Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Putin, Loverly Putin
An excellent athlete, able to score goals even against the best professional hockey players on earth. Not quite able to leap tall buildings with a single bound but most certainly able to manipulate narcissist politicians with insincere flattery, able to plant doubt in the minds of too many American voters by “releasing ‘leaked stories’” (many seemingly “revised” before release), hacking servers of the Democratic party and penetrating a couple state voter rolls with hints that voting machines are next, and pretty much showing his own people that no one can stop Russian aspirations as the real global power. Ignoring the West, using economic sanctions as the excuse for his failed economy, “Strongman” Putin (see above picture) is all about re-focusing his peoples’ minds on extrinsic forces who lie, cheat and steal in their raw hatred of Russia. His people seem to be lapping it up.
Putin is about to join OPEC in a bid to control fallen oil prices, hoping to kick the price of oil up to boost Russia’s own fortunes. He is the supreme non-regional power in the Middle East, having ignored just about every entreaty from the United Nations and the West to stop Russian participation in the civilian carnage, having abrogated the potential of a sustained humanitarian ceasefire over Aleppo, where Syrian (Assad) and Russian bombs and missiles have pretty much leveled the city. Donald Trump wants to support his buddy, Putie, to stifle ISIS with Bashir al-Assad’s forces, pretty much guaranteeing that the Russian brand would rise globally almost as fast as American prestige is sinking.
Indeed, Putin has steadfastly aligned Russia with the Assad regime in Syria, lending such overwhelming military support that the murderous Assad regime is now solidly in control of non-ISIS-held Syria. That barrel bombs and gas attacks against schools, hospitals and other clearly civilian targets have been an intimate part of the Assad assault on his own people, using the excuse of fewer than a thousand rebels in Aleppo as an excuse to bomb that city into the Stone Age. Russia has been with Assad every step of the way.
Iran has wiggled closer to Moscow, as has Turkey’s Erdogan (even though Turkey is a NATO power). Middle Eastern emissaries are traveling increasing to Moscow – based pretty much on Putin’s willingness to supply brutal arms and military support to an even more brutal dictator. Everybody loves a winner.
As the Nobel Peace Prize has just been awarded to the Colombian president for trying to end a very long (52 years) civil war, an isolated Venezuelan President – whose country has steadily been unraveling in unprecedented economic misery – thinks Putin is da bomb… not exactly as I think of those words. The October 11th Washington Post explains:
“Putin has been blamed for airstrikes in Syria that have killed hundreds of civilians, including children, dooming a cease-fire his government helped foster but may have never intended to abide by. A Dutch investigation said the antiaircraft missiles that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014, killing all 298 people aboard, came from Russia. And the Obama administration accused his government of a hacking campaign to interfere with this year's U.S. presidential election.
“But Friday [10/7], the day the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded, brought him some welcome news: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro bestowed on Putin the Hugo Chávez Prize for Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples. Putin can put it on his mantel beside China's Confucius Peace Prize, which he won in 2011.
“Maduro, whose South American nation has been reeling amid a massive economic crisis, announced the prize during the unveiling of a statue (designed by a Russian artist) of his deceased predecessor, Chávez, in the latter's home town of Sabaneta.”
Maduro is as much of a global pariah as Putin himself, while heading a nation with some of the greatest oil reserves on earth. But Maduro is pretty much known as a regional loser, notwithstanding his attempt to blame outsiders (mostly the U.S.) for his own leadership failures and deeply ignorant governmental policies. Apparently, Maduro wants some of that Putin-pixie dust to rub off on him.
Meanwhile, back in the West, there is deep concern of the effective genocide being perpetrated by Assad against his own people with the unbridled support of Russia and her full military compliment. There’s talk of war crimes against both the Syrian and Russian states… and their top leadership.
“[Putin] had been due to meet French President Francois Hollande and open a new Orthodox church later this month… But after France's government said talks would be confined to Syria, the visit was halted, French presidential sources said… On Monday [10/11], Mr Hollande suggested Russia could face war crimes charges over its bombardment of Syria's city of Aleppo.
“The French presidency had told the Russians Mr Hollande would attend only one event with Mr Putin during the visit planned for 19 October - a working meeting on Syria, according to the sources… But after this Russia ‘let it be known that it wanted to postpone the visit,’ they added.
“A spokesman for Mr Putin confirmed the trip had been cancelled, adding that the visit would take place when it becomes ‘comfortable for President Hollande’…Despite this Mr Hollande has said he will meet Mr Putin at ‘any time’ if it would ‘further peace.’…
“The development comes a day after Mr Hollande told French TV that prosecutions over Syria could take place in the International Criminal Court (ICC)… ‘These are people who today are the victims of war crimes. Those that commit these acts will have to face up to their responsibility, including in the ICC,’ he said… On Tuesday UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Mr Putin's strategy of restoring Russia's greatness was at risk.
“‘If Russia continues in its current path then I believe that great country is in danger of becoming a pariah nation,’ he told the UK parliament during a debate on the Syrian crisis… Neither Russia nor Syria is a member of the ICC… Moscow has repeatedly denied attacking civilians, and says it targets terrorist groups in Syria.” BBC.com, October 11th. Even as Europe needs Russian natural gas to stay warm over the coming winter, at least they are beginning to take a stand against Putin.
And Putie is floating some more direct attempts to manipulate the American election: “Americans should vote for Donald Trump as president next month or risk being dragged into a nuclear war, according to a Russian ultra-nationalist ally of President Vladimir Putin who likes to compare himself to the U.S. Republican candidate…
“Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a flamboyant veteran lawmaker known for his fiery rhetoric, told Reuters in an interview that Trump was the only person able to de-escalate dangerous tensions between Moscow and Washington…Many Russians regard Zhirinovsky as a clownish figure who makes outspoken statements to grab attention but he is also widely viewed as a faithful servant of Kremlin policy, sometimes used to float radical opinions to test public reaction.” AOL.com, October 12th. I guess Putie likes fellow “alpha males” who take what they want and disregard social mores and even the constitution. Maybe we can plant more bananas in the United States as our climate gets warmer. Who knows, the Donald might enjoy wearing riding boots and handling a leather crop.
The formal response from Moscow? “Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Wednesday [10/12] his country was not involved in an effort to influence the U.S. presidential election even as WikiLeaks released another trove of internal documents from Hillary Clinton’s campaign… ‘They started this hysteria, saying this (hacking) is in Russia’s interests, but this has nothing to do with Russia’s interests,’ Putin told a business forum.
“Putin said his government would work with whoever won the U.S. election, ‘if, of course, the new U.S. leader wishes to work with our country.’” Reuters, October 12th. All with Putie’s famous mischievous smile.
Even as Russia openly baits us, the United States seems to be handing power to Russia, and in the extremely unlikely event Donald Trump wins the US presidency, one has to wonder if he will invite Putin to his daily morning briefing. We have real allies; we need to reinforce those relationships now.
I’m Peter Dekom, and it seems that until we face reality with determination and unity, Putin’s smirk at American impotency will only grow wider.