From Russia with Lies
On Wednesday, the highest American diplomat for Russian affairs accused the Kremlin of breaking its promise to French president Nicholas Sarkozy regarding the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia. Daniel Fried, visiting the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, stated: “The cease-fire accord negotiated by Sarkozy requires Russian armed forces to withdraw to their positions before the outbreak of hostilities. The Russians haven’t done so. They’re in compliance with some of it.”
The same day, the government of the Netherlands released a report finding that Russia had used cluster bombs against Georgia during its barbaric invasion of its tiny neighbor, and in doing so murdered a Dutch TV cameraman. Russia continues to deny ever using cluster bombs in Georgia. The Dutch foreign minister was outraged, and stated: “I have made that clear to the Russian authorities. Cluster munitions must not be used in this way. There were no troops present in Gori and innocent civilians were killed.”
No regular reader of this blog can be the suprised in the least by these latest conclusive proofs of the fundamental dishonesty with which Vladmir Putin’s government carries out its foreign policy — a level of mendacity which can only properly be described as neo-Soviet in character. Putin’s government, totally dominated by proud KGB personnel, is simply and pathologically incapable of telling the truth about anything at any time to anyone. It lies the way most people breathe.
And just as the Putin regime lies about foreign policy issues, it lies even more braznely about domestic problems. Our other editorials today document the Putin regime’s catastrophic failure in both economic stability and stability in the breakaway Caucus regions, the only two pillars upon which Putin’s claim to power rested. Instead of seeking to reform, the Putin regime is simply lying to the people of Russia about these failures, hiding them in the same way the USSR always did. Having crushed opposition political parties and independent media and local government, and having brutally cracked down on the Internet, the Kremlin is free to do so.
This is the path Russia’s “leaders” have chosen for the people of Russia, and this time the people cannot rationalize themselves as “victims” of the Kremlin. The Russian people themselves chose to fill the Kremlin with KGB spies, knowing full well there could be only one policy course pursued by such individuals. Not once since the fall of the USSR have Russians been governed by someone who was not part of the Soviet system, not once in fact have they even conducted a contested democratic election between two non-Communist political parties.
So how is the world to respond? No option is available other than the same response we gave to Russia the first time it behaved this way, when it was called the USSR. The USSR was ostracized from the community of nations, who began by assuming that not single words spoken by its rulers could be trusted. Standing alone, the USSR proved totally incapable of meeting the basic needs of its population, and bankruptcy ensued — followed by total national collapse.
And the world can take comfort from the fact that Putin’s Russia is a shadow of the USSR. If we act now to confront it, not allowing it to further consolidate its maligant grip on power, we can defeat the second coming of the KGB and put Russia on a path towards civilization.
We must do so not only for our own good, but for the good of the Russian people.