Remember how we hailed the implosion of the Soviet Union two decades ago? How were we to know the poison from that eruption would infect the rest of the world?
Today, the “Russian mob” has spread all over the globe. The Associated Press reports this morning that “at least 69” mob suspects have been arrested in a Europe-wide crackdown. They were charged with robbery, drug smuggling, money laundering, and other crimes. Spain arrested 24 suspects over the weekend, and more arrests followed in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
These are not the “communists” America feared so much for so long. They are criminals motivated only by money. And their tentacles have penetrated not only the international underworld but also legitimate business institutions, creating much of the turmoil in financial markets in recent years.
What’s even more alarming is that gangsters from the former Soviet Union have infiltrated political institutions around the globe. After the Soviet collapse, organized crime invaded most of the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union at every level of government and then quickly spread through Central Asia. Now, there is evidence of the infection in other countries as well.
The emergence of ultra-conservative Avigdor Lieberman (photo at left) as Israel’s Foreign Minister might be a symptom of this epidemic. Some political foes call him a “certified gangster.”
According to press reports, Lieberman is so accustomed to being under police investigation that he constantly switches his phone numbers and removes the battery from his cell phone during private meetings. Israel’s National Fraud Squad recommended on Aug. 2 that Lieberman be indicted for money-laundering, accepting bribes and obstruction of justice.
According to Time Magazine:
The focus of the police probe centered on Lieberman’s alleged ties to a string of shell companies, one of which was run by his 20-year-old daughter, now a multimillionaire. The liberal daily Haaretz reported that the police are curious about an estimated $3 million that the company headed by Lieberman’s daughter received between 2004 and 2007 for “business consulting” from anonymous sources overseas.
The former Moldovan nightclub bouncer insists he is innocent and he has not been indicted. Indeed, he seems to be gaining in political popularity. He has a large base in the million–plus Israelis who emigrated from the former Soviet Union (many of whom are accused by some Israelis of not being Jewish but Russians who wanted to get out of Moldova). As you might expect, the Moldovan emigres are intensely anti-American.
I suspect that this Soviet-bred animosity toward the west might be an underlying cause of the current diplomatic problems between Israel and America. Remember, it was Lieberman who made the ill-timed announcement (during Vice President Joe Biden’s Mideast peace trip) of plans to build more Jewish homes in East Jerusalem.
Yet he is highly regarded among not only his Israeli followers, but also among some American partisans of Israel. He is a key contact for neo-cons who urge a nuclear attack on Iran, for example.
The Israeli people and their American friends might want to take a closer look at Avigdor Lieberman and ask themselves what his motives might be. In an opportunistic quest for power, he could plunge the world into the real “mother of all wars.”