help in A.R.A. up to this point but then he did not agree with Hoover when he said that Russia was an “economic vacuum”

W.D. also didn’t like when Ogden Mills – Secy. Of Tres. told him that the US will never stand for diplomat relations with a government of atheists and unbelievers

July of 1932 W.D. was invited to Albany, NY by Gov. Roosevelt – W.D. found him broadminded – profound knowledge of Soviet affairs [that’s probably because he read whatever Duranty wrote in the New York Times]

p. 323 – Kaganovich – Political Tractor – Finish five year plan in four years

W.D. in April 1933 – flew through Ukraine on way to Constantinople – Solution to agrarian problem

WD asked about mortality rates in Ukraine when he stopped through

p. 324 – nobody knew – new people had come to Ukraine in place, so 9/10s were really new and didn’t know how many Ukrainians had really died during the starvation period of 1932-33

Roosevelt recognized USSR in 1933.

p. 325 one of sorrows of life of a conscientious reporter is that sensational stories are always the most interesting but the drab ones often the most true. [not sure what W.D. meant by that]

WD accompanied Litnivov to D.C. who claimed it would take a ½ hour to work things out with the two countries in talks, it took 10 days

18 month stagnation of being after agreement

July 1935 Litvinov and Am. Ambassador Wm. C. Bullitt

p. 328 in Britain – the British Fear God and human thinking while the U.S. – Americans Honor the President as People’s Choice

p. 329 – possession of wealth is regarded as a shame, the attempt to use wealth for personal gain or advantage is juridically a crime

What I don’t understand about Walter Duranty is that he criticized rugged individualism while he was trying to make his mark in the world by reporting what he thought on the “Soviet experiment.” This book titled “I Write as I Please” essentially would make him money or at least personal gain.  I’d be curious to know how much money he DID make and how he lived into his final years.  I understand that he died in the 1950s in Florida.  Any historians are welcome to help me out on this, I’m loathe to go to Wikipedia to find out what might be a slant on this man in his favor.

Comments (1) »