Even though the self appointed status of the US as the international arbiter of democracy has been thoroughly discredited, this hasn’t stopped the Bush and Blair governments from using the necessity for democratic reform as a tool of antagonism towards states and leaders that do not abide by Washington’s dictates.
It’s clear to anyone paying attention to current events that no one in Washington cares about democracy. Just look at the “good friends” the US keeps in Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan.
Russia under Vladimir Putin has been one of the primary targets of Washington’s concerns for democracy and human rights and the Western media have been more than willing to assist Western leaders in demonizing Putin.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an hour and a half-long press conference which was attended by many members of the world media. The contents of that meeting—in which Putin answered all questions concerning nuclear proliferation, human rights, Kosovo, democracy and the present confrontation with the United States over missile defense in Europe—have been completely censored by the press. Apart from one brief excerpt which appeared in a Washington Post editorial, (and which was used to criticize Putin) the press conference has been scrubbed from the public record. It never happened. (Read the entire press conference archived here )
Why you may ask?
The meeting gave Putin a chance to give his side of the story in the growing debate over missile defense in Eastern Europe. He offered a brief account of the deteriorating state of US-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War, and particularly from 9-11 to present. Since September 11, the Bush administration has carried out an aggressive strategy to surround Russia with military bases, install missiles on its borders, topple allied regimes in Central Asia, and incite political upheaval in Moscow through US-backed “pro-democracy” groups. These openly hostile actions have convinced many Russian hard-liners that the administration is going forward with the neocon plan for “regime change” in Moscow and fragmentation of the Russian Federation. Putin’s testimony suggests that the hardliners are probably right.
Even right wing politicians like Pat Buchanan have expressed their awareness for Putin’s concerns in articles like “Doesn’t Putin Have a Point?”
Putin cannot allow the United States to deploy its missile defense system to Eastern Europe. The system poses a direct threat to Russia’s national security. If Putin planned to deploy a similar system in Cuba or Mexico, the Bush administration would immediately invoke the Monroe Doctrine and threaten to remove it by force. No one doubts this. And no one should doubt that Putin is equally determined to protect his own country’s interests in the same way. We can expect that Russia will now aim its missiles at European targets and rework its foreign policy in a way that compels the US to abandon its current plans.
Furthermore, the media continues to present the current antagonism between the US and Russia as being entirely Putin’s fault. But listen to Putin’s version of events and we hear a different narrative entirely.
“We have removed all of our heavy weapons from the European part of Russia and put them behind the Urals” and “reduced our Armed Forces by 300,000. We have taken several other steps required by the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces Treaty in Europe (ACAF). But what have we seen in response? Eastern Europe is receiving new weapons, two new military bases are being set up in Romania and in Bulgaria, and there are two new missile launch areas — a radar in Czech republic and missile systems in Poland. And we are asking ourselves the question: what is going on? Russia is disarming unilaterally. But if we disarm unilaterally then we would like to see our partners be willing to do the same thing in Europe. On the contrary, Europe is being pumped full of new weapons systems. And of course we cannot help but be concerned.”
These are Putin’s grievances. Does he not have a small point?
Continue reading Mike Whitney’s excellent article here.