Earlier today, on Facebook, I wrote the following:
It would appear that Russia, under Vladimir Putin, is more qualified to be the world’s policeman than is the US or the UK who are more the world’s vigilantes. In his New York Times article addressed directly to the American people and by extension to us, Putin claims that “From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in todayâ€™s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.”
Cameron has claimed that, by vetoing military action in the Security Council, Russia has been ‘shirking its international responsibilities’. Not so, it is Britain, America and France who most threaten international law and Russia and China who protect it by refusing to turn the Security Council into a lynch mob. It is clear, across the alternative media, that Putin commands more respect than Obama or Cameron even if some still, theatrically, shake their virtual heads at the conclusion that the ‘Russian autocrat’ speaks more sense than their own leaders.
It was not Putin’s manoeuvre, primarily, that forestalled an immediate attack on Syria, it was the resistance of people in the UK and US who no longer bought the lies of the media and politicians and wrote in unprecedented numbers to their representatives in Parliament and Congress but Putin gave Obama a way to evade an embarrassing climbdown or a politically dangerous confrontation with his own people as well as a militarily insane intervention in Syria. In his New York Times article Putin is conciliatory, friendly but as a ‘critical friend’. I especially like his ending remarks:
“If we can avoid force against Syria, this will improve the atmosphere in international affairs and strengthen mutual trust. It will be our shared success and open the door to cooperation on other critical issues.
My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United Statesâ€™ policy is â€œwhat makes America different. Itâ€™s what makes us exceptional.â€ It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lordâ€™s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”
The cynical among us will say that Putin’s appeal to ‘apple pie and motherhood’ and to ‘the Lord’ is well crafted for his audience. Nevertheless it is enormously refreshing to hear a world leader speak like this. Much more than Obama ever did, Putin has become representative of hope.
It’s been pointed out that Putin’s record on rights for gay people is not a ringing endorsement for the sincerity of his assertion that ‘God created us equal’.
I will admit to being somewhat taken with Putin .. some might say taken in by him. The anti-gay legislation and homophobia in Russia should be opposed but I have to ask how many countries has Putin invaded? Has he killed more people that Obama and Cameron? Russia has interests in the Middle East just as the US has. I can’t judge the man’s sincerity in saying what he does but I can go along with what he says on the issue of Syria and international law at least. The western media will do whatever it can to demonise Putin, he will deserve some of that but some will be western propaganda. I don’t excuse Putin’s anti-gay legislation when I give him fair credit for his international diplomacy any more that I excuse Cameron for bombing Libya and a lot more when I give him fair credit for supporting gay rights.