putting Putin in perspective or just poo-pooing Vlad…I don’t know

The news is full of reactions to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin’s editorial in the New York Times. Not unexpectedly, members of the American ruling elite took offense to his remarks, as did some portion (98.7%) of the American public. We are genetically coded to mistrust Russian leaders, though I note that the actual Russian people are wonderful, as you know if you’ve ever met any of them!

But let’s not let our mutual love for each other get in the way of international politics.

Hey, I’m a child of the “duck-and-cover” era, as is Vladimir. I was a Cub Scout; he was a Young Pioneer. We grew up in mutual fear that the other guy was so evil, he’d drop atomic bombs on children just to see them shrivel up into dust, dust that glowed in the dark.

I lived in the zone where Soviet atomic bomb tests left a trail of Strontium 90 for American milch cows to ingest and pass on through their milk to all us American children that survived the impending nuclear winter. No doubt, Soviet children got a good dose of American radiation, too. We – the Americans and Soviets – were in this madness together, just on opposite sides of the political and geographic map.

But I wander. Putin rose to Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB by the time the Soviet Union had its day of reckoning, but he resigned and threw his hat in with the jolly Boris Yeltsin, first President of the newly-formed Russian Federation. He became a democrat, sort of, Russian style.

When Yeltsin resigned in 1999, Putin, PM of the Russian Federation, became President. Not too sinister, eh? George W. Bush looked into his eyes and saw his soul, famously, and he, like all bald men, looked pretty good in the cowboy hat he acquired in Texas. I don’t remember, but did he get cowboy boots, too? There are some famous bootmakers in Texas. Hats plus the boots help short men look taller.

OK, that was snarky to write, but he also has a comb-over! Hee! Hee! Thought we wouldn’t notice that in all those bare-chested outdoorsy shots of Vlad hunting bear, fishing monster fish, riding charging stallions, etc., etc. I mean, if Mao Tze Tung could swim in the Yellow River to prove he wasn’t dead yet, what harm is there in showing us your manly boobs, Vlad!? You DO look better half-naked than I do, so there’s no point on dwelling on this point much longer! Letting my hypocrisy hang out isn’t good policy, and you know martial arts.

So, when I heard Vladimir Putin had an editorial published in the New York Times, I was curious. What morally insightful guidance could this former KGB Lieutenant Colonel offer the United States and her President on dealing with the Syrian mess?

Quite a lot, actually, if you overlook slight rewritings of history and unintentionally ironic points that we of the “duck-and-cover” generation are primed to notice. Right message, wrong messenger. I’ll even give you a freeby on the “American exceptionalism” comment. I mean, George W. Bush saw your soul and found you were to be trusted. >wink~wink< I’m sure you were sincere in what you wrote. Or your American PR firm was in what they wrote in your behalf. Whomever. Whatever. (There I go being snarky again…!)

I especially felt encouraged, though, by what I saw as a “come to Jesus moment” at the end. Who would have guessed a former KGB Lieutenant Colonel might speak directly of God, that His children are all born equal? Or that Wikipedia’s biography lists Putin as affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church? I’m trying to picture little PR-prepped Vladimir as an altar boy, but the image just doesn’t come together.

Or am I being snarky again? Must be all that Strontium 90 I ingested as a kid speaking.


The text of President Putin’s editorial is available on the Internet. An analysis of the speech by any of several news outlets is available. Any of them has more relevance than my little post, but my post is more snarky. Try this Washington Post analysis, for example: