On Putin's Valdai speech: The logjam in world diplomacy
Former French PM Dominique de Villepin expressed a ‘mot juste’: the spiral of mistrust needs to be reversed. The trouble is once I introduce the name of the next speaker at the Valdai conference, a significant chunk of the trolling classes will immediately head for the comments section to resume the war of words, doubtless suggesting the Russian political class advocates eating babies or some other ludicrous notion.
Mentioning ‘Vladimir Putin’ and ‘constructive comment’ in the same sentence is more than stubbornly closed-minded elements of the Western media can comprehend. A dismal Cold War spirit has been re-engaged from various points west despite a very post-Communist spirit being apparent within seconds of landing on Russian soil.
We have a logjam in world diplomacy. The single superpower of the past 20 years is demonstrating monopolistic follies tinged with delusion, ringed with incompetence. Thus US intelligence agencies missed the rise of ISIS until they reached the cusp of conquering an area somewhere between the size of Belgium and South Korea… For those worried about big government inefficiency, it is difficult to endorse American intelligence agencies as delivering value for taxpayers.
Thus Putin expounded a rather telling argument: the American-centric superpower era has created troubling consequences - and a remarkable power vacuum! Militant terrorists rampaging in Canada clearly implies total failure to make the world a safer place.
American ‘divine right’ regime change has destabilized the world with the US falling into imperial folly, unable to acknowledge its mistakes, destined to evoke Einstein’s definition of "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
In Sochi this week, Putin didn’t mince his words. He is understandably frustrated about sanctions - a bizarre process by which Europe has sacrificed economic recovery to please the USA, whose Russian economic exposure is minimal. Meanwhile Russia may be suffering ruble decreases, but the economy is still growing. Pity the poor Ukrainians: promised an unrealistic leap to prosperity by has-been Western politicians on the Maidan. The Ukrainian economy stands to decline a staggering 9 percent this year, despite a dismally low base thanks to a generation of color revolutions concealing oligarchical kleptocracy.
Putin has a clear right to his ‘told you so’ remarks, even leaving aside the Syrian fiasco in which President Obama crossed a self-created thin red line from Commander...to Discredited-Ditherer-in-Chief. Meanwhile the Chief Putter of the Oval Office prefers playing golf to negotiating nuclear arms reduction which Russia is eager to pursue.
President Putin succinctly described US sanctions as “sawing through the branches on which they are sitting” while he presses on with an Eastern pivot which the West dismisses at its peril. That US sole superpower status will be threatened outright by China soon.
True, the US has played its fiercest card, endeavoring to block Russia through the US dollar payment system, but that financial hegemony will only last as long as the dollar is the undisputed currency king. Obama has motivated Russia to disintermediate it.
Those keen to disparage Putin emphasize his Soviet-era Communist background. Curiously, outgoing EU President Barroso, whose decade in office has left the EU palpably poorer, was also an ex-Communist...but they sweep that under Brussels’ totalitarian carpet!
Prescriptive Western arrogance is being undermined by relative financial decline - the Germans won’t bail out their EU neighbors, only Russo-Chinese involvement can save Ukraine from the economic abyss. Western credibility has suffered from shrill assertions that the hand of the Kremlin is omnipresent in every problem. Even Der Spiegel magazine is now distancing itself from previous suggestions that the MH17 tragedy involved direct Russian military intervention.
There is much reform still to be undertaken, but Russia has achieved great things in two decades of freedom. It becomes all global citizens to encourage that path to greater prosperity. Rather we have a tired American empire abusing legal systems and due process, or as Putin put it:
"The existing system of international relations, international laws, the system of checks and balances have been therefore declared useless, obsolete and ready to be torn down."
Dominique De Villepin is right: the spiral of distrust must be broken - the sooner the better for everybody. But will any of the Western political pygmies be brave enough to break the impasse?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.