- Posted September 21, 2012 by
Robert Eringer should be stopped]
The Viennese have a day-to-day understanding of the differences between doing business in both regions, and many of us have seen the total turnaround of our eastern partners from socialist to democratic state with functioning economies. When the eastern markets opened, telecom companies set up a base in Austria to buy mobile phone licences from eastern state governments, which owned all the licences. Distribution companies also came here to plot their route into new markets. Not only was it geographically close, there was also plenty of local knowledge to help them succeed.
It’s a shame that Robert Eringer never bothered to spend some time here. The American writer, who describes himself as a spymaster and novelist, has started an ugly hate campaign on his blog Monaco Intelligence against Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin.
The blog is clearly rightwing American, and it sounds like the author listens to the scandalous news network Fox News a lot. Eringer writes almost daily about Putin, mostly turning a random bit of information into a propaganda piece on par with Glenn Beck, the deranged Fox News host who was eventually so out of order by comparing everything to the Nazis that the network let him go. Austria also leans to the right, and I have heard some ugly propaganda in my 15 years as a political correspondent with a leading newspaper here. But Eringer’s blog posts are gob-smackingly tabloid, inaccurate and self-centred. He says he wants to overturn the tyrants of the world, but since he is virtually unknown, he has clearly decided that red top polemic is the best way forward. I am here to tell him it isn’t. Criticism has to be constructive to be taken seriously. Monaco Intelligence shows the worst of the internet: an angry man, who is able to publish false and vicious rumours and stories. He should be stopped.
If Eringer ever operated on an international stage or had a professional career in any sense, he would know to treat his subjects with some respect. Instead, he made up childish names like Polonium Putin or Gadaffi Duck. This is the kind of behaviour I occasionally witnessed from technical staff on the sidelines of big conferences, but if you want to be heard, you cannot behave in this indignant manner.
Putin has any number of critics, and the current controversy around Pussy Riot and possible intervention in Syria is likely to increase that number. But sinking to such a low and publish propaganda and potentially libellous reports is unacceptable. The former Soviet Union was a monstrosity of bureaucracy, held together with the iron hand of communism. When it fell apart, it was never going to become a proWest nation of ethical entrepreneurs overnight. Credit where credit is due, and Russia is prospering under Putin economically.
Eringer is welcome to come to Vienna and talk to the locals. It might help him gain some respect for the leader of Russia by understanding what a colossal undertaking it is to turn Russia around. But of course, it is easier to sit in his Californian house and write ill-informed rants about a man he has never met. It is easier, and also much more cowardly than to face reality.