Swans Commentary » swans.com February 24, 2014  



Putin Under Siege


by Gilles d'Aymery





(Swans - February 24, 2014)   Once upon a time, in the 1990s, it was all about Russia with love. Gorbachev had presided over the dissolution of the Soviet Union (a catastrophic tragedy) and Yeltsin, in exchange for a daily bottle of vodka, gave away the store. A few Russians became filthy-rich oligarchs. Harvard economists taught the newly unshackled, liberated country how to join the beatitudes of the neo-liberal free market. Fortunes were made. State assets and natural resources were cheaply privatized. Money prevailed. Russia had become a subordinate of the United States. Washington rejoiced. Meanwhile, that period -- the 1990s -- saw a huge economic breakdown for the majority of the Russian people. Poverty rose tremendously. Even beggars could be seen in the streets of Moscow -- something that had not happened in decades. The country faced a dramatic demographic collapse. Finally, the Yeltsin administration was corrupted to its core. However, providence struck. On December 31, 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned. Perhaps he had drunk one bottle of vodka too many. He chose as his successor a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB who had entered the fray of Moscow politics in 1996 and quickly rose in the Kremlin hierarchy to eventually become prime minister, Vladimir Putin, who became acting president. In that function the first decree he signed was to guarantee that Yeltsin and his family could not be charged for corruption. In March 2000, Putin ran for president and won. Washington did not know what to make of this new kid on the block. They were up for a big surprise, and so Vladimir Putin was soon enough depicted in the Western press and in the US Congress as an authoritarian, undemocratic leader, whose dream was to resurrect the old Soviet Union, though he specifically said: "Anyone who doesn't regret the passing of the Soviet Union has no heart. Anyone who wants it restored has no brains."

Vladimir Putin did not waste time. He went to work, and work he did. He took care of the Russian oligarchs, he reintroduced state participation in the economy, and much more (read Vladimir Putin's Wikipedia entry). The economy started growing again, and he made sure to let everybody know (read the U.S.) that the decisions regarding Russia's future would be in the hands of Russians, not foreigners (read the U.S.). Washington was not pleased. Neither was the MSM like The New York Times, the liberal port-parole of the White House. Putin quickly became persona non grata in the corridors of American power as he pursued the violent second Chechen war.

In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. asked Russia for logistical help in the Afghan War. Putin was glad to oblige, merrily thinking of Pete Seeger's 1967 song, "Waist deep in the Big Muddy" and wondering how long "the big fool" would keep saying "to push on." It did not take long. Next was the Iraq adventure, which Putin strongly opposed as contrary to international law. Not only was he an economic nationalist, therefore challenging US domination, he now was confronting US foreign policy and warmongering. He became an adversary in a nutshell.

The bridge from adversary to enemy can be very short, when not already in the books. Putin was a termite that required a pest exterminator to get rid of (America is famous for its extermination prowess). Putin did not swallow the poison. Instead, on February 10, 2007, he delivered a tough address known as the "Munich Speech" in which he was highly critical of the unipolar world imposed by the U.S. in the wake of the end of the Cold War, the lawlessness of the hegemonic superpower that does not abide by international laws and launches wars against countries that have not attacked in one way or another the U.S. For Putin, without international laws and standards, the world is at risk of falling into chaos and anarchy. He was particularly offended (as China was) by the regime change in Libya and the gruesome assassination of Gaddafi in total discounting of the UN Security Council resolution -- a move he resolutely refused to follow suit in Syria, to much chagrin of the masters of the universe.

If you follow the Western news, by then Putin was no longer an authoritarian leader. He had become a dictator. It helped the dwindling MSM coffers. Hate is part of the circus. It sells ads.

Putin did much more to infuriate the US elites, but it cannot be repertoired here. The list is too long. He did not ask for the Edward Snowden affair -- the guy who divulged the little secrets of the NSA. The affair fell into his hands. He simply acted legally and humanly -- which is not a distinct American custom. He granted Snowden asylum, in spite of all the American pressure.

That was too much to endure for the US politicos and bloviators. Calls to boycott the Sochi Olympic Winter Games mushroomed like chanterelles in the rainy season. The premises were not ready. There were no toilets, no showers, no organization, said The New York Times. Not only should the games be boycotted, they should not be attended. Period. Yet, the games went off flawlessly, beautifully. Not one contestant complained. The food was great, the security in total control, the show AAA. (The NBC retransmission was deleterious, as though we were not permitted to enjoy those extremely well organized games.) Putin visited the opening ceremony with a smile on his face. He even paid courtesy to the American compound. US athletes were befuddled to have the president of the Russian Federation visit them, without any bodyguards, and speaking good English to them -- since they could not speak Russian.

Yet, The New York Times could not resist denigrating Vladimir Putin once more. On February 20, 2014, the paper published a defamatory Op-Ed by Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot fame.

Now we are facing the Ukrainian crisis. Unrepentant idiots will clap about the latest revolution. (They are Marxists -- don't you ever forget -- unrepentant Marxists.) Here, Washington is in the driver's seat. It only needs to destabilize the country, and it has succeeded. The idiots applaud -- mind-boggling. What will Putin's answer be, especially in regard to Crimea?

Meanwhile, the big fool will press on with the help of the unrepentant idiots.


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published February 24, 2014