Resurgent McCain blasts Neo-Soviet Russia
Last week Senator and presidential candidate John McCain gave us Russophobes an amazing early Christmas present, delivering a blistering attack on neo-Soviet Russia at one of the world’s most prestigious institutes of foreign policy, Johns Hopkins University. The speech was immediately touted by conservative pundits as a declaration of war by the newly empowered Republican Party upon the craven appeasement policies of the Obama adminstration.
McCain pulled no punches. He called for massive new shipments of arms to Georgia, condeming Russia for continuing “to occupy 20 percent of Georgia’s sovereign territory” and “building military bases there” and ”permitting the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in South Ossetia, and denying access to humanitarian missions – all in violation of Russia’s obligations under the ceasefire agreement negotiated by President Sarkozy.” He openly mocked the Kremlin, stating: “The World Bank considers Georgia the 12th best place in the world to do business; Russia is 123rd. Russia’s decline is a human tragedy, but it is also a geopolitical reality. Put simply, Russia is becoming less and less capable of being a global, great power partner with the United States.”
And that was just for starters.
He pointed out the stark differences between US and Russian interests, papered over by the craven Obama administration:
Whereas the United States has an interest in improving and deploying missile defenses in Europe, Foreign Minister Lavrov has called these systems ‘absolutely inadmissible’ and threatened to pull out of New START if we do so. Whereas we have an interest in beginning negotiations with Russia to reduce its stockpiles of tactical nuclear weapons, which are nearly ten times larger than ours, Russia is increasingly relying on those weapons as part of its military doctrine, as recent news reports may suggest. Whereas we have an interest in an open global energy market, Russia still uses its oil and gas as political weapons. And whereas we support the independence and territorial integrity of Russia’s neighbors, Russia still treats these sovereign countries as part of its old imperial stomping grounds.
Then he launched a devestatingly brutal and detailed attack on Russia’s human rights record:
Take the tragic cases of Russia’s last remaining independent journalists. A month ago, one Russian journalist who covered political movements and protests was beaten by attackers who broke his jaw, both his legs, and many of his fingers – a clear political message to other writers. No one has been charged for this crime. Another journalist who exposed corruption was attacked last year and left for dead, with brain damage so severe that he can no longer speak. He, too, had his fingers smashed, three of which had to be amputated, as did one of his legs. No one has been charged in this case either. Yet another journalist this year was beaten unconscious while covering a political rally, and then beaten further as he lay limp on the ground, by a gang of plain-clothes police officers. This attack was even captured on video, and not only were charges never brought against the officers, the victim was later pressured by authorities to accept blame for the attack himself. Sadly, I could go on and on like this, to say nothing of the many unsolved murders.
Russia’s beleaguered political opposition fairs no better than its journalists. I have met a few times this year with former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, who organizes peaceful political rallies to protest the lack of democracy in Russia, as is their right under the Russian constitution. But these rallies are often targeted and violently broken up by Russian authorities. And then there is the sad ongoing saga of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whose company was stolen from him, and who has languished in jail for seven years. When his sentence expired recently, new charges were manufactured against him. He is not being tried by a jury, just a single judge, and the political fix has been in for a long time. He could now face up to 12 more years in prison. If ever there were a case of ‘legal nihilism’ – of an affront to the very values of equal justice that we hold dear – the case of Khodorkovsky is it.
The same can be said about the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a tax attorney for an American investor who uncovered the theft by Russian officials of $230 million from the Russian treasury. Because of Magnitsky’s relentless investigation into this corruption, the Russian Interior Ministry threw him in jail to silence him. He was deprived of clean water, left in a freezing cell for days, and denied medical care. After 358 days of this abuse, Sergei Magnitsky died. He was 37. Not only has the Russian government held no one accountable, several officials connected to Magnitsky’s imprisonment and murder have actually received commendations.
Cases like these make a mockery of the idea that Russia is governed by the rule of law, and unfortunately, they lead to one of two conclusions: Either President Medvedev tolerates these injustices, or he is incapable of stopping them.
These words, coming from the Republican Party’s last candidate for president on the heels of the party’s devastating defeat of the Democrats in the legislative elecions, ought to send shivers down the spine of the reptilian dictator Vladimir Putin. Having endorsed McCain for president, we could not be more pleased or proud at his resurgence, and we urge him to continue the fight until the final reversal of Obama’s cowardly and shameful acts is completed and Putin’s clan of spies is driven from power once and for all.