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Putin Unplugged

While there was little that was novel in the Russian president's press conference two weeks ago, it wasn't so much what he said, but what wasn't reported, that deserves a closer look.
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While there was little that was novel in the Russian president's press conference two weeks ago, it wasn't so much what he said, but what wasn't reported, that deserves a closer look. Apart from the fact that most major international news organizations were on-hand to question Mr. Putin, and one from The Wall Street Journal was among them, for the most part the mainstream media was missing in action, and conspicuously absent in covering either the conference, or Vladimir Putin's remarks. Indeed, apart from an editorial in The Washington Post, Information Clearing House, a few other notable alternative web sites, and the Russian president's site, were the only ones to distribute the text of the conference.

Judging by the deafening silence, we can sure use cup of homemade Russian glasnost around here, especially given Rep. Henry Waxman's report today that more than half of nearly 90 White House officials who had e-mail accounts with the Republican National Committee have had e-mails disappear including, not surprising, those of Karl Rove. Somebody's trying really hard to cover some bones and, one might say, not without what the president calls "political theatre."

But, who would expect the Russian leader to be such a drama queen? And, anyone who thinks of Vladimir Putin as being as flamboyant as a card-carrying mortician is in for a surprise when they hear him say things like: "Am I a ' pure democrat'? Of course I am, absolutely. But do you know what the problem is? Not even a problem but a real tragedy? The problem is that I'm all alone, the only one of my kind in the whole wide world," and point to "torture, homeless people, Guantanamo, people detained without trial and investigation," as well as findings by Amnesty International that America is the number one violator of human rights worldwide. He further bolsters his claims when he says that Russia "has not abandoned its moratorium on the death penalty."

You can see why the mainstream media ducked when you hear him assert that the Russians didn't initiate withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and that while Russia is "disarming unilaterally...Europe is being pumped full of new weapons systems." Indeed, as he suggests, the Cold War is now over; it's now a virus!

Herein lies the crux of the undercoverage, Putin's revelation that "for the first time in history...there are elements of the U.S. nuclear capability in the European continent. It simply changes the whole configuration of international security." And, Congress is now actively looking into ways to rein in the Bush administration's production of a new generation of warheads, as well as trying to dramatically reduce funding for the so-called Reliable Replacement Warheads program. (WaPo) Yet, while both the House and the Senate are doing a tap dance for our tax dollars, nobody is putting nuclear non-proliferation back on the table. Monica Goodling makes for a better headshot, no doubt, than a Reliable Replacement Warhead does. Maybe it's time to learn something not just about glasnost, but about perestroika, too..

It is Russia, not France or Germany, who now points to the the rogue state that endangers global security with its placement of "low yield nuclear weapons" in Europe under the pretext that it needs to stave off Iranian missiles when, as he suggests, "there are no such missiles." Notably, it is the president of Russia, not the United States, who categorically exclaims: "We do not want a confrontation. We want cooperation" at this June 4th press conference. The U.S. press has been too busy cultivating its enhanced vegetative state, and preparing for another major stab at newspaper consolidation which, in these dark and dangerous times, is thoroughly unacceptable. Whether it's self-censorship, or too much Paris to waste time on Moscow, for shame, for shame, America; your leaders are running off with your booty, and dictatorships are closer to democracy than you are. The age of empirical monarchy is, once again, upon us.

"There is no one to talk to since Mahatma Gandhi died," says Vladimir Putin; not in Chechnya, sir. What a statement about the upside down world in which we live that a government whose wanton torture, and murder of insurgents in Chechnya under the ever-widening umbrella of a war on terror should be the one to invoke the name of Gandhi, and not the leader of the so-called free world.

What a statement about the convoluted age in which we live that assertions made by the leader of a totalitarian state should sound more reasonable than those of our own government. Indeed, and coming from not merely a totalitarian, but one who many believe had a hand in the murder of Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in her apartment building elevator, last October, while investigating her government's systematic abuse, and torture of those it detains, and interrogates in Chechnya. What a statement coming from one who gave the command to put down a mass protest for gay rights, just weeks ago, in which many got bloodied. He may get to blink, but on whose watch?

Importantly, the distance between Russia and the United States cannot be measured in miles, but only in heartbeats. Despite the rhetoric, from either side, thousands of human hearts, an ocean of heartbeats, will soon join the endangered species list as a result of the flamboyant, inflated, and mercurial thoughts, and actions of those who claim to work for peace, and pervert the word peace by doing so. The politics of entitlement have quickly transformed into the privilege of concealment, and those who work to cover the tracks of those who surreptitiously infect the planet with their contagion of hate, and fear, are, without question, just as perverse.