So here is the deal on Putin’s New York Times op-ed. The Russian President is at once the absolute worst as a person and a leader. He is basically what the Church of Scientology wrapped up into one zany head of state. He is a bucket of crazy and human rights totally aren’t his thing and his handling of the whole Pussy Riot thing was abhorrent and Russia’s overall stance on gay rights is detestable. Sure, those pictures of him holding animals and wearing his martial arts workout gear are hilarious, but the dude is shady. We need to keep this in mind when we half-brainlessly share his sentiment in a sloppily “Go Vlad!” fashion.
And okay, as I have seen on Facebook and via other social sites, tsk, tsk to the New York Times for spotlighting the opinions of the former head of the KGB. But they have given Rumsfeld, Kissinger, and other shady fellows space on their opinion pages, so unless you get all USA USA USA about the deplorable irresponsibility of those folks when their names show up in print, maybe take it down a notch. Sure, maybe the aforementioned don’t operate with the same flare as Putin, but they are also the worst in their own way.
And hey, maybe you don’t think they are the worst because you are on this end of our heavy stick, but there are plenty of folks on the business end of their decisions who would readily disagree.
In this way, I wish the US press were as critical and skeptical of our foreign policy as we [rightfully] are of Russia’s intentions. If we were to make a habit out of doing so, we might put an end to future oil wars, dozens to hundreds to thousands of unnecessary civilian casualties (depending on the conflict at hand), extrajudicial murder of American citizens, sloppy surveillance programs and other misguided Brand America shenanigans.
Putin obviously has conflicting interests at stake that he willfully conflates with care for morality and responsibly executed strategy. And he does so hypocritically, obviously. But so do we. We always have and we always will.
Even if our country were to act entirely from a place of moral grace, side-stepping our obvious and entrenched interests… You know, if we were to act from the goodness of our collective hearts, from a place that is untarnished by immorality, greed, and the desire to maintain the integrity of a particular strategic position (use your imagination), there are plenty of folks in this world, plenty of leaders, plenty of bodies of press, who would have good reason to receive everything we do with the same seething scrutiny we apply to Russia.
Again, by no means am I a Putin fan. And one more time for the stupid people out there: I am not defending Putin. I am merely suggesting we step outside of ourselves and look at him, Russia, and ourselves in a global context, not solely as Obama supporters, war naysayers, self-appointed arbiters of Geo-political balance, and everything in between. It is important for us to remember that for every picture of the Towers standing proud, or the Towers coming down, or a firefighter holding a baby on that otherwise gorgeous September day, there are thousands more of those who were tortured, killed, or left for dead at in the name of our conflicted interests, chauvinism, and feelings of moral superiority—for reasons we very clearly regret, and sometimes abhor, in immediate and long-term retrospect.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Lamarque | Reuters