From Russia With Love (or maybe not)


Frank Weathers has the story.

It seems that President Vladimir Putin is breaking new ice for Russian heads of state. He is now an op-ed author for the New York Times. Frank has nothing but praise for President Putin’s prose. I, on the other hand, look at it a bit differently.

President Putin wrote an op-ed piece in which he discussed America’s recent foreign policy. He accurately said that we’ve gotten into too many random military encounters lately, and that we are turning too often to force in our international engagements.

He also said that America’s way of dealing with other countries has become a matter of “relying on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us.’” I think he may have been talking about things like the obvious bullying that President Obama engaged in to coerce foreign nations to refuse sanctuary to whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

It is interesting indeed that this particular strategy backfired with President Putin, who, alone of all the heads of state in the world, took Mr Snowden in. President Obama was so miffed by this that he canceled a pre-G20 meeting with the Russian President, an action that, honestly folks, sounded personal and grade school to me.

President Putin goes on in his op-ed to remark about something that is quite serious: Nuclear proliferation. He evidently sees this growing push to develop the bomb by impoverished countries who cannot feed their own people as a defensive measure on their part. He is right again when he says, “If you have the bomb, they can’t touch you.”

In other words, nobody talks about randomly lobbing Tomahawk missiles at nations who have the bomb, no matter how egregious we find their behavior in other matters.

This raises an important question: Is America’s international policy, with its bully-boy tactics and constant deployment of force against small nations who can’t fight back, actually pushing smaller nations to follow a policy of developing nuclear weapons?

That is a discussion for another day, but it is certainly one worth having.


Having said all this, there is one thing I want Public Catholic readers to understand about President Putin’s op-ed piece. That one thing is that President Putin is using the op-ed to side-step our president and lobby the American people directly.

I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing.

After all, he’s not paying a bunch of lobbyists to slime their way around the Capitol greasing campaign accounts and non-campaign pacs with their donations in order to convince our elected officials to vote against us. He is going out there in the court of public opinion and making his case in a straight-forward and direct way. We know where he’s coming from and what he’s saying. We do not have to listen to hours of lies from bought and paid for cable news talking heads interviewing bought and paid for think-tankers and bought and paid for politicians while they try to propagandize us.

We don’t have to sort through what President Putin is saying to decide what he really thinks. It’s all there, for the reading.

But we should be aware and never forget that he ain’t us.

He is the President of Russia and the interests he’s promoting are the interests of Russia. That doesn’t make what he’s saying wrong, and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to him. Quite the contrary. That makes what he’s saying important and worthy of our thoughtful analysis.

Odd as this sounds, I have a higher opinion of his motives than I do our cable news people. He, at least, is working for his country.

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  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    Actually there is a precedent for a head of state addressing the public of another power over the heads of their government, and it is emphatically not a good one. In 1919, Woodrow Wilson (in my estimate the worst US president before Obama) got in a snit with the Italian government over the Italians’ resolution to annexate the town of Fiume (present-day Rijeka, in Croatia). and, finding them immovable, addressed a manifesto to the Italian people. He had completely misjudged the national mood, since Italiy already believed, and not without reason, that they were being cheated at the peace negotiations. From one end to the other of Italy, the manifesto was welcomed with a storm of hatred and ridicule; Italian mood was hardened, and the only gainer from the sorry affair was the opposition leader Mussolini. In this case, however, I think that Putin has better assessed the American public mood.

  • D. A. Christianson

    I agree, he wrote plain common sense. It is important to remember that his purpose is the national interest of Russia, which may or not be the same as ours. I do think we’d be better off if our leaders spoke as clearly to us (although they might not be).

  • FW Ken

    How strange that a former KGB boss appears to be the grown-up supervising the playground.

    • CS

      Putin is the “grown up” in the same way that a Mafia Don is.
      He is playing us.

      • Bill S

        I wonder if the Russian press can provide the same forum for Obama.

  • Bill S

    Giving freedom of the press to allow our former enemy to write his own column in the New York Times just exemplifies what a great nation we are.

  • hotboogers

    “… hours of lies from bought and paid for cable news talking heads
    interviewing bought and paid for think-tankers and bought and paid for

    You hit that one true. And I read about all the journalists being hired by the O administration, not to mention the ones married to O employees or other politicians … it is nauseating … we no longer have a free traditional press …

  • Manny

    I am astonished that people are siding with a semi totalitarian dictator over their own country. Putin said, “It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States.”
    This from a man who five years ago invaded his neighboring Georgia involving Russia in a civil dispute there. This from a man who’s journalistic critics suddenly drop off the planet. This from a man who with a few controls finds himself in command of his country for another eight years.
    There is no question that Obama and his administration is incompetant and pathetic, but anyone that thinks we, the Uniuted States, have malicious motives in this Syrian issue, then i’ve lost all respect for them.

    • hamiltonr

      Manny, I don’t think they’re siding with Putin against our president — although one cable news network at least seems to think so — they just don’t want to go to war in Syria.