Thursday, December 27, 2007

Putin – Time Person of the Year

Perhaps the greatest service that TIME magazine can provide America is mercifully to end its journalistic farce selecting "Person of the Year." It has now reached the same meaningless proceedings of newspaper editorial boards endorsing politicians. Always an agenda is in play, these news organizations have the hubris to impose personal opinions with same cogency as reporting the news. A case in point was the "Des Moines Register" endorsing Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses... of the nine persons on its editorial board, eight were females... LADIES OF THE WORLD, UNITE.

TIME's pick of Vladimir Putin was an odd choice in that the Russian is certainly the man of the year in Russia, but not of the world; this is no matter what standard you apply. One can only speculate why TIME made the pick. Looking to publish TIME RUSSIA in Russia? Or, more likely, assuage neocon elements in the US who are trying to fan American antagonism toward Russia. Neocons are still outraged over Putin's kicking out their pals the "Oligarchs," who bought the country at bargain prices from the drunk Yeltsin.

Putin was characterized by TIME as the NEW RUSSIAN CZAR. Anyone who has any historical understanding of the political, social and economic power of the Russian czars understands that Vladimir's internal control does not approach that of even the weakest Czar, Nicolas II, before his downfall and slaughter by the Bolsheviks. The confounding thing in the article is that it scornfully underscores the interdependencies of the political and economic centers in Russia that sustain Putin 's power. It complains of the corrupt links between major Russian enterprises and the Kremlin. Well folks, that is capitalist greed. You may argue the degrees of difference between the corruption involved in GW Bush's passionate love affair big business and Putin's tight nexus with the business conglomerates that control Russia's oil, natural gas and mineral wealth.

Remember Putin has been effectively in power since 1999. He has a 70 per cent approval rate by the Russian people. In that time he has paid off a 200 billion national debt; has insured an economic growth at roughly 7 per cent per year; began major rebuilding of his armed forces[budget 70 billion]; and kept his country out of war. The Russian ruble has increased in value and stabilized on the world currency market. Putin has strengthened his political party... Contrast that to GW Bush's less than 30 per cent approval rate by the American people. Bush has created trillions of dollars of national debt; created two wars; after strategic warning, stood by as his country was attacked on 9/11; watched as US ground forces became stressed; he is losing the wars he started, unable to disengage. The US dollar continues to dive to the lowest historical level. GW Bush wrecked the Republican Party. Under these comparisons, Russian corruption appears more productive for its citizens than the US variety for Americans.

President Clinton's term overlapped Putin's rise to power only for a short time, but in that interval Clinton went out his way to encourage warm relations with Putin. Clinton did not have inept Condoleezza as his in-house Russian expert, nor neocons hell bent on converting Russia to their goofy brand of democracy Neocons forced the abrogation of the ABM treaty; stirred up trouble in Chechnya---then moved to the Ukraine-on to Byelorussia and the Baltic states. The Central European states of Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, all on the Russian border, were brought into NATO over Russian objections. VEEP Cheney and Bush on their international excursions hammered away at failures in Russian democracy. But the US invasion of Iraq was the US stroke that blew Putin's gasket. Saddam owed Russia a lot of money and promises of lucrative trade relations. All this was crushed by the US invasion, and the Russians determinedly pushed back on all fronts.

It developed close relations with Red China. Sold it military equipment and cooperated in joint military exercises. It held Iran's hand at UN as the US pushed for restrictive sanctions. Most recently, Russia provided Iran a nuclear power station in defiance of US policy; rolled out extensive military aid to Chavez's Venezuela that included small arms, fighter aircraft and submarines. It was not redux Cold War, but the Third World now has options other than the US and the European Union. Within the last few months Russia abrogated the intermediate range missile treaty in response to US plans to build missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Despite the bitterness in relations, Russia and the US still cooperate on fighting the international Jihad and control of nuclear materials.

Putin is by no means Ivan the Terrible or Czar Peter the Great--nor is he Stalin, "the Ghost who walks". The TIME article would make you believe this. Putin has his troubles which he solves "a la Rus”. He fights anarchy heavy handedly. There is plenty of corruption. His political opponents are weaklings in the country. Grand Chess Master Kasparov, who was an opponent in the last Russian election, ran with private funding from New Yorkers with his wife and children in the US. Kasparov even campaigned on US TV with the dated Refusenik neocon baloney. He was ridiculed in Russia for running his campaign in English.

Apart from cultural and historical differences between Putin and GW Bush, Putin is competent and GW Bush is not. Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret

*Photograph: Painting A Break in the Journey by Eveniy Starostin (1939-1977)

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems Russia is playing Cold War again with it's fleet and aircraft. I wonder what would be the impact if Russia, Turkey, China and Iran jointly agreed to remove the "joint forces" from Iraq? I hope Russia just sits back and enjoys the high oil prices, they are benefiting from.

VR

11:24  
Blogger Eugene said...

Hey,

I'm NycGuy from Caps. This is a great post, and I have a lot of personal interest in Russian politics and economics.

This is a great post, and a great blog.

Gene

03:19  
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