Putin the Rat Bastard
Vladimir Putin appeared on American TV last week, specifically on CNN’s Larry King show, and openly threatened the people of the United States. If they dare to try to protect the people of Europe with defensive missile technology, Putin said, then Russia “will be simply obliged to protect its own safety by different means.”
Journalist Con Coughlin, expert on international terrorism, writing in The Telegraph:
Just how far is the Obama administration prepared to go in its misguided attempt to befriend the Kremlin? First, it caved in to Russian pressure and cancelled the missile defence shield planned for Eastern Europe. Now it is prepared to turn a blind eye to Moscow’s somewhat cavalier attitude to the rule of law and respect for human rights.
All these blandishments are being offered in the forlorn hope that the Russians can be persuaded to play a more constructive role in resolving the threat posed by Iran’s illicit nuclear programme. President Barack Obama has ordered his officials to pursue a more pragmatic relationship with Moscow – which last March led Hillary Clinton, his secretary of state, to make a clumsy attempt to repair relations by presenting Sergei Lavrov, her opposite number, with a joke “reset” button.
But if Mr Obama thinks that grand gestures can persuade the Russians to ditch decades of anti-American hostility, he should think again.
The President-elect [Barack Obama] made it clear that it will be important for the United States to engage with the ongoing dialogue with Russia, because we all have mutual interests. But we also make that crystal clear that that dialogue does not come at the expense of the security of Georgia, the sovereignty of Georgia, the independence of Georgia; the rights of its people or our interests here that are expressed in unison with the European community. I believe we can have a good relationship with Russia and restore a balance with respect to the interests of this region so that the sovereignty of Georgia is properly respected and so we all go forward respecting the appropriate rights of each state. So there are a clear set of principles on which we begin that kind of discussion and Russia understands that.
My judgment is that Georgia as a sovereign country needs to be upheld and respected. And the agreement that the Russians have signed up to needs to be upheld. I think we need to get the focus back from discussions of the August events and how they may unfolded to the realities of what is happening on the ground today and what we need to do to go forward in the interests of protecting the [human] rights and finding an appropriate accommodation that respects the law and the sovereignty.
The Congress of the United States and certainly the United States’ Senate will be deeply committed to continuing our assistance to Georgia, particularly in this time, when the economy is stressed and we recognize the very real importance of Georgia and of its ability to be able to sustain itself during this troubled economic times. This is about Georgia’s efforts to protect its sovereignty; to protect its people and to stand as an example of what freedom and democracy can provide.
–U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry, Tbilisi, December 13
Writing in Commentary magazine (one of our family of commenters tipped us to the piece) Arthur Herman, the author most recently of Gandhi and Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age, blows away the neo-Chamberlainian cowards who recklessly seek to rationalize Russian aggression in Georgia. There’s much more to the extended piece, click the link to read the rest. The critical point is that we here in the West have people are are willing to take Russia’s side in this dispute, and who can do so in the most lofty public venues. But where are the Russians who are able to take Georgia’s side in the mainstream Russian media? You will not find them, because they are censored and because they would be killed if they were not and dared to speak. Thus, Russia like the USSR before it languishes in ignorance, unable to reform and doomed to failure.
On September 1, the leaders of the European Union, having already warned Moscow several times of its obligation to meet the terms of the cease-fire agreement with Georgia, held an emergency meeting in Brussels and decided to—issue another warning. If Russia continues its non-compliance, the leaders threatened, another warning may yet follow.
Such are the pitiful realities of international diplomacy, and of an all too familiar Western pattern of response to acts of blatant aggression by powerful dictators. It is embarrassing enough when governments, with responsibility for the security of millions, resort to such hand-wringing hesitancy. It is worse when analysts and critics who are free to speak their minds on everything under the sun start looking for reasons to avoid placing blame for aggression squarely where it belongs—on the aggressors—and instead strive conspicuously to spread it around among the bystanders and even the victims.
Vasko Kohlmayer writing on FrontPageMag:
Yesterday, Vladimir Putin blamed his country’s financial woes on the United States, condemning the “irresponsibility” of the American government, yet failing to acknowledge that Russian aggression has had a big impact in unsettling global confidence in Russia’s economy. Putin’s condemnation is just the latest in a long list of antagonism on the part of Russia. Recent events have made it amply clear that Russia is not only positioning itself as a resurgent superpower, but as a foil to the United States. Russia’s actions also make it obvious that the overriding principle of its foreign policy is to thwart America’s efforts around the world. Russia does this by arming and supporting America’s enemies, undermining and intimidating America’s allies, and subverting America’s policies whenever and wherever there is an opportunity for so doing.
Here are just some of the actions that Russia took in the last few months:
Newsweek interviews the President of Poland:
During the war between Georgia and Russia, no European leader denounced Russia as strongly as Poland’s president, Lech Kaczynski. He has also been a fervent backer of U.S. plans to deploy 10 interceptor missiles on Polish territory. U.S. and Polish officials signed the agreement for the missile shield soon after Russian troops crossed into Georgian territory. While visiting the United Nations last week, he talked with Andrew Nagorski, a former NEWSWEEK senior editor and now director of public policy at the EastWest Institute. Excerpts:
NAGORSKI: What lessons did we learn from the conflict between Russia and Georgia?
KACZYNSKI: First, Russia wanted to carry out an annexation of two provinces. Second, there was an attempt to topple the government. The West was capable of one thing: not allowing this toppling of the government. Third, this has huge strategic importance for Europe. I’ve been pushing for years for building alternative routes for oil and natural gas on a big scale from Azerbaijan—and, maybe in the future, from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan—that would bypass Russia. The attack on Georgia has made this more difficult.
NAGORSKI: You ‘ re convinced the Russians wanted to depose the Georgian government?
KACZYNSKI: Yes. My intervention and that of the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and some engagement of the United States, forcing the engagement of NATO and, the least willingly, the European Union caused the Russians to not go for that. They always act with different options in mind, and that was the optimal one for them. They left the territory of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to occupy part of Georgia. The Russians showed a certain helplessness on the part of the West. That’s terrible because the West is much stronger than they are.
What do you see when you look into HER eyes, Mr. Putin?
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, writing on the Polish website Gazeta:
For much of the past month, the world’s focus has turned to Russia. We took up the urgent, initial challenge of supporting Georgia after the Russian attack – a challenge that Poland was instrumental in meeting. The main question going forward – which I addressed at length in a speech last Thursday – is, what do the events of the past month mean for Russia’s relationship with the world, especially the United States and Europe?
The circumstances surrounding last month’s conflict are well-known. Mistakes were made on both sides, but the response of Russia’s leaders – invading a sovereign state across an internationally-recognized border, and then seeking to dismember it by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia – was disproportionate. And the responsibility for this behavior lies not with Russia’s neighbors, not with NATO enlargement, and not with the United States, but with Russia’s leaders.