People

Background to Conflicts in Palestine and Ukraine

The Palestinians will never be destroyed, they will never disappear, we are not the Red Indians, we will not be cancelled from history just like this, no.

John Pilger’s 2002 film is a classic that unveils the terrible injustice done the Palestinian people when Israel was founded in 1948 and they were literally evicted from their own land to make way for another people. The Palestinians were given 22% of the land while the favoured people of the colonial gods were given 88%. After the 1967 war the Israelis occupied the Palestinian 22% and Israelis built settlements there. These settlements are considered illegal under international law but the ‘international community’ has taken no action against Israel for this. The whole history of violent repression and resistance flows from these injustices. This is worth watching.

Vladimir Putin is undoubtedly the most capable world leader. Here he outlines the background to the Ukrainian crisis from his perspective, which seems closer to what we have observed on video reports than the spin put on events by western media and politicians.

The Putin System

A very good documentary . Putin’s extraordinary competence is acknowledged as is his ruthlessness. Recently the US has been shown to be an oligarchy controlled state; Putin has created a state controlled oligarchy. I generally admire the rationality of Putin’s rhetoric and interventions but there are moments here where I was disturbed by the brutality of his language and certainly by the brutality of his actions against Chechnya. It is probably fair to say that Putin is more autocrat than democrat, the question is whether he is a necessary autocrat; necessary for Russia and perhaps the world. However we may wish to define Putin politically or judge him morally, it seems clear that his motivation is the aggrandisement of his nation rather than himself.

Putin’s Charisma

Like him or not there’s no denying that Vladimir Putin’s charisma fascinates a lot of people. Some find him attractive because he seems to embody conservative values and there is admiration for a ‘strongman’ but I also think he has a sincerity that many, not on the right wing, find attractive. Sharon Tennison writes in an insightful article:

Putin obviously has his faults and makes mistakes. Based on my earlier experience with him, and the experiences of trusted people, including U.S. officials who have worked closely with him over a period of years, Putin most likely is a straight, reliable and exceptionally inventive man.

Tennison relates her ‘earlier experience’ with Putin:

The year was 1992: It was two years after the implosion of communism; the place was St.Petersburg. For years I had been creating programs to open up relations between the two countries and hopefully to help Soviet people to get beyond their entrenched top-down mentalities. A new program possibility emerged in my head. Since I expected it might require a signature from the Marienskii City Hall, an appointment was made. My friend Volodya Shestakov and I showed up at a side door entrance to the Marienskii building. We found ourselves in a small, dull brown office, facing a rather trim nondescript man in a brown suit. He inquired about my reason for coming in. After scanning the proposal I provided he began asking intelligent questions. After each of my answers, he asked the next relevant question.
 
I became aware that this interviewer was different from other Soviet bureaucrats who always seemed to fall into chummy conversations with foreigners with hopes of obtaining bribes in exchange for the Americans’ requests. CCI stood on the principle that we would never, never give bribes. This bureaucrat was open, inquiring, and impersonal in demeanor. After more than an hour of careful questions and answers, he quietly explained that he had tried hard to determine if the proposal was legal, then said that unfortunately at the time it was not. A few good words about the proposal were uttered. That was all. He simply and kindly showed us to the door. Out on the sidewalk, I said to my colleague, “Volodya, this is the first time we have ever dealt with a Soviet bureaucrat who didn’t ask us for a trip to the US or something valuable!” I remember looking at his business card in the sunlight––it read Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Who is Vladimir Putin?

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.

I don’t think that Vladimir Putin fakes it. It is fashionable to be cynical about all politicians and cynicism is understandable. But I believe that Putin has an honest soul. I think this honesty and a commitment to values of respect for self, for law and for others can be seen in the clips I’ve collected here. Putin’s sincerity comes across strongly in this speech made on 10 February 2007 at 43rd Munich Security Conference:

It is his sincerity that won him the respect of these young Russian rappers:

Respect is also a theme in Putin’s introduction to the Vienna Judo Championships:

While Putin’s 2010 performance at the piano and singing ‘Blueberry Hill’ would not get him far on ‘The X-factor’ his audience certainly warmed to a presidential performance.

Putin’s association with a biker club called the ‘Night Wolves‘ or ‘Nochniye Volki‘ is interesting.

The Night Wolves leadership certainly respects Putin and he lauds the positive work they have done. I don’t enough about the Wolves or their association with Putin to say more than ‘it’s interesting’.