Vilifying Vlad

It looks like a significant part of the ‘liberal mainstream media’, in the US at least, has been recruited to present Vladimir Putin as a cross between Hitler, Stalin, Peter the Great and a James Bond villain. At least Jon Stewart is funny. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, not so much:

Perhaps Cenk should look at the role of the US/EU in all this. The leaked conversation between Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt plus Nuland’s assertion that the US had spend $5bn over 20 years to buy influence in Ukraine shows that the US was pushing for regime change in Ukraine.

The past 20 years have seen an expansion of NATO deeper into Eastern Europe and the US taking down regimes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and supporting jihadists in Syria. Putin has cause to be worried about an alliance associate with regime change moving towards his doorstep and may have some ‘red lines’ of his own. Cenk should remember that the Kiev government is there as the result of a violent coup and does not have the legitimacy conferred by an election; under those circumstances it is difficult to condemn pro Russian separatists or a Russian president who says he has a duty to help them when that illegitimate government threatens to use force against them.

Unlike Stewart and Uygur, Bill O’Reilly is part of the ‘conservative mainstream media’ and his view of Putin as an arch villain is to be expected. Stephen Cohen challenges O’Reilley’s perspective in this clip:

Cohen argues that with the exception of Gorbachev, Putin has been the ‘least authoritarian’ of Russian leaders and had little choice but to respond as he did: