Putin and the U.S. where did it all go wrong?

Vladimir Putin has had a strange ride here in America.  It seems just a few years ago, we had nothing but nice things to say about him.  He was Bush’s buddy, but now we have this response from Mitt Romney after Time named Putin it’s “Man of the Year“.

Here is what Romney said after hearing about this:

Well, you know, he imprisoned his political opponents. There have been a number of highly suspicious murders. He has squelched public dissent and free press. And to suggest that someone like that is the man of the year is really disgusting. I’m just appalled. Clearly General Petraeus is the person or one of a few people who would certainly merit that designation and I know Time magazine makes a distinction. They say, well, people who had an impact, whether it’s good or bad, is the man of the year. I think that’s a –

Ouch.  I wonder what Putin’s reaction was when he read his comments…probably who the *&$) is Mitt Romney. 

Let’s talk a little about Russia and where it was in the 90’s  and where it is now under Putin.  First, understand that Russia was and is still ruled by the Mafia.  They seized Russia’s economy in 1991 and have remained in control over a large chunk of the Russian economy.  Putin has made a dent in this but they have a large network throughout Eastern Europe and even to the Middle East.  Russia needed someone to come in and clean house…if you will.

Now, everything Putin has done is not pretty but this wasn’t a situation that anyone wanted to step into.  You aren’t dealing with people who live by many rules.  Putin actually has suppressed more of the Big Business players instead of going after the Mafia.  Both parties are powerful and hang on to power in much the same way…one just employs a PR firm while the other would shoot their PR guy.  Putin has been able to get Russia out of debt and actually have a trade surplus. 

Russia does not owe a cent to the countries of the Paris Club of Creditors. According to an official statement released by the Finance Ministry yesterday, Russia is no longer a debtor of the Paris Club. In addition, Russia may become a crediting country within the framework of the Club.

Getting out of debt meant that Putin didn’t have to take orders from the Western Banks.  This led to the beginning of the change in his relationship with the U.S.  He no longer had to go along with everything Bush wanted and while his own popularity grew in Russia, Bush’s was sinking throughout the World.  Putin seized on this and started to actually say “no” to what the west wanted. 

He is now saying no to a missile defense system in Europe.  He has plans to build a pipeline into Central Asia..directly countering US plans.  And he wants the US to set a date to withdraw from Iraq.   Wow, who does this guy think he is…the new prime minister of Russia?

Now, you can begin to understand the new PR campaign against Putin.  He refuses to do what we tell him to do and he puts his country’s agenda before ours.  We were so desperate that we actually promoted Kasparov to take his place…a chess champion?  We paraded him around on American TV even though he had no support of the Russian people.  That just makes sense.  So what does Putin say about Russia:

“The Soviet Union wanted to be a leader in the global communist revolution. This was a big mistake. We would not like to repeat these mistakes in the future. We don’t want to command anyone, we don’t want to be a superpower that dominates and imposes solutions,” Vladimir Putin told Time magazine December 12.

“But we want to have sufficient forces to defend ourselves, defend our interests and even build such good relations with our neighbors and main partners so that these partners become interested in the development and growth of the Russian Federation,” he said.

This sound familiar?  It should..it’s very similar to the attitude that Chavez takes in Venezuela.  In both cases, the leaders of those countries will not let us take control of their resources and use for our interests.  Also, in both countries “big business” is not happy that their monopolies are being torn down.  And finally in both countries, the average Joe on the street provides the back bone of support for each leader.  I think it comes from the fact that people in those countries can take pride in seeing there leader say “no” to the world’s only superpower. 

The US employs the same strategy over and over in these cases.  They have “think tanks” come up with talking points to descredit the leaders of these countries.  The talking points are all very similar…undemocratic, crushing dissent, not freedom loving, rigged elections, and finally ties to terrorists (if they get desperate).  And that’s basically what we hear from Romney.  I mean if you want to discuss suspicious murders we can. 

I think we need to take a new direction in our diplomatic efforts in regards to these types of leaders.  It’s ok if they don’t agree with us and they don’t do what we want.  Those countries are not perfect situations and things happen there that are not pretty…take a walk in St. Petersburg at night sometime.  These leaders have managed to gain a large share of public support in their countries and instead of trying to break that support, why not look at that as an asset to the US…if used correctly.   


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